Collusion: A Clash of Perspectives


#1

Note: I realize that the topic of collusion and the logistics of policing it has already been discussed here extensively. I hope this thread would focus more on comparing the approach of two competitive communities to dealing with the same phenomenon, and whether either community could improve by borrowing concepts from the other.

I play both fighting games and collectible card games, and try to be competitive at both. It exposes me to both competitive communities. One thing that I find incredibly interesting is the different way that “collusion” is handled by each community. Both are competitive, but the FGC punishes match outcome manipulation as much as possible. The MtG community embraces intentional draws, and there are players who actually have an intensely negative reaction to people wanting to play out a game. Here’s a relevant quote from a recent thread on it:

For contrast, here is what I believe to be a typical FGC reaction to pretty much the same thing:

What do you guys think? I think it’d be an interesting point of discussion on here. Personally I kinda fall more on the side of not liking intentional draws or concessions to manipulate the brackets, but I also recognize that when all is said and done if two competitors really want to manipulate the outcome of a match we can’t actually stop them.


#2

A set in a tournament for fighting games does not take 45 minutes. At worst with things going back and forth and someone coming from losers to take it back you’re looking at like 25 minutes tops, unless a game is played 3 out of 5 or something and then maybe it could get up to 30 minutes, but even still, the average match does not take that long. Either way though, I think it just comes down to how seriously the people involved view the competition. Not to say that the MtG community doesn’t take their game seriously, but I’m sure most of them recognize that most people wouldn’t care to watch it if it were on TV, where as fighting games have that chance, and because we have that chance we don’t want people making the tournament or high level play look bad.

I feel like the biggest reason the FGC has a problem with collusion is that so many of the viewers are competitors and so many people play fighting games with some sort of passion and will that collusion is just insulting. Tons of people pour hundreds of thousands of hours into Marvel, they put their blood, sweat, and tears into every combo they do, all the tech they discovered, all the option selects they put to use, and for all of that work to lead up to Chris G in grand finals picking random select and mashing it out like he’s never heard of Capcom before undermines everything you’ve put into the game and makes the tournament itself look like a joke because the players aren’t taking it seriously.

We don’t have time for that shit. You play your heart out or you don’t show up. That baby rink dink backup of a backup team/character you put no practice into is wasting everyone’s time by forcing us to put up with it and there’s just no tolerance for that attitude. If MtG guys are just like fuck it we don’t want to play, let’s just force a draw, they should just not even play the match and just shake hands and leave if it’s that commonplace in the community. By even so much as shuffling a deck you’re wasting people’s time by sitting down and putting up a charade of a match with the only purpose of getting shit done with. To me though, you didn’t compete, you didn’t earn a prize. I don’t care if you beat everyone and got to grand finals, collusion is not competing and you didn’t earn anything.

If you want to split the pot afterwards that’s your deal, but you should still have to play out the match if only for the sake of everyone you beat to get there and everyone involved. By playing a match like it’s a joke you make a joke of all of those people, and that’s just bullshit.


#3

How in your mind are you able to compare “withdrawing from competition and notifying the judge that you have done so” with “playing it out half-assedly”?

I’m especially curious with regards to you pointing to an article about how it saves time, and yet discussing something that does not save time.


#4

How in your mind are you drawing any kind of meaningful distinction between “fixing the outcome of a match by ticking a checkbox” and “fixing the outcome of a match by intentionally under-performing”? Both actions set the outcome of a pairing/match in a way that has nothing to do with a match being played in the actual game.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but my interpretation of what you’re saying is that the actual collusion is not the issue. It’s the deception. In the Fanatiq/ChrisG example, you would be totally cool with one of them going up to the TO and saying “Well, my friend’s team has a better match-up against the guy that the winner will face based on the bracket, so instead of playing it out I’ll just concede to him. No need to play at all.” As long as it’s all out in the open and everyone understands what’s going on, everything’s cool.

