The Boston Major qualifier group stage has changed its format from a best-of-two series to a best-of-one, according to sources close to Valve and PGL. The change will also pit teams against each other in a single qualification group rather than in two distinct groups, as was originally outlined, according to those same sources.
The move, which differs from The Manila Major but follows the the same system as The International this year, will certainly impact scheduling, as teams will now switch opponents more often. This in turn may cause delays as teams will have to wait for their next opponent to be finished before they can get on with their match. Additionally, a change from two groups of five to one group of 10 will increase the number of overall games from 40 to 45 in Europe and China and from 24 to 28 in the Americas.
A best-of-one qualifier may create some controversy as it increases the likelihood of unexpected upsets. However, there are a few reasons as to why this change was made so close to the event.
Although the likelihood for upsets will increase in a best-of-one contest, the odds of such an upset in the final scores goes down. By running contests against more opponents, you decrease the chances that a team succeeds based on the playstyle of opponents rather than by diversified skill. The two ways to increase the reliability of a seeding contest are to increase the number of games and increase the number of teams played, and this method does both. This method additionally removes any possibility of bias from splitting the teams into groups, creating a more equitable playing field.
Additionally, Southeast Asia was created with an odd number of teams, which would have made the two group split inherently unfair, as teams in the group with fewer teams would have had a higher likelihood of making it out.
Details on the exact procedure have yet to be announced, but it's likely that the top team of each region's group will directly qualify for the main event, while the next four teams will play a double-elimination playoff for the region's second seat. If all the teams were not put into a single group, this possibility — a repeat of The International 2016 without the third-place wildcard — would not be an option. However, the lack of wildcard teams makes the procedure less necessary, as both the first and second place team would be decided by any type of playoff bracket.
The main qualifiers will begin on Oct. 27 and continue until Oct. 30.
theScore esports reached out to Valve for comment and will update this story when we hear from them.
Ryan "Gorgon the Wonder Cow" Jurado writes about esports and freelances for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.