On December 21st Gwent Masters 4 have been announced. First competitive season of the new cycle starts soon. On this occassion I’d like to look deeper into the new format and share with you some thoughts. Before reading further I also recommend you to have a look at Pajabol’s early feedback on Reddit.
- 3x Gwent Open (one Open less)
- Offseason breaks every 3rd month
- 6/12 months of ranked play in total
- Open Tournaments and Qualifiers no longer stacked in the same seasons
- 3rd and 4th Qualifiers played during offseason
- Play-In Tournament probably in November (not denoted here); no season without events.
- One Gwent Open less is not the end of the world for competitive Gwent, nor are bigger offseason breaks.
- Qualifiers and Opens are no longer stacked, which in my opinion is a positive change. With no official tournament play before Open in the same season, lineups should become more creative.
- Qualifiers happening regularly in offseason would be something new. Presumably meta would be less explored and at Qualifiers good decks would be revealed for the first time by top players.
Masters Finals Qualification System
- 3 slots for Gwent Open winners
- remaining 5+ slots from Play-In Tournament (Top12 Crown Points)
- Crown Points do not give guaranteed slots anymore
In the new format the focus is put on tournament performance. No decent tournament peformance = no money in Gwent Esports. High ladder finishes do not guarantee World Masters Finals slot anymore.
We may suspect these changes come from wintrading issues, which have lead to competitive ruling of Wangid1 in Masters3. I want to underline here that in spite of all the drama I didn’t ever feel that the old system was unfair. Wintrading will always remain there, no matter the particular system used.
While Top1 rivalry should become less tight, the Top16 one would enhance and I predict a substantial growth of MMR cutoff value. Believing that average Top16 player would sleep normally during last nights of the season now is a massive delusion 😉
Ladder and tournament Gwent performance rely on a bit different skill set, but the ladder score stems from a bigger sample size of games. Players like xCyberz, Saber97 or Mya-Mon369EX perhaps could be classified as ladder, while finding successful tournament-only players is way harder. That’s simply because of random factor, which makes it very hard to achieve consistent success in official tournaments. Lord-Triss perhaps fits the tournament player criteria best in Masters 3, but then still it is hard to say how much skill and how much luck was involved in achievement. Players like Santtu2x or Danirai are pretty successful in community tournaments, but it could also be attributed to general skill gap rather than only tournament performance.
Personally I don’t like removing all guaranteed CP spots. I wasn’t against the old system and I think that at least one guaranteed spot should remain. Also the weight of tournaments becomes naturally higher with CP changes. Still I don’t mind the qualification system proposed and see it merits.
- Top12 players with the most Crown Points (excluding Open winners)
- Split into 2 groups of 6 players
- Round Robin in groups
- Top1 from both groups advances further (2 slots)
- Remaining spots decided in deathmatches between groups, with seeding presented in the picture below
Crown Points Distribution
The Play-In Tournament format has to provide lowest possible randomness, be attractive for viewers and minimize the risk of match fixing. Let’s analyze the proposed format step by step to see if those are satisfied.
I really like the idea of Round Robin in two groups, as this format is both attractive and skillful. Top4 cutoff helps to minimize match fixing risk. Top1 players getting slots is also smart and deserved. Getting 5-0 or 4-1 score is enough of a skill proof. Moreover it reduces match fixing possibilties of Top1 ‘helping’ somebody from lower standings to pass the playoff threshold.
The playoff phase though seems to be the randomness bottleneck of the format. Even with all the earlier wrap, Gwent Masters spot decided on just one match is a step backwards. Some more basic and more detailed maths on the issue was done here.
I think the first part of the system is healthy, but the playoff format requires improvement focused on lowering the randomness. Definitely more use should be made of the past: round robin scores and maybe even all season performance (CPs). At first I suggested cross league format for playoffs, which even got some support from acclaimed players. Still there are some drawbacks of my suggestion, like lower attractiveness or match fixing possibilities in the last rounds, when players positions become more or less determined. Some further polish is then required. I believe the best solution is not far off and it could be for example double elimination system modified in some way.
- 1st place – 5 CP
- 2nd – 4CP
- 3rd – 3 CP
- 4th – 2 CP
- 2nd place – 10 CP
- 3rd-4th place – 5 CP
- 5th-8th place – 1 CP
There is a grand total of 45 Crown Points to gather via tournament performance and 120 CPs obtainable via ladder.
The gap between 9-20th (12) and 1st place (20) Crown Points becomes now a point of reference. It is equal to 8 CPs (20 CPs before). Placing as Top1 rather than Top16 player during whole cycle grants 64 CPs in total.
In spite of flattening CPs distribution, ladder will still remain main CP source and regular Top3 placements will guarantee qualification to Play-In Tournament.
Outside the box
Let’s discuss here some other stuff less associated with the new format, but still revolving around competitive Gwent
- Official tournaments format (Gwent Opens/Gwent Masters Final)
Single Elimination is classic and easy to follow, but I think the general direction taken in Gwent Masters 4 invites some experiments. The objective would be to reduce randomness while keeping the competitive play stream-friendly. At least i think it is good time for community tournaments to play around with various Top8 ideas other than SE or DE and see how it goes.
2. Players Profiles and Gwent Masters Ratings
Moreover, all MMR data is available in-game by clicking players profiles, but it is not visible at Gwent Masters Rankings website (it used to look like this in Masters 1).
I’d suggest following approach:
- public profile data is visible both in game and in Gwent Masters Ratings
- private profile data is invisible in-game and in Ratings (name, total mmr etc. remains of course
Thanks for reading! It was a chunk of an article, but there are only one Masters each year thankfully. Stay tuned!