2019 was a huge success for Teamfight Tactics. Riot announced that in 2020 that it was going all in on TFT. With an announcement by Riot indicating that a competitive TFT scene is coming, some of the biggest esports teams jumped on ship.
However, Cloud9, TSM and Team Liquid among others are now nearing the end of Feburary with no concrete plans on what the competitive scene is going to look like. But it’s not time to panic, in fact, it’s far from it. Riot Mort, the lead designer for TFT, reiterated on his stream that a competitive scene is coming and it’s coming soon.
The delay is due to Riot prioritizing a mobile release of the title. With that project now nearing completion. It’s time to see what Riot is cooking up for the competitive side. Here are the top things on many players’ wish list for the 2020 year in regards to competitive TFT.
Keep Streamer/Influencer events to a minimum
Riot has technically already put resources into “competitive play”. At TwitchCon 2019, players got their first look into what a competitive event would look like in TFT. The event had a mix of both personalities as well as highly ranked players competing for a prize pool of $50,000. The event was well-received due to the mix of streamers and actual good players.
However, Riot took a huge step back in the next event they held. The Red Bull Invitational was an event that Riot used to show off the brand new second set in TFT, Rise of the Elements. But instead of inviting the best players, Riot decided to invite only personalities.
The tournament itself was not serious at all. There were wacky twists in the tournament to get players to play sub-optimally in hopes of scoring more “points”. The casters and commentators constantly bombarded the players mid-game to interview them. This was happening as they were trying to make tough decisions too. To make matters worse, the prize pool for this event was a whopping $150,000.
At the end of the day, the highest-ranked player at the tournament, Jang “Keane” Lae-young who plays for TSM, walked away with the title. This led to people asking for an actual competitive event. Since the Red Bull Invitational, Riot has not organized a single event.
Going into the 2020 season for competitive TFT, the hope is that Riot has learned that players want to see the best players in the world compete against each other. Keep the casual fun events for personalities. Let the top players compete in the competitions that matter.
Open Qualifier events
There is no real avenue for the average player to get involved in the competitive scene in TFT other than play on the ranked ladder. Although this is a good way to get people to play seriously, a tournament structure that would allow for anyone to enter regardless of rank would go a long way in fostering a fan base for competitive play.
In the infancy of the game, it’s important to keep as many players who want to play competitively engaged as possible.
If you’re a Twitch Partner/Affiliate attending TwitchCon, you can play TFT on Sat 9/28 in the open qualifiers for the on-stage finals. Partners can sign up in advance (look out for an email soon).
Space is limited but some spots will be reserved for attendees who sign up on-site.
— Riot Zephyr (@RiotZephyr) September 12, 2019
At TwitchCon, TFT players that were partnered or affiliated on Twitch were able to compete in open qualifiers to determine the last few spots in the $50,000 main event. This was a fantastic choice for the event. In fact, the winner of the entire event, Juan “Jschritte” Passos, only won because he qualified through the open qualifier.
Another point would be that the skill difference between the top 10 players on the Challenger ladder and someone in Master or Grand Master tier is small. Giving a wide range of players a chance to compete in a tournament structure would give better judgment as to who the best players really are.
A Pro Circuit
Teamfight Tactics is not a game where the best player in the lobby wins 100% of the time. Just like in competitive card games, the best player will not win every event they enter. However, the best player will consistently place well at every event they enter. At the same time though, its also important to weigh each tournament heavily. The winners of these events should be rewarded heavily too.
When it comes to the actual competitive scene itself, Magic: The Gathering gets it right. If Riot wants to explore something along the lines of a world championship for TFT, look no further that MTG.
Consider using MTG’s World Championship Approach
The way MTG decides who qualifies for their world championship is by holding many different events. “Mythic Points” are awarded to players who place well at each event. After all the events in the season have concluded, the top point earners qualify for the world championship. This would work fantastically for TFT as it would benefit players who are consistently good throughout the season. In a game designed around adaptation, consistency is critical for success.
But the players who win events should be rewarded too. In a different kind of adaptation, players who adapt the best to a certain patch and dominate an event on that patch deserve recognition. MTG gives direct invites to their world championship to the winners of their biggest events. For TFT this would give players who are not super consistent a chance of becoming a pro. A true underdog avenue would be good for the fan base as well. The idea that a player can enter a huge event and make a historic run is both good for the average competitive player and for story lines for the fans watching online.
A pro circuit makes the most sense for TFT as MTG does it. MTG is also similar to TFT in terms of weighing what makes a player good.
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