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An update to our ESL World Ranking

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Introduction


In order to unify the ESL World Ranking during the online era of Counter Strike we’ve reevaluated and made changes to the mechanics of how all competitions are classified and therefore how much they contribute to a team’s standing within the ESL WR. This change will be implemented immediately and will look back on recent months of competition allowing for a better, farrier representation for all teams within the ESL WR.

Within this article you’ll be able to read and understand why the current system needed an update and what steps we have taken to unify the system:

  • Why the current system needed an update
  • What steps have been taken
  • Summary

 

Why the current system needed an update

As tournaments became online regional competitions, we noticed a fundamental flaw existed in how the ESL World Ranking classifies tournaments and then teams globally were positioned unfairly within the system.

It is important to note that the current system evaluates all tournaments from a global competition perspective. An easy way to understand this:

"The better the quality and number of participating teams within the tournament, the more ESL World Ranking points you can earn"

Regional competitions were being evaluated under a global perspective and therefore were contributing less value to teams for their respective ESL WR at no fault of their own. As an example, the highest possible level of competition in Asia or Oceania would have been classified significantly lower because of the lack of top European or North American participation.

Over time, the mathematically inevitable outcome was that due to these tournaments providing less ESL WR value to teams, they were sliding down the ranking and the lower they went, the lower the tournament was classified.

As this downward spiral was taking place, the more competitive regions continued to provide substantial points for teams to maintain their ESL WR status and therefore an imbalance was created within the system that needed an update.

Example of the classification mismatch:

  • European online regional with all the top teams - Classification: AAA (highest amount of ESL WR contribution)
  • North American online regional with all the top teams - Classification: C (second lowest amount of ESL WR contribution)
  • Asian online regional with all the top teams - Classification: None (no ESL WR contribution)


Before the online era of CS:GO, this problem did not exist as regional competitions would frequently have their best teams compete within global competitions, competing within a fair environment for their ESL World Ranking status.

What steps have been taken

We were required to find a solution to allow regional competitions to become self-sustainable within the system. The most efficient and effective solution was to reconfigure the method for tournament evaluation. With this approach, the core mechanic behind the ESL WR could stay the same and the changes could be isolated to purely how the ESL World Ranking recognizes regional competitions.

The first change was to adjust the perspective of classification from:

"The better the quality and number of participating teams within the tournament, the more ESL World Ranking points you can earn"

to:

"The better the quality and number of participating teams within the regional competition, the more ESL World Ranking points you can earn"

Secondly we were required to identify the fairest starting point to apply our solution. The fairest method was to look back at when the mechanic was operating as intended and then apply. This would be after the end of the last offline global competition, IEM Katowice 2020 (March 2nd, 2020).

Thirdly, as some teams within these smaller regional tournaments are without an ESL WR rank for an accurate classification, we used external ranking systems and other sources to support us in assigning the tournaments respective ESL World Ranking value. (Evaluated teams from 3rd party sources were not given any world ranking points “for free”, this method is purely to assist in evaluation.)

Fourthly, we used existing metrics to determine the classification of a tournament (click here to deep dive into the metrics and mechanics), however this time in relation to the strength of the region.

Example of the classification with the intended update applied:

  • European online regional with all the top teams - Classification: AAA
  • Asian online regional with all the top teams - Classification: AAA


Finally, we needed to add a regional modifier to ensure that the smaller regional ‘AAA’ tournaments were within the right proportion to the other larger regions. Without this modifier, the regions would distribute identical amounts of ESL WR value which is key to prevent the following:

ESL One Cologne 2020
Without the modifier the below results would mean that Tyloo would earn more ESL World Ranking points than Vitality.

  • EU Grand Final: Heroic 3-0 Vitality
  • AS Grand Final: Tyloo 3-1 ViCi


To find the right ratio, the process began with an estimate % we felt was right. We applied this number to all of the competitions across the online era and ran simulations for as long as required until we were able to almost exactly match the distribution balance of ESL World Ranking Points that was present between regions at IEM Katowice 2020.

This is also the reason why we could not adjust the ESL WR earlier as we required a full 6 months of data collection from online tournaments to be able to establish what an "online only world" would exactly do to each region to then understand how to fix it.

Summary

With this updated application, it sees the ESL World Ranking adapt accurately to the online era and now recognizes regional competition strength in relation to the respective region. This now has rebalanced the equal opportunity and representation for all global teams within our system.

This update will take immediate effect. The first tournament to see these changes take impact will be the Intel Extreme Masters Beijing Group draws.

You can find the updated rankings here

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