In the World Rankings post, I explained how professional tennis has a set of sanctioned tournaments and a world ranking. This makes it easy for players to see what they need to do to get into almost any tournament. In order for this to work, we need sanctioned tournaments. As Starcraft 2 eSports have grown, the amount of tournaments going on has ballooned. However, not all of them are prestigious enough to consider part of the world ranking.
If a pro player wipes the floor with random players in a small, community tournament, he or she should not gain a higher rank. Ranking points should only be earned from the big tournaments, the ones where a lot of professionals are expected to play. This makes it so players cannot artificially inflate their ranking. The whole world ranking falls apart if players can game the system. If a player can get any ranking they want with ease, the ranking becomes worthless. It ceases to serve its function of comparing player skill.
So I propose a set of organizations and tournaments that will be considered sanctioned. Any game played in these tournaments increases points for wins and decreases points for losses. These organizers put on the tournaments of the year in Starcraft 2 eSports.
- Global Starcraft 2 League (GSL) – Korea
- Electronic Sports League (ESL) – Europe
- Dreamhack – Europe
- IGN Pro League (IPL) – USA
- Major League Gaming (MLG) – USA
- Assembly – Europe
- North American Star League (NASL) – USA
I would consider these tournament organizers to be sanctioned. Some of their tournaments would not be sanctioned such as small, community Battle.net tournaments and showmatch tournaments. Everything else I would consider sanctioned, so players could build their ranking when playing in them. Most of the tournaments have an open portion. Anyone interested in becoming a pro would have their shot and playing against other pros and getting a rank. This rank could then be used to get into other tournaments.
Most of these are leagues with a series of smaller tournaments leading up to one big one for the year. These yearly, end-of-season tournaments I would consider “the majors” of Starcraft 2 eSports. The best players from the whole season finally meet at the same time to see who is the overall champion. The most points would be awarded for these tournaments. These tournaments are invite-only right now, but I think they would be better with a simple world ranking requirement. The top 128 based on ranking would be better.
These are just my opinions on which tournaments should be sanctioned. The main hurdle to overcome in naming sanctioned tournaments is a governing body with the authority to do this. Right now each league feels disconnected from the others. They do not feel like part of the same eSports scene. A worldwide eSports governing body would connect all of the leagues, each having a stake in this group. The group would decide which tournaments each year were sanctioned and the weight for each tournament.
The tennis organization that does this is the Association of Tennis Professionals. We need an organization like this for Starcraft 2 eSports. The ideal governing body would be trusted by both players and fans to represent the needs of everyone involved. There are already some connections being made between leagues. The GSL team league finals were played at the IPL in Las Vegas, and the GSL invited a few top MLG players to their big tournament. We need more of this though. A worldwide eSports governing body would be perfect.
Improving Starcraft 2 eSports is an ongoing series where I discuss how the eSports scene could be improved. You can read all of these posts by heading to the category page.