Regional leagues on the rise
Tournament organiser ESL announced the inclusion of Dota 2 into their Meisterschaft series this Thursday. The ESL Meisterschaft is a league-system for German-speaking countries and so far has been held in the disciplines such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, FIFA and formerly League of Legends. Dota now has its debut in the league.In this tweet ESL announce that Dota 2 is going to be the second discipline of the ESL Meisterschaft 2020. On March 5th the Open Qualifiers start. The esports organisation looks "forward to seeing many new faces and an exciting battle for the first title."
Of course, regional leagues are no new invention. Many countries organise smaller tournaments and regular leagues to support the local community. In China for example, there is one league for tier 2 and 3 teams, the China Dota2 Development League Season 2. Additionally, a second league for professional teams got implemented as well, the China Dota2 Pro League Season 1.
DPC introduces a league system as well
The trend towards leagues takes bigger dimensions. Recently, Valve's plans to transform the DPC season were partially revealed. The amount of tournaments was said to get reduced to three Majors. Also, the implementation of regional leagues with two divisions to replace Major qualifier was leaked.
So far, information is sparse and there are no details on how the system will actually be put into practice. The success of the change is highly dependend on the execution. It is not clear how many teams can take part in the league, what the financial support looks like or how many matches there are and in which frequency they will be played.
Major changes are coming for the Dota 2 Pro Circuit next year, sources tells us. No Minors, a league system, and only three Majors.
Benefits of a league system & the impact to the tier 2 scene
Less pressure: Every player or team can have a bad day or phase when they cannot play on top of their game. A faux pas is crucial at an event like The International. In a regular league with a huge amount of game days, instead of one condensed weekend, a failure does not have as big as an impact.
Balanced system: With the possibiliy for relegation and promotion, a league creates a competitive environment that is much fairer and balanced than one qualifier and a weekend of matches. Teams have the possibility to play more matches, instead of getting eliminated by one of the invincible powerhouses in the first round.
Scouting platform: While promising newcomers can be scouted in pubs, a league and smaller tournaments give them a bigger stage to get discovered and display their skill.
More support for tier 2: A regional league with several divisions can fit in more teams than occasionally occurring open qualifiers and potentially even means a better financial support. Teams have more opportunities to play and gather experience.
Public interest and more tension: A relegation and promotion format can create more tension in some cases. Not only the matches for the top three teams are important, also the lower places get put in the limelight.
Less traveling and visa issues: The current dense tournament schedule brings difficulties to some teams to secure their visa in time. Less tournaments and a long-term location or even an online league means less travelling for teams.
Disadvantages & the risks for the tier 2 scene
Longer obligation: Teams switch players between tournaments to adjust their roster for the next qualifiers. With a league lasting for a longer period of time, it takes away some flexibility for roster-changes. A player is more obligated to commit to one team.
Time-consuming: Leagues might take away pressure and the frequency of travelling, but at the same time it can turn out to be quite time-consuming. Constant match days require players to be permanently available and perform, with less possibilities for timeouts.
Tier 2 teams have less chances: A league might involve more teams and therefore be beneficial for lower-tier teams – but only for those who make the cut. If you don't make it into the league system, you have to wait until the entire season is over for your next chance.
Becoming dull: While, on the one hand, a league can create tension, on the other, it also could mean that only highlight matchups become interesting. An oversaturation of mediocre matches could lessen the interest of viewers.
Risks of patches: Patches can completely change the way the game is played and with bad timing, it could potentially ruin matches. There is much more time between tournaments to adjust to any meta changes. With long-lasting leagues, there are less fitting time slots to release a patch and might happen in the middle of a competitive weekend.
What benefits and disadvantages do you see in league systems?