So many StarCraft 2 players are failing to show up to their online matches in various tournaments that organizers are finally putting an end to it. They’re putting players in “jail.”
In 2010, StarCraft 2 reinvigorated the esports community, creating millions of fans and a new wave of pros. Though it’s since been surpassed by games like League of Legends and Hearthstone, StarCraft continues to boast a robust pro scene thanks to Blizzard’s World Championship Series (WCS), the game’s official professional circuit.
For tournaments outside the WCS system, however, the outlook isn’t so positive. This includes many StarCraft tournaments, often held exclusively online, that supplement the pro scene by providing additional prize pools and help develop newcomers. With names like the Kung Fu Cup and OlimoLeague, these tournaments serve a vital role in keeping the scene healthy.
But recently more and more players have been dropping out of these smaller tournaments, usually with short notice. And that is threatening their very existence.
In a joint statement on July 26, these tournaments, under the banner of “The Organization Allied Against Absent Athletes,” declared that they would create a list of offenders that don’t show up on time for matches. If the same player gets three strikes in a row, they won’t be able to sign up for any tournaments within the organization for two months.
This system will be called “Foreigner Jail,” an homage to “KeSPA jail,” which in turn is a joke used by fans to mock how harsh the Korean esports authority (KeSPA) is when administering bans and restrictions.
For “TOA,” this kind of punitive measure is made to preserve the integrity of their tournaments. When a player fails to show up or provide time to replace them, tournaments are forced to disqualify him or her. In addition to frustrating viewers, the disqualifications also mean less airtime, which can affect sponsorships, subscriptions, and brand awareness.
In one case from earlier this year, the SHOUTcraft Clan Wars had to end its season early because many of the participating teams were not even telling SHOUTcraft what players they’d be fielding.
Teams and players that drop from TOA’s tournaments are now on watch, and while there is a “strike council” that serves to ensure nobody uses these strikes to unfairly target innocent players, it’s clear that StarCraft‘s tournaments aren’t going to back down.
And with the organizations’ lives on the line, it’s hard to blame them.
Photo via Connor Tarter/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)
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