What if the concession was in a “Road to Evo” event, to secure favorable seeding for specific people? Or if a sponsored team entered a tournament with a single player that they were trying to push into the limelight, and every time their other members got paired against him they would just concede/withdraw to give him the free win? What if it was at semi-finals? Quarter-finals? First round? Or maybe none of the above things matter. As long as no “fake” matches get played, everything’s “legit”.

Final Question: Do you draw a distinction between “conceding a match” and “withdrawing from competition”? What if both Fanatiq and ChrisG were in winners, and Fanatiq wanted to concede to Chris while remaining in the competition via the loser’s bracket? Are you cool with that?

So in your mind, it’s all just logistics? The question of “legit” vs “fixed” matches is meaningless?


#5

Well, there’s no “fixing” in your first instance as per:

First off, the comparison to MtG is just absolutely baffling. Anybody at x-3 is likely to simply bail because they’re going to be out on breakers. The tournament structure is typically completely different. Anybody in the FGC at x-1 has a fair chance of still winning.

Under MtG rules, the action would be legal but stupid as formed since it’s pointless to add so many words and raise the specter of collusion. Just scoop and walk away. Collusion is brutally hard to normally detect: don’t make it obvious. Plus or minus it just doesn’t make sense at face value in MtG for the most part since it is typically unlikely that you know whom you are going to be facing.

Under FGC Rules™, you’re subject to the TO. I’d think you can scoop if you must and enjoy the “love” from people for doing so. I think if it happens more than once it gets clearly and probably fairly viewed as untowards collaboration and you and your “friend” can have one of you enter the tournament and the other one will be banned for that tournament.

Not at all. Just that the article you’re pointing to and the entire discussion you bring up (MtG tournaments) is just baffling and generally ill suited for equivalency.

You’re expected to put your big boy pants on and play the tournament out. If you cannot do that, you don’t need to enter.

Comparisons to MtG tournaments, where x-3 is non-viable for being able to continue, are face value invalid and pointless. Everybody still in any part of the bracket in the FGC is still drawing live.


#6

Well, you’re clearly just playing a game of semantics at this point. The point I’m trying to make is that the outcome of the match bears no relation to any actual game being played out where both players are trying to win. Per the Infraction Procedure Guide, players are not allowed to “use an outside the game method to determine the outcome of a game or match” or “offer an incentive to entice an opponent into conceding, drawing, or changing the results of a match, or accept such an offer.” It even states that the philosophy behind those bans is that it “compromises the integrity of the tournament.*”

You can call it whatever you want. I’ll just call it a “concession” from here on, though I would like to clarify that for the purpose of this response I am specifically referring to any mechanism of determining the outcome of a match outside of honestly playing it out. If you would like me to use a different word of your preference, just tell me.

  • You might be thinking to yourself that “hey, the description of Improperly Determining a Winner in the infraction guide sure sounds like it would cover intentional draws and concessions”. In this case you would be correct only in that concessions and intentional draws violate the spirit of the rule. They do not run afoul of the letter of the rule because concessions and intentional draws are formally included in the tournament guidelines thus they are not considered as “outside the game”. A more intuitive way to think of it is that collusion is actually allowed, but bribery is not. Thus you and your opponent can scheme all you want as to how you will report the results of your match, as long as no material enticement is offered to either side. Well, not verbally offered anyway. You can do it via the “wink, wink, eye-roll” method just fine.

I am struggling to find the relation of this to my original point. I guess you are trying to say that players should be able to drop out when they are statistically unlikely to win? I don’t disagree with this. In fact I think players should be able to drop from a tournament for any reason. Maybe I am missing something here. I really have no idea why you mentioned this.

Perhaps there is some meaningful discussion to be had about whether players should be able to decide they don’t want to play in the middle of a match or if they should only be allowed to drop out between rounds so they don’t get paired against anyone. Remember that Fanatiq himself claimed that he played the match with Chris legitimately until such time that he was all but assured of winning, and only then did he decide to take a dive. There’s also the corner case where players might possibly try to slow-play a match so that other matches in the same round finish first, and then depending on the outcome of those other matches either player might decide to concede and give the free win to his opponent.

