What StarCraft Can Learn From Tennis

Posted by MajorMitch (500 posts) -

When it comes to watching live competition, this past weekend was about as good as it gets for me. My two “sports” of choice are tennis and StarCraft, and both had major tournaments going on this weekend. For tennis it was the Miami Masters tournament, and for StarCraft it was MLG Columbus. I had streams for both events playing on my computer simultaneously for most of the weekend, and it was pretty awesome to be able to see the likes of Roger Federer and Chris “HuK” Loranger do what they do best side by side.

You have to love a good one-on-one duel.

The side by side viewing also highlighted the similarities and differences between the two. The biggest similarity, by far, is the fact that both are individual, one-on-one competitions. They both harbor that gladiatorial nature, which is something I really enjoy. It brings out the personalities of the players, and highlights the types of matchups that are often lost in team competition. Another big similarity is that both are at least as mental as they are physical. For StarCraft this is obvious, and tennis is just as much so. I really appreciate this aspect, as it makes both competitions feel very complete to me. Finally, both are very fast. Things generally happen quickly in them, and the smallest misstep can often spell the difference between victory and defeat. This brings a lot of excitement and tension to matches, which makes both playing and watching them exciting; there’s rarely a dull moment. I can’t think of many (if any) other competitions of any kind that share all three of these aspects, which goes a long way towards describing why they are my two sports of choice, for both playing and viewing.

What really stood out to me as I watched this weekend, however, is the biggest difference between tennis and StarCraft: the way they are run at a professional level. While I love playing and watching both on a match by match basis, professional tennis is just better run, and by a good margin. That makes sense to a degree; tennis has been around much longer, and has had plenty of time to work out a lot of its kinks. That doesn’t mean that StarCraft couldn’t learn some of the lessons already learned by tennis. They’re so similar in the fundamental ways described above that professional StarCraft could be run like tennis in almost every way, and in most cases I think that would be for the better. Here are three major things that I think StarCraft could take from tennis that would make it better as a professional sport.

1. Official World Rankings

You can't deny that Djokovic is currently the best tennis player in the world, with Nadal right behind.

Tennis junkies debated amongst themselves for decades who the best players in the world were before finally instating an official, performance based rankings system in 1973. Now we never have to wonder; right now we know, without a shadow of a doubt, that Novak Djokovic is the best tennis player in the world, Rafael Nadal is number 2, Roger Federer is number 3, and so on. This is a fantastic way to establish a pecking order, and give extra meaning to results in tennis. For example, going into this week’s Miami Masters event, there was a chance that Federer could overtake Nadal as the number 2 ranked player in the world. How does that not make the result of the tournament more interesting in the grand scheme of things? Having an official world ranking not only answers the question of “Who’s the best?”, but it also adds context to the larger narrative of the sport as the players play tournaments from week to week.

StarCraft has no official ranking at the moment, which makes it impossible to say with any clarity who the best player in the world is. Sure, you could argue that MarineKing’s win at MLG Columbus puts him on top. But what if, say, DRG comes out and steals the show at the next GSL? What if Stephano wins the next IPL? Would MarineKing still be the best then? Without an official ranking, our perception of the best players changes drastically from one event to the next. Each event stands on its own, its result rendered meaningless once the next event starts. An official rankings system would not only establish a true StarCraft hierarchy, but also give each result more weight in the larger narrative of the game.

2. Calendar

The tennis calendar is simple and effective.

The tennis calendar isn’t perfect, but what tennis gets right is that during the regular season there is a tennis tournament almost every single week, and with rare exception each tournament lasts exactly one week. Better yet, each tournament falls into one of four tiers of prestige, clearly defining what the biggest, most significant events are. This gives a steady flow of tournaments to follow: every week professional tennis is being played somewhere, and every Sunday a champion is crowned. And since the bigger tournaments are clearly defined, you know which tournaments you expect to see the big dogs show up at. The likes of Nadal and Federer may not bother to show up at San Jose in February, but come July you can bet they’ll all be on the grass at Wimbledon. It’s a simple, clear way to highlight what tournaments matter most, while still providing high quality competition almost every week of the year.

