On the 2014 Worlds Group Draw

On the 2014 Worlds Group Draw

[UPDATE 8/12/2014, 07:10 PM PDT: Based on initial community feedback, we wanted to clarify that the issue is getting teams from their home countries to Worlds. Doing a live draw after September 7 would mean there would only be a little over a week to organize travel plans, including visas, to get all 16 teams from their home countries to their respective group stage locations.]

As we get closer to announcing the final structure and lineup for Worlds, we want to address just how we’ll be approaching the draw for the Group Stage.

When we designed the system for determining the Group Stage for the 2014 tournament, we knew that preserving competitive integrity was the top priority. Furthermore, we knew that we were operating with a few timing constraints due to the disparate competitive schedules of all the regional leagues.

Due to the fact that each regional qualifier ends at a different time - with the last team qualifying on September 7 from China - a live group draw would mean that there would be just over a week to organize visas, travel, and full logistics for 16 international teams. Even when we looked into alternatives - such as double-booking flights and visas - we found that all of those options had insurmountable logistical, financial, and manpower issues that made them infeasible. A private group draw allows us to make travel arrangements for teams immediately after they are seeded from their respective regional qualifiers. As a result, we can minimize the effects of visa issues and other travel challenges that Worlds-qualified teams may face.

Given all of these factors, we decided that the best option was to conduct the group stage draw privately and confidentially, as we have done in seasons past. The draw will be completed before the first regional qualifier ends on August 14. We’ll also host a Group Reveal Show shortly after the final regional qualifier, in which we’ll unveil all the groups along with analysis of the upcoming match-ups.

While holding a public group draw before the regional qualifiers have been completed solves some of the logistical hurdles, it presents its own set of severe problems. If teams yet to qualify for Worlds knew the seeds of the Group Stage competitors they would face, that could introduce an incentive for soft-play or match fixing. We didn’t want to put any teams in the position of having to choose between trying their hardest to win and trying to manipulate their standings due to a perverse incentive. We couldn’t risk any compromise to the competitive integrity of Worlds even though the current draw method is not as transparent as we’d like.

For next season, we’re focused on creating global alignment between all the regional leagues and their respective schedules. This will provide myriad benefits, including the ability to have a live draw that is logistically feasible, transparent, and doesn’t compromise competitive integrity.

Looking toward the future, competitive integrity will always remain our top priority. We look forward to aligning with our global partners to work toward a more transparent Group Draw experience.