[DISCLAIMER: All opinions expressed in this article are solely the author’s opinions and do not reflect the opinions of Sauerworld.]
ON THE PARTICIPATION OF MIX TEAMS
Have you ever wanted to play with a group of friends who just so happen to be in a different clan? Do you not have a clan, but still feel the urge to compete? Well, you can’t, at least not in SSL. Their decision to ban mix teams seems to be a strained attempt to force people into what they imagine is the more elite world of clan competition. It’s an authoritarian policy that is terribly ill-suited to such a small community of players. Allowing mix teams is vital to keeping sauer fun and accessible for everyone.
To get started, mix teams encourage people to play by providing an alternative to the monotony of clan participation. It gets boring playing with the same people all the time, however much one may like those people as individuals and clanmates. Mix teams are a welcome break from that, as well as being an exciting reason to play when sauer might otherwise seem boring. The only sauer tournament I’ve played in since the summer of 2014 was the SSL ectf mix tournament, and the only reason I’m writing this column is that I thought it would be fun to make a mix team with Raffael and Acuerta, and train for SSL. But noooo, it’s more important that everyone who plays have nice official tags and websites and shit. Please. Long running clans are good for training, building camaraderie, and working towards a shared goal – but their existence is not mutually exclusive with the forming of mix teams.
In addition to that, it’s extremely difficult to objectively define what constitutes a clan. Why is a mixteam not a clan? It’s a team of players working together to play their best and win games. SOUNDS LIKE A CLAN. In sauer’s loved and hated parallel, QuakeLive, clans are essentially nonexistent, and teams form on an event by event basis (with the exception of lasting sponsorships). The only way I see that SSL can define what is and isn’t a clan is by enforcing arbitrary rules for how long a group must stay together in order to compete. Apart from being an overextension of authority, this makes being in a clan an onerous commitment: once you join, you either play with these people or you don’t play at all.
This last point hints at another drawback of limiting participation to established ‘clans – Mix teams are the only opportunity for newer or more casual players to compete. The other day I played a mix with Ironman, who I’m told is applying to vaQ, and Sparta, who was at the time applying to sp4nk. If either of these players wanted to participate in an SSL tournament, they would be unable, even though they are clearly players looking to take a committed approach to sauer. There are also players who simply prefer to remain clanless (eternalsolstice is the first who springs to mind – don’t hate me). Should they not be allowed to compete? We’re not exactly overflowing with competition in the Sauer community. Do we really need more rules to keep people from playing?
SSL didn’t have much to say to these points when I presented them in IRC, but they did give me their reasons for prohibiting mix team participation anyway. These were:
1) Mix teams may discourage people from putting in proper practice.
2) Mix teams increase no shows and dropouts – Swatllama tells me that he’s observed this tendency particularly in the World Cup, and feels that signing up with a mix team is less of a commitment, as you risk disappointing only your two teammates rather than your entire clan by no-showing.
As far as the first point, I find this argument to be backwards and naive. I’ve read Swatllama’s “Viewpoint on mixes” and I imagine the opinions expressed there are driving his decision here. But you can’t squeeze water from a stone. It’s sauer, for fuck’s sake – a lot of clans don’t have enough active members to field teams, and if people overall are more focused on having a good time than training hard, it’s pretty obsessive and anti fun to say “no, that’s lame, we need to make rules to correct it.” Besides, certain mix teams are more likely to practice than a lot of clans – they’re formed with a dedicated focus on a given event, instead of being default teams who attend tournaments out of habit. One look at the PSL hall of fame (http://ogros.org/psl-history/hall-of-fame.html) shows several very successful mix teams – b00b were CTF grandchamps, and DBSIET took back to back titles in two modes. Obviously these were serious teams, or at least more seriously skilled than the opposition. On the other hand, I can’t count the amount of times sp4nk showed up to modes just to screw around, just because we were sp4nk. Participating as a clan (whatever that means) doesn’t automatically mean taking things more seriously than in a mix team.
The second point seems to me trivial and irrelevant. If a tournament organizer is having problems with no shows, they should solve it by making the tournament better, not worse. Besides, there are other ways to combat no shows that SSL does not seem to have tried. Having signups open the day of the tournament (and close 1-2 hrs before) is an approach that ensures the players who sign up are those who are present and sure they can participate (This model has worked well for the North American duel cup in quake live, which is almost as casual as sauer leagues due to the small NA QuakeLive scene). As far as teams ‘shuffling,’ or no showing later on in multi-day tournaments, just make sure teams sign up with one or two substitutes and limit the team to that roster. If there are dropouts, they are removed from the bracket – simple as that. As an absolute last resort, issuing sanctions for repeated no shows might be an effective way to ensure you are ‘disappointing’ more than just a few teammates if you fail to attend matches – although personally, I can’t really imagine the ‘disappointment’ of clanmates factoring into the decision to no show.
So, yea, that’s my rant. It’s not the end of the world, but it’s a shit rule.
TL;DR – Mix teams make things more fun, and we really, really don’t need more rules to make it harder to compete.