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Team leagues - a penny saved is a penny earned.

By Lawrence Benedict 'Malystryx' Phillips
Nov 20, 2008 11:02


ImageAre team leagues a thing of the past, are they passed their sell-by-date? Have they become nothing more than an occasional and sometimes enjoyable novelty, or are they the backbone of the Warcraft3 world?

The problem with team leagues is there are very minimal gains for a mid-tier team. The NGL and the WC3L are the only team-leagues around for Warcraft3 that have enough prize money to attract well established teams, and it's still slim pickings.

In the world's first and only weekly esports column, fellow SK writer Michael "Zechs" Radford brought up the topic of team leagues, stating that "Warcraft III is becoming less and less team-based with every passing week".

"If you can not compete for a play-off spot in WC3L or NGL, that media attention grinds to an inevitable halt"
His article was spurred on by the recent announcement by Serious Gaming that they would cease participation in team leagues and that they came "to the conclusion the gains no longer outweigh the costs".

The last NGL Finals had a cash purse of $16,000 with $10,000 for first place. Meanwhile the WC3L Season XIII finals had 10,000 euros cash purse for top 4 finishers (only 5,000 euros for 1st place), with an additional 2,500 euros for travel expenses per team, so 20,000 euros total.

The WC3L and NGL prize money is poor considering each team has maybe four to five players and their clans can, but not always do, take a cut of their winnings. For the big teams though this is a chance to showcase their team, their sponsors and their faces.

For those organisations who are outside of the top four the only thing to be gained from team leagues is exposure, but if you can not compete for a play-off spot in WC3L or NGL, that media attention grinds to an inevitable halt.

For Serious Gaming salaries would have been the most taxing expense of supporting a Warcraft3 team. The serious gaming squad competed at international level but only really at ESWC and WCG where travel costs are paid by the relevant host of the qualifiers.

"From Serious Gaming's perspective they simply put their eggs in one too many baskets."
The World Cyber Games 2008 must have been the determining factor as Serious Gaming had four players present; RotterdaM, kowi, KiWiKaKi, and NightWolf, level with Gravitas, and none of them managed to progress to the play-offs.

Given the competition in WCG this is understandable for the players but from the Serious Gaming's perspective they simply put their eggs in one too many baskets. The decision to drop all but RotterdaM and DowaQ seems logical considering RotterdaM is the most successful of the former roster and both he and DowaQ have good exposure at national qualifiers.

The same could be said for Kowi but the New Zealand scene is perhaps so isolated that with both WCG and ESWC over he would be highly unlikely to participate in any individual tournaments in the near future.

The only hope for team leagues is for spice to be added to an otherwise stale recipe, more Road of the King type tournaments which sees teams selected and travel to an offline event. However this kind of large scale one-off event is costly and given the current economic climate it is unlikely we will see events like this in the near future, even in China.

"We should fear that they could one day in the near future become a frivolity. The solution? Three M's; money, media and maps."
The WC3L have already taken a step to spice things up with the removal of antique maps Gnoll Wood, Lost Temple and Terenas Stand. In their place they have added new the map, Death Trap, and Ancient Isle into the mix for their upcoming season XV qualifiers.

However the reoccurring problem of clan wars becoming longer and longer to complete due to lag, host or player issues, as well as postpones is contributing to team leagues losing their excitement. How excited can a fan be if he has to wait 3-4 hours for a match to end? This is another issue WC3L and NGL need to address to keep people interested.

Team competition is not dead, it is simply in limbo. The WC3L was instrumental in the growth of Warcraft3 as much as the NGL was instrumental in its evolution.

We should not fear the death of team leagues, instead we should fear that they could one day in the near future become a frivolity. The solution? Three M's; money, media and maps. Well, two out of three is not too bad.


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