[E-Sports dail-E] Editorial: Tournaments - Oversaturation or Opportunity?

Dreamhack. EVO. MLG. Battle.net Invitationals. Super Battle Opera Qualifiers. Quakecon. NASL. GSL. All of these tournaments have taken place in the past month or so, providing plenty of opportunity for competitive gaming fans to catch all the action. The question is, is it too much? With several events sometimes going on concurrently, one has to wonder how you’re supposed to keep up with everything. As a writer, covering these events can sometimes fall through the cracks (as evidenced by my lack of Quakecon coverage), but I’d like to focus on a fan’s standpoint.

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Certainly, one could argue that it’s the same thing as changing the channel if you don’t like what’s on drawing comparison to sports broadcasts on TV – that there is always bound to be some other competition on. While that may be true, I think it’s somewhat drawing away from the hype surrounding these tournaments. Fans get weary of trying to keep up with multiple tournaments, and that’s just from following one game. Heaven forbid you’re a fan of say fighting games, RTS and shooters, as Quakecon, the Battle.net Invitationals and SBO Qualifiers were just as recently as yesterday all going on at the same time. But of course, that’s why columns like mine exist, and news sites such as Shoryuken, SCLegacy and the Quake Live official site, to recap action you may have missed.

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What this community really needs is a program similar to Sportscenter that recaps action in major tournaments, taking the highlights and showing scores, news and editorials – something to draw it all together. It’s something I’ve been trying to put my finger on for awhile now, but in writing this article I realized - there is no one central authority on E-Sports. It’s all scattered around the internet. If you have some time on your hands, this is fine, Google tackles the job quite well – but if you don’t, that’s where this program would come in and solve the problem of oversaturation, as well, as spectators would still be able to follow the action in several sports without feeling overwhelmed and like they’re missing something. It would allow people to just tune into an event, like with professional sports, and still know what was going on, about rivalries, teams, the stakes of certain events, etc.

From a player perspective, the vast amount of tournaments is certainly an opportunity. From the incredible amount of money you can win, to sponsorships from major companies just now beginning to see where competitive gaming is going, the time is right to be a competitive gamer. With so many tournaments going on at the same time, top tier talent is more spread out, giving folks that may not be necessarily top card talent room to expand their skills and develop something of an immunity to tournament nerves. I know from the few tournaments that I have competed in that I was intensely nervous going in, that I didn’t play my best game simply because I wasn’t used to the pressure (though, it was just a local tournament, didn’t change the fact that I had a room full of people watching my rather mediocre Sakura play in SSF4).

The last perspective I wish to examine is that of the local tournament organizer. Oversaturation here may be both a good and a bad thing – on the good side, people are more pumped up about improving their own skills so they can progress, thinking “Hey, I can do this! There are so many tournaments now!”. Tournament organizers can also organize their own tournaments around large events, planning viewing parties for the large events while having side tournaments in related games. On the bad side, if they want local top tier talent to show up, tournament organizers have to plan around other major events. Take the Super Battle Opera qualifiers in NYC. First time such an event has happened… but it was the weekend after EVO. Even the commentators said that people were most likely suffering from post-EVO syndrome and were taking a break from competing. While this worked out well for EMP Dieminion and LI Joe, the folks who watched the stream were robbed of what was sure to be some fierce Street Fighter competition.

Overall, I think the vast amount of tournaments to be a good thing, just some regulation and further research into a method of covering all of the events needs to be done, and this should be a community effort. Though, getting the various communities to cooperate is a story for another Sunday.

Dustin Steiner is Gamezone's E-Sports Correspondent! Follow him on Twitter @SteinerDustin

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Dustin Steiner I'm GameZone's eSports Correspondent and resident fighting game guru. I'm also Event Coordinator for Video Gaming Hard Corps, where we host online and local tournaments in addition to have general fellowship among gamers. Check us out! http://www.videogaminghardcorps.com
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