All of the above applies equally to fighting games. If I want to lose to my opponent it’s trivial to do it in such a way as to be all but undetectable. Who’s to say that I dropped that combo intentionally or mistimed my setup on purpose? Maybe I’m just a stubborn guy with something to prove so I keep picking a character with a bad match-up. Maybe I’m just tired. How could anyone possibly tell that I’m “intentionally under-performing” if I make even a moderate effort to hide it?

In fact, the most shocking thing to me in the whole FGC collusion debacle is not that players were colluding, but that some were doing it in such an obvious way as to get caught. Is it really so hard to resist going to random select or picking a goofy joke team in grand finals?

Finally I would like to take this opportunity to mention that prize-splitting is not formally allowed in either case, but this practice is similarly widespread in both communities. The ban is even less detectable than intentional under-performing, and in fact can be made completely undetectable by the simple process of “waiting to do it until you’re in a private area”. The logic behind even having such a rule when it’s so obviously unenforceable is beyond me. I’ve always assumed that this rule only exists for show.

This goes back to my original point. You literally just described a situation where doing the same thing in MtG and the FGC gets treated in radically different ways. Maybe there’s a learning opportunity here. Should MtG TOs gain the same right to ban teams who habitually concede to friends or team-mates? Should the FGC adopt a formal concession/ID system so that we can eliminate fake/joke matches completely? Maybe Evo should be swiss. Maybe the Pro Tour should be double-elim.

I am seriously wondering whether you are being intentionally obtuse here, but I shall assume the opposite. The TLDR version of my point is that in MtG tournaments players are allowed to “intentionally underperform” if they want. They don’t even have to go through the motions. You can give your opponent a free win if you want, or both of you can decide to “draw the game” without having to actually play a game that ends in a draw.

In the FGC there is no such formal system of intentional draws or concessions that I know of. Players who want to give their opponent the win or even just don’t care who wins and don’t want to play anymore are then forced to “do it the old-fashioned way” by taking a dive, which creates those joke grand finals everyone hates.

One of the above may be superior to the other. Perhaps one way can benefit from adopting elements of the other. That is the point of this thread.

I’ll be honest. At this point you are confusing me by arguing in favor of two opposing systems at the same time. Could you just list the cases where I am allowed to take my big boy pants on and off? So far we have:

  • When it’s “likely” that you can no longer win the whole tournament -> pants off
  • When you would risk suffering the “love” from people -> pants off once or twice maybe, but not “habitually”
  • When you are putting on a show for the viewers/TO -> pants on
  • When it would save time -> pants off
  • When ruling against having no pants is unenforceable -> pants off
  • When ruling against having no pants is unenforceable, except this time it’s for bribery -> pants on
  • When your pants are in the way of a much-needed win for a friend/team-mate while playing a fighting game -> pants on
  • When your pants are in the way of a much-needed win for a friend/team-mate while playing a card game -> pants off

Did I miss anything or make any mistakes?

Once again, this has nothing to do with my original point. In fact my point is more relevant to the people who stand the most chance of becoming champion, because they are the ones who are most likely to be in a position where giving the free win to their opponent can benefit them in the long run.


#7

There’s a clash of perspectives because the people talking about collusion throw the word around without even knowing what the hell it means.

Example: In a poker game, two people work together to manipulate hands by using team betting strategies and hand signals to influence the outcome of a hand, not allowed. This is collusion.

Two dudes sandbagging a finals on a pot split is not collusion. This is just two idiots sandbagging.

Two dudes throwing an early Top 8 match to ensure one specific person advances is collusion. This is what got Mew2King barred from Smash events for a while and, IIRC, from MLG completely.


#8

tldr

[details=Spoiler]I’ve been a judge/TO in both formats. I use “semantics” here because one example is Fixed/Rigged, one is not.

