Looking Forward to 2020

December 19, 2019

Looking Forward to 2020

For us at CEA, 2019 was a year of growth and learning. Our community has always inspired us to constantly drive towards improving our tournaments with regards to fun, inclusiveness, organization, and overall quality of life. We've taken feedback from all of you, and we have re-examined our general rules and operational practices within the framework of what's most important to the CEA brand and to our community. With this in mind, we'll be making some changes in 2020.


First, let's talk policies that govern the framework of team structures:

Single company restriction

We believe the identity of the CEA revolves around connecting players across teams in a setting of spirited competition, starting the conversation from the brands and identities of the companies at which the team members are employed, and growing relationships based on our common passion for Esports. The initial intent of having all players on a team represent the same company was two-fold: First and foremost we believe in our core function of connecting co-workers who may have previously not interacted at all, as well as connecting co-workers and opening conversations over a common interest outside of the typical work setting. Second, this provides a brand identity for a team's competitor in a given match and opens the door for corporate rivalries. However we've also noticed that this policy closes the door for small companies who cannot field enough players to participate. We will be addressing this by creating a new half-team registration option for 2 companies with low participation numbers to join forces and create a single team. Since the purpose of this is to facilitate participation for small teams and not to strengthen or divide large teams, we'll enact a supporting rule that a company entering the season with a half-team may not have any other participation in the tournament for the same game. A team made up of 2 companies will be subject to the same roster maximum and floater rules as every other team, and for the purposes of tournament management will be equivalent to any other team, but will have 2 captains, 1 from each company. The minimum participation count from a single company to form a half-team is 2 players, and a half-team registration will be half the cost of a full-team registration.

Full time employee restriction

Contractors have previously been disallowed from playing with the company for which they do work, due to our rule that all players must be full-time employees of the team's associated company. We believe this practice counters our desire to foster inclusion among workplace teammates, and we believe contractors are valuable team members both inside and outside the workplace. We will be allowing full-time (typically at least 30 scheduled hours / week) contractors to participate in the CEA alongside their workplace teammates, and we will ask for verification via a workplace company email (same domain as the rest of the team) or other methods as needed if such an email is not available. This rule will not apply if the parent contracting company by which the contractor is formally employed has a participating team; the contractor shall play on the parent contracting company's team in this instance.


Second, let's look at the world of day-to-day tournament operations for our seasons:

more Floaters

We've revisited the floater rule and decided that allowing 1 floater per company over an entire tournament is insufficient both for large companies who have many teams, and also for games that require large team sizes. We have decided that for games that require 3 or 4 member minimum for a roster, we will allow 1 floater per 3 teams from a company. That 1 floater will only be allowed to play for those 3 teams, and additional sets of up to 3 teams from the same company will be allowed their own 1 floater. For games that require 5 or 6 members minimum for a roster, we will allow 2 floaters per 3 teams from a company. Each floater will still be a registered eligible player and must be listed on all rosters (up to 3) they could possibly play for, and each floater may still only play on 1 team per week. Any 1 floater may play for up to 3 teams, but in the case of 5 or 6 member minimum rosters, the 2 floaters are not required to be listed on the same set of teams. For example, in the case of a company who plays a 5-person MOBA, fields 6 teams (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6), and uses 4 floaters (A, B, C, D): Say A is listed on 1, 2, 3 and B is on 4, 5, 6. C would not be required to play on the same set of teams as either A or B, and could be listed on up to 3 teams without regard to which teams have A and B. Say C is listed on 1, 3, 5, then D could be listed on 2, 4, 6 so each team has no more than 2 floater. Looking at a different example, a company with 4 teams in this game would still be eligible to have up to 4 floaters, and each floater would be eligible to roster on up to 3 teams, with the restriction that no team may have more than 2 floaters registered.

weekly Roster change deadline

Roster flexibility, in the context of adding players to the team at any point, is important to the CEA as we understand that employees may either hear about the company team, or may join the company, after the season is underway. However, for the purpose of coordinating matches and allowing teams to scout each other, last minute roster changes can be confusing. We have decided to make rosters immutable for the 24 hours leading up to a match; this includes instances where a match has been rescheduled away from the default time. Rosters will continue to stay unlocked for the season: players may be added at any point, up to the roster size cap; player removals are allowed up to Week 5.

