It seems counter-intuitive to call the closure of the WSVG a good sign for eSports. It was the second-biggest league (for PC gamers). Now their events and prize money have been taken away from the collective pool, and that seems like an obvious step back in terms of exposure and opportunity. No more WSVG-run events, and (this might be the worst part) no action scheduled for CBS, a network channel which is much more inclusive than the cable-only CGS broadcasts. If you want a good recap of the events leading up to the cancellation, check out Midway’s work on GotFrag. It sums up where the WSVG started, where they ended up, and a little bit of how it happened.
So, the second biggest league closing its doors has to be bad, right?
I’m not so sure. Their departure is certainly a shock, but it might be a sign that eSports is heading in the right direction. Basically, when you read Midway’s article and the official WSVG press release, it seems more like they got forced out of eSports. That's a sign of better competition winning out, not incompetent leadership costing players and teams more opportunities.
There might be lessons that eSports organizers need to learn here, but doesn’t it seem more like something bigger and better came along? Some of the crucial staff left for the CGS. The CGS got broadcasting rights for Counter-Strike. And they were going to add a WoW division, which means they’d be taking players from the same pool as the WSVG – and let’s face it, people were going to take the guaranteed salaries. Not to mention that WoW is huge, but Arena, the competitive aspect, isn’t there yet; it’s still very young. Guitar Hero II and Fight Night 3 are minor titles.The WSVG couldn’t feature the biggest game, and, more importantly, they didn’t have the best players and were about to lose more of them to the CGS.
I can’t stress that last part enough. Name me one league that has thrived without the best players in any sport. Nobody watches the MLS. Arena football is actually exciting to watch, but nobody cares about it. XFL? NFL Europe? WNBA? When you're talking about the talent level in a league, second best just isn’t good enough. For an example closer to home, think about the hit that CAL took in popularity when the premier CS teams went to CEVO.
With all that taken into consideration, it’s not surprising that the WSVG couldn’t maintain its previous success. But I don’t think it was because they were mismanaged, per se. I don’t have the inside scoop or anything, but to me it seems more like the CGS came along and did everything the WSVG did, except better.
Isn't that really the goal of competitive gaming? To be united under one league? We’re all looking for one major league to take the spotlight, give out player salaries, have totally autonomous GMs that can give out any contracts they want, call up players from a player-development system, and have an All-Star game, a World Series, and e-Super Bowl. Those things just aren’t possible when two entities are fighting for the same space and the same players.
So even though I have extremely fond memories of WSVG Kentucky in 2006, and the Summer Invitational, which were both extremely well run and exciting, I think the WSVG’s closure might be a sign that eSports is heading in the right direction.
(And only time will tell.)