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3 Format Changes to Improve ESL R1


With the main season of ESL R1 done and only the Major to go, there are plenty of people saying the format needs to change. Here are three ways we think it can be improved!

The main part of the inaugural ESL R1 season has come to a close, with the top 24 drivers heading to Munich at the start of June. Eight rounds saw 48 drivers from 12 teams compete across four quarter finals, two semi finals and one final. Each stage whittled the field down by half.

We’ve discussed what ESL R1 should do in regards to getting new teams involved, and also how the series and the Rennsport platform aren’t doing themselves any favours by having the same three tracks on repeat. But today, we’re tackling another issue with the series.

Many fans have complained that the format of the event can be better. So with the organisers encouraging viewer feedback, here are our suggestions for what can be done to improve the format of ESL R1.

1. Start Where you Finish

With the bottom six being eliminated after every stage, the top six don’t tend to fight. Why should they? If they’re firmly solidified in a position with safe passage to the next stage, what good is fighting for a position and risking a collision? All risk, no reward. So that needs to be corrected.

This first method is worth considering. Have all the drivers do their usual qualifying to decide their places in their respective Quarter Finals, then they have their races and the top six progress. Now we deviate from the norm, as the starting places for the Semi Finals and Final will be determined differently.

If a driver wins a Quarter Final, they’re guaranteed a starting place on the front row in their Semi Final. Effectively, their starting row is the same number as their finishing position. But then the question becomes, who starts on pole? That would go to whoever got a faster lap during their previous race.

This would guarantee some actual incentive for drivers in the top six to make some moves. Since a driver’s starting position has so far proven crucial for how their race often ends up, due to how short the races are. On the downside, this would perhaps be advantageous to those in Quarter Finals 2 and 4 as well as Semi Final 2.

After Quarter Finals 1 and 3 as well as Semi Final 1 are run, the drivers competing in the races following will know the best race laps from the previous races. So they can aim to beat that lap time and guarantee starting ahead of their contemporary from the race ran before theirs.

A good workaround could be to have all drivers be placed in each respective Quarter Final an equal number of times each throughout the season. But perhaps this is way too complex. In which case, we have another method to encourage some battling in the top six places.

2. Points at Every Stage

In the Quarter and Semi Finals, the eliminated drivers get their final points finishes for the event. The progressing drivers merely move on to the next stage and the drivers in the Final then get their finishing points.

What we propose is the Quarters and Semis hand out points, with more on offer for each stage. So for example, 12 points for a win in a Quarter Final, 25 for a win in a Semi Final and 50 for the Final win. This gives every Quarter and Semi Final some value for the top placed drivers beyond just attempting to get passage to the next stage.

For example; if this points scoring system had been applied this season, Josh Rogers would have scored the maximum amount in Round 2. There could also be an extra point handed out for the driver who gets pole position in each race, increasing the max score to 90.

Our idea for the points dished out at each stage would go like this: Quarter Finals would be 12-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1-0, Semi Finals would be 25-20-15-12-10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 and for the Final, 50-40-30-25-20-15-12-10-8-5-3-1.

There is one downside to this though. What if the driver who wins the Final got two sixth place finishes in their Quarter and Semi, and the driver who finishes second got two wins in their previous races? With the points system we’ve drawn up, that means the driver who technically finished runner-up scored more points than the winner.

Ideally, the points system should encourage a good balance between consistency and rewarding the driver who wins the race that matters. One idea would be to have the driver who wins the Final automatically qualify for the Major, even if they somehow finished outside the top 24 come season end.

Another would be for the drivers who make it to Day 2 of the Major, they get an additional 5 points for every Final win, 3 for every Semi Final win and 1 for every Quarter Final win.

But now for another complaint that many drivers and spectators have with the format.

3. Lower Bracket

In other forms of esports, there’s a double elimination structure. If a player or team lose their first game, they’re not automatically eliminated from the competition and have a second chance in what’s known as the Lower Bracket. If they win again, they carry on in the competition but if they lose, they’re out.

In R1, that isn’t the case. If a driver were to be tapped into a spin at the first corner in their quarter final, there’s rarely enough time to get back into the top six, and then they’re eliminated. So, the solution? After the quarter finals, the bottom six from QF1/2 and QF3/4 are placed into their own races and that’s when falling into the latter half of the finishing order results in elimination.

The drivers who place in the top six in the Lower Bracket races progress to the next stage and race against drivers who placed in the bottom six of the Upper Bracket races. Then it would carry on like that until there’s the best six from the Upper Bracket and the best six from the Lower Bracket.

This would certainly provide hope to drivers who were unlucky in their Quarter Final. The downside is that it would increase the number of races, with seven already being a lot of races to fit in for a single R1 event.

Ultimately, there are upsides and downsides to every suggestion. But whilst not every solution is perfect, the only reason we’re bringing them to the table is out of passion. We want ESL R1 to improve, and for the Fall Season running from August until the Major in November at DreamHack Winter in Sweden to be even better than the Spring Season.

What changes would you make to ESL R1? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!

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