Why We Need More Local Tournaments Like Gears Of War: Judgment
It had been a while since I last played this game, at least a few weeks and because I was lazy I didn’t bother to practice either. Too late. The match was about to begin, and my shaky hands grasped at my controller as I spawned into the map. I turned a corner, saw an enemy player and advanced towards them, dodge-jumping just behind them before clicking my Right Trigger and watching their body explode into bits. “Okay, that wasn’t too diffic– OH FFS.” Before I could finish my sentence, another player had tagged me with a grenade, causing my death. I couldn’t mash “A” to respawn, hard enough…
I was hooked. Irrevocably, unequivocally, hooked. Line and sinker. I wanted more, desired more, and I got more.
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And this from someone who has openly admitted to outwardly avoiding online multiplayer…
When I had originally heard about a local tournament for Gears of War: Judgment hosted by Mweb and organised by Xbox SA, I was quite keen to get in on the action. After all, according to my friends I was more than good enough to play competitively and it being a South African competition, I wasn’t likely to get much more than a “vokoff poes” out of the local gaming crowd. Unfortunately those friends were unwilling to participate as well, emphasising their desire to keep their gaming casual and friendly without competitive gaming ruining all the fun. So naturally, I signed up for the Lone Wolf segment of the tournament.
The tournament itself allowed players to either play in free-for-all matches for personal glory or team deathmatches as part of a clan. These modes work well in Judgment since each type of play style favours a certain player, meaning a team could effectively combine spot grenades and sniping with stim grenades and rushing close-rangers, and so on. Likewise in free for all, you are left to your own devices with regards to how you approach a situation so you could be the stim-wielding gnasher-crazy rusher, or the ink-throwing annoyance on my life seriously why can’t you just use something less hax for the love of Marcus.
I was unfortunately knocked out of a really hardcore second round fight which included these names:
If you’re cringing at the thought of that match-up, yeah, exactly. Also, kudos on actually knowing the local Gears of War scene. (And lol at me being touted as a favourite in the livestream.)
However after losing my match-up and feeling still quite proud of myself and yet frustrated at how close I came against such big names, I did something I haven’t done in many, many years. Not since the twilight of my DotA addiction when I decided that since I’ve already given this much of my life to Warcraft III, I might as well go semi-pro and join the IHL. (I laugh too.)
I went online and watched the livestream.
Granted it was quite beneficial, I scored two XBLA game download codes, so hell yeah, but it was also just such fun to be a part of things in this way. Sure there were those who took the competition way too seriously and became annoyingly wet blankets, but it was nothing a quick /ignore couldn’t fix, and I spent hours just enjoying some very well shoutcasted matches of Gears of War featuring players I knew, and some I didn’t. Kudos to the shoutcasters by the way, you guys were great.
When I decided to do this article, I tweeted a few players and shoutcasters for their comments on the tournament thus far. This was before the finals, which are now over, but more on that in a bit. Two players, both friends, who belong to the same clan which made it all the way to the finals (so proud), played along and emailed me their thoughts on the tournament with regards to, well, everything. Would you like to read what they had to say? Well too bad, we’re doing it anyway.
The first of these players is Henry Fourie, or BogusHenry on Xbox LIVE. With regards to his previous tournament experience, he said:
I played and sponsored prizes in the Xbox Reel Wingman tournament. A great tournament that was well organized. Great clips followed from it and I think overall it was a great success. Pity Xbox Reel closed its doors as I think the right people were there to make it happen.
Also played in the Xbox Gears 2 tournament which was the beginning of my CMR experience. This was also a fairly well organized tourney. I think the rules were a little loose and I had a lot of personal calls at night trying to assist with some of the decisions and issues that occurred. Also the prizes in that tournament were a mess and people waited very long for them. I think the organization was not great and a lot was left to the community in terms of hosting and resolving issues.
Played in the CMR Gears 3 tournament. This was a great little tourney and I think we got a lot of support from the community. Enjoyed the little involvement I had and I think if we had a lot more backers and support it could have been very big.
