Arenanet has never specifically said what they intend to accomplish by adding Seasons to World vs World. But it seems they are trying to increase the overall competitiveness of matches and to make each week’s match matter more. The clearest evidence of this was in the announcement regarding the postponement of the start of the season “to have more competitive matches over the course of the season”.
It might seem silly to wonder if there was more competition during the new season system. In both regions the top 3-4 servers in every league were pretty close in points with each other. Additionally all those servers in the silver and bronze leagues would have never had a shot at winning anything. So the conclusion that the league system did make WvW more competitive and did give more servers a chance to win seems like the logical observation. However, those servers never really had a shot of winning.
Think about this for a second: every server that won a bracket was undefeated the entire season. Now, you might be thinking “well there probably were some really fun and intense matches during the season and those servers probably just scraped by a few times”. Unfortunately you’d be wrong on that one. Using mos.millenium.org to go over the matches every week shows only two matches during the seven weeks in the season had any sort of close final score when any of the winning servers were involved. Out of six winning teams only two had really close matches. And honestly only the Blackgate match is truly close with a point differential of only 10,138 points.
Now I know there were a few matches which didn’t involve the top ranking servers that were really close, and I am not disregarding the fact those matches were tons of fun for the people involved. However, only the top ranking server in each bracket was considered the winner. So while those individual matches were probably very awesome to win, from the perspective of looking at the whole season those fights didn’t make guild wars 2 gold. There is also something disconcerting about the fact both those matches took place during the first week of Season 1.
Looking Ahead To Season 2
Arenanet has already confirmed we won’t be seeing Season 2 start until after the new year. My hunch is we’ll get account wide WXP and the new map before Season 2 starts. Both of those are really good things and will bring some good changes to WvW. But Arenanet also needs to make some changes to how points are scored if they want to make WvW be really competitive.
I know, I hear all of you saying it has to do with population imbalances and that certainly does play a part. However, the larger issue right now is that it’s just way too easy to keep capture points once a server takes them. This can cause huge scoring discrepancies by allowing some servers the ability to rack up points and pull way past the point of anyone catching up. Even if the whole rankings were scrambled more than they are with the current scoring system the results will still be pretty lopsided. I am still hoping for some sort of decay system to be put into place. Definitely not one as quick as the ruins, but maybe where if there isn’t anyone at a keep for an hour it switches over to being neutral. This would certainly help make things more interesting and equitable.
There are two other issues which need to be addressed but I am not sure how they can both be addressed. Both are sort of cheating issues. Well, the first one probably isn’t technically cheating but purposefully losing matches to end-up in a lower bracket is pretty underhanded and definitely goes against the spirit of competition. The problem is, I don’t know how Arenanet would even go about proving servers are doing it. One way of possibly deterring this behavior is if going into next season instead of basing the leagues on the current rankings, put everyone in order of their point total at the end of Season 1.
The other issue that needs to be addressed and would probably be easier to deal with is that some servers were purposefully trying to sabotage other servers. Some people with at least one extra account will create characters on a server their main server is fighting. Then they will proceed to drain resources from the wrong places and build things where they are absolutely useless, just to waste their resources and to make it harder for the other server to win. I’ve even seen some people call out false scouting reports to throw off a match. Yes people who are new to WvW do often do similar things (except for the false scouting reports) because they don’t know better, but there are distinct differences between someone trying to cause problems on purpose and someone just trying out new things. There needs to be merciless banning for such activity.
Don’t get me wrong, I am looking forward to the next season, I had a lot of fun and it did feel like each week’s matches did matter more than previously. However, looking back at everything I think that some tweaks need to be made to really make the fights for first place truly interesting and engaging.