Agreed on “wink, wink, eye-roll”: there’s extensive discussion of that elsewhere. Given the mechanics of the game, IIRC the rules about collusion were taken out a while ago because they were generally not enforcable in a useful fashion. Quoting from your thread:

This concurs with the conclusions from the Judge forums.

Let’s just repeat that in loud letters:
THEY WOULD LIKE TO BAN THIS BUT CAN NOT BECAUSE IT IS (meaningfully) UNDETECTABLE.

The x-3 point was brought up because the majority of cases in MtG where somebody drops and does not play it out that I’m aware of are the meaningless matches. What meaningful matches did people scoop on?

What you are talking about is only badly phrased as ‘collusion’: it is accepted within that format, and thus the shift to emphasis on “bribery” is deliberate.

The problem in the FGC is generally different: the TOs are running tourneys to have great competition and watch great matches. Yes, the obvious part in the FGC was why it got noticed. It’s been going on for a long time, but only that little while ago did it get obnoxious. Since no TO that I know of wants to put up with that, it got handled.

Just no. Dropping a match in MtG if you’re x-3 has no effect. Dropping a match in Top 8 is not something I’m aware of: can you show me a reference? It should have happened, I’m sure, given the thousands of high level Top 8 matches run every year, but we’re comparing apples to wombats.

I’ve seen people “drop” matches at FG events and got to laugh at them when it blew up in their faces.

  • MtG is generally a poor live spectator sport (reference: any tourney, any stream, please note the people in the background)
  • FGs are generally excellent live spectator sports (reference: most tourneys)
  • FG: You can’t prooffer a draw outside of GF.
  • FG: You can always have scooped to your opponent at any point.
  • Most TOs who have spent their time building their tournament for you are not selling you sleeves nor cards and thus have no financial incentive to keep slaving for you. Most expect you will play it out: they have built their get-together for competitive players, and if you’re not abiding by the spirit of what they are building it disincentivizes these key people from continuing to run tournaments.[/details]

I guess I see your odd point, and if you want to get involved and run tourneys where that is the new standard (no pun intended) I see nothing stopping you. For everyone else, it seems like a needless allowance that just gets in the way of an excellent community. If you’re just a casual non-competitive player, probably tournaments aren’t where you should be: there’s plenty of fun to be had online.


#9

Conceding at grand finals? THE FUCK KIND OF MENTALITY IS THAT?

This all boils down to the same argument we’ve been throwing around every time a thread on collusion and intentionally under-performing comes up. It’s all about respect. When you’re at GFs, when you’re one of the last two players standing, when everybody’s eyes are on you expecting a fitting climax to the tournament, then you play your heart out. To do so otherwise is flat out disrespectful not just to the other competitors and the audience (on site and offline), but to the TO who’s put on the tournament as well as everyone involved in getting that tournament running. It’s disrespect to every other player who does otherwise, guys like Xian who in SEAM2013 was in a situation where he had to win two best of 9 sets against Gamerbee out of losers during the grand finals. Sure he lost, but he sure as hell never gave up and made a sham of the GFs.

As for pot splitting, as has always been the argument, it’s fine as long as you do it after the set has been played out.


#10

Fun things that M:TG has which FG tournaments don’t:

  1. Situations where, if played out, somebody who can’t make top 8 beats somebody who can.
  2. Situations where, if played out, would knock somebody out of top 8 when the one point they would get from a draw guarantees it for both of them.

Has M:TG had situations where friends concede to friends so they can go on? Yup. This has happened at small and big tournaments. Happened most notably last year when a friend conceded the finals of a Grand Prix ( large open tournament) to his best friends in the finals so he could get to gold status (M:TGs Parent company gives you money for attending tourneys and some other stuff). Hell, I conceded to my best friend because the prize for said tourney would’ve been lost had I won.

Some article from 2001 on the issue: http://www.starcitygames.com/article/50_Upset-With-Intentional-Draws--You-May-Not-Understand-The-Nature-Of-The-Current-Swiss-Style-Tourney-System.html

IIRC, there was a time when M:TG didn’t have intentional draws. It was incredibly shitty. I may or may not post later as to how the two situations on top happen but eh.


