With the Open system in full swing this year, you have an argument that The Open Champion will be the true World champion as opposed to the winner of the Worlds event in November.
So before getting too excited let’s look at the arguments both for and against both events as being an event to produce a true world champion. For starters the format of both is slightly different. Worlds in 2015 comprised 267 players, eight rounds of Swiss, followed by a top 16 elimination. The UK open event alone has a capacity of 512 with 378 currently sold at time of writing where you will play 9 games of Swiss with a top eight cut to be UK open champion. With a total of eight open events worldwide, (although it is seven in Europe and one in the USA), each open regional champion will then go into a final where they are split into two groups of four and play round robin group matches with the group winners playing off to be the Open champion.
Whilst each open event follows the same format of tournament play X-Wing, the champions event for the Open, the Coruscant Invitational, will have each player being required to field a squad of each faction in the round robin stage plus being able to see the opponent’s squads in the final before picking which of their own squads to use. Furthermore each squad must include a ship voted for by the X wing community to truly test the piloting skills, especially if a Syck is selected for Scum.
Worlds is held at FFG HQ in Minnesota, USA in November. It is an open entry which sold out really quickly this year which means most of the field are going to be US nationals. Now FFG does bus in the national champions from around the world which gives it some clout in stating it is a worldwide event with the top players from around the world attending. It is straight up 100 points of X wing with no gimmicks.
You can argue the timing of it makes it harder for some to make the journey at that time of year especially as they have moved it to midweek. Although that can be levelled at anyone no matter where they reside, locally or far, far away.
‘Foreign’ nationals have done quite well in the event which means does it matter if the majority of the field is local? I would imagine that FFG could not afford to bus in the top eight or top four from each national event to an invitational world tournament and that the effort that they do is credible as it is. One counter point could be is it truly a World championship if it is just solely based in one country with an open entry to the event with the only other outside automatic qualification coming from winning a national event somewhere around the world?
To win the Open you will have played 12 matches of regular X wing followed by a group stage and a final. In the whole final stage you will be playing against other players who have gone through the same process to get there. The Open champion will have gone through 9 rounds of Swiss, a top eight cut then a further four games against top notch opponents from around the world playing with a different squad in each group match.
Is the final, Coruscant Invitational, a bit gimmicky though with each squad being constrained to having a ship from each faction voted in by the community, plus with random squad selection for the group stage? Is this a true test of piloting or does it leave it open to bad or lucky match ups? Also in terms of Worldwide, it is one event in the USA and seven in Europe. The Open is possibly more accessible than Worlds although for some people in some parts like Australia, Worlds is probably easier to get to, providing you get up at the right time to book the ticket.
Top of the Pile
One thing that the champion of the Open would be able to claim is that they directly finished top of the pile of a larger number of players, 4096 if each event sells out to the required capacity, (which is unlikely but 2500 to 3000 is). Whilst Worlds does invite the national champions from everywhere holding a national event, the Open will have a larger global footprint in terms of numbers directly participating.
If one has the time, working alarm clock and money to get Worlds tickets then that’s great, it is an open event allowing anyone to attend, you don’t need to have been to a store, regional or national championship, but it’s not likely that you are going to get all the best players from around the world participating. You can say that they will have least in all probability participated in their respective National events, constructing a pyramid from that perspective. One could state that Worlds is more akin to the Baseball World series, where no teams from outside the USA participate save for the token Canadian team. For comparison this side of the pond we could point to the European Super League for Rugby League which comprises of 11 teams from Northern England and one from Southern France. Sadly London Broncos got relegated a couple of years ago thus losing any representation from the south of England.
Despite the gimmickry of the Coruscant Invitational you have a set format globally, as such, to attract a larger footprint of good players to directly participate. Personally that is where I feel the crux in pointing towards the Open winner as a true World Champion would lie. I’m not wishing to take away from what both Doug Kenny and triple world champion Paul Heaver have achieved, but with the new Open Event taking off this year I feel a lot of people will look at it as a proper inclusive world championship as it allows more players to play in it globally who would not be able to afford to go to Worlds for whatever reason.
A quick fix though to solve all arguments would be if FFG paid for the Coruscant Invitational winner to travel to Worlds, play in it as they are there, and then the day after the Worlds finals, play the Worlds Champion in a Champion’s Cup match, or possibly both finalists from each event in some kind of champions league. This is on the presumption that someone does not win both.
Which event do you feel will yield a true world champion?
Or is Paul Heaver going to save us the bother of arguing about it by winning both?