Improving the Worlds Group Draw
This post is inspired by an article I saw on gamurs.com by Ryan Tang. The article is entitled ‘How Can We Improve the Worlds Group Draw?’, and I suggest you read through it. The article has good information and inspires thought and discussion, as evidenced by my decision to write this.
Ryan’s article focuses on two main problems that the group draw runs into: imprecise seeding and a limited number of games played, especially for teams that are ousted early on in the tournament. While I agree that it sucks to see your favorite team play only a few times before being eliminated, I don’t agree that Worlds is the place to fix this problem. Worlds should be the best of the best, and if you’re not good enough to hang with the best of the best then it’s time to go home. I would love to see more international tournaments as the remedy to this problem, but that’s a story for another day.
Instead, what I would like to focus on is how to improve the imprecise seeding that is a product of the group draw, and I have a simple and easily implemented idea that will fix this issue.
It’s no secret that the Worlds Group Draw has imprecise seeding. One needs only to look at the top two western teams and where they were placed this year to understand this. Following their dismal showing at MSI, G2 Esports lost Europe’s Pool 1 seed and were consequently placed into Pool 2 when they won the EU LCS earlier this year. Their group should be harder to get out of than whatever group they may have gotten had they retained their Pool 1 seed, but unfortunately this is not the case. In a group with ROX Tigers, Counter Logic Gaming, and Albus Nox Luna, G2’s path to the bracket stage is fairly straightforward. ROX Tigers will almost certainly be 2 losses and Nox Luna will almost certainly be 2 wins, leaving only CLG. Beat CLG in what is essentially a best of 3, and G2 are set.
Team SoloMid, on the other hand, finds their path forward blocked by Royal Never Give Up, Samsung Galaxy, and Splyce in what is most certainly the hardest group at Worlds. Despite being seeded into Pool 1, TSM now find they have a much harder path to the finals than G2, the Pool 2 team. This, in my opinion, should not happen. Keep in mind that this is not a prediction for how Worlds will actually play out. G2 and TSM still need to play their way out of the group stage, as no team at Worlds is a pushover. But I think you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who thinks G2 has a harder group than TSM.
My Suggestion for the Group Draw
My solution to this problem is very simple. Instead of having Pool 2 consist of 8 teams and Pool 3 consist of 4 teams, I suggest we swap them, so that Pool 2 consists of 4 teams and Pool 3 consists of 8 teams. The 4 teams in Pool 2 would be the remaining winner of whichever major region doesn’t have a Pool 1 seed (in this case G2), the second and third teams from Korea (SKT and SSG), and the second team from China (RNG). Everyone else would be placed into Pool 3.
There are a multitude of benefits by using this format. To tackle the original problem presented, groups would now be much more fairly balanced. Here’s an example of a group draw that I drew randomly:
These groups are, in my opinion, more evenly distributed than the current groups at Worlds. You can’t look at these groups and think ‘Damn, if Team X was only in Group Y, they’d make it out, but they won’t make it out now.’ like you can with the current groups at Worlds. It’s a fair draw across all groups.
And this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to benefits from this format. Here are some others:
- You’re guaranteed to see two heavyweight teams match up in the group stage without a high risk one gets knocked out of the tournament.
- The stacked top of the groups give rise to true underdog stories. Imagine if Splyce were to beat out either EDG or SSG in this group stage, it’d come almost out of nowhere. A real-life David beats Goliath story.
- With a fair draw, the bracket stage is bound to have some fantastic matchups. Imagine if we got a G2 vs. TSM or EDG vs. RNG matchup in quarterfinals!
- Since Pool 2 now only contains 4 teams, the winner of whichever major region doesn’t have a Pool 1 seed would still be rewarded for finishing first in their region. G2 will always have a better draw in this format than either H2K or Splyce.
- The C9 vs. CLG issue, where a gauntlet winner qualifier is seeded lower despite being a better team than the champion points qualifier, is eliminated in this format as both teams are seeded into the same Pool. (except for China, sorry China :/)
There are a couple drawbacks to this format, however. The likelihood of a Pool 3 team moving on from the group stage is much lower using this format, as they would automatically be at a disadvantage. Underdog stories and upsets are part of what makes the group stages exciting, and this format makes upsets much less likely when it comes to advancing past groups.
The biggest drawback, however, would be the effect this format has on the Worlds Group Draw. Part of the reason the Worlds Group Draw is so much fun is because of the uncertainty behind the drawings. Who’s going to get a group of death? Who’s going to get a group of life? Who lucked out and who’s going home early? We lose most of that hype with this format.
And sometimes a group of death can be good. This Worlds, for example, it was possible to have a group of EDG, SKT, G2, and C9. That group would have been absolutely INSANE. Sure, it would suck to see two of those teams eliminated so early on in the tournament, but imagine how much fun it would be watching them fight for their lives in such a tense and high pressure situation.
Ultimately, this format for a group draw brings a lot of positives to the table, but a few negatives as well. We would lose some of what makes Worlds so exciting, but I think the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. Thanks for reading!