As for the Judgment tournament, he had the following to say:
Organization seems to be good. I think more communication wouldn’t hurt. Website is not the best and not updated as frequently as they should. We (CMR) are currently doing a week in review after each week which I would have thought would come from the organizers of the tourney. Also a poll for the days the games are to be played might have worked better as a lot of people find it hard to play on weekends. I love the Twitch channel. This just means we can see the action. The commentating is also very good. They have made a few interesting mistakes, but then it is live commentating so all is good. I am enjoying playing and the referees are good. Games start early except last night where they had the complete wrong CMR team. Prizes are good as well, but it would have been good to have a LAN final. Also not sure how or if they are checking for non ADSL players.
Before I add my own input, let’s move on to Jody Williams, known online as jGLZA (the ‘j’ is silent), who also responded to my tweet and had quite a bit to say. Let’s begin with his previous tournament experience:
AGASA (now DGL) hosted GOW1 and GOW2 national tournaments, won by Ghost Squad and Hi5 respectively, both teams returning in this GOWJ tournament.
I never entered those as I was a very late starter on console, only getting my Xbox 360 somewhere around 2009/10 and jumped straight into the last GOW2 Tournament – the Festival of Gears Tournament hosted by Xbox360Gamer. I think we made it to the 2nd round only but I think that was the first time that a 4-man FLS team (not called FLS back then) won a tournament.
I then formed CMR to enter the DGL GOW3 Cup (the biggest GOW3 tournament) which FLS won (as FLS) and we managed a respectable top 5 finish. After that CMR hosted their first tournament, the zaKOTH
tournament which I never entered but administered, was also won by FLS. And just before GOWJ released we hosted the GOW3 Grand Finale Tournament in which I entered with one of our CMR teams and we made it to the group stages, the tournament was once again won by FLS.
Now, to his thoughts on the Gears of War: Judgment tournament:
My thoughts on the current GOWJ tournament are quite positive. I’m extremely appreciative that Microsoft & Xbox 360 ZA have come on board to support the local console and Gears of War communities because frankly support over the past few years has been severely lacking.
The tournament has been run really well so far, communication has been efficient and the infrastructure in place for the tournament has been top class as far as SA tournaments go. And considering that the organisers are new to Gears of War, I appreciated that they reached out to the community for help with regards to rules and game settings. I made it clear in the beginning that Crimson Moon Rising (CMR) and myself would be on hand to assist with any admin or shoutcasting if they needed help. Unfortunately with us in Cape Town we weren’t able to help with casting but we did provide some assistance with regards to the rules and settings.
Xbox 360 ZA had previously hosted the successful Halo 4 tournament which attracted high numbers and was able to secure a LAN event for the Semi-Finals and Final. Unfortunately it was revealed on Saturday past that the GOWJ tournament hasn’t produced enough numbers to get a LAN event. I’m slightly disappointed at this as I imagine GOW to be a much more interesting game from a spectator point of view. At least we got them to stream the matches which was one of the biggest requests from the Halo tournament.
I think what they haven’t gotten their heads around though is that the competitive GOW community is very small which I am putting down to the very steep difficulty curve to get to a competitive level which is why we tried to keep all the match settings as default as possible to keep it as accessible as possible and we’ve seen quite a few Halo teams enter which has been awesome. However despite the small community size, watching the streams I saw quite a few non-gow people watching.
My biggest wish though is that they don’t rest on their laurels and continue to support the console competitive community, they don’t necessarily need to host more tournaments but assistance with prizes, advertising and streaming infrastructure would be much appreciated as the community already has members that are willing to do the heavy lifting such as standardised rulesets, more game modes, team registration, etc.
And as they get more involved I’m sure they will get better at setting up the rules and Terms & Conditions as there are some points that I think they may have slipped up on. However if they listen to the feedback they are getting I’m sure future tournaments will iron out these minor issues.
