On June 15, Team U.S.A. and Team Canada played against each other in a tournament hosted by E3, one of the largest gaming conventions in the world. An hour and 15 minutes later, Team U.S.A. had annihilated their opponent, sweeping all four games. But this victory was not without controversy.
While Team U.S.A. featured much greater overall teamplay, the organizers favored U.S.A. in subtle but important ways.
Teamplay: An Important Contribution to Team U.S.A.’s Victory
Players chosen for international tournaments are the best of the best from each country. But being the best does not always mean you can play well with others. This was evident during yesterday’s tournament.
While Team U.S.A. worked as a cohesive whole, Team Canada did not. This was most evident when we look at how members of each team communicated with each other. Each player from U.S.A. displayed an immediate trust of one another committing themselves to objectives and targets that benefited the whole team.
Canada, however, featured a wide array of miscommunication. Instead of following through on clear objectives together, the players failed to communicate efficiently. For example, D.Va and Winston could not get on the same page, often leading to one of their deaths. Targets were not marked efficiently, and there was an obvious lack of commitment to the match and to each
Canada in the Shadows
Lack of communication was not the only reason for Canada’s loss. Hosted by American cell phone carrier T-Mobile, there seemed an obvious bias in favor of U.S.A. throughout the match.
And this was evident before the game even began.
When both teams were being introduced, much more time and attention was paid to U.S.A. while Canada was forced to sit in the shadows. This is not necessarily unusual. After all, the host country is often favored in international showings.
But the events that followed proved that there was much more going on than a little hometown taunting. For example, U.S.A.’s players were set up in a nice shady spot while Canada’s team was forced to sit in the hot sun. This left the Canadian player to deal with two disadvantages: the discomfort of the heat and the glare of the sun. As a result, U.S.A. had a significant and unfair advantage during the entire course of the tournament.
This could have just been chalked up to poor planning by T-Mobile and other organizers, but the list of advantages given to U.S.A. stretches even longer.
To Pause or Not to Pause?
On Lijang Tower: Control Center, the last map in the match, Team U.S.A. requested a pause for Jay “Sinatraa” Won, who was experiencing some technical difficulties. This was normal enough as teams typically receive pauses to correct for such problems.
What was abnormal was that the pause revealed in-game chat in which Canadian player Mangachu was complaining about how U.S.A. received a pause while his country did not. While Mangachu may have been stretching the truth in some way, information that came in after the game suggests otherwise.
Can Canada Get a Break?
Team Canada’s disorganization may at first sight seem to be the result of poor decisions like switching Brady “Agilities” Girardi to healer while giving their star healer Randal “Roolf” Stark the spot of DPS. But this poor mistake makes much more sense given Lane “Surefour” Robert’s after-game comments when he revealed that Team Canada’s PCs were under-performing.
He stated that Agilities’ computer had severe FPS lag and that he could not play DPS at a pro-level. As a result, he gave the role to Roolf who had a playable framerate. Surefour claimed that each computer was running over 100 FPS less than the optimal amount.
With such a low framerate and a refusal by T-Mobile and E3 to grant a pause to correct the mistake, Team U.S.A.’s various advantages appear to be more than coincidence.
While the USA deserves credit for their victory over Canada, the advantages given to them by T-Mobile and E3 cannot be overlooked.
Still, it would be unfair to say that these organizers purposefully placed U.S.A. at an advantage. Nonetheless, these mistakes could have been easily avoided or remedied, and the failure to do so shows a lack of competence by organizers.
While we look forward to the upcoming Overwatch World Cup, we must be wary of such organizational mistakes. If esports are ever to receive the same respect traditional sports receive, our tournaments must be better organized. Perhaps as fans and players of Overwatch, we need to demand that Blizzard creates a set of rules or guidelines for future tournaments in order to maintain fairness throughout gameplay.