The recent third place playoff between Team Liquid
and Faze Clan
at StartSeries i-League Season 4 has stoked some real discussion on social media as to the necessity of the fixture. There are a couple of different arguments for and against the matches with different people from the community coming down on either side.
The main point would be that the difference between third and fourth place is essentially nothing other than money. Granted, $15,000 is a lot of money but we've heard time and time again from professionals across multiple sports that when you're competing it's not about the money its about winning. However even the players can't seem to decide if they are worth the time or not as they showed on twitter.
"Eeeeh I’m quite sure Astralis and us took the 3rd place at Epicenter seriously and a great bo3 was played" Nathan "NBK" Schmitt
"My thoughts was pretty much the same until I played it [That is was worth playing], ofcourse you are trying to give your all and do your best, but somewhere you are still extremely disappointed for not being in the final, so its hard to do it with all your heart, actually really hard to describe it."Jesper "JW" Wecksell
"Ofcourse you take it serious, im sure that everyone in CSGO that have played a 3rd place game took it serious, but it doesnt really mean you are playing hearts out. I took mine serious too but it was still a very bad experience, maybe my winners mentality ruins it for me"
This is clearly a topic that divides opinion and there is a chance that there is no right
answer. With that being said I think that for certain events, think the Olympics, there is a definite need for such playoffs. Some sports such as head to head sports don't lead themselves to having a clear 3rd place in order to award a bronze medal. However both the reasoning and excitement of these playoffs is down to one thing. The Olympics only happen once every four years (the Winter Olympics and the summer ones are separate.) Between this and the length of the peak career for athletes some spend their entire life leading up to what may only be a couple of shots at a medal for both themselves and their country. It is a huge deal. In Counter-Strike we have a $300,000 tournament seemingly every weekend. It just doesn't compare.
I could perhaps see a case for a playoff at the Majors, but even still at twice a year sandwiched in between so many other events I'm not sure it would generate the prestige desired. The turn around between StarSeries and IEM Katowice for example was so short that teams were travelling across the very next day. There are many who would not be able to list the winner of anything more than two tournaments ago, who will still talk about the third place finishers a month later?
The next argument then is that for a Grand Final to be played on a Sunday without any teams having to play twice in one day, a problem SK Gaming
most notably experienced recently, there has to be something to fill the schedule. It is true, for fans to spend the money and the time to stay in a country for an entire extra day in order to witness the final, they are going to want something else to occupy the day with worth paying for. As of yet live music hasn't filled that void particularly well, whether that be down to the performers, crowd or just poor planning. I'd personally enjoy a longer analyst segment giving as many guest players and analysts the chance to break down either the team's journeys to the final or what we can expect in the match itself. I can also see however that this can only last so long, even when extended, as a source of entertainment especially for those on site. Whilst I personally don't exactly look forward to show matches between talent I can see their appeal to viewers and even shorter versions such as 1v1's could be a possibility as they can be cut short without risk of running over schedule.
So if I don't have any strong opinions or ideas on what to replace it with, why not just play the playoff? Well as we saw with the three maps including one that lasted 54 rounds, sometimes these things last a little too long and unlike a "just for fun" segment can't exactly be cut short when its showtime for the big match.
Players should and I'm sure always do play to win, but once you remove the passion from a match you know will offer you little more than some extra prize money, what you are left with it a strange match half way between competitive and show match.