StarCraft, on the other hand, has a haphazard calendar. Some tournaments like the GSL take months to complete, while others like MLG happen in a single weekend. More confusing still, these tournaments often don’t happen at regular intervals, and there’s no real distinction on what the “biggest” tournaments are. Does winning a GSL have more significance than winning an IPL? It’s a mess to try and follow or make sense of these tournaments in the grand scheme of things, furthering the notion that each one is an event unto itself. If StarCraft could establish a more sensible calendar and tournament hierarchy, it would create a more meaningful sequence of events, and lend each result more weight in the bigger picture of the sport.

3. Tournament Format

The format for a tennis tournament is the simplest, purest kind there is: single elimination knockout tournament. This format is used at virtually every single tennis tournament, and it makes perfect sense for a one-on-one sport such as this. All of a sudden, every match matters; one off day and you are done. Upsets now become a big deal (which is always exciting), and you know by the end of the tournament that the champion is the only person who beat everyone in his path. Tennis further supplements this by having players play at most one match a day, and having matches be long enough to guarantee that the better player on the day wins the match. It’s all designed to create the fairest possible playing field, and do as much as possible to ensure that the better player wins.

Being this convoluted only hurts StarCraft.

StarCraft tournament formats are a mess, with qualifying rounds, round robin play and double elimination losers brackets all combining in the most obtuse ways possible. Trying to make sense of it all takes a monumental effort, and even worse is that individual matches are often really short. A best of three series in StarCraft hardly guarantees that the better player on the day comes out on top. Furthermore, many tournaments have players playing multiple times a day, which can not only lead to fatigue, but also eliminates important preparation time. This makes it extremely unlikely that we’re always seeing players at their best. If StarCraft tournaments were single elimination, one match a day, and every match was long (think best of seven or more), that would be an easily digestible format that would simultaneously guarantee that the best players advance from one round to the next.

Conclusion

I admit, there are a lot of factors holding StarCraft back from adopting tennis’ structure right now. Tennis itself took a long time to get there, and these kinds of things are often guided by money more than anything else. I’m not even sure the StarCraft audience is large enough to support the year-round structure that tennis has. Perhaps even more unlikely, a large number of bodies would have to come together and agree on a lot of different things to make any changes. Blizzard, tournament organizers, sponsors, players, and even fans; there are a lot of people with different contributions to the sport, and who knows if they could all agree on anything more unified than the haphazard collection of self contained tournaments that we have right now.

It might be wishful thinking, but that doesn’t mean I can’t indeed wish for more. A world where StarCraft is run more like tennis at a professional level is highly exciting to me, and would have me watching it week in, week out, rather than watching the occasional game here and there. It would give greater meaning to each tournaments’ results, and create a larger narrative defining the sport and its history. Tennis has laid the framework, and my fingers are crossed that StarCraft can one day make use of it.

#1 Posted by MajorMitch (500 posts) -

When it comes to watching live competition, this past weekend was about as good as it gets for me. My two “sports” of choice are tennis and StarCraft, and both had major tournaments going on this weekend. For tennis it was the Miami Masters tournament, and for StarCraft it was MLG Columbus. I had streams for both events playing on my computer simultaneously for most of the weekend, and it was pretty awesome to be able to see the likes of Roger Federer and Chris “HuK” Loranger do what they do best side by side.

You have to love a good one-on-one duel.

The side by side viewing also highlighted the similarities and differences between the two. The biggest similarity, by far, is the fact that both are individual, one-on-one competitions. They both harbor that gladiatorial nature, which is something I really enjoy. It brings out the personalities of the players, and highlights the types of matchups that are often lost in team competition. Another big similarity is that both are at least as mental as they are physical. For StarCraft this is obvious, and tennis is just as much so. I really appreciate this aspect, as it makes both competitions feel very complete to me. Finally, both are very fast. Things generally happen quickly in them, and the smallest misstep can often spell the difference between victory and defeat. This brings a lot of excitement and tension to matches, which makes both playing and watching them exciting; there’s rarely a dull moment. I can’t think of many (if any) other competitions of any kind that share all three of these aspects, which goes a long way towards describing why they are my two sports of choice, for both playing and viewing.

What really stood out to me as I watched this weekend, however, is the biggest difference between tennis and StarCraft: the way they are run at a professional level. While I love playing and watching both on a match by match basis, professional tennis is just better run, and by a good margin. That makes sense to a degree; tennis has been around much longer, and has had plenty of time to work out a lot of its kinks. That doesn’t mean that StarCraft couldn’t learn some of the lessons already learned by tennis. They’re so similar in the fundamental ways described above that professional StarCraft could be run like tennis in almost every way, and in most cases I think that would be for the better. Here are three major things that I think StarCraft could take from tennis that would make it better as a professional sport.

