Well no, except the last mostly the contrary.
In regards to the last in fact its still largely the only way to get a map into the competitive circuit, which if you're looking for tldr is the answer, if you want to get a map into competitive sc2 you're forced to participate, there's no way around it with few exceptions which do not apply to everyone.
But more interestingly, why is this a problem? Why would anyone not want to participate.
Starting where the TLMC also begins is the announcement, nearly every single announcement has had editing errors, had wrong information or held information back.
To give examples:
The current TLMC initially stated the 4 categories as main categories with 2 challenges, the next day this was rewritten and 2 categories were replaced with the challenges becoming categories.
But really this is just a minor offence.
On a previous TLMC where only 10 days were given the categories were nearly completely rewritten, resetting the clock on day 6 giving only 4 days to make and enter a map.
I'm sure its comforting knowing the professional scene relies on maps to be hastily put together in just 4 days. When most quality maps are month long processes. Rushing development compromises map quality and to have this span the width of all entries makes for poor results.
But wait, theres more.
Let's not forget the TLMC where "by coincidence" all but 1(?) Map had backdoors to the main or natural.
And what turns out? Oops we forgot to tell everyone that Blizzard was specifically looking for backdoor maps.
By now it should be clear that during any point of the contest mappers are completely blind to what happens from entry til end, unsure whats expected and makes the TLMC as fun as a career in dice rolling.
To continue hammering on the lack of transparency, up until the backdoor map contest there were only suspicions from guesses on behavior that blizzard was involved in TLMC beyond the funding and picking maps for ladder, but rather also has the full say in the content of the contest as well as judging process.
This is concerning when you consider the quality of Blizzard to community made maps which has resulted in a near complete takeover of tournament map pools by community made maps. But even here Blizzard still has complete say and control over what is played, since nearly every tournaments map pool is a replica of ladder.
This issue is one that I already addressed in previous blogs and I will not go deeper in on it beyond the fact that it still persists.
Lets continue with the entry and judging process, which while still mostly nontransparent can be pieced together with fragments.
Entries are significantly disproportionate to finalists, so whats happening here that nobody can vote on?
The purpose here is to cut off low quality entries, and prevent poor maps from making it to the stage of community voting, but this under TLMC organization goes horribly horribly wrong.
Whats wrong here? That the process works in counter to the objective as judging crew has no better if not worse objectivism than community voting.
I will refrain from examples to avoid name calling as I don't fault any fellow mapmakers for using this though I do not approve of it
Judges have considerable bias to map aesthetics, such as being susceptible to overly bright lighting and bloom effects on overviews.
Another issue is overwhelming presence of single colours or 2 contrasting colours in map aesthetics which while pleasing has had disproportionate influence in outcomes.
While these are the most common there are a bunch more "meme" thematics that prey on poor judging skill.
Examples here make name calling harder to avoid and also more justified.
Biome had easily gamed both judges and community voters by combining a number of memes casting deception on the aptitude of the maps
For one a 5 player map is fairly unique, earning it points
Then comes using 5 different themes per spawn section
And lastly safe expanding.
But none of these points are actually worth anything
To debunk them
While 5 player maps are unique, this says nothing about quality of the map under any sort of perspective.
The different aesthetics may look funny but has results contrasting to purpose.
With so many themes texture slots and more advanced thematics and art are severly limited.
As such most wings had no more than 2 textures, directly playing into overview colour memes but look absolutely awful up close. The map had nearly no doodads as the mixed thematics made and left no room for more advanced art without compromising the mix bag.
Lastly safe expanding was made possible by clouding the map in bases, and pathing simplified into a single direction to accommodate this and the 5 spawns.
Result? A map that only makes a pretty picture from overview, and the most extremely bland expanding and attack pathing seen in a map to date.
It is no surprise that despite it winning TLMC it never got anywhere.
Yet it did win tlmc.
As participant this will be your competition, easily argued worse maps placing higher with the assistance of a poor judging process.
Let it be clear this is not a case of a single violation of objectivism but rather the highlight
Not convinced yet?
Lets move to what judging consists off.
Consistently has there been a demand for judges resulting on the barrier to entry quite low, not to say anything about the qualities of every single judge but this does lead to problematic cases.
