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Some European/EMEA players in the Intel World Open — the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Rocket League tie-in tournament — are annoyed with organizer ESL for the random seeding of the group stage. Group B, in particular, pits many favorites against one another, while group A consists mostly of underdogs.

When the players asked for clarification and a revision, the organizers stated that no changes would be made for the EMEA Intel World Open. Additionally, they claimed that the traditional Olympics also employ random seeding and that they aim to be as close to the Olympic tournament as possible. Other personalities, such as RLCS caster John “Johnnyboi_i” MacDonald rebutted this claim. He states that it is false and that the Olympics use seeding.

Are the favorites headed for an early Intel World Open exit?

The EMEA Intel World Open features eight teams; six from Europe, one from the middle east and one from Africa. Naturally, this comes with favorites and underdogs. However, the two groups are split up a bit lopsidedly.

Intel World Open groups
The IWO teams split into groups. | Provided by Liquipedia

One of the stronger nations, the United Kingdom, is grouped with underdogs Norway, Czech Republic and South Africa. Meanwhile, Group B consists of France, Germany, Saudi Arabia and the Netherlands. Each of these latter four teams have a good chance to make a deep run in the Intel World Open. However, in group A, the United Kingdom is the only team with a realistic chance.

“Ranking will not be revised,” ESL stated to the IWO players. “This tournament is not like the other tournaments. Our competition aims to be as close to the Olympics tournament as it can be. In Olympic tournaments you don’t have a split on better and worse people — everyone has an equal chance to advance or lose the game. If you are good enough, you will advance further for sure. If somebody beats you, then he/she deserved to win. We don’t want to favor somebody because one team has better MMR or because somebody won some kind of competition in the past. We want to be neutral here. This is why seeding was made random. We really appreciate your feedback but, like I said, seeding will not be changed. Current seeding is final.”

The players are not amused

Players and coaches alike criticized ESL. The Norwegian Jonas “FiremanJonas” Lohne tweeted a sarcastic “Nice groups.” And, while Norway benefits from the situation by avoiding many of the favorites, it comes at the cost of competitive integrity. Only two teams make it out of their respective IWO group; the four strong teams will have to eliminate one another while the smaller teams will get a much easier road.

Intel World Open analyst and caster Sean “Stax” Stackhouse suggests that a simple swap of the Netherlands and South Africa would fix the issue. South Africa is considered the lowest seed and the Netherlands is fairly high up the table. If they were to be swapped, the group of death would be split apart. Therefore, group A would have two strong contenders.

Other players, such as the Netherlands’ Thomas “Th0” Binkhorst, Saudi Arabia’s Ahmad “Ahmad” Abdullah and German Amigos — which fields two players for Germany in the Intel World Open — also tweeted their confusion and displeasure.