I have chosen to address only the situation in the European DM community, because I believe it to be the core of the entire Q2 scene today (AQ2 aside). If we manage to stabilize that part, everything else will be given a fair chance to grow naturally – such as CTF, RA2, Insta, etc, and possibly even the American milieu.
TDM is struggling to gather clans for the events. EuroQ2L only managed to get 18 clans to sign up for the past edition. A little over one year earlier, that number was 27. Keep losing clans at that rate, and we’re down to none in no time. On top of that, 30% of the games were forfeited (w/o). In no way can you blame that on summer inactivity, because the group stages and quarterfinals were completed before the end of May.
The Polish TDM league – PLQ2 – is experiencing similar problems. Over the course of five years, they have gone from 27 clans to 16, which is obviously not nearly as bad as EQ2L’s situation. One might even say that it’s easily explained by the typical deterioration of any older game’s scene. PLQ2 also witnessed a ~30% forfeit rate.
These are all troubling numbers, but at least one of them is unnecessarily low. How can it possibly be that The European Championship – namely EuroQ2L – features only 18 clans, when there are 28 unique clans up and kicking around the same time?
To a certain extent, we have failed to build bridges between the Polish community and the rest of Europe, and the fact that each EQ2L differs to its contemporary PLQ2 by 5-10 clans, is clear proof of that. We are falling short in our attempts to motivate players and teams to participate, and their participation is imperative for the scene to last.
The same disease torments the duel events, and most of them are plagued by even worse walkover rates. Last season EDL reached an all time high at 54,5% – which is just ridiculous – and that involved even the bronze match. The rates of the other tournaments (Edge, PLD and RDL) ranged from circa 28 to 38 percent.
There are currently no indications that point to any development in the opposite direction, because no meaningful changes ever really seem to take place. The questions that need immediate and serious attention, is how to inspire players and teams to commit, and how to keep them interested in then honouring their commitments.
We need to reintroduce the occurrence of awards and prizes, initially and most importantly in the main events, such as EuroQ2L and EDL. Money being the prize would be preferable, because it speaks to everyone, but in the end, any prize is better than none, may it be a mouse pad or a cup.
Eventually we should consider featuring prizes more widely, in other competitions as well, as it is a way to increase the interest from both the public and the players. An increased level of interest equals a higher degree of activity – generally throughout the scene – which would be the reward for all and everybody participating in these efforts.
In the beginning the financing of prize money is to be done almost exclusively by donations from individuals within the community. It is very important to emphasize the fact that the amount of money donated is not of great significance, but rather the number of people actually donating anything. If you don’t feel like you can spare a lot, at least offer a little, because like the old saying goes, “many a little makes a mickle.”
Once we have been able to complete an entire season with success in all its main areas and aspects, and with leagues and tournaments that can act as paragons for future seasons to come, first then will we be able to discuss if an introduction of competition sign up fees and/or other easily justifiable costs for players – may they be of very modest size, or not – would be the right move.
b) A Maximum Amount of Players in Clans
Theoretically and logically this should make way for a lot of new clans to be born. That means more teams, which equals more games, more activity, and more competition. The latter also implies that the current food chain might be challenged. The ranks among clans have been somewhat static for a long time, and bringing this kind of change into the game may contribute to getting some new blood flowing through the veins of the TDM state.
I propose that the clans’ maximum amount of players allowed to be signed up per event should be seven. That won’t place too many players on the bench – where too many are spending their time these days – and it must be possible to expect of a clan to plan ahead well enough to be able to gather at least four out of seven members once a week.
If players turn inactive during season, it won’t be too much of a problem considering the EQ2L doesn’t run very long at a time. In between EQ2L editions, clans have plenty of time to replace these players and then go at it again.
c) Multiple Divisions
We need to separate the considerably unequally skilled clans and players from each other, and place them in different divisions in the big events. In no way is this measure new or untried, and not even unusual in Q2, but it is of great importance to never part from this system.
There is not much that can compare with how discouraging the experience can be, of constantly not standing a chance in one’s official games. It will take the fun out of playing for anyone, and not only does it continuously chase away rookies and other less skilled players, but also veterans looking to make a comeback.
At the end of each competition, the top clans/players in the lower division(s) ought to switch places with the bottom ones from the upper (adjacent) division(s). That must be compulsory, mainly because it will stimulate other clans and players to feel that they’re getting a better shot at the prizes, but also because it adjusts the balance of the skill level within each division, in a just and objective way.
All players in a clan must be registered before the process of seeding into the different divisions. Otherwise it would be possible to hoax one’s way into a lower division where prizes will be more easily won. This also means that changes can’t be made in a roster during an ongoing event, and if changes are made in between competitions, the clan will be the target of seeding again.