January 11, 2008

I always try to learn from other people’s mistakes. I think of them as gifts. Other people are kindly making idiots of themselves so that I don’t have to. The least I can do is pay attention, like a cursory glance through a Christmas card.

Despite my best efforts, I often fail.

For instance, take the story of my good friend Sauron, the Dark Lord of Mordor. He made a myriad of mistakes, many of which I’ve taken to heart. After watching his tragic death, I’ve made a personal vow never to fight against hobbits, wizards, or people that live to be three-hundred years old. I will also never trust the cowardly men of the north, or my own stupid orcish creations. And, most importantly, I will never, ever let somebody cut off the source of all my power conveniently left unguarded on one of my fingers.
I’m happy to report that I’ve upheld these ideals.

He's got a surprisingly good sense of humor. A little morbid, but not bad.

But, I didn’t learn the most important lesson. Sauron’s fatal error was the same one faced by many a prison inmate: his back-door was unguarded. I fell into the same trap. Two seasons ago, while the Great Eye of LANDodger was focused intently on CAL coverage, CEVO slipped one of the stupidest policies I’ve ever seen through the back door, completely unnoticed.

(Truthfully, I’m not sure how it happened. It’s hard coming up with new CAL predictions twice a week when the teams only bother logging off WoW to play a match every two weeks, but some sort of alarm should have gone off in my head. It was really a momentously stupid decision from CEVO. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to forgive myself.)

What’s the big deal, you ask? One word: Overtime.

CEVO currently uses the CGS format for Counter-Strike: Source matches. Nine rounds per half, and one round of overtime to determine the winner. The CGS has every reason to use that format. When every round is worth a point, a six-round overtime could compromise the competition. A franchise with a 9-8 lead in CS and a three point overall deficit should intentionally lose the last round so they can have a chance to win in overtime. Winning 10-8 does them no good, and you can’t have a format that rewards intentionally throwing rounds. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the time constraints for the CGS. It’s a small factor, but real nonetheless.

Now ask yourself one question: do either of those things apply to CEVO? I know it’s a faux-pas to answer a rhetorical question, but the answer is “no”.

In CEVO, winning the match is pretty much everything. The whole playoff system depends on it. Directly related to the playoff system is the money system. What happens if a team loses an overtime match on Nuke 9-10 because they had to play T side? Same thing with Inferno. In a twelve match season, even one victory is a huge swing. Think of all the NFL teams that missed the playoffs by one game, and could have made it if a single field-goal went their way, or a phantom penalty wasn’t called. The difference between being outside looking in and being in the playoffs is razor-thin at the last couple spots.

Basically, I think CEVO’s adopted the CGS rules without considering what’s best for their league. And worst of all, there’s money at stake. These people aren’t playing for free, and the sponsors shouldn’t be happy that the best teams might not be winning in overtime. Even though I’ve been referencing the regular season in my arguments, it’s by far a bigger deal in the playoffs. The maps aren’t balanced. Each team has to play rounds as offense and defense to negate the inherent lopsidedness.

And honestly, I’m at a complete loss as to why this isn’t a bigger deal in the community. People complain constantly about the CGS format and every little decision they make, but nobody says a word when CEVO compromises the integrity of their playoff system? One CAL admin goes on a forum power trip and everybody threatens to leave the league, but CEVO’s administrators keep an overtime policy that blatantly favors one team over another, and there’s no media coverage or public outcry?

Let me put it this way: I’m months late to the party, and I still feel like I’m the first one here.

CEVO’s overtime has to change. Now.