Problem-Riddled Tekken Tournament at SM Southmall Well-Attended, But Not Quite Well-Received
About a week ago, SM Southmall held a Tekken 7 tournament at their Cyberzone section with a cash prize of Php 15,000 total. With the Tekken community on the rise after the recently concluded REV Major Philippines tournament, players were eager to take part in the mall’s first attempt at a Tekken competition. A lot of people joined the tournament, from casual gamers to competitive players. Some of them wanted to check out the latest Tekken game, and the others were in it to compete against the other top players who joined and test their own skills.
SM Southmall managed to finish their tournament but though some of the more casual attendees may have enjoyed the experience, the tournament failed to pass the standards of the more experienced players. Several concerns regarding the tournament were raised by many of the players who joined.
The controllers used in the tournament were supplied by the staff and players were required to use them. Even though a lot of players brought their own controllers and fightsticks for a comfortable gaming experience, they were forced to play on the supplied controllers.
Player Robert Serrano says “I lost before my match even ended.” when asked about his experience in the SM Southmall tournament. Apparently, he’s one of the many players who had the misfortune of playing on a broken controller during the tournament. When he raised his concern after his match, the tournament staff shrugged off his complaint and continued to let players use the controller in question. Eventually, the staff decided to stop letting players use the defective controller after numerous similar complaints from others.
Other player testimonies mentioned terrible lag when playing on the PS4 setups at the tournament. Tekken 7 on PS4 does introduce a certain amount of lag, but nothing unplayable. This means the lag was probably caused by something else, possibly the cables or the monitor used during the tournament. Casual players may not notice this, but the competitive players who attended the tournament were absolutely disappointed with the lag. It’s a fairly common issue that can easily be remedied with a little bit of research, but the tournament staff were not prepared with the solution.
“Odd” Tournament Format
SM Southmall’s Tekken 7 tournament used a bracket arranged by order of registration and that’s not good. If players want to play against somebody specific, then all they need to do is time their registration properly. They can aim for weak players for an easy win, dodge the big names that might have already registered, or even register early if they know that the better players will be late.
In any tournament, brackets are always shuffled to prevent rigging or sniping among players. Bracketing website Challonge has a built in shuffle button that allows an easy shuffle for any sort of tournament bracket. The harder way is to have a pre-tournament draw where players blindly pick a number that would dictate their places in the bracket. Both methods are acceptable ways of shuffling tournament brackets.
The tournament used the single-elimination format, and though it isn’t the standard format used in most fighting game tournaments, it is an acceptable one. The problem with single-elimination however is that it makes the tournament short, especially for the losers of the first round of matches since they get eliminated right away. To make things worse, the tournament got even shorter since the game was set to have best-of-3 rounds instead of the usual best-of-5.
A hundred slots were made available for the tournament, which is means there will be an odd bracket. The number of slots in even brackets are powers of 2 (4, 8, 16, 32, 64…) which allows a perfect progression of matches until grand finals. Odd brackets are fine though, since there is a bye system that can be used to even out the brackets. SM Southmall had other plans though which included players going against the game’s A.I. (at medium difficulty) to advance in the bracket.
Having 100 players means there will be 50 matches and winners in the first round, 25 matches and winners in the second round. The next round will have 13 matches and 13 winners with one match being against a computer opponent. The same thing happens in the next round with 7 matches and 7 winners, 4 matches and 4 winners in the next, and finally back to an even bracket.
The fact that players were asked to play against a medium-level A.I. is ridiculous. While everybody else was putting in the effort trying to beat their opponents, a random player in the bracket gets a free pass against the less-than-capable computer. Simply electing a player for a free-pass to the next round would’ve been better, and the organizer’s decision to have and A.I. match shows the organizers’ unfamiliarity with tournament procedures.
It’s nice to see a major mall like SM try to provide events for the local gaming community. The fact that players can join the tournament for free and have a chance at a large prize is also a generous move by SM. However, just because it’s free doesn’t mean it can be poorly done. Many players who attended the tournament traveled a long way just for a chance at the competition, and having them play in a poorly organized tournament is a waste of their efforts. A similar case happened with Trinoma at their most recent nationwide Tekken 7 tournament, where the organizers failed to plan the tournament brackets properly and ended up with a messy, incomprehensible, tournament proceeding.
Despite the numerous issues that plagued SM Southmall’s tournament, it’s also important to consider their intentions as well. Tournament champion PBE.AK expressed his thoughts on the tournament, and raised a very good point. He said that the tournament was not for competitive gaming, but instead for casual family fun which is why most of the competition standards weren’t met. He said that a lot of the players in the tournament were kids and they are probably the actual target audience of SM Southmall, not the competitive players and he also said that we should just let SM do their best to bring in new players into the game.
One can argue that SM isn’t a professional tournament organizer, and that’s true. The staff who were made to organize the tournament probably never had enough experience on the task, hence the resulting mess. But that’s just more reason to put in extra effort in preparing the tournament. Many of the flaws listed above could’ve easily been avoided with simple research on gaming tournaments, specifically for fighting games. Monitor lag, failing equipment, bracketing, rules, are all common problems for first time organizers and there are plenty of guides on the internet that could’ve helped in this case. Need an easier solution? Get a tournament consultant/organizer that can help make sure the tournament goes off without a hitch. (We’re available by the way.)
Bandai Namco Entertainment Asia has issued an official statement regarding this tournament saying that “SM Mall’s event and the rules and regulations are stipulated by the mall and by no means an official event.”