#11

I know of players scooping in the following meaningful circumstances:

  1. A large team has some PT qualified players and some not. They all join a tournament and the qualified players just scoop to the unqualified ones so that they can more easily get in (we used to call it “running interference”).
  2. In a PTQ, players who do not plan to actually make the trip to the PT are pressured to concede to the ones who want to go.
  3. Back when we had ELO, players with high ratings would beg for concessions from opponents with low ratings if they were about to lose. This was frequently, but not always, with the unspoken understanding that there would be some form of payment in return.
  4. It is common for players who are paired down in the last round to ask their opponent for a concession because that guy can’t make top 8 anyway.
  5. One time I saw two players were guaranteed to make top 8 even with a loss, but one of them scooped to hurt the tie-breakers of one of his earlier opponents.
  6. Two team-mates are paired in the final round, both guaranteed to make top 8. The one with the weaker match-up against the rest of the top 8 scoops so his friend will be on the play in subsequent rounds.
  7. The last two rounds of FNM at a certain store I used to go to were 100% comprised of players trying to game the system so that their playgroup would get all of the prize packs (so petty… so sad…).
  8. Friends conceding to friends who need points for gold/platinum status.

That’s just off the top of my head. I don’t want to name names here because I am only interested in discussing general ideas, not specific events or people. I agree that X-3 people dropping are fine because although they might arguably taint the integrity of the tournament as a whole, their own records have no bearing on the integrity of the final tournament results.

LOL, it’s fairly prevalent in CCG communities. Imagine two dudes in a Road to Evo event (assume only the top placer gets seeding). Only one of them actually plans to go to Vegas, so when they get matched up for GF the other guy just concedes. That totally happens all the time in Pro-Tour Qualifiers. In fact a lot of dudes would get mad at you for not conceding.

Interesting. So would you say that it’s fine to not play your best outside of finals? What about semi-finals? Quarter-finals? What if it’s round one but you’re on stream?


#12

I don’t come from a MTG background in CCGs, but I played a lot of Raw Deal before CI lost the WWE license, and I can tell you I also know of scoops where it was warranted, and probably necessary.

One example of scoops I know about is people scooping the finals of a regional qualifier for world’s because they had no intention of traveling to the location of World’s (which was always where Wrestlemania was being held that year). I’ve seen scoops happen simply because the game store a tournament was being held at was closing and wanted them out.

These type of scenarios barely happen in the FGC; even in Road to Evo events, the seeding points are spread out more between places so anyone complaining that they didn’t get seeding points because someone won who doesn’t intend to go doesn’t have legs to stand on. Also, correct me if I’m wrong, but if you don’t sign up for Evo, and you earned Road to Evo points, you’re not getting put on the bracket to begin with, which means absolutely zero if someone wins a regional major then doesn’t show up to Evo.

The two situations are very different. I’m not saying I don’t appreciate the parallel that has been attempted to be constructed between the two scenes, but I just don’t see the way CCGs do things being applicable in the FGC.


#13

Fun story:

A local game shop hosted a 3s tournament this last weekend, and my buddy and I made it to gf (me on winners, him on losers). I played Chun throughout and had an easy road to GF, and most of the other players watching my matches did not seem particularly excited when I rolled over everyone.

Entering GF and knowing it was my friend that I play with every week, I know that our matchups with any other characters we play are roughly 5-5 but my Chun vs his best characters is closer to 8-2, I spent the first 3/5 set picking my side characters of Ken and Makoto. He beat me 3-2, every round was close, and there was some excitement from the crowd which was predominantly made up of players we had eliminated. Then for the second set I picked Chun, destroyed him 6 straight rounds, and all hype in the room just died.

Last time we had a discussion about this you all told me that picking anything but your main is disrespectful, all the other players who showed up would be offended, and only a filthy caual who never plays in tourneys would think picking side characters to make things interesting is a good idea. Meanwhile in the reality of this local tournament, the exact opposite was true. People were genuinely having fun while we played close matches and lost interest when I switched to my main. Which makes a lot of sense to me intuitively, and is why I kept bringing up MOV playing Ken at 25th anniversary. He did the same thing I did for the same reasons, and got the same reaction from the crowd that I did.

