EPIC League surprised fans with the announcement of the new Dota 2 super team Just Error’s involvement. Apparently, the other teams competing in the event were also surprised.
According to a number of reports, EPIC Esports Events kept details on the closed qualifier format hidden from teams. This likely stemmed from an effort to keep the announcement of Just Error’s roster a secret, something that undermined the integrity of the competition.
The EPIC League qualifiers started fairly normally, with the strange caveat of it involving 17 teams. Things progressed normally with four GSL groups made up of four teams each, leading to a double-elimination playoff stage. Two teams were set to advance to the EPIC League’s upper division, but the 17th team became involved in a strange way.
Tournament grid after the game day ✌️ pic.twitter.com/wFtG7enSpo
— EPICENTER (@epicentergg) November 13, 2020
The finals of the playoffs was between mudgolems and Yellow Submarine, with mudgolems coming out on top with a 3-1 series victory. Under normal circumstances, Yellow Submarine would have been given the second qualifier berth into the EPIC League upper division. Instead, the team had to play in another best-of-five series against Just Error.
That approach was unusual, but also inherently unfair to Yellow Submarine. Alongside the fact the team had to work considerably harder to qualify for the event than Just Error did, Just Error had the advantage of entering into the matchup without giving any prospective opponent any games to study. This not only made it harder for Yellow Submarine to prepare, but puts Just Error in an even more favorable position than mudgolems.
How would you rate this guy’s play today? 😏 pic.twitter.com/8Z2kKpogDl
— EPICENTER (@epicentergg) November 11, 2020
The EPIC League qualifier format is definitely unusual, and it’s hard to argue that it was fair. While esports has largely revolved around round robins and playoffs, EPIC League instead used a different approach to introduce a surprise late entrant. A fun twist on a tired format can be a good thing, but it’s hard not to feel bad for Yellow Submarine as the team will now miss out on the $500,000 tournament.
Still, it’s easy to see why Just Error got special treatment. The team is comprised of three members of the five-time major champion Virtus.pro lineup, as well as one of Dota 2’s foremost stars:
This also begs the question why EPIC Esports Events didn’t simply directly invite Just Error to compete in the league. While there may have been some controversy over invite an untested team over mudgolems, it would not have drummed up the same sort of controversy.
Ultimately, Just Error will be able to silence any questions over their path to qualification by putting in a strong performance at the event. Just Error debuted in the league with a 2-1 loss to mudgolems and will look to rebound against Natus Vincere