1. Official World Rankings

You can't deny that Djokovic is currently the best tennis player in the world, with Nadal right behind.

Tennis junkies debated amongst themselves for decades who the best players in the world were before finally instating an official, performance based rankings system in 1973. Now we never have to wonder; right now we know, without a shadow of a doubt, that Novak Djokovic is the best tennis player in the world, Rafael Nadal is number 2, Roger Federer is number 3, and so on. This is a fantastic way to establish a pecking order, and give extra meaning to results in tennis. For example, going into this week’s Miami Masters event, there was a chance that Federer could overtake Nadal as the number 2 ranked player in the world. How does that not make the result of the tournament more interesting in the grand scheme of things? Having an official world ranking not only answers the question of “Who’s the best?”, but it also adds context to the larger narrative of the sport as the players play tournaments from week to week.

StarCraft has no official ranking at the moment, which makes it impossible to say with any clarity who the best player in the world is. Sure, you could argue that MarineKing’s win at MLG Columbus puts him on top. But what if, say, DRG comes out and steals the show at the next GSL? What if Stephano wins the next IPL? Would MarineKing still be the best then? Without an official ranking, our perception of the best players changes drastically from one event to the next. Each event stands on its own, its result rendered meaningless once the next event starts. An official rankings system would not only establish a true StarCraft hierarchy, but also give each result more weight in the larger narrative of the game.

2. Calendar

The tennis calendar is simple and effective.

The tennis calendar isn’t perfect, but what tennis gets right is that during the regular season there is a tennis tournament almost every single week, and with rare exception each tournament lasts exactly one week. Better yet, each tournament falls into one of four tiers of prestige, clearly defining what the biggest, most significant events are. This gives a steady flow of tournaments to follow: every week professional tennis is being played somewhere, and every Sunday a champion is crowned. And since the bigger tournaments are clearly defined, you know which tournaments you expect to see the big dogs show up at. The likes of Nadal and Federer may not bother to show up at San Jose in February, but come July you can bet they’ll all be on the grass at Wimbledon. It’s a simple, clear way to highlight what tournaments matter most, while still providing high quality competition almost every week of the year.

StarCraft, on the other hand, has a haphazard calendar. Some tournaments like the GSL take months to complete, while others like MLG happen in a single weekend. More confusing still, these tournaments often don’t happen at regular intervals, and there’s no real distinction on what the “biggest” tournaments are. Does winning a GSL have more significance than winning an IPL? It’s a mess to try and follow or make sense of these tournaments in the grand scheme of things, furthering the notion that each one is an event unto itself. If StarCraft could establish a more sensible calendar and tournament hierarchy, it would create a more meaningful sequence of events, and lend each result more weight in the bigger picture of the sport.

3. Tournament Format

The format for a tennis tournament is the simplest, purest kind there is: single elimination knockout tournament. This format is used at virtually every single tennis tournament, and it makes perfect sense for a one-on-one sport such as this. All of a sudden, every match matters; one off day and you are done. Upsets now become a big deal (which is always exciting), and you know by the end of the tournament that the champion is the only person who beat everyone in his path. Tennis further supplements this by having players play at most one match a day, and having matches be long enough to guarantee that the better player on the day wins the match. It’s all designed to create the fairest possible playing field, and do as much as possible to ensure that the better player wins.

Being this convoluted only hurts StarCraft.

StarCraft tournament formats are a mess, with qualifying rounds, round robin play and double elimination losers brackets all combining in the most obtuse ways possible. Trying to make sense of it all takes a monumental effort, and even worse is that individual matches are often really short. A best of three series in StarCraft hardly guarantees that the better player on the day comes out on top. Furthermore, many tournaments have players playing multiple times a day, which can not only lead to fatigue, but also eliminates important preparation time. This makes it extremely unlikely that we’re always seeing players at their best. If StarCraft tournaments were single elimination, one match a day, and every match was long (think best of seven or more), that would be an easily digestible format that would simultaneously guarantee that the best players advance from one round to the next.