Just thinking out loud. It had always seemed to me that the outrage was never actually about collusion or even picking your shit. It was about outwardly showing contempt for the other players and the TOs. IOW there is a huge difference between Justin and ChrisG playing random select because they already split the pot, and two friends who play each other all the time and just want to put on a show for everyone who stuck around. I hope this doesn’t become a letter of the law thing in the long run, when really it’s only trying to address shitty behavior from a very small pool of players.


#14

Mother****ers are talking about tournaments being drawn out like they are some kind of chore rather than something we indulge in for fun.

If you go to an event where the purpose is to play your best against other people who are playing their best then you should play your god damn best, simple, no essay needed.

And if you want to split the pot that’s cool, just do it later, if you can’t trust a friend to do that after agreeing on it without drawing/sandbagging then maybe he isn’t the best of friends.


#15

Ideally, everyone would be giving it their all throughout the tournament. But this in itself is hard to police. The grand finals however in a way represent the sum total of all the work of all the people involved in the tournament, from the organizers right down to the players. It represents the ultimate purpose of the tournament - that is to find out who among the number of players who attended was the best player that day.


#16

Post of the thread IMO.

There is a difference between sandbagging and not picking your stuff and still playing competently. I’m telling you, if I played a dude I regularly played in GF, and knew I could decimate him, but wanted to at least give both of us a fighting chance to win, I’d pick a secondary, and he just might too.

Example: Only of my friends plays Ryu, and I play Chun. While that’s an evenish matchup on paper, in practice, I beat him nearly every match I play with Chun. I have a Deejay, Rog, and Cody that he does better against. It would still be a competitive match, but I would not utterly destroy him and have an anticlimactic GF. Granted, play to win, and there will always be people in this camp, and yeah, if we wound up against each other in the GFs of a major instead of a weekly or a monthly ranbat, I’d probably be running Chun every time because I want that title, and he’d have to finally adapt or accept 2nd place.

But doing all this is different than throwing matches with characters you don’t know anything about. This is the stuff that got Spooky to stop SF4 at Next Level, and what got BBCP top two’s prize money taken back at Frosty Faustings.

I think I may have been one of the ones talking bad about Lance in the previous thread about this, but when he brings it from the perspective he just did, it totally makes sense, and I have to agree that this shouldn’t become the norm. Especially in a game like SF4 where people can easily pick up 3-4 characters and be highly competent with all of them. Forcing people to stick with their main in Grand Finals is going to stale the game. So essentially, players need to have the freedom to choose who they play whenever and TOs need to just simply be more discerning about what’s sandbagging/match fixing, or tournaments need to be character lock the whole way through.


#17

Most tournaments in Japan do not allow you to switch characters. You pick your main and play him the whole way through. This did not cause the community to become stale. In fact, some would say it’s a big part of what drove some Japanese players to be character specialists and invent all sorts of tech to overcome match-ups that they otherwise might have solved using counter-picks.


#18

What I’m saying is that the tournaments either need to be character locked from the start, or allow you to change your characters at all points.

The way people are pointing fingers about sandbagging any time someone picks a character that they haven’t pulled out before in GF, I’m afraid that character locked GFs will happen and stale out the game in America with one-sided GFs just because no counterpicking could happen at that point.

People just need to be more discerning in when people are sandbagging and when they’re not. It’s really not that difficult to see.


#19

If picking your shit causes your game or scene to get stale something is fucking wrong with the game and /or your scene.


#20

I think the point is that there’s actually a difference between simply picking an alt and flat out trolling GFs. For example, the shit at Frosty Faustings was obviously 2 idiots who had planned to troll GFs meanwhile MOV picking Ken in 3S was not (as stated, he wanted to put on a show). It’s not just who they pick but a combination of everything else.