My Response to Grubby’s Open Letter

Posted: 19/10/2012 in Gaming, Starcraft 2
Tags: ,

Recently there has been a growing voice about the so called state of both the Starcraft 2 scene and the eSport scene as a whole. This prompted top SC2 player Grubby (@followGrubby on Twitter) to write the following letter.

 “Open letter to the community about viewership tournament fatigue in sc2 eSports

This is an attempt to see if there is a possibility for a concerted effort to help improve upon an aspect of eSports, in this case StarCraft II eSports. There are so many theories that come to mind, but each has its merits and disadvantages. Recently and regularly I read descriptions of problems in our world of SC 2 eSports. That is happening because of our community’s PASSION, which is great. One problem I’ve read about (whether the majority sees it as one or not, I find that hard to accurately judge) is “viewer tournament fatigue”. Just to explain, the concept here would be that the scene is suffering (yes, suffering, not blossoming) under the stress of too many tournaments; of oversaturation, and thus in extension suffering of a reduced significance of any one tournament. Is this a problem, or not? And if it is, and should be done about it, if anything? If you care about the eSports scene, or care to add your voice, I’d love to read your opinion (point 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6: other). 

Public discussions have been had many a time over this topic and other topics similar to it, but because of the complexity of the problem, I’d like to absorb your input and maybe come up with a comprehensive plan, or just keep it in mind so that I may see what I can do to improve the scene by, at any point in the future, like nudging it into the correct direction. I could try to accomplish solutions behind the scenes, or thru airing opinions on vblogs, I don’t know yet. For now, see this as a survey or even a school sociology finals exam question (it’s starting to look like one). Heh, hey, may e I’ll grade your answer!

For this item, public discussion is allowed, even encouraged – hell, you’re a free (wo)man – but for the purposes of this I’d like to request an answer to my email address contact@followgrubby.com so I can keep the discussion pure and without input or fear of judgment from 3rd parties. So if you want me to reply – though a reply is not guaranteed; I can’t predict the response size from the community – I will only do so by email. Looking forward to your reply!

———–

Your name and nickname:

Q: Let’s for a moment say that tournament fatigue of the viewer is a realistic problem. What will improve SC2 eSports the most according to you, and help fix this problem?

(1) more quality and quantity tournament coverage is needed on TeamLiquid/ESFI World/other sites so that the tournament and player stories get developed more. I can still choose to watch tournament A, B, or C or all three; when I do, I can easily find previews, power ranks and results as well as interviews and pictures.

(2) We need to have less tournaments around. Delayed gratification will make the next tournament that much better. With too many tournaments around, I don’t know what to follow anymore. 

(3) tournaments need to become more well rounded; the time that *just* providing a proving grounds for top players for 1-4 days was enough, is over. The responsibility lies not with independent coverage, but in the production value, post-production value and pre-hype and side shows that tournaments themselves deliver. I will watch a lot more tournaments and streams if only every tournament had the production, self-generated hype or ‘feel’ of (for instance WCS EU). 

(4) The same points as in point 3, but adding the following: 
Every party has a responsibility to improve the viewership experience for the audience. This means a fan needs to tell his friends about SC2/tourneys/eSports; a tournament organization needs to raise her own production value; a player needs to go above and beyond “just playing” by becoming actually involved; would-be writers, people from the community with passion need to start covering tourneys; etc; basically anyone who can do anything needs to start doing it. 
The theme of point 4 is: “We dont have time to let the hype and growth of (SC2) eSports die off or decline before *maybe* it gets super big in the year 2030 after our own active followership.” 

(5) There is no problem of oversaturation. The market of supply & demand will sort itself out eventually. Tournaments that don’t provide enough quality or have enough improvements will concludingly have low viewership, therefore die off and make room for the new. The same with players who don’t perform; they, too, will be replaced by the new. The circle of life will naturally work itself out, as will the circle of eSports life. No amount of theorizing is going to change anything about the direction that eSports is going to be taking, whatever that may be.

6) other. The solution is:

———–

Greets,
Grubby”

I found this to be a very interesting read. I had heard some people complain about “too many Starcraft tournaments”, but some of the others came as a bit of a surprise to me.

I had come up with a couple of my own thoughts on how to improve the scene. One of these, Grubby quite rightly said would be extremely hard to fund and get backing for. However, I would still like to share them with you

GOVERNING BODY

I can see why some people say that the Starcraft 2 scene is too “chaotic”. Whilst I don’t believe that the scene has too many tournaments I do believe that they’d benefit from better organisation. The best comparison I can come up with is that I see the Starcraft 2 scene like Tennis.

Like Tennis? Well think about it. You have your majors (WCS and MLG to name two) and then you have other tournaments all the same. Some of these don’t have the same prestige as the more popular ones, but they are still able to coexist. I personally think that the scene would benefit from an overall governing, or organisational body.

What would happen is that if someone or some company wanted to run a professional Starcraft 2 tournament then they would apply to this body who would look at available dates, factoring in free slots on the calendar to the “prestige” of a tournament that might already be in that slot. This might cause some tournaments to clash but that’s not always a bad thing as it would allow some lesser known or even unknown player to have their moment of fame and possibly give them their breakthrough.

I think the dates of for the “majors” could be set aside for them. While this may be unfair in some eyes, I see it as a reward for high production values.

Bringing The Scene Together

This brings me onto my second idea. Right now I think that the scene is too fractured. There are tournaments here, there and everywhere, but there isn’t one place to catch them or to keep up with the latest Starcraft/eSport news. Individual fan sites try their best and I know places like Team Liquid try to keep some sort of schedule, but I’d hazard a guess that it’s not a complete schedule and it’s not very visible (I for one, stumbled across their website by total accident one day).

So why not have a dedicated Starcraft 2/eSports channel? On this channel there could be live events from tournaments as well as highlights from others with interviews and analysis.

Granted this would be a massive undertaking and I’m aware that the majority of tournaments are on Twitch, but to me they still feel too scattered. I’m not against competitions having their own streaming channel but accompanied by an overall channel, would be beneficial I believe.

With a dedicated channel there would be proper listings and schedule. Think about this. You are checking the channels website (let’s just call it eSport Central for now), and you are looking at the upcoming schedule… “Oh look ASUS ROG is on a 9am my time on Saturday, I’ll watch that” or “Great! They have an interview with Stefano at 7pm on Thursday, I’ll be there for that”. I don’t see how this could be bad for the scene?

CONCLUSION

Personally I don’t think that neither the Starcraft or the eSport scene is over saturated, but that doesn’t mean we can’t look for improvements right?

Thanks to the Gkick Network for letting me post this on my own blog.

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