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The Five Things we Have Learned From the World E-sports Professional Classic





The World E-sports Professional Classic, China’s biggest Dota 2 event to date, has just concluded and saw Team DK clinch their first victory in the most memorable grand final in the history of the game. While this tournament has been well-received by the fans from all over the globe, there have been numerous criticisms of the tournament that the Association of Chinese eSports, the organization behind this event, can’t overlook, especially if they plan to host a second edition.

    1. Team DK break the curse

The victory of Team DK is unquestionably the highlight of the tournament. Team DK, like many other Chinese teams, made the switch to Valve’s Dota 2 just a few months before The International 2012, but they remained the only one without a major championship until the first day of 2014. They have had several occasions to win a major championship throughout their Dota 2 career — like the Dota 2 Super League and MLG Columbus just to name a few — but they always fell short in the grand final.

After the addition of Daryl “iceiceice” Koh Pei Xiang and Chai “Mushi” Yee Fung, Team DK were urged to become the best Chinese (or maybe ChineSEA?) team. Although they did not impress in the National Electronic Sports Tournament — a tournament they took part in only a few hours after iceiceice landed in China — they have, however, lived up to people’s expectation in the first weeks of the World E-sports Professional Classic. We had to wait the fifth week of competition to see Chen “Zhou” Yao and his teammates from TongFu give them their first defeat. Even though TongFu is a remarkable team made up of exceptional players, the result may have been totally different had the match been played on 6.78.

Although the team has two amazing drafters and masterminds in Chai “Mushi” Yee Fung and Xu “BurNIng” Zhilei along with versatile players, they were probably the team having the most difficulties adapting to the new patch. For several weeks, they were struggling against teams they used to easily defeat on the previous patch. They were no longer the invincible team they once were, but they still managed to top the group with five more points than Invictus Gaming.

With their performance throughout the group stage, they directly advanced to the semi-finals of the competition where they would face the winners of LGD-Gaming international against Vici Gaming. Truth be told, they had a lucky draw if you consider that Invictus Gaming had to deal with LGD-Gaming in their semi-final encounter. Be that as it may, they convincingly reached the grand final of the competition where they faced Invictus Gaming. They were the obvious favorites to win this series, but nobody had predicted they would win the competition the way they did. The first three matches were a calamity, and I do not want to imagine what was BurNIng — a player who considered retiring after The International 2013 — thinking during the break. I would also like to know what Tang "71" Wenyi told “his” players during that break. Anyway, the break greatly benefited them, and won four games in a row to become the champions of the World E-sports Professional Classic.

This victory will always be engraved in the memory of people who have a passion for this game. There have been many great victories in the past such as Alliance winning the biggest event in the history of Electronic Sports or TongFu lifting the trophy in the Dota 2 Super League to the detriment of Team DK. However, for many people and fans, this victory is more memorable. Not only have Team DK won their first major championship in Dota 2, they have also triumphed in the biggest tournament outside The International. They have also managed to win a series where they were three games behind, an achievement that only a few athletes can relate.  As Lei “MMY” Zengrong said “It’s a miracle”.

    2. LGD-Gaming’s marathon

LGD-Gaming’s marathon was probably one of the most controversial topics in the competition. The schedule of the semi-finals and third place decider was atrocious, and LGD-Gaming will certainly not disagree with this. The first semi-final between Team DK and Vici Gaming was played on December 30th while the second was played the following day between Invictus Gaming and LGD-Gaming. Vici Gaming and LGD-Gaming both lost their match, but still had one more Best-of-Five series to play in order to determine the team that will complete the podium.

It is fair to say that LGD-Gaming were not in the best conditions to play this one last match. They had played earlier that day five stressful and tiring games against Invictus Gaming, and they only had little time to rest before playing their second and last Best-of-Five series. Vici Gaming, as for them, had one day to prepare for their match, and more importantly, they were able to gather information from LGD-Gaming during their match against Invictus Gaming. Of course, they did not know the name of their opponents at that time, but no matter who advanced, they still had information that they could use for their match.

