ACE president on the reduced number of tournaments in China
As people are questioning the reduction in numbers of tournaments in the Chinese professional scene these days, an interview with ACE president King has been conducted by Sgamer.com. In the interview King explained what had been done by ACE and why, as well as their plans in the future.
More and more details have been reveal as ECL2013 Dota2 season approaches. To everyone’s surprise, iG, DK, LGD.cn and LGD.int have been excluded from the event while Orange, VG, Tongfu and other well-known teams from both inside and outside of China have confirmed their presence. A source who works for ECL but wish not to be named claimed that iG, DK, LGD.cn and LGD.int have been classified as S League by ACE, and will not be allowed to attend any tournaments with a prize pool less than 250,000 RMB. All other teams need approval from ACE to attend such events. This breaking news, as well as falling of Chinese teams on G-1 League led to a wave of criticism on ACE, being accused of hurting the development of Dota2 professional scene.
Reporter from Sgamer.com, Xiaoshou reached King, president of ACE and manager of WE esports club, and conducted an interview, as an effort to solve all the mysteries and rumors.
Thanks for taking our interview. I imagine you , as president of ACE, are not having a good time these days.
Yea I expected this when I was voted the president.
You have a fairly good reputation in the professional scene. Do you regret your choice of being the president of ACE?
I can’t regret because I did not choose to be the president. I was simply chosen. All I can do is to perfect what I should do, and find a way out for my club(WE). As the current scenario goes, I did not accomplish these; but I am doing my best. My club is struggling to survive. The existence of ACE surely touches the benefit of many people. I know that I am being hostile to these people as I seek benefit for our association. Nevertheless I do not regret what I did.
Who founded the association at the very beginning?
ACE was not founded by someone alone. Back then all clubs were struggling to survive, and many issues needed to be taken care of. First of all, teams needed to attend lots of tournaments, while itinerary expense were on to themselves. Secondly, Tournament prizes may not be distributed as promised, and salary increase is always mandatory when the team wins a tournament. As a result, clubs were unable to turn their value into cash flows, resulting in constant roster changes and frequent disbanding of teams. As all the teams are in such tension, iG stood out and encourage the formation of ACE. The point of this association is not to gain control of anything; we are only trying to standardize organization of all clubs, and work together to survive.
Will ACE look to create a new formate of esports association, or mimic the organization of other associations, such as FIFA, NBDL and Kespa?
We are working on both ends. We take whats good from them and adapt to the circumstances.
Does ACE have its own regulations on player transfer, player behavior, etc?
Yes we do. We will publish all these as soon as our website comes out.
Recently, LongDD was removed from LGD roster and he criticised ACE aggressively on public occasions. Are these within the regulations you made?
Some misunderstanding was born as we neglected communication with players. Now we have set up feedback channels with the players, and we talked to all the clubs trying to eliminate these misunderstandings. Players can complain to us on occasions such as not getting payed, not getting the expected proportion of tournament prizes, etc.We also send representatives to all major negotiations between clubs and players.
During this year, what have ACE managed to accomplish, and what problems did you run into?
First, we eliminated headhunting so that all clubs are encouraged to culture fresh blood. Second, we demanded all tournaments to cover itinerary for participating teams. Third, we ensured proper distribution of tournament prizes, as well as player salaries.
Of course we ran into all sorts of problems trying to accomplish these. Clubs headhunting are stopped by us association; Players who look to transfer to a new club despite breaching their current contract are threatened to be banned from all tournaments; tournament cost has been levered as traveling and accommodation fees need to be covered; clubs dare not to delay payment of player salaries. All these people hate what we are doing, and they will attempt to damage our reputation. Some people think we are too strong and commanding, and their benefits would be affected by ACE.
We are doing some good as stated above, but we also have a lot to improve. We are not having enough man power, and lots of our members are doing voluntary work. I myself have to bear much on my shoulders as well. We do not have the resources to communicate with all players frequently. Luckily this problem will be solved: representatives from clubs are helping me out, namely Efeng from iG, ruru from LGD and FaBro from DK.
LOL.ACE is hiring professionals as manager. Why does n’t Dota. ACE do the same?
Dota. ACE does not have dedicated operation budget like LOL. ACE does. We have representatives from each club to do the work. We might not be as efficient as LOL. ACE, but we have better cooperation as we are all from the professional scene.
To my understanding, Tencent is very supporting of L.ACE; if there are players who violate the rules, they may be banned from participation in any Tencent tournaments. How about Perfect World’s attitude towards D.ACE? Support it or wait and let it grow?
I feel Perfect World’s service isn’t online yet, a lot of online matters have yet to be commenced, Dota 2 as a game has yet to settle in China, when everything is settled, I believe they would come and support us. Before they come and support us, I think we should handle our job. Actually, the union was designed to find our own source of income to survive. Actually, this basic problem has yet to be solved. Many clubs don’t have an income at all, but there are always clubs who would never give up or dissolve. Even though some cannot survive, at least it would let those who can be given a sense of hope.
