Its funny how people like to make fun of things they don’t understand and claim elitism for what they do and the ideals that motivate it whilst claiming the opposite party is guilty of the same. It’s even funnier (and sadder) when it happens in a small tight knit community for a niche game. There was always the possibility for rift and division in a game that tries to saddle the middle of 2 genres. The bridge between realistic military simulation and “gamey” mechanics (seriously, capturing a compound with an invisible boundary and watching a slider go from red to blue isn’t exactly realistic scenario based military simulation.
So let’s get 2 things out of the way right from the start: 1) The single defining thing that makes a game capable of being “competitive” in nature is a clear winstate “ticket difference”. With a winstate being achievable, it does not matter what the gameplay is like because teams can be formed and win/loss recorded and tada, you have a competition. Anyone claiming to suggest otherwise is an idealistic idiot.
2) Rules that stop someone from rushing a certain point or going a certain distance from the enemy main base or anything else that alters the vanilla rules of the game are arguably unrealistic and do not create an immersive experience. They in fact create the opposite.
A topic that is seen come up quite often is that the “competitive meta” ruins the game and makes it unrealistic, gamey and unimersive. The meta that this most often refers to is the 1st or 2nd cap rushes seen in ordinary everyday public games of Squad. I can’t help but find this quite ironic, because you just don’t see those type of deep rushes in proper competitive matches with equally skilled and experienced teams. They are very rare, difficult and risky maneuvers that often backfire on you and leave you exposed on the middle or “contested” flag.
So, if rushing first caps isn’t actually “competitive meta”, what is? What we are seeing in ISKT at the moment is 5-6 teams that can all beat each other on any given day. The level of the current competition at the top is simply amazing, and the best thing is those teams are made up of clans from countries all around the world and with that comes regional meta and this amazing clash of strategy and what I predict will create a new meta, simply because you can’t just steamroll another team. What this competition is effectively doing is slowing the game down to a very tactical nature, with matches being in a double-neutral scenario or a stalemate and a battle of ticket attrition taking place. Both teams are forced to be very mindful of how they utilise their assets to wipe out or “milk” the other teams tickets without losing their own unless they can break the stalemate and secure a severe bleed to compensate.
Anyone that has played in such a match can tell you how intense it becomes, and I don’t mean intense as in dropping 50 bombs intense or capping them back to main intense. I mean very careful use of assets and tickets and a level of tactical gameplay that simply isn’t seen in normal public Squad. It’s the type of immersive gameplay that one dreams of when buying Squad. It’s the type of immersive gameplay that all the “milsim” players yearn to play. But they don’t see that. They don’t see the careful recon missions carried out (yes, actual recon to find and identify weaknesses in the enemy’s strategy and posture.). They don’t see the careful use of tickets, the smart use of long range vehicle warfare to provide support. They don’t see the well thought out flanks and surgical FOB takedowns, the swift use of logistics and the hard counters to the enemy team’s plays.
All they see are FOBS on roads surrounded in barbed wire, friendly Logi trucks blown up on purpose and experienced players sprint-leaning and drop-shotting to stay competitive, alive and effective in the current state of the game.
Let’s be crystal clear on this. I don’t think there is a single player currently in ISKT that doesn’t want to see dropshotting or lean-sprinting disappear to never return. What the competitive scene wants is the same thing that “casual milsim players want”. The only difference is one party deliberately does not use it out of a misguided idealism and the in pursuit of immersion, and the other party does to stay competitive and show what is broken in the game and actually enjoy the game for what it currently is, a game in early access that needs fixing and further development.
So why play in a Tournament at all? To quote DesmoLocke, “for bragging rights?”. Well, shit yeah for bragging rights because that’s important to me. I’m not shallow, I don’t want a some artificial prize like a trophy or money, because bragging rights come with pride for what you have achieved and a motivation to maintain that for yourself. Its intrinsic motivation in its purest form.
But there is another reason to play in an organised competition, and that is the experience. That immersive and breathtaking experience of playing a round of Squad where every ticket and decision matters because to lose would see you knocked out of the competition. Simply because winning means something “even if it’s just for epeen” creates the type of Squad matches that you just can’t get in any other environment. I’m sorry, I’ve played 1 life events and I’ve played intense games of public Squad and they don’t come remotely close to the level of tactics and the slow and deliberate intensity of ISKT competitive squad matches between two teams that are playing at the highest level that the game currently has, and that alone is plenty or reason to participate.