Conclusion

I admit, there are a lot of factors holding StarCraft back from adopting tennis’ structure right now. Tennis itself took a long time to get there, and these kinds of things are often guided by money more than anything else. I’m not even sure the StarCraft audience is large enough to support the year-round structure that tennis has. Perhaps even more unlikely, a large number of bodies would have to come together and agree on a lot of different things to make any changes. Blizzard, tournament organizers, sponsors, players, and even fans; there are a lot of people with different contributions to the sport, and who knows if they could all agree on anything more unified than the haphazard collection of self contained tournaments that we have right now.

It might be wishful thinking, but that doesn’t mean I can’t indeed wish for more. A world where StarCraft is run more like tennis at a professional level is highly exciting to me, and would have me watching it week in, week out, rather than watching the occasional game here and there. It would give greater meaning to each tournaments’ results, and create a larger narrative defining the sport and its history. Tennis has laid the framework, and my fingers are crossed that StarCraft can one day make use of it.

#2 Posted by EkajArmstro (380 posts) -

I like the world rankings idea, but I think single elimination would be horrible. With double elimination you usually have the best two players in the finals, which makes it more interesting. With single elimination, the best players could meet at any point and then be gone (and if you are using tournaments for rankings, then the rankings would be more inaccurate).

#3 Posted by MajorMitch (500 posts) -

@EkajArmstro: Tennis actually forms its draws based on the world rankings, such that higher ranked players can't meet each other early on. For example, the highest ranked player in the tournament is always placed at the top of the draw, and the second ranked player is always placed at the bottom. Therefore, they can never meet before the final. Djokovic (number 1) and Nadal (number 2) have played each other 7 times over the past year, every time in the final, since they can't meet sooner. This helps prevent the best players from meeting too soon that often.

That said, there's certainly always a chance that the two best players during any given week meet before the final. That's a trade I'm willing to make; it doesn't happen as often as you would think, and as a player you know that you have plenty of chances to get your ranking up to get a better position in tournaments. It's on the player in a way. But I see your point about double elimination, there's a bit of give and take between the formats. I just prefer the straightforward nature of single elimination... it's less beating around the bush, so to speak.

#4 Posted by csl316 (8114 posts) -

Some cool stuff. I do like the rankings idea, for sure, though with the community being as vocal as it is... it could cause civil wars.

Good point on the calendar. When I watched a ton of SC, I knew what was going on and can figure things out pretty easily. But I also played a lot at the time and was already invested. I can see how confusing and possibly intimidating the crazy scheduling could be to a newcomer. Hell, I avoid college sports because I don't know the difference between all the different Bowls. How's the common man gonna know the difference between Winter Arena, Winter Championships, and Assembly Winter?

And once GSL adopted their new format, I decided to just tune out until the finals. I started watching GSL when I wasn't working during its more simpler days. Now I'm way busier and it's gotten more convoluted. If I need to look up which matches are important and which can be skipped, that simple barrier will just keep me away at this point. Even the MLG bracket can get complex to the point where I don't know which game's are pure elimination. The NASL finals showed that single elimination could be exciting, but I guess the Loser's bracket does give you a reason to stay on board if your favorite players are knocked out.

#5 Posted by Slag (4008 posts) -

good points

Re: world rankings. Don't see that happening anytime soon, given that the elite league is the GSL in korea not America. And I don't know if MLG AND GSL and everyone else want to co-operate, especially given how differently they do things ((MLG does tournaments, GSL does seasons)

#6 Posted by MajorMitch (500 posts) -

@csl316: Thanks for the comments. I'm actually in a similar situation as you: I followed StarCraft II heavily for a while when it first came out, and during that time stuff made sense. But the second I stopped following it religiously I noticed how thick the barrier can be. I have no idea when things happen anymore, or what individual matches mean in a larger context, but I still do really enjoy watching matches for the games themselves. StarCraft is still exciting, which is why I really wish it was showcased better.

@Slag: You nailed it: a lot of different people would have to get together and agree on a lot of different stuff for any kind of change, which is unlikely to happen. And who knows, maybe everyone involved (including the primary fan base) likes it how it is anyway.

#7 Edited by Winternet (8006 posts) -

For any of those 3 things to happen you need that that all professional players and tournaments submit themselves to the same organization and that won't happen in Starcraft.