Are there instances where a portion of the prize money would be forced to be given to the club?
Finding some business model, haven’t considered splitting a portion of the prize pool though. But long tournaments and leagues should give some money to clubs to subsidize the cost.
This repayment is included within the prize pool or the cost?
Yes, now LoL’s LPL, DotA’s ACE and DSL is like that.
During the last meeting, it was said that the players and representatives complained about the existence of an alliance which leads to a reduction of income?
Yes, we have already explained to the players, the alliance never restricted the competition, we must first ensure the quality of the competition, then manage the time of the matches. If there are too many competitions at a time, it is a must to let go of a couple. During the time of WC3 Dota, the competitions held were very prosperous, there were at least matches everyday and people were very used to it. We didn’t know after TI2 that there was a million dollar Dota competition, therefore not wanting to join WC DotA competitions. We also did not know who to talk to in the local area and therefore, there wasn’t anybody willing to host tournaments. The second edition of ACE league was therefore carried out like that. I was finding a lot of companies to help sponsor/invest in the ACE league but due to uncertainty they all gave up.
Still many people do not understand why are the teams prohibited from attending smaller events.
Given that there will be big events all year round, we divided tournaments into different leagues. Already confirmed events are DSL (500,000RMB for champion), ACE (1.000,000RMB), TI3( 1,000,000USD). Due to scheduling conflict, there will be only one ACE tournament this year, while next year there will be two ACE events and two DSL events. This means there will be four events with considerable size of prize pool each year plus TI4. After we perfect these tournaments, we will move tournament classification. Since all these tournaments have a prize distribution heavily favoring the first place, second place and third place, we are limiting some of the smaller events to weaker teams so that they can survive.
Also, when we are looking for sponsors for our ACE tournament, we emphasized the value of our star players. If we let these players attend other events simultaneously, sponsors might lose their interest or cut their sponsorship. To sum it up, we did consider a lot before we decided to classify these events.
Thanks for your illustration. However some people still thinks abundant offline tournaments is the key for professional players to keep their performance level.
We have been pondering about the same question: should we have more tournaments or should we have better tournaments. We sought experience from many traditional sports. They all have their own leagues and tournaments, but none of them value quantity over quality. We consider high quality as our primary goal, so that value of our star players can be protected accordingly. About which team is allowed in which league, we will discuss with representatives from each team monthly and make decisions according to circumstances.
As you just mentioned there will be ACE tournament later this year. Is it possible to provide us with some heads-up?
I will illustrate thoroughly.We have been preparing for ACE Season 2 as soon as Season 1 finished. However we ran into many difficulties since we have to switch from Dota 1 to Dota 2. Dota 1 is still very popular in China, and only a few people have access to Dota 2 which is still in beta. However after talking with all teams, we acknowledged that players are no longer willing to go back to Dota1.On the other hand, sponsors still favor Dota 1 heavily. We finally found sponsorship for our ACE Season 2, with 1,000,000RMB for first place and the event was set to start on April 15th. Only later did we realized that we might have conflicted with G-1 league followed by DSL. We talked to Perfect World and Gamefy( host of DSL), expressed our will to cooperate and organize a bigger, better event together. Unluckily, time was too urgent for such a big cooperation, so we finally decided to run our ACE tournament after TI3, just to make sure there will be top class events all year round. The opening date was set to September 1st.
I will ask one question for many of our readers: ACE had already ruined Dota, why don’t you let Dota 2 go?
I’m sorry but we are not the one who decide which game goes hot and which does not. People are blaming us for favoring LOL over Dota. All I want say is that we only have Dota 2 in our ACE tournament, not LOL.
Just as many players criticized ACE, some professional players showed their support publicly. Do you feel what you have done is worth your efforts?
We seek approval from clubs and players; that is all. We never intended to gain control of everything; we simply want to help them. Shout out to those haters: Please make sure you understand what is going on before you draw conclusion.
Please sum up your experience of being president of ACE.
I have been working in the field of E-sports for 13 years. 13 years ago my friends thought I had a decent career as I was topping the field of E-sports. Now, my friends are not yet topping their field, but they have caught up with me already. All I’m saying is E-sports did not develop much throughout the years. Only if we work together for our beloved E-sports, can we gain more social recognition and approval. I have always been thinking: the mainstream media are not talking about us due to government restrictions; but once restrictions are lifted, are we ready for this? I hope we can show the public that we are an energetic and well-organized industry. Unluckily, we are not yet. We have a lot to accomplish and a lot to improve. Even inside our industry, people look down on other games. Progress can only be made when Cannibalism is diminished.