Top player privilege can be anything -- from tournament organizers giving top seeds extra time to get to their pools, even if it means delaying their events, to finding ridiculous ways in which they can circumvent their own rules to avoid DQ'ing an important personality.
One thing the top player privilege membership doesn't cover (mainly because before the COVID-19 pandemic there was no need to) is tournament registration, as most majors don't have strict entry caps like the upcoming Community Effort Orlando (CEO) does, a situation that has left many important figures within the Smash and fighting games communities without a spot to compete.
Naturally, as a tentpole within the FGC, CEO making its offline comeback this December is a huge deal, with spots for titles such as Smash Bros Ultimate, Street Fighter V, Mortal Kombat 11, Tekken 7, and the recently released Guilty Gear Strive, filling up faster than you can press F5.
As a result of seeing many players miss out on a CEO spot, Smash Ultimate pro and Panda rep Tyler "Marss" Martins sparked controversy by claiming there should be top player privilege when registering for tournaments to avoid "0-2ers" filling the event.
Hope they just start letting top players do early early reg. I know its top player privlege or whatever but I'd rather see mkleo and light go to CEO for example, rather than 2 dudes who are gonna go 0-2 and ask top players for pictures only after they lose— ⚡ Marss ⚡ (@Marss_NE) June 27, 2021
While there is an argument to be made in favour of letting the best players get a chance to showcase their talents after more than a year of patiently waiting for offline events to come back, the way in which Marss dismissed players who were diligent enough to register on-time rubbed plenty of FGC members the wrong way, including Dominique "SonicFox" McLean, the legendary Mortal Kombat and Dragon Ball FighterZ icon.
If you wanna goto CEO for fun don’t let someone pressure you into giving up your spot.— SonicFox @ Delaware (@SonicFox) June 27, 2021
Especially if you’re an 0-2er. Their experience is not worth more than yours. Keep that in mind!
CEO 2021 has a final 2,500 player cap, with T.O Alex Jebailey opening up the remaining places early on the 27th June. The number of players is divided into multiple titles, with Ultimate and Strive having the most spots, 768 each. For comparison, CEO 2019, the last edition before the pandemic, had a total of 3,460 entrants.
- Read more: Guilty Gear Strive - Best button layout
Now, plenty of top players and community members are on both sides of the fence. As a viewer, of course, you want the chance to have the best players in the world popping up on stream, but is the cost of gatekeeping what are essentially grassroots events just to make this happen worth it?
One of the most notable pros to have missed out on CEO is Smash Ultimate's Leonardo "MkLeo" López. Contrary to what you might believe, the T1 sponsored Joker main isn't too preoccupied about it, however, he did praise fellow Smasher Ramin "Mr.R" Delshad for his more nuanced take on the entire situation, arguing that while many people would call it "top player privilege," for him it should be viewed as a reward for consistency at the highest level.
Iirc Japan does something similar with reserved spots for their ranked players or with foreign top players. They did so for me at least when I visited— Ramin (@Mr_RSmash) June 27, 2021
I don't really see it as top player privilege but moreso as a reward that comes with *anyone* placing well at previous events
It's highly unlikely that CEO adds more spots for player to register as Jebailey confirmed that barring a ludicrous donation, he won't bail on his current contract with the Wyndham Orlando Resort International Drive, furthermore, the official guidelines of the event prevent players from giving their spots "to other players for any reason."
In any case, we'll keep you updated as the story develops.