Edit: That said, I think the ranking system in tennis has flaws that need to be fixed. The rankings in women's tennis has been a mockery for years. The ranking system is too severe for players who sustain injuries. Also, if you're being objective, the ranking at the moment should be 1. Djoko 2. Fed 3. Rafa

#8 Posted by Slag (4008 posts) -

@MajorMitch said:

@Slag: You nailed it: a lot of different people would have to get together and agree on a lot of different stuff for any kind of change, which is unlikely to happen. And who knows, maybe everyone involved (including the primary fan base) likes it how it is anyway.

nah actually I completely agree with your previous sentiment that a unification of rankings needs to happen to elevate the sport. I'm 100% sure it would increase interest in America and the rest of the World (outside of Korea) if there were world rankings like tennis. I'm sure that this is what fans would prefer, but it may not be what the owners of GSL and MLG prefer.

Just look at what happened to Boxing (especially Heavy Weight) once the Belts got split up...

anyway all your ideas are good, some are just going to be difficult to achieve.

#9 Posted by GaspoweR (2806 posts) -

The tennis format would actually benefit most 1 v 1 competitive gaming genres which includes fighting games, not just Starcraft or RTS in general.

#10 Edited by kurtbro900 (117 posts) -

Good points but be honest, did you use the IGN article name generator for this?

#11 Posted by Little_Socrates (5675 posts) -

Some great points, but I'm not invested enough in any sport or games tournaments to have a strong opinion either way. I happen to like single-elimination, though.

#12 Posted by MajorMitch (500 posts) -

@GaspoweR: Very true. I'm not familiar with the pro scene of other genres like fighting games, but I don't see why these ideas couldn't benefit any one-on-one game.

@kurtbro900 said:

Good points but be honest, did you use the IGN article name generator for this?

:)

The funny thing is, I did think about the IGN article name generator after I wrote that title. Then I pondered for a minute to try and come up with another title, couldn't think of anything creative, and just said "screw it". Any suggestions for a better title? :P

#13 Posted by GaspoweR (2806 posts) -

@Little_Socrates: I think single elimination is a pretty good format but i think its better off with a team based tournament than a singles tournament unless it was a high stakes, hug pot prize tournament with a lot of entrants. The double elimination format does give players a chance to play more games and also the build up in a grand finals would more often than not be amazing if for example the player from the losers bracket manages to pull off a comeback. It comes down to not just skill at that point but also mental fortitude and it makes for incredibly exciting matches.

#14 Posted by StarvingGamer (8000 posts) -

Personally I hate single elimination. It's the exact reason why so many of the GSL finals have been so lopsided yet most of the MLG finals have been teeth-clenching bare-knuckle brawls. My ideal 32-man tournament would be done with two group phases a la GSL followed by double elimination for the top 8.

As far as world ranking goes, I think it's pretty clear that GSL results set the current standard. Because of the bum-rush style of a majority of the other tournaments, by the time you reach the finals both players are going to be exhausted and likely to have had very little time to prepare for their specific opponent. Neither of them are at the top of their game. However, the more methodical pace of the GSL schedule means that not only are both players well rested for their matches, they have had every opportunity to research their opponent and approach the game a manner more cerebral than instinctual.

#15 Posted by gamefreak9 (2344 posts) -

The reason why single elimination won't work as well is that starcraft doesn't actually exhaust you like tennis does. So tennis is about consistency and endurance while starcraft... well the endurance thing... lets put it this way, most of these people play starcraft for over 8 hours a day... so they are not going to get too tired any time soon.

#16 Posted by CJduke (782 posts) -

I like some of your points, but I like the way the tournaments are set up. I don't want to see my favorite player eliminated because he went 1-2 in the first round. Also with things like Code A, qualifiers, and losers brackets you get more games and it gives a better chance that the two best players of that tournament will be in the finals. I like your official world rankings idea too. As of right now I'd just have to say whoever wins the GSL is the best player in the world at that time since it is by far the most difficult tournament to win, especially with the new format. I would definitely like to see some kind of points system though with a GSL win giving the most points then maybe a MLG win giving the second most points, and so on. Right now I think its pretty clear DRG and MKP are the best players, and Nestea and MVP are the two best players overall since SC II came out.

#17 Posted by supermike6 (3540 posts) -

Interesting write-up there. You should post this on TeamLiquid and see what they think of this! The world rankings idea is particularly good; that's one of my favourite parts about tennis.