Maximum starting roster size

Flexibility given by the maximum size of rosters is also a critical point, as team members may vary in time availability both within a roster and across companies, and players of all levels of skill and commitment are important to our community. The addition of a roster spot after Week 5 was originally intended to keep flexibility to add a player who joined later in the season. However, in practice we've some teams end up juggling players by using free removals and additions up to Week 5, and then lock a roster in later in the season with the roster spot addition. To help teams include more players, including those with less time availability, we've decided to start rosters with a maximum size of 1 more, but remove the increase after Week 5. Math example: call N the minimum number of teams required to play a game; previously the maximum roster size was set to 2N+1, and increased to 2N+2 after Week 5; now the maximum rosters size will be 2N+2 for the entire duration of the season.

set schedule for GRAND FINALS

We know that rescheduling matches allows teams an opportunity to tackle last-minute schedule changes that are a reality of everyday life. While this guiding principle won't change during the season, we also believe that creating a unified Grand Finals event will be beneficial to our community; we'll be looking to showcase an exciting string of matches both to encourage everyone in the CEA community to watch, and also to show the rest of the world how awesome our world of Corporate Esports has become. For this to happen, we'll need to lock down dates and times for the Grand Finals well in advance, and we'll publish this schedule when Playoffs begins. We will then have to ask Playoffs teams to commit to the Grand Finals schedule as they continue to advance through the Playoffs bracket.


Finally, big changes are coming to the CEA and to the way we approach our tournaments.  We're looking at overarching format of a season as well the entire competitive structure of what the CEA offers. The 13-16 week long season tournaments that you know and love are here to stay, but we're looking at ways to improve the competitive flow throughout a season as well as decrease competitive fatigue across multiple seasons. While we're still working out details, we wanted to share our thought process:

new name for the long format seasons

Simple stuff first: We'll be rebranding our long-format seasons (what we've been running) as the CEA Championship Series.

new week to week formats

Our Swiss-focused long season format is historically fairly adequate for sorting teams into appropriate seeding for Playoffs as well as seeking out increasingly competitive and gratifying matches, but has shortcomings in that once close pairings are achieved we transition over to Playoffs and eliminate the majority of teams. We saw success with offering our high-placing Rocket League teams from Spring 2019 pre-qualified Playoffs spots and a separate Round Robin in Fall 2019, and we plan to incorporate this mindset into most of our Championship Series games in 2020 in order to improve the quality of the Swiss-focused bracket. We are also brainstorming season formats that will expand on Swiss and dwell on the close matches for a greater percentage of the time, as well as post-season formats that keep the fun going, helping players and teams stay engaged beyond being formally eliminated. Ultimately, we hope that teams can show up each week knowing that we'll handle making matches as fun as possible, as quickly as possible.

branching out in fall 2020

Fall 2020 will contain CEA tournaments that extend beyond what the Championship Series offers. We're thinking multiple shorter events (1-3 weeks) with a wider variety of games, as well as alternative tournament formats for the games we already play. The intent is to break up the grind of playing the same game week in and week out, and we think this gives teams and players a chance to pick their own pace while still competing for a CEA charity prize pool at the end of the Fall. We promise to make this a fun and engaging complement to our familiar Championship Series tournaments, so please stay tuned.

back to the basics in spring 2021

We'll look forward to the Championship Series returning in Spring 2021. Details on games and schedule will be shared during the Fall 2020 event.


All in all, I think we have a great deal to be excited about. In addition to donating $20k this season right before the holidays, we've built a wonderful community around Corporate Esports, and it warms my heart that you've all joined us on this Corporate Esports journey in our inaugural year. I hope you're looking forward to 2020 as much as I am!


Terence Southard

Director of Tournament Operations

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