Blizzard and MLG respond to WCS NA qualifier concerns

Blizzard and MLG respond to controversy over recent World Championship Series qualifiers.


Last week, Blizzard Entertainment and Major League Gaming kicked off the 2013 World Championship Series North American qualifiers, with thousands of StarCraft players vying for just 16 total spots across both regions.

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After all was said and done, players Feast, Happy, Siw, Dayshi, Bunny, Krass, Strelok, and Shuttle qualified in Europe, while the American qualifiers were dominated by South Koreans playing cross-server.

South Korean players Alicia, oz, Crank, TheStc, Apocalypse, Heart, Alive, and Revival are the eight Korean players to qualify through WCS North America. The European WCS Round of 32 has now officially begun.

The WCS qualifiers did not go without some controversy, with issues arising in both the North America and European regions. The MLG qualifiers had the most concern, with several issues surrounding the Chinese participants, and a suspected cheater within the qualifier.

MLG CEO Sundance DiGiovanni released a statement Tuesday, apologizing to the community for their mistakes, and vowing to rectify them in the future.

GameSpot connected with Blizzard and MLG about the events. Below are highlights from the conversation, based on joint responses from representatives from both organizations.

There were multiple issues regarding the Chinese players including iG's Hui "Comm" Shen being disqualified late in the tournament, and several players not getting into the brackets. What exactly happened here? Will anything be done to accommodate the Chinese players in this qualifier?

First off, we want to apologize for any miscommunication and confusion related to the Chinese players and the qualifier. Players that were unable to participate in the first qualifier and those that were beaten by competitors who were disqualified now have the opportunity to compete in the Open Qualifier for Challenger League that will take place on Saturday, April 27. Registration will open on Thursday, April 25 at 5 p.m. ET online.

Related to the first qualifier, within the current tournament system, entry is on a first–come, first-served basis, and the first 512 players were admitted. The Chinese players (including Comm) unfortunately registered later than others which placed them back in the cue. Admins confirmed they had checked in, not that they were confirmed in the tournament itself. When it was revealed that Comm had gone on to play using another player's account, which is a rules violation, he was disqualified.

There were several reports and accusations of a cheater named 'PhysicsLee' in the qualifier. Has he been confirmed to have cheated? What happens to those players who were eliminated by a confirmed cheater? What is his punishment (if found true)? What is being done to prevent cheating not only in the qualifiers, but the online/Ro32 portion of the main tournament? This includes both map hacks, and the possibility of stream cheating.

MLG and Blizzard have a zero-tolerance policy against cheating and foul play. During the qualifier there was suspicion of player maphacking, cheating, and account sharing, and admins immediately began an investigation. After gathering proof, guilty players were punished by being disqualified. PhysicsLee has been banned from the ladder and from future WCS competition.

Players beaten by a confirmed cheater will now have the opportunity to compete in the Open Qualifier for Challenger League.

For future tournaments, we will continue to closely monitor play to identify cheating, and will always require concrete evidence before moving forward with repercussions. More specifically, the online portion of WCS matches are run on a delay of several minutes, which will mitigate stream cheating. On maphacking, Blizzard is working in conjunction with partners to streamline processes so investigations of cheating can be handled more swiftly and on-the-fly.

Why was Evil Geniuses’ Benjamin “DeMusliM” Baker not invited to either the North America or European WCS? Additionally, was there any discussion of disqualifying DeMusliM due to his revealing tweets of results at the end of the tournament?

Blizzard, MLG, and ESL jointly analyzed 2012 global performance results to determine invites for the WCS Season 1 Premier League in America and Europe. In the end, DeMusliM didn't perform well enough in 2012 competitions to receive a seed. He's been competing fantastically well on ladder and we hope to see him compete up through Challenger level and perhaps get to Premier League through that route. As for questions about a DQ, there was no discussion about disqualifying DeMusliM for anything he said on Twitter.

Some have suggested only allowing Masters/GM players to participate, as GSL does in Korea. Is this something that will happen?

We do plan on giving priority to Master- and Grandmaster-level players. The WCS America Challenger League open qualifier this weekend will be restricted to Master- and Grandmaster-level players only .

The WCS America Invite-Only Challenger Qualifier is currently scheduled on the same weekend as DreamHack Stockholm. The Challenger Qualifier is invite only; it may cause problems for those who lost in the qualifier. What can be done here?

The WCS America Challenger Invite-Only Qualifier will take place on Saturday, May 4, and players have the opportunity to secure one of eight spots through the open qualifier taking place on Saturday, April 27. The open qualifier will not be broadcast live and we don't foresee major conflicts with players that were aiming to participate in both the qualifier and DreamHack.

Eight Korean players qualified through WCS America, seemingly the opposite of the intended approach of these qualifiers to begin with. Is this considered a problem right now? What can be done to rectify this?

The stated goals of the WCS were to identify the world's best StarCraft II player through a unified, global structure that also prevents scheduling conflicts between major tournaments. The unified point system was also there to create a storyline for viewers that is easy to understand and establishes meaning from one event to another. Finally, we wanted to maintain players' freedom to compete where they wish. This is a system with a predictable schedule where players could choose where to compete within the system, and have the freedom to compete in tournaments outside the system as well.

Blizzard knew that some players from other regions would opt to compete outside their "home," for various reasons. The extent to which this happened was a little higher than expected, but this is likely to normalize over time. Picking up and moving to a different country is a life decision that's not made lightly. That said, we will be monitoring what happens over the course of the year, and will be open to making adjustments if needed.

When might we see the first details of a WCS central hub?

This is a high priority right now and is being worked on by Blizzard. The most critical features are an overall calendar/schedule as well as a points leaderboard. Blizzard should have functional solutions for these in place very soon.

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