#18 Posted by Ben_H (3311 posts) -

@supermike6 said:

Interesting write-up there. You should post this on TeamLiquid and see what they think of this! The world rankings idea is particularly good; that's one of my favourite parts about tennis.

No, don't do that. The TL community can be quite ruthless and they would either like this or rip it apart. More than likely option 2 since they fear change (just check out the recent ladder map thread there where we found out we are getting tournament maps in the ladder pool and half of the posts made it sound like someone was robbed because Blizzard changed one base on one of the maps to make it simpler for new players)

There already is a world ranking on TL (though it is only top 5 Koreans and top 5 Foreigners), but world ranking does not work (well) for SC2 right now. There's too much variance, it is too difficult to weigh tournaments for difficulty and prestige. You can't only use GSL (the most prestigious tournament) because that would cut out the extreme majority of SC2 pros. For example, if you went by recent tournaments Polt, MKP, DRG and Stephano would be right at the top because they have all been in finals of multiple tournaments this year. But that doesn't mean they're necessarily the best players (Though Polt is godly and DRG actually probably is the best Zerg at the moment). If any of them were to play a BO7 against players like IMMVP they would get absolutely crushed (Except DRG, who, if my memory is correct, has beat MVP). And this is where things get tricky. Ask any SC2 fan who the best, most consistent Terran is and they will say MVP, except for the odd few who would say MMA or MKP due to recent tournaments. Tournament results will not show this however as MVP hasn't been doing so hot this year but when he is in form he is considered the best. That's why we can't just use tournament results.

Same thing with Protoss right now when it comes to best player. Even Artosis keeps switching who is best, because Genius has been on fire lately but we don't know if it's going to be consistent (though his RO32 performance recently was spectacular, only losing to all-ins from Supernova), but at the same time there's MC, who, though he has not been on fire lately, has been one of the more consistent players who has done well since Open Season 3 of GSL so we have to make the judgement of whether one recent GSL's worth of success merits being ranked above a player. We need to wait another year before we can do things like ranking systems so that the game skill cap can level out a bit, there's too much variance in gameplay and too much stuff that needs to be discovered (for example, the 1/1/1 era last year where Protoss' win rate against Terran plummeted at the pro level, while at the same time Zergs had figured out some timing attacks that murdered Protoss and we ended up with a GSL that only had 1 Protoss past the first round) that could potentially completely change how the game plays out.

In SC1 there has been ranking but that's because there is only one really big tournament, the OSL, and thus it is easier to judge players. And in that case it does encompass all of the best players in the world.

Team Liquid does actually have an event calendar and tournament tracker, though it isn't as simple as the tennis one. It functions okay though it's a bit clunky. As for formats, most of them are straight forward. The GSL's isn't actually to complicated but their diagram does it no favours.

I watch too much GSL.

#19 Edited by MajorMitch (500 posts) -

Wow, thanks for all the comments. It's great to see a lot of different opinions, seems like this is something people care about, which is awesome.

@StarvingGamer said:

As far as world ranking goes, I think it's pretty clear that GSL results set the current standard.

That may be true, but it's hard for someone not super deep into the StarCraft pro scene to pick up on that. I guess what I would prefer is something more official and definitive.

@CJduke said:

I like some of your points, but I like the way the tournaments are set up. I don't want to see my favorite player eliminated because he went 1-2 in the first round.

What if all matches were best of 7, or maybe even best of 9? Then you'd be guaranteed at least 4 or more games from every player, which is all you're guaranteed in double elimination anyway (excluding any players that get put in pool play, which is a mechanism to show a lot of games of popular players).

@supermike6 said:

Interesting write-up there. You should post this on TeamLiquid and see what they think of this! The world rankings idea is particularly good; that's one of my favourite parts about tennis.

Thanks duder! I definitely thought about posting it to TL, but I've heard they're pretty ruthless like Ben_H said. They probably wouldn't take very kindly to some "newcomer" coming in and telling them they're doing it wrong :P

#20 Posted by Jeaz (60 posts) -

Hey, very good article. I particularly like the idea of the simplified tournament format. But for it to work, we'd need seeding and that requires a ranking and more consistent tournaments. It's also not healthy that one player, MLG has such big control. Have a world ranking, seed the tournaments with a flat knockout tier system with being best of 5 or even 7 and the quality of the tournaments will get higher.

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