‘Just not right’: How the Red Bull Home Ground group stage ended in controversy

FOKUS Valorant Red Bull Home GroundRed Bull

The Red Bull Home Ground admins made a U-turn on their initial decision and let KRÜ Esports through to the playoffs after a confusing tie-breaker scenario with FOKUS.

KRÜ Esports’ 2-0 victory against FOKUS in the last group round resulted in a two-way tie for third place in Group A, leading to some confusion as to which team would secure the final spot in the playoffs.

Initially, KRÜ Esports were announced as the final team out of the group by Red Bull — a decision that was challenged by FOKUS, who pointed to the tournament rulebook. After the match, both KRÜ and FOKUS teams announced on social media that they had qualified for the next day of the competition.

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“We looked at the rules and told the admins, ‘Technically, it says wins/ losses, and what it’s intended for is maps,'” FOKUS player Lewis ‘YaBoiLewis’ Hughes told Dexerto.

YaBoiLewis said the team questioned the tournament officials after the initial announcement. After some deliberation, it was announced that FOKUS would advance because they had won more maps (three to KRÜ’s two) in the group stage.

According to the Red Bull Home Ground rule book provided to Dexerto by the organizer, in the event of a tie in the group stage, the tiebreaker is decided by “1. Win/Loss 2. Head to Head 3. Round Differential”.

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The Red Bull event also had massive delays and technical issues on the first day of matches on Dec. 9 as streams went down and on-screen overlays glitched.

The match between KRÜ and FOKUS finished at around 11 p.m. local time, after which both teams went back to the hotel for drinks. YaBoiLewis said his team saw KRÜ at the hotel bar and talked about the situation.

“There was nothing between us,” he said. “We understood that it was kind of the organizer’s fault.”

Red Bull announces rule change in late decision

But as FOKUS’ players went up to their hotel rooms to rest and prepare for another day of matches, they received the news that the organizer had misinterpreted the rules and that KRÜ would advance to the playoffs.

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“At 1 a.m. we get the announcement that [KRÜ] are through. So they said ‘We’ve messed the rules up so what we’re going to do is skip the first rule and go to the second one, which is head-to-head,'” YaBoiLewis said.

KRÜ are set to play in the Red Bull Home Ground playoffs in the second quarterfinal matchup against Team Liquid on Dec. 10. FOKUS were the only non-partnered team at the event, securing a spot at the event through the EMEA qualifiers.

“Changing or skipping rules halfway through the tournament is just not right,” YaBoiLewis said.

According to one source close to FOKUS, the team was told the tournament officials reversed the decision because the tie-breaker rule about map differential was vaguely written, the officials confirmed this in a statement to Dexerto.

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“The Red Bull Home Ground rulebook is largely based on the official VCT rulebook. However, as the tournament format differs from traditional VCT play, some additions were made with tie breaker rules added for group games. To ensure that all rules are carried out fairly and are indisputable, third-party experts are consulted upon all enforcements of the rulebook at any point of contention.

“At the conclusion of the group matches, the teams were notified of the result based on the first tiebreaker rule – win/loss. This was then reviewed internally and found to be too ambiguous to justifiably enforce. In accordance with our processes, we then consulted with third party experts to ensure we reached a fair solution. In this case we were advised to default to the second tie breaker rule, which was Head-to-Head. In that scenario KRÜ Esports beat FOKUS in their group stage match 2-0, meaning that KRÜ Esports advanced to the quarter finals on Saturday.

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“We apologise to both teams and fans for any misunderstanding and will ensure future decisions remain fair and are clearly communicated to teams & fans,” the tournament officials said.