Finally, some general commentary from the man to round things off, which I feel should be emphasised:
This isn’t really related to the tournament but seeing as I have your ear, I’m concerned about the local eSports community and how they support each other or the lack thereof. The PC community has become pretty self-sustaining, they can create enough numbers by just having themselves watching. But when it comes to the console communities, the communities don’t support each other. For example, when MWEB streamed their CoD tournaments we tweeted out the streams and encouraged the GOW teams to go and watch them to get numbers up but now when we are streaming GOW I don’t see similar support from the CoD guys. The bottom line is that all communities need to support each other.
Okay, so, the reason I first wanted to show what they had to say (and I thank you both for taking the time out to type out such detailed replies) — mostly unedited, in their own words — is because before I got to what I thought of the tournament, I wanted to present the viewpoints of players who had previously experienced a tournament atmosphere and
partaken (partook?) participated, so that we are clear, moving forward, how the veterans felt, before we move onto my feelings as a first-time tournament entrant. Now granted, I’ve played in DotA tournaments before, but nothing on Xbox LIVE and certainly nothing related to Gears of War. Onto my thoughts, then:
To be honest, I felt that this tournament could have been a lot bigger if the game of choice was Gears of War 3. Now, granted there isn’t exactly the best infrastructure in place for a Lone Wolf mode there, and of course, some clans have been playing Gears 3 since it released, which would make it quite one-sided at times, so Judgment did offer a better prospect for the competitive nature of a tournament, however the lack of early adopters of the game meant that many who could have participated in the tournament, did not, because they either did not purchase Judgment or were more comfortable playing Gears 3.
This is a bad thing when you’re hosting a tournament. But thankfully it didn’t stop a lot of players who did buy Judgment from registering online and taking part. Although, to those players who registered for the tournament and were online for their matches but opted not to play, responding to game invites from referees with, “Go away.” Fuck you. Please do the world a favour and be less of a douchebag in future. Or die, either way.
What the tournament did show is that we have a pretty awesome local community of gamers who, even at their most competitive, are still usually nice people who know it’s more about the fun of the tournament than winning. There are few exceptions, of course, but then the number is far less than certain other Xbox-hosted tournaments. Cough cough. If anything, with the excellent shoutcasting, the willingness of adjudicators to listen to the players and the support of the community, we might well get to see another tournament of this kind in future. We don’t need big prizes either, most of us are just itching for a chance to play some competitive Gears, better still that we get to do it from the comfort of our own homes.
I would recommend, however, that Xbox SA definitely look into a Gears of War 3 tournament rather than a Gears of War: Judgment tournament in future. Maybe Judgment for the Lone Wolf section, but traditional Gears 3 for the clan matches. We can keep the rules standard, make the barrier to entry as low as possible, and just get some advertising going for the tournament before it begins (sites such as eGamer will help, have helped) and we can most definitely get large numbers of players interested. After all, the Gears community in South Africa is huge. I would dare say larger than the Halo community, or at the very least, far better mannered, and that’s worth far more to me.
So to Mweb, Xbox SA and Tera Co, I want to say thanks for hosting a really great, enthralling, captivating tournament that I had fun playing in and was proud to be a part of, and to the winners of the Clan matches, FLS Legion, as well as Lone Wolf winner Shadow Vaatjie, who totally follows me on Twitter, congratulations on rising to the top, and enjoy your prizes. Thanks also to the shoutcasters, event organisers and referees who ensured that the tournament was a tight ship with no leaks, as far as possible.
To the players, and anyone reading this, I want to say that you really ought to support these types of tournaments. Not only are they a blast to be a part of, but even if you can’t partake, at least try and help to promote it, so that we might get more people in on the livestream, or get more tournament entries, or even get the relevant hashtag (#GearsZA in this case) trending on Twitter, and really catch the eye of both the international gaming crowd as well as Xbox, you know, the original HQ. Just a little support couldn’t hurt, could it? Who knows, it might yield some amazing boons for everyone, depending on which eyes we end up catching.
Here’s hoping we get more of these awesome tourneys in future.