As you may know, Vici Gaming crushed LGD-Gaming 3-0 and finished third in the World E-sports Professional Classic. For those who are familiar with LGD-Gaming, it was obvious that they were not playing their A-game, but would they have won had the match been played another day? We will unfortunately never know. What we do know, however, is that a team should not be at a disadvantage before the match starts due to poor scheduling.

    3. Million for the winners, peanuts for the losers

As mentioned above, the World E-sports Professional Classic is the biggest Dota 2 event ever hosted apart from Valve’s annual event, The International. However, the prize-distribution was really horrendous, but I am sure that Team DK and their fans will not complain about this issue. The team that should complain about this issue is LGD-Gaming. Yes, them again.

LGD-Gaming had a very good run in the competition. They finished fourth in the group stage, just two points behind Vici Gaming and three from Invictus Gaming. They underperformed on a few occasions, but overall, their results were very satisfying. In the play-offs, they had the hard task to face TongFu and then Invictus Gaming. Although they comfortably eliminated TongFu from the competition, they were beaten by Invictus Gaming in the last game of the series. What did they get for their convincing performance?  20,000 RMB i.e. ~$3.250. After three months of competition and 47 games played, it is fair to say that $3.250 is a ridiculous amount of money. Short story long, the players of LGD-Gaming received about $650 each from this tournament.

When you host a tournament of this caliber, you expect the teams to make more than this. I still can’t believe that LGD-Gaming, a team that made it to the semi-finals of the BIGGEST competition outside of The International, won as much as the B team of TongFu who finished last in the group stage with 36 defeats and no win. This is, in my opinion, offending.

I can understand that it is very appealing to approach the media and sponsors and say “Look, we have one million RMB for the winners of our own tournament”, but Electronic Sports is still a growing industry, and only the best teams can benefit from these kind of tournaments. By comparison, the Dota 2 Super League — a tournament with “only” one million RMB in prize-money — had a better prize-distribution than the World E-sports Professional Classic. The winners “only” received 500,000 RMB (~$81,200) but Orange eSports received 50,000 RMB (~$8,100) for placing fourth.

If a second edition is hosted this year, I hope that the organizers will consider:

  • Boost the prize-pool so not only the three best teams get a nice cheque OR
  • Give less money to the winners and more to the teams reaching the play-offs.

    4. Tournament format

This is a topic that I discussed before. In my opinion, most Chinese tournaments have a terrible format for the simple and good reason that all the matches are played off-line. When you have ten teams, a round-robin format may not be the best choice. Of course, this is a very interesting format for the teams since they get to do what they are paid for, play. However, each team only had four games to play a week for nine weeks, and if there were not any other tournaments to take part in, these nine weeks could have been very boring for the teams. 

This format also has a huge flaw. It took nine weeks for the teams to play all their matches in the group stage. A lot of things can happen in nine weeks. LGD-Gaming international and RisingStars had to face some various problems which forced them to play with players not already participating in the event. As a result, RisingStars were “forced” to sign a player that they may not wanted on the long run while LGD-Gaming international had to play their play-off match with two Chinese stand-ins. This rule perfectly makes sense and I totally agree with it, but if the tournament did not last that long, maybe these two teams would not have faced such problems. That being said, I feel that LGD-Gaming international could have used players from one of the eliminated teams during their play-off match. 

Anyway, these roster changes only affected two teams. The 6.79 patch that was implemented during the middle of the group stage affected all the teams, especially Team DK. They had won 16 consecutive games in the tournament before the release of the new version, a version that completely changed the way the game is played. Even though all the teams suffered from this change, it is still better to finish the matches of the group stage with the same “settings”. As a result, the tournament organizers should either favor another format or have these 90 games played in less time.

    5. Hearts Get Together & TongFu.WanZhou

Inviting two unknown teams to take part in China’s most prestigious tournament is one of the decisions that I like. Unfortunately, TongFu.WanZhou did not have a great run in the competition as they finished it with 36 defeats. Hearts Get Together had a more successful run as they managed to win a game against RisingStars and RattleSnake, teams supposedly better. They were certainly eliminated from the competition early, but they left it with something invaluable: experience.

The Chinese amateur scene is in a terrible shape now, but the organizers have (slightly) helped to make it better. A qualifier for the next edition may be a more judicious idea.  

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