Gfinity has problems

Problems plague first day of Gfinity

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This weekend, hundreds of the top professional gamers in the world descended on London to compete in Gfinity G3, an international tournament featuring Call of Duty: Ghosts, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and StarCraft 2. The highly anticipated event features more than $200,000 in prizes and berths in majors like the Esports World Cup for Counter-Strike and World Champions Series points in StarCraft 2.

So it really is a shame that fans had so much trouble watching Gfinity on the first day of the event.

Production problems, technical difficulties, and organizational issues plagued the first day of the tournament, as stream quality and the broadcast schedule prevented fans from seeing many of the most anticipated games. Some level of problems are expected at an event on a newer circuit, but at such a high-profile tournament, featuring world class players and world class commentators, the issues are disappointing.

The Counter-Strike community is angry after the U.K.-based Gfinity decided to monopolize their stream with local team FM Esports, a lower tier squad, instead of a world class power like iBuyPower, the top North American squad who trekked across the Atlantic to compete in Europe. In some ways, it makes sense for the event to show the local team on their main stage, but providing no other venue for fans to watch the top-billed games was a mistake that cost the tournament viewersjust 10,000 people tuned in for the FM Esports match, compared to 50,000 for some more exciting matchupsand good will.

Fnatic tied iBuyPower in a close match that no one will ever see, because Gfinity did not broadcast the match or require a demo of the match for later release. Same for the game between Ninjas in Pyjamas and Epsilon, where Epsilon pulled off an epic upset.

Star French player Richarc “Shox” Papillon of Epsilon put together a ridiculous 25/15/7 KDA against Ninjas in Pyjamas, leading his team to a surprising upset victory. But we’ll likely never get to see the standout performance from a player in the conversation for being the world’s best. 

Other games at the event weren’t immune to problems either, as a number of technical difficulties ruined the experience for many spectators.The Call of Duty stream was down for hours at a time, replaced by a black screen with the text “censor also,” leading many fans on Twitter to use the phrase as a sarcastic hashtag denouncing the tournament.

But the biggest complaints were leveled at Call of Duty developer Infinity Ward, whose failure to fix a bug that sometimes prevents players from planting or defusing the bomb in Search and Destroy mode has had dire consequences on the tournament. The very first match of the event, between Epsilon and Exertus, featured the bug, but it wouldn't affect a tournament result until later in the day.

In the final match of a five-game series that would decide which of Curse Gaming and Exertus Esports would advance past the group stage, Exertus lost a round due to the bug preventing a bomb defuse. Curse would go on to win the SND map and the series.

Gfinity scrambled to implement a rule to handle bugged situations, replaying certain rounds affected by the bug, with teams starting down players who were dead at the time the bug occurred. But that’s a terrible proxy for the game situation at the time of a bug occurrence, only adding fuel to a fiery situation for many players.

StarCraft 2 also experienced some stream downtime due to hardware issues, with fans complaining about stream quality and Twitch chat moderation. One fan jokingly blamed the “NASL sound guy,” a StarCraft meme started due to the famously garbled audio in North American Star League broadcasts of 2011.

So far the quality of play at Gfinity has been superb. Upsets and standout performances litter the brackets of every game. It’s a shame that the fans have not been able to experience the event on the same level. The Gfinity organizers have made progress towards rectifying the issues, and any newer tournament is bound to run into difficulties, so Saturday night and Sunday may be better.

It’s great to see the communities of three disparate esports united with regards to Gfinity 3. It’s just too bad it’s not for positive reasons. But if the matches continute the way they've been going, people will likely have forgotten by the end of the event.

Screengrab via GFinityCSGO/Twitch