Recap of the BFTL Drama

All the bad and ugly that went on during the Battle For the Light Championship.

[8M] saints
Infinite Mana Team Manager
October 10, 2022

(Disclaimer: An Infinite Mana team owner is a shareholder in Community Gaming. is a sponsor and partner of team Infinite Mana)

That was a wild Gods Unchained weekend. As part of Immutable's efforts to promote GU esports, they brought in Community Gaming to run an ambitious pair of large-scale Swiss tournaments called the Battle For the Light. For esports to truly thrive, you need stakes, and AQUA came in to generously sponsor the tournaments, culminating in the largest prize pool tournaments in GU to-date. Infinite Mana, being the ambitious competitive team we are, was really excited for the opportunity to compete on this stage.

What resulted was a remarkable fumble by an inconsiderate, and at times frankly disrespectful, admin team at Community Gaming. While I don't have all the information surrounding the event, I do have a small glimpse as far as what happened behind the scenes.

Before I get into a list of errors and slights made by CG, it's important for you to know that AQUA didn't have any staff on the ground or make any tournament-specific decisions. They were tournament sponsors, not tournament admins, and AQUA is doing the most out of any organization right now to support GU esports—we (the community) are lucky to have them.

Here's, in chronological order, where I think Community Gaming dropped the ball:

  1. A complete lack of transparency about Swiss rules leading up to the tournament

  2. Refused help and ignored warnings from tournament organizers, including myself, leading up to the tournament. I followed up the below message with a 1,109-word essay describing potential issues with 1-hour rounds, cheating/deck validity detection, arbitrating disputes, and handling tiebreaks (this gets important later on), half of which they ignored.


  3. Changed the deck submission deadline from 48 hours prior to the tournament to 24 hours. Then inexplicably reopened deck submissions up for 5 minutes post-deadline, and then wisely reverted this decision after being informed it was a bad idea. But the rollback didn't work due to apparently buggy software, inevitably allowing people to change their decks during a subsequent check-in period.

  4. Upon releasing deck lists for all players, they also doxxed everyone's eth address. When I confronted them, their answer wasn't an apology or even awareness that this could've been a massive privacy issue.

  5. CG had no one on ground who plays Gods Unchained. At one point, an admin declared that players could not change their God Powers, which they walked back after being informed that that was a very normal thing. They often suggested new rules during the Top 8 that made no sense in the context of GU/card games overall.

  6. Changed how long rounds would last mid-way through the tournament because they didn't want to spend more time hosting the tournament. This meant that if you were up 1-0 after the hour was up, you'd win automatically. This effort to get the tournament over with as soon as possible becomes a recurring pattern.

    They subsequently ignored suggestions that the new 1-hour ruling would incentivize stalling and fewer games played.

  7. Neglected one of the most important parts of the double-elimination format, namely the “double-elimination” part. The Winner's Bracket winner was refused the right of being double-eliminated in the grand finals, meaning everyone got a 2nd chance except for that one player.

    To be completely fair, they claimed this was Immutable's decision, but wanting to finish the broadcast as soon as possible fits CG's modus operandi. This was especially frustrating to me given that both tournaments' Winner's Bracket winners were Infinite Mana players. Sifu would end up losing one Bo5 to Villibesti (the Loser's Bracket winner) in the EMEA grand finals, where normally he would end up being granted another Bo5 (i.e. a second chance) in a typical double-elim setting.

  8. The production team refused to allow a winner's interview, a tradition in high-level GU tournaments, because they didn't want to spend more time. Winner's interviews are typically 3 minutes long.

  9. After establishing the Top 8 for the APAC Regional, they changed the Top 8 without any explanation whatsoever, kicking out cautionfun who they had previously confirmed as a finalist. CG never notified cautionfun directly, who had to hear about it from other people in the community, and had most likely spent his previous night preparing for his expected run in the Top 8.

    [8M] Hpain was slotted in, and since he's part of Infinite Mana, and AQUA (the tournament sponsors) are also Infinite Mana sponsors, this led to some suspicion of foul play. We were blindsided by this just as the community was, and didn't know what to make of it.

    A whole day later, with both tournaments concluded, there still isn't an explanation from CG about what happened. [8M] FakeMews eventually spent hours combing through the APAC results and calculated the primary tiebreaker (opponent match win %) manually. His conclusion was that, while cautionfun still would not have been in the Top 8, HPain also wouldn't have made it in, and the 8th seed should've gone to either Afterthought or Inferpool (FakeMews tweet).

    My estimation is that CG messed up the top 8 calculation not once, but twice, to get to where we ended up.

What's next for competitive GU events?

Gods Unchained esports is in a difficult position. On one hand they've promised a massive world championship tournament, but on the other, they brought in an outside vendor to test large scale tournaments with and CG seems to have completely broken the GU community's trust in them.

Running tournaments is really hard work. People don't realize it because most simply show up, ignore the rules, and play GU, and that's great. It should be easy and painless for players, even if they don't read 90% of the rules. But there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes into making a tournament well-organized, fair, and fun. If you're interested in what that work is, you can read my post-mortem from our latest Swiss tournament.

And while I think we do a great job, I don't think we're necessarily the right candidates for running large-scale GU tournaments either. I do know one thing for certain though, it's that if our tournaments are a model for success, it's only because they are run by people who care deeply and passionately about GU. People who understand the game enough to make the right judgment calls, and people who are familiar enough with the game to regularly catch potential cheaters and create really cool player and fan experiences. It was evident that the CG team didn’t care for, or did any research into Gods Unchained.

Whichever direction GU chooses to go now, I hope they've learned a lesson here in that anyone can run a tournament, but not anyone can run a good Gods Unchained tournament. I hope they find organizers who have GU's best interests in mind, aren't just out for a paycheck, and I hope GU sets appropriately high standards and demands accountability from their vendors for the sake of the players.

(Interested in discussing more about what went down? Come join the recently opened Infinite Mana Discord server)

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