Answer to Pei "King" Le's Statement about ACE
The following is written by Dimitri "Mali" Vallette, former LGD-Gaming Social Media Manager and Chinese Dota 2 enthusiast, and is an answer to Pei "King" Le's blog.
Before going straight to the matter, I would like to sincerely apologize for the troubles, if any, I have caused with the column I have recently published about the fiasco of Seattle where I involved the Association of Chinese eSports. Did my column force you to write this lengthy answer or was it just a coincidence? Be that as it may, I would like to respond to your lengthy but informative blog.
First of all, you need to know that I spend quite a lot of time trying to help the Chinese scene and its teams so I am not a foreign writer hating on the work that you do. Whilst I disagree on certain decisions that you take, I am sure that I do not have all the details, but I will use the little details I have from your blog to ask you a few questions.
As I have mentioned before, the Association of Chinese eSports is necessary, and I am convinced that the teams would not be as stable as they are without your intervention. The Chinese teams are currently undergoing massive roster changes, but that only happens once or twice a year. How often would these teams change their roster if you were not here? For this point, I would like to congratulate you, and I hope that you can continue helping the teams to become more sustainable. However, there is a point in your blog that I do not agree with regarding the poaching of new players.
"It was very possible for a club to bring up a new talent, grow them, and then have the player poached away once the player showed some results. If this becomes the norm, then no club would risk training newcomers anymore, a club’s investors would lack any kind of protection, and players would lack any kind of security. After the alliance was formed, much was done regarding malicious poaching of players by way of contract regulations, and nowadays there is hardly any poaching going on."
This is something that I feel is wrong. So let's say that a club recruits a new talent with no history in the game and become an important part within the team. If another club is interested in signing this player, they are not allowed to just because his club formed him and helped him become the player he is? I do not think that makes sense, and if this regulation was applied in football too, then Arsène Wenger would have to find a new job. I do not think there is something wrong in signing a player from another club no matter if he is a new talent or an experienced and successful player as long as a fee is paid. You may not understand why I disagree with this rule so let me give you an example.
Mario Götze is a 21 years-old German player who started his football career in the German club of Dortmund while he was 8 years-old. He became a very important player within the club, helping them win the Bundesliga on two occasions, DFB-Pokal and a second place finish in the Champions League. In other words, he was formed in Dortmund, and became a very important player at the club. Nevertheless, this summer, he was bought by a rival club, Bayern Munich, for about 300,000,000 RMB. If your regulation was applied in football, Bayern Munich would not have been able to sign this player just because he was product of Dortmund’s youth academy. This is not fair. Dortmund did not pay him when he first joined the club, but they trained him and once he became important, Bayern Munich decided to spend 300,000,000 RMB on him. Dortmund lost a talented player, but they got money from it.
What I am trying to say is that it does not matter if a club wants to sign a new talent or an experienced player. If a fee is paid, the club can replace the departing player by signing another one. It should be the club's responsibility to have a release clause in the contract which says that a player can leave if they receive XXX RMB. Aren't contracts here for a reason?
If this rule can't be changed, then when is a new talent not considered a new talent anymore? When can clubs approach new players? What are the criteria? Are Cty, Fy, Fenrir, xiaotuji and more considered new talents? I hope you can answer these questions.
The other topic that I would like to talk about now is the same than in my previous column: tournaments.
You have explained the reasons for which the top Chinese teams were not allowed to participate in small tournaments, and I can totally understand the reasoning behind it. Why would your sponsors continue to invest that much money if teams like Invictus Gaming, LGD-Gaming, Team DK and TongFu participate in tournaments with 10 times less in prize-money? However, I feel there is a contradiction in what you said, or maybe I did not understand everything. You mentioned that if you allowed the top powerhouses to participate in smaller tournaments, your sponsors may:
- Invest less money in future events
- Stop sponsoring your event
- Show indifference
Unless my maths fail me, there is a 66% chance that you will risk your collaboration with your sponsors and yet, you still allowed the teams to participate in the Alienware Cup and the RedBullECL. Is it a risk that you wanted to take in order to help the teams be ready for The International 3 or did you reach an agreement with your sponsors?
Later in the blog, you mentioned that next year, the teams will compete in two ACE tournaments and two Dota 2 Super League. Considering that these tournaments last minimum two months each, does this mean that the teams will not be allowed to compete in other tournaments? I suppose that your sponsors require the teams to not participate in any other tournaments if they are already involved in the ACE league, right? If that’s correct, the same problem that I brought up before arises again: lack of matches.
In my opinion, the lack of tournaments in China is not the real problem. The real problem to me is the format that the tournament organizers use. Let’s take the example of G-League. G-League is an event that I enjoyed a lot, but I am sure that Team DK did not enjoy it as much as I did. It’s true that they underperformed and deserved to be eliminated, but when you compete in a 260,000 RMB tournament, do you expect to play only three matches? No! But that’s what happened to Team DK. The same can be said about Invictus Gaming during the Dota 2 Super League. They got eliminated from a 1,000,000 RMB tournament after playing five matches… I may be totally wrong, but when you host such an amazing event with such a huge prize-pool, you would like to watch more matches involving Invictus Gaming.
I am not saying that I have an answer to this problem. I am sure that the sponsors have requirements too, and I know for a fact that the longer the tournament lasts, the more problems you may encounter. However, I am sure that the tournament organizers can work on better formats considering the amount of money they have at their disposal. Why not make a league with a round-robin format leading to a playoff system like the RaidCall Dota 2 League or The Premier League? What does this kind of format guarantee? Well, you will have the best teams in China/Asia facing each othersevery week which means that you will have both quality games and quantity. Let’s think for a minute about this format.
Dota 2 Super League:
Duration of the tournament: Almost two months
Number of teams: 10
Format: Groupstage + playoffs
Number of matches: 17
Duration of the tournament: 10 or 11 weeks
Number of teams: 10
Format: Round-Robin + Playoffs
Number of matches: About 50 matches
The league format lasts a little longer, but you have more matches, and I am sure that both the players and viewers would not complain about it.
As a result, if you want the teams to only participate in ACE and the Dota 2 Super League, that’s fine, but I hope that you can all reconsider the format of these tournaments, and let the teams play more matches. If not, I am afraid that what we saw at The International 3 was just a foretaste.
I am also concerned by the lack of Chinese talents/teams. I would be thrilled to see a team that nobody has heard before compete in a major tournament. I am sure that there are decent teams in China, but they can’t prove themselves unless they play in some small cups where winning does not mean too much to the organizers of the major events like yours or the Dota 2 Super League. I urge the tournament organizers to use the same format than the last edition of the G-1 Champions League with the different phases. Phase 3 for new teams, phase 2 for “semi-pro” teams and phase 1 for the best teams. If Vici Gaming had not participated in G-League and performed well, would they be popular today? I am afraid not… I really hope that ACE, Perfect World and Chinese Dota Elite Community can somehow collaborate together, and host “major” online tournaments for both new and professional teams using the same system than the G-1 Champions League.
I have absolutely no idea if you will read this, but if you do, I hope you understand that I do not HATE what you do. I have not been involved in eSports for 14 years like you, but I have been there for quite some time now, and we both want eSports to grow not only in China, but also internationally. I write this in the hope that it will help you, but also the other Chinese organizations.
A Chinese version can be found here: http://p.t.qq.com/longweibo/index.php?lid=10530238674985694703
You can follow Mali on Twitter here.