Right now the ladder system dominates the LoL scene, ESL has a season, but their 'season' is still a ladder, there's Alienware Arena which assigns a game weekly, but its still a ladder due to being able to make challenges.
The advantage of a ladder is obvious, anyone can join at any time, and work their way up a ladder. The problem is inactivity, and an overall lack of organization.
Right now i'm on 5 different LoL teams, 4 of them are inactive, I've got one team that finally seems like they want to play in the competetive scene. That's the issue with a ladder, anyone can join up at any time, and play at any time.
How do you follow a ladder? You can look at the top of the rankings, you see a few recognizable names, but alot of these teams have the same players on them. Furthermore you don't even see who've they beaten.
There also is no low or mid level competitive LoL, essentially right now, if you want to play for a good team you Solo Queue to platinum, find a group of guys you like to play with, form a team and start playing Go4LoL and qualifiers.
Meaning the competitive LoL community for team play basically looks at roughly the top ~600 players. If you can't get to platinum you don't belong in the top competitive LoL community? I could say yes to this, however that doesn't mean the remaining ~75,000 players(between 1300 and 1900) don't want to play competitively. Or try to get as near to the scene as possible.
What needs to be done is to adopt a system like CAL and CPL back in the glory days of Counter Strike. Which is also currently used on ESEA, and I believe CEVO does it as well.
CAL(CyberAthletic Amateur League) was a league for multiple games, the most popular being counter strike. a season was generally 2 preseason games, 10 regular season games, and then playoffs. Generally you needed to be 8-2 in order to make the playoffs.
There was 5 divisions of skill Open, Intermediate, Main, Premier and Invite, Every new team(even reforms) started at Open, if a team finished 7-3 in the regular season, they were moved up to Intermediate, All teams that made it to the quarter finals were moved up to the Main division, and the winner of the Open division was moved to either Premier or Invite depending from season to season. The same process was applied to the Intermediate and higher leagues, however their systems for moving people up were adjusted season to season. They also moved under-performing teams to a lower league.
This allowed for forming and recruiting teams to be very smooth, rather than going off of solo queue records(or PUGs in CS), people recruited based on whether you've played in a certain league, people would recruit looking for CAL-M+ players, based on what former leagues their players had participated in.
CAL-Invite was the goal, and consisted of 16 teams, Cash was awarded at the end of the Cal-I, they also received buys to round of 16(or rd of 32 based on the scale of the tournament).
This allowed spectators to follow their teams more, Anyone could look at the website and they knew when a game was on, they could watch it(delayed of course), but they also could track stats extensively. "TSM is 6-2 this year, they're going strong", V8 has lost twice to CLG, ect ect.
The tiered league also allowed for up and coming teams to make a name for themselves, right now there's a team called EZ Gaming, anyone heard of them? Probably only top top players, and maybe a few people that watched Zythian's stream.
But they've never been in a tournament. For that matter, how do you even qualify for a tournament? As far as i've seen as long as you are registered on ESL or MLG, you can join any qualifier, there was nothing blocking me from registering from it.
Yet there was only 16 teams in the qualifier, now sure of those 16, only 6-8 of them had a legitimate chance of qualifying, however 16 teams in an open qualifier? That doesn't seem right(it's possible there is a requirement i'm missing)
Even WCG, looks like there is roughly....100 teams over 3 qualifiers, however a MAJORITY of the matches are forfeit wins.
AlienwareArena has the right idea, they've got a season, and the top 32 teams, play in a tournament for money at the end of the season, they've also got an Open division and an Invite division, however they're sticking to this idea of having a ladder, the league just had its 2nd week match, and already some teams have played 9 games. Good for them but this is going to cause playoffs to have a some teams have played twice as many games as other teams in playoffs.
If we really want the competitive scene in LoL to grow, we need massive leagues with hundreds of teams with a specific season, so that players can move up the ranks of competitive play.
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