ESN Editorial: Wildcards in eSports

With the Halo Championship Series next weekend, the first wildcard team in eSports history is about to make an appearance.

The 2014 Major League Baseball World Series featured the Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants. Two very different teams with one thing in common: they were both wildcard teams. Allowing wildcard teams into the playoffs is something many major sports leagues have done, and now eSports.

Some may call them a space waster, undeserving, or even a free win. The truth is these teams fight for the championship and sometimes even win it. They create excitement, upsets, and a story line, and if successful, they leave behind a powerful Cinderella story.

They may not be picked over the number one seed, but they will get their chance to pull off the upset. Sometimes that’s all you need to get your shot at toppling the best.

Most major tournaments in eSports, such as Dota 2’s The International, League of Legend’s Worlds, and Call of Duty’s Championships, require rigorous and numerous qualifying requirements. For CoD Champs alone, a team must place higher than over 500 other teams in an online qualifier just to secure a spot at a regional tournament.

Undoubtedly these qualifiers and shake downs only leave the best teams standing, thus setting up the most spectacular of tournaments for the world to tune in to. This makes it harder to make predictions of which team is going to win with such an even playing ground.

After being absent from most eSports titles, the wildcard has finally entered the scene and could shake things up for other games and organizations to follow.

The Halo Championship Series Finals is the first major eSports league to allow a wildcard into the games. A team who took the road less traveled to find themselves among the best, and depending on who you ask, the underdog. They might make for an easy call during the pre-game against the ranks of Evil Geniuses and OpTic Gaming, but there’s always a chance of a thrilling upset.

Does the wildcard set up a quick and swift 3-0 series sweep, or will it leave the players, spectators, and commentators lost for words as they watch what might be the biggest upset of the season?

Whether these teams deserve to be in these tournaments is up to the individual. Why not give them a shot some might say, maybe they’ll surprise some people. Though the opposition may lead with how they don’t deserve it or didn’t earn it.

I don’t see why Vibe, the Wildcard in the Halo Championship Series Finals, can’t put up a fight or win a match against top teams. The underdog has won plenty of tough matches. Most of us are familiar with storming the court, a sports tradition mainly in college basketball that often occurs when a team nobody thought to win besides the students takes down a rival or higher ranked school. Upsets happen and I don’t see why one can’t happen with the HCS Finals.

The truth is only time will tell if these wildcards turn into champions, and turn champions into wildcards. The Halo Championship Series Finals will take place next weekend, and the first wildcard team in eSports will make an appearance. The prize pool is $100,000, so Vibe could impact the results significantly.