New Esports Observer poll weighs Leagues vs. Championships

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An interesting poll run by The Esports Observer, as part of their weekly polls, asked their readers to choose between League Structures or Championships/Circuits System. 53% Of people chose a League Structure, while the remaining 47% chose the Championships. The difference between the two requires a bit more analysis, but both do have their benefits. It’s also an interesting discussion topic for South Africa since for the longest of times we’ve run with the VS Gaming (previously Digital Gaming League) and their online League, while more recently we’ve moved over to Championships run by companies like Orena, Mega8 and others. VS Gaming’s leagues culminated in a Championship, but their bread and butter was obviously their eight-month league which has been running since around 2008.

Esports League Structres vs Majors

The structure of a tournament is often dictated by a number of factors. First, the title itself could lend a hand to what sort of structure is truly needed, secondly, the number of teams participating could also dictate what’s necessary for the tournament. In South Africa we’ve seen a large occurrence online qualifiers into championships, which has become the norm for quick and easy competitions.

While this has remained a tried and tested method, a league offers sustainability and room to grow as a team throughout the year. The issue with an ongoing league, much like VS Gaming, is the need for incentive. There has to be a reason to be spending eight months of the competitive year – and up until now the VS Gaming Championship has been the end point. That was until VS Gaming opened up their Masters Program which is now the end goal for many of the teams who meet the requirements after a successful year in the league. A league’s backbone is promotion, and that’s something the VS Gaming team have gotten right year after year regarding their open, 1st and premier divisions within the league.

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A league structure in esports can be compared what we see in conventional sports like Football, Rugby and the NFL. In esports, globally, League of Legends comes to mind as the staple comparison for the success of league with their ongoing League of Legends Championship Series.

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The Digital Gaming Championships (VS Gaming Championships) held at the rAge expo in 2016.

Championships are one stop shops, and not many organizations in South Africa have been able to offer a number of championships throughout the year to make it as sustainable as leagues. The prize pools are often larger, like the Mettlestate Samsung Galaxy CS:GO Championship, and the upcoming Orena Championship Series. VS Gaming offer their Masters teams two championships per year, per title, and have have increased on the sustainability of a championship structure. Once again, if we had to look to the international scene, competitions like the recently restructure Valve Majors for Dota 2 come to mind, as well as the ongoing CS:GO Championships which include the Majors, Dreamhack, IEM, and more. The same could be said for Blizzard who run a lengthy structure which culminates in Championships at either BlizzCon or Gamescom every year.

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The Mettlestate Samsung Galaxy CS:GO Championship

There was one structure, which wasn’t included in the poll, and that’s the ladder system. Ladders are becoming more and more popular in South Africa, and remain the staple qualifying process for Orena who adopted the ladder system last year. Ladders operate in a similar fashion to leagues, and promotion and relegation depend on how much you play and win.

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In summary, Leagues offer sustainability and a place to improve and grow as a team, but incentive is key. Circuits and Championships let us know who’s the best and we’re often treated to a big competition with a fantastic showcase of talent.

Which do you prefer?

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Last Updated: August 18, 2017

Kyle Wolmarans

Critical Hit’s esports guy. I talk about esports and drink whiskey. I also write and cast for elsewhere – but my work here is independent of that.

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