Breaking down the Gentlemen Cup controversy, or the case of vVv versus PkD
UPDATE at 19:05 CET on 19.09:
eSuba members have informed us that they'll be re-playing the game if certain conditions are met, more particularly some sort of compensation if they end up 4th after already secured $1,000.
UPDATE at 18:05 CET on 19.09:
P4wnyhof has issued an official statement:
First of all I would like to apologize to vVv for having a mistake in my calculations regarding their map score in our league. After checking through all VoD’s again we found the mistake on our side. Soon after that I sat down together with Wampie, Ostkaka and Nydra to clarify the situation. It just took some minutes until we came to the conclusion that vVv deserves the play offs spot instead of Planetkey.
After talking with team eSuba, who were immediately willing to replay vs vVv, we settled a date and they will rematch on Monday the 22nd and try to cast the matches on the following day for all of you. I know this is unfortunate for everyone especially for eSuba who already having advanced to the semi-finals.
This is my first time organizing and administrating a league and I’m still learning and gathering experience. It was the first season of our league at TaKeTV and I tried to make it as good as possible for all the teams. To avoid teams getting disqualified and preventing them getting a deflose we softened the rules regarding sending in decks or holding deadlines for handing in files, because they got exceeded often.
During this first season I learned a lot and I would be very happy about community feedback and we will improve towards that in the coming seasons. Now finally I would like to thank Nydra and Nomlix for their support to clarify this situation and the vVv пlayers for sitting down with me to talk. I can only apologize about what happened to all the involved people and hope we can bring the Gentlemen Cup to a great фinal! Time is up, lets do this.”
UPDATE at 14:25 CET on 19.09:
Hosted at the TakeTV studio in Krefeld, the Gentlemen Cup started in May 2014 as the first real, long-lasting team league for Hearthstone. Eight teams were invited or qualified to play the event, including MYM, vVv, eSuba, PkD, MiA, Eeriness, Innovation and DogeHouse (later acquired by Cloud 9).
The format was simple: teams would go through a double round robin – meaning they play each of their opponents twice for a total of 14 matches – and the four most successful wins would advance further, to the playoffs. A total of $7,000 were put as the prize pot, spread between the top three competitors.
For the majority of the duration, the tournament activities went smoothly. The top three competitors were clear cut in MYM, Cloud 9 and eSuba. The fourth team was to be decided between vVv Gaming and Planetkey Dynamics. This is where the controversy ensued as vVv player Aleksi “Wampie” Majander went on Reddit with a post titled “Why I feel robbed after the 4 month marathon”, explaining the process that led to his team excluded from the playoffs in favor of PkD.
Before we break down the numbers, there’s an important note we have to make. The Gentlemen Cup results were recorded publicly on two sites: GosuGamers and Liquipedia, in addition to TakeTV's official tracking of the standings. GosuGamers’ record for PkD is at 6-8 in team matches due to a resulting mistake against eSuba in Round 1 (thanks to Lothar who pointed this to us). Unfortunately, as the mistake was only caught after the closing of the monthly season, we couldn’t fix the result. vVv’s score of 7-7 is correct
On Liquipedia, PkD are listed at 8-6 while vVv are listed at 6-8, both of which being incorrect. In team matches, both teams are in fact at 7-7 so according to the Gentlemen Cup rulebook, the team with the “better win/loss ratio” prevails.
This is where the first problem appears as there is no clear cut article on how said “win/loss ratio” is calculated or what data is it based on. In a tournament where team matches consist of multiple Bo3’s between individual players, “win/loss ratio” can refer to multiple scores, including total Bo3’s won/lost and total maps won/lost.
Gentlemen Cup's official standings table show PkD's wrong result, the accurate being 77-80 and -3. Title should also be "Standings after Week 14". GC's cup admin would later admit the mistake.
These are the numbers we calculated after scouting and recording all the broadcast games of vVv and PkD. Links to VODs are available in the linked spreadsheet.
Looking at Planetkey Dynamics, the team is at 7-7 team matches, 30-31 in series and 77-80 in maps. So far, so good.
Going to vVv’s record, we stumble on a few more controversial moments. In Week 13, the team was supposed to play Eeriness but the Czech squad forfeited the match. Although vVv did get a match point for Eeriness’ no-show, they were robbed of individual series and map points, which influences how vVv’s final score is calculated. The tournament rulebook itself has no article regarding match forfeiture, saying it’s ultimately admin’s decision.
Additionally, in their Week 14 game against Cloud 9, vVv’s Spo had to forfeit his match against Kolento following retirement from Hearthstone, for which Cloud 9 received +1 individual series and +2 map points.
That said, a review on vVv’s record brings out two possible scores:
- If team walkovers give 0 series and 0 map points: vVv are 26-30 in series and 70-71 in maps. They are behind PkD in series (-4 to -1) and ahead in maps (-1 to -3), provided that the Spo walkover is treated in consistency with Eeriness'.
- In the actual case, Spo's forfeit was resulted as 0-2, which puts vVv and PkD even in map score at -3
- If team walkovers are to give 4 series and 8 map points: vVv are ahead of PkD in series (0 to -1) and maps (+5 to -3)
As it’s evident, there are different outcomes depending which forfeiture ruling is applied. In the second case - the one which was not used – vVv Gaming are the clear winners over PkD.
The first case, however, is a bit more complex because of the aforementioned lack of definition of “win/loss ratio” and how different ties are broken. If series scores are not counted – as it’s displayed on Gentlemen Cup’s official standings table – vVv should have the edge as they’re tied with PkD at -3 but have beaten them directly twice during the tournament. If series scores are counted at any point of time, it’s all in PkD’s favor.
Upon re-checking our calculations, cup's admin P4wnyhof would later admit to GosuGamers staff that there's error in the official calculations and vVv should be #4. P4wnyhof would also state in a follow-up coversation that vVv shouldn't have been allowed to play their Week 14 match against Cloud 9 at all, but a forfeit would actually mean that they are not punished with -4 series points and -8 win points, putting them ahead of PkD in the end.
A few more details make the matter more complicated and deepen the conflict, one of it being the rule about teams introducing new members to the tournament.
Starting from the most recent events, we have vVv’s preparation for their final week of matches against Cloud 9. Following Spo’s and Portex’s retirements, the team is left down with three players in Wampie, Ostkaka and Kaldi, or one player short of the required minimum for a Gentlemen Cup match. In attempt to find a solution, vVv try to sub in players but are denied by the admins. In his Reddit post, Wampie writes:
The end decision saw Spo receiving a 0-2 def-loss due to no-show. vVv would later lose yet another player as Jökull “Kaldi” Jóhannsson joined Fnatic on September 9th, leaving his former team down to two players and, quoting the tournament admin, "ineligible for playoffs".
Why weren’t vVv allowed to fill up their roster, however? A look back at the tournament reveals similar cases where other teams were treated differently. During Week 7, DogeHouse, later picked up by and renamed to Cloud 9, used Aleksandr “Kolento” Malsh in their match against vVv Gaming. Then a member of team Managrind, Malsh’s first Gentlemen Cup game for DogeHouse was played on June 20th, six days before his move to the new team was announced and more than ten days before his contract would come in effect on July 1st. What’s more, his second game was played on July 5th, which contradicts another article in the rulebook, namely that new players are locked down for one week.
Altough he would later join Cloud 9 officially, Kolento played his first Gentlemen Cup match without technically being part of the team. Photo: Millenium
According to tournament admin Mats “P4wnyhof” Kathage, the difference between DH/C9’s and vVv’s cases lies with him being informed well in advance that Kolento will eventually be signed by Cloud 9. However, the rulebook doesn’t specifically state that players need to be contractually bound by the organization they are playing for, so strictly speaking, vVv should’ve been allowed to bring subs for their week 14 match, as according to Wampie they’ve submitted their line-up on Monday, September 1st which meets the respective deadline.
What’s more, in their playoff match against eSuba, Planetkey Dynamics themselves used a player not officially on their roster, sending one Michal “Pozmywam” Sowinski. At the time of this article, there has been no official indication that Sowinski has joined PkD, neither has there been a statement by P4wnyhof on why that was allowed, despite asking the question multiple times.
Here, one can bring out the “admins have the final word” line in the rulebook to justify PkD’s advancement to the playoffs, but in this case, there’s one final problem that makes things complicated as aforementioned admin Mats “P4wnyhof” Kathage is an official member of PkD. In addition to administrating the tournament, Kathage was also seen competing in a total of five games and helping his team defeat Eeriness in Week 8 and Innovation in Week 9.
Upon double checking the calculations provided in the Google Document above, Gentlemen Cup admins admitted to GosuGamers staff their mistake. The conversation, screenshot of which is provided below, also revisits questionable topics of the argument like Pozmywam's playoffs appearance, the case with DogeHouse/Cloud 9 and Kolento and if vVv were even eligible for Week 14 participation given they lacked a four-man roster.
So what will ultimatley by vVv's fate? At the time of this publication, PkD have been disqualified from the playoffs and they will be replaced by the rightful top four, vVv Gaming, and eSuba have agreed to replay the match they won against PkD yesterday.
A few more details are still being fleshed out as vVv's are officially lacking two players due to Spo's and Portex's retirement and Kaldi's move to Fnatic. vVv's Wampie and Ostkaka have agreed to play with Kaldi and there's been no objections from Kaldi's or Fnatic's side but vVv still need one more player and the rules about substitutes is still being discussed. TakeTV's CEO Dennis "Take" Gehlen has also been involved in attempt to mediate the situation. Official statement from TakeTV staff will also be released so we'll keep you updated as the story develops.
Now that the facts have been covered, a step back for assessment of the situation is due and someone’s about to go home with a braised image as some things just shouldn’t be done, period.
Starting with the obvious, having a member of one of the participating teams as head admin of the tournament is an obvious conflict of interests, even if the tournament goes by sans any conflicts. What makes it increasingly rough for P4wnyhof is not only that he actually competed himself, but had the main say in translating unclear rules and passing an important judgment, one that would have his team advance at the expense of another.
One could argue that past cases like Lord of the Arena have seen their organizers participate but the amount of rules needed to run an 8-man bracket and four-months-long team league is substantial. Furthermore, the lack of clear-cut rules on how certain situations are resolved makes for an additional layer of conflicts which require the attention of an unbiased party. Being a member of PkD, P4wnyhof is not one such party.
Secondly, the forfeit rules as they were ruled in the case of vVv vs Eeriness make little to no sense. While walkovers do award one match point, not receiving points for the individual series makes it so that forfeiting a match is better than playing and losing it. While I myself stand by the opinion that no-shows should not affect existing ranking systems (GosuRankings, for example, do not award/take away points for walkovers/no-shows), they should make a difference within a group stage. Further discrepancy lies with the fact that vVv were punished with a 0-2 for Spo’s no-show but were not given the same 2-0’s for Eeriness’ absence in Week 13. Rules are rules because they are consistent and must remain so in the equal interest of all involved parties.
Lastly, running a four-month-league – especially in a game in its infancy - comes with the inevitable roster swaps and player dropouts and those need to be addressed adequately. Gentlemen Cup’s rulebook doesn’t say anything on what makes a player eligible to join a team and compete in a tournament. When we asked P4wnyhof why weren’t vVv allowed to sign in substitutes after dropping below four players, his answer read:
While P4wnyhof has a point, one can’t miss the fact that some of the teams participating in the league, namely DogeHouse and Innovation, were exactly that – just practice groups of people not contractually bound to any organization. Given the nature of the scene, teams should’ve been allowed more flexibility in subbing in players, so far as the core of the team remains recognizable.
When I set up to write this piece, I thought that beyond putting the story to paper it would all be pointless. The Gentlemen Cup playoffs were already under way and there was no rewinding it back. “Robbed” or not, Wampie and his teammates wouldn’t magically replace PkD and they would not compete for a cut of the $7,000. In fact, upon reading this the finals could very well be over and in a few weeks’ time, we all would’ve forgotten about the story.
It the end of the day, though, it's important to note that wrongs have been righted, albeit retroactively. vVv will be given three days to prepare for the match again eSuba and even though this development happened swiftly and overnight, they should be fine. As for Gentlemen Cup and its administration, to readily acknowledge their mistake and willing to take action cushions the backlash they experienced last night, at least to some extent.
If they're fortunate, people will speak the words Gentlemen Cup without a smirk of irony.
Thanks to our coverage overlord Jan "Nomlix" Lauk for crunching the numbers. This would've taken way longer, otherwise.