Meliador exlplains how doping and stream sniping work in e-sports
Introduction: Meliador exlplains how doping and stream sniping work in e-sports
Welcome dear readers, my name is Victor, and today I wanted to bring to your attention two underrated topics about e-sports: doping and stream sniping. These are real problems that ruin game experiences and competitions, despite of what many people may think. Not only I’d like to shine a light on these two topics, I would also like to do so in a competent manner.
Because of this I interviewed Meliador, a Legends of Runeterra pro player that’s often in the top master ranks of the game’s competitive ladder. Not only that, he is also well informed on the topics at hand.
In the past we have already interviewed him. In the interview we explained why Italian players such a hard time qualifying during the seasonal tournament’s single-elimination bracket. If you want to read it click here.
Meliador explains how doping and stream sniping work in e-sports
This is the interview i had with Meliador. I wrote my questions in bold just to avoid any misunderstanding.
Doping is a problem for both sports and e-sports. Unfortunately in the case of e-sports, even though it’s a pretty well developed industry, almost no one talks about it. According to you why is there a lack of controls?
Unfortunately if we are talking about Italy the answer is as trivial as sad. People still think that we are only playing videogames for fun. That’s why, if you just think of it as a fun pastime, you won’t feel like we might have the same “serious” problems that may happen in any other competitive setting.
In short I think that the main problem is a lack of interest, yet there are other aspects that we have yet to take in consideration. For example: gamer, e-sports player, streamer and youtuber are not yet considered as jobs. Furthermore, if you try to pay taxes as one of them you can’t, since there isn’t a category for which you can calculate how much you owe.
Moreover, if you think about it, was any event organized by our government’s agencies and not by privates? No. While in other countries like Germany, England, Switzerland, as well as many places in Asia there are stadiums where they host tournaments. Just like any other sport!
In Italy, apart from soccer(or football, for you UK friends), not even the other sports receive that many funds. However if a sport goes to the Olympic games they have still to follow certain rules and controls, such as anti-doping tests, so that the athletes can qualify.
Our goal should be to make other people understand that anti-doping tests for e-sports are needed since the gaming scene has changed compared with 30 years ago. What I mean is: if you win a tournament on-line you could be set for a very long time. That’s the reason why if someone has to “take” something to make it, it may well be that they do it.
You said that, in your opinion, e-sports are not considered by many as true sports and, as a result, they are underrated. This brings me to ask you something about our second issue: stream-sniping. That is when someone checks if the opponent is streaming their point of view on-line, thus taking advantage of it. Why does it ruin so much the competition and why is it an even less discussed topic than doping?
There are two main reasons for which stream sniping is a problem.
1: And this is the most difficult thing to avoid. In video games many qualifiers are online. If you are a streamer and you mainly play that game, you have to show and participate in important events. I mean, the audience doesn’t want to watch you play with your friend, the audience wants you to play something important. They want to be part of something important.
That means that if you play on-line the opponent might look for your stream. This is truly catastrophic for card games. There isn’t a worst thing other than the opponent peeking at your hand. Especially in cards games where the rhythm is slow paced and you peek at the opponent’s current hand, I don’t know if someone has ever played with the cards uncovered against covered cards before, but that’s the dresulting difficulty in the end.
Unfortunately this is hard to avoid seeing as how, in particular during covid, it’s difficult to think about live qualifiers and tournaments: that’s a utopia. Maybe in the future we could think about doing something like that, since playing in person solves a lot of problems. Beyond stream-sniping there is the problem of being in a call with friends and playing together during a competitive on-line event.
Game developers could even find some smaller solutions, like hide your opponent’s nickname, making it hard to peek on because you don’t know who you are playing with. That would mean that every time you should search in every possible stream your name, but it be impractical.
2:And this reason can also answer your second question. Internet can be a very toxic place. There is this common opinion where you are the dumbass. If you don’t wont to be sniped, don’t stream. If you stream you know the risks so it’s only your problem.
These people don’t understand that if you stream you are advertising the game. If the game is going well it’s also thanks to the streamers. If nobody streamed, the game wouldn’t sell as well. When people notice that there are few people playing and watching LOR they will say something like: “why has LOR lost so many players?”. That’s because they are looking twitch numbers.
That’s why it’s really important that there are high numbers on twitch, so that the audience thinks that it’s playing a popular game and they would gladly play it.
Stream sniping damages the game meritocracy: I can’t stream the seasonal championship. That means that my earnings and the reputation of the tournament are diminished. That’s because Riot doesn’t stream the seasonals first part. If you just take 10-20 VIPs chosen by you and you put them in the discord rooms in which you record the match. After which the production chooses which match to stream and they can switch from one another at any moment.
If I could I would stream every day, even though anyone would do it since it’s something that brings audience. But if they don’t give me a chance to stream, I don’t stream. I won’t sacrifice the seasonal tournament for a day of streaming, or at least not with the small number of people that watch me play. Then again, maybe if you attracted 2000 people you wouldn’t care less about the seasonal. But even then it means that the famous people in your community will never play in your tournament finals. And that’s too bad.
If a streamer with a following of 2000 people is present at the final of the tournament that you are hosting on your channel, then a very high number of people will watch it. If he is not there then the number goes down. For Hearthstone, if Colento was at a tournament, there were a lot more people watching.
That’s why it’s important for famous people to participate in tournaments. I’m not saying that you have to advantage them, because then meritocracy breaks down. But not to disadvantage them either.
That is unfortunate, also because your reasoning makes perfect sense, and it is really sad to think that very little is being done. Thus the third question: how would you solve these problems?
There is a conflict of interest problem, because ranked games are obviously what brings people to play every day, and therefore keep your game alive. Tournaments are occasional things. If you completely ignore ranked games and don’t give them any value, there’s a risk that people won’t play anymore.
Let’s start with an assumption: a nice and well developed game doesn’t have to worry about this problem, and League of Legends is the perfect example. In League of Legends ranked play is useless. In LoL you play ranked because you want to to play ranked, because you want to break your personal record. You don’t go to the LCS if you are first in ranked.
Only people chosen by a team that evaluates you based on some set parameters go to the LCS. A parameter could very well be to be the best in ranked. Then they make the players compete in a few tournaments and see how they do in those situations.
As a result it is the teams themselves that value meritocracy, since it is in their best interest to win tournaments. Therefore the player thinks: “I must do everything in my power to show off”. One of the methods could even be climbing the ladder. But it is not true that if you are strong in ranked you will surely go to the tournament. Because if you snipe, and during the team auditions you don’t play well, I won’t take you in.
That’s a fantastic framework, and there are few of those other than LoL. For a lot of other games there’s this thing where we must value ladder or people won’t play it. That’s how it comes down to admitting the top 700 in rank to the tournament. This is excessive, because you want to give everyone a chance to make the cool tournament. But by doing so it loses its exclusivity and in the long run it is not seen as a professional scene. But this is just my opinion, maybe they have other data and interests that are more important than these things.
From what I am seeing right now what are the best competitive platforms that work? And which games are still running after years? The ones that have a competitive scene that works well like CS:GO that came out 10 years ago. But people still play it for the competitive side. So many other games are born and die within 3 or 4 years.
As we’ve already said, the best way to make a game serious is to make the world understand that it’s serious, then come all the other things: the controls to the athletes, the attention to certain details and all the rest. You have to approach it as if it’s serious.
To put it simply I’m against ranked play, but there is a solution. For example with 2 tournaments a week, which you have to do, and whose points from your results are added up and these go to decide who should do the seasonal. You have to have the time to do those tournaments. You don’t have to overdo it on the other side either. Because in on-line games you give so much freedom to abuse the game and then some people start to play 18 hours a day.
I don’t know how someone could play 18 hours a day… I can’t! After a certain point, I would have the doubt that you are helping yourself in some way. It is one thing doing it once, another is doing it every day. On Twitch they have contests, for example the first one to get to master in the new season or who manages to make a total of 7 wins in expedition, they used to do them also for Hearthstone with Arenas. And that’s where the problems came out because you had to do everything in live.
There was a guy that kept playing for two days in a row! At some point Twitch blocked his account, since it was over 24 hours of gaming. Sure, it is hard to explain someone that the reason why you are blocking him (though he is losing 20.000€) is because he is hurting himself. You have to think about it before, like “ anyone can play only for 8 hours straight in live”.
But then, the best solution is stimulating the creation of clans inside the game. They take care of all of this things. If the clan has to bring its team to play, the clan takes care of the health of the players, because it cares, it takes care of the fact that they gain fame, and consequently the game does too. The clan creates unity in the fan base.
If you support the team and after 3 years Melia doesn’t play anymore, you will still support the team. If you support Melia and after 3 years Melia doesn’t play anymore you might not follow the competitive scene anymore. With LoL when a player leaves, you keep supporting the team with new players. But to do this you have to get into the idea that these games are not single player. You can even create teams in games that are played 1-on-1. You can find millions of ways, you have to be interested in it, and you have to invest money in it, because teams are interested in prizes.
In Europe there is the EU Master tournament, but it doesn’t encourage teams to invest in the game. EU master is the best way to get attention. You can stay there for a month, play with your personalized t-shirt, a thing that the team could be interested in. But the seasonal is not streamed in the first phase, so you have to pray that your favorite player gets in the top 32 and maybe you can see him in the finals…. One day every two months.
If you manage to make a competitive but elite scene where you don’t get to chose who is in and who is out but the teams do and they will surely choose the best players. That’s how the systems becomes and keeps itself meritocratic.
For me it’s easy to say, since I’m sitting here, but who knows how many problems they must solve and how many thing they must do. Then of course you have to pay the casters for the event and if you want to run a live streaming event you must buy all the equipment. On the other hand, there is the income from Twitch streaming and the sponsors, but we are entering in the economic field that is not my forte, but according to me, they could try it. If they have the will to.
Thank you very much Meliador, it has been a pleasure to speak with you. I hope to see you soon, and good luck.