Hi-Rez has made some large changes to the way they are setting up the SPL. The one I am most excited about is three set matches making a return.
When the current format of the SPL was being created Hi-Rez came to the community and asked what they would like to see. In a thread on Reddit, one of the things mentioned was the two game set. The reason behind this was that some people said saving BO3s and BO5s for LANs made them feel more special. I always hated that line of thinking – removing the excitement of deciding games from league play to artificially create hype for LANs just seemed self-defeating. Firstly, I don’t think it made LANs any less hype or made B03s more mundane. Secondly, we should be pushing for more, creating intensity instead of removing, encouraging bigger prize pools and having more on the line. In essence, we should always be asking for more, not less.
BO3s also allow for better competition. We have a bigger sample size within the set so the better team should be rewarded more often than in two game sets, instead of having one poor performance making it impossible to get the full points.
At LAN, we always hear about metas developing within the sets. This is always incredibly interesting to watch develop. With the return of BO3s we will have this in league play too now, hopefully creating more interesting matches, as the approaches of the teams and how they play will become more apparent as these meta unfold. Instead of having a lot of the cookie cutter pick and ban phases we have now, with the few exceptions of the occasional obvious target ban, sets are more likely to feel distinct from one another as teams adapt to each other. The BO3 format will also help this for another reason: not so much will rely on every game, teams can try something different or more targeted and if it doesn’t work they still have the potential to take all the points.
The biggest thing about this though is that the showcase sets will be just that, a showcase. Who wants Obey and Dig to be 1-1 and for that to be the end of the show? Not me, there was always a slight pang of disappointment when a great set went to a split. It always felt like watching the first two parts of a trilogy and never getting to see the end.
No more relegations is an interesting prospect, one I am not sure I am entirely sold on from a viewer’s perspective. In any league from the EPL to the SPL as we have it now the two most exciting parts are the very top and the very bottom. Getting rid of relegation takes away the excitement from the bottom of the league. If we are honest, the scramble away from the trapdoor out of the bottom of the league was the most important part of the Pro League. Seeing as winning the league mainly just gives you seeding going into LAN, being at the bottom of the league and possibly losing your place in the league is far more stressful for players and interesting for fans.
I also question what a lack of relegation is going to do for team stability. With SPL spots being guaranteed to organizations for a year, what incentive is there to stick with players? One recurring complaint in conventional sports is the lack of patience and need for instant success shown by owners. Now with LANs around the corner every few months, if you don’t have a team that is competing at the top and have no fear of losing your spot, why not tinker?
Hi-Rez has not stated what they will demand of orgs in terms of player retention and they very well may have something in place to stop this. However, they have already stated that they want to invest into the Challenger Circuit to create a large pool of the SPL ready talent. As there is no such thing as promotions anymore, this means it’s a feeder league. Hi-Rez has clearly made provisions to make Smite a more appealing investment for orgs and guaranteed players a 30k USD salary. I just hope they have not leaned too heavily in favor of the orgs and that one of the ‘certain obligations’ lined out by Hi-Rez is some sort of security for the players.
Top Image Courtesy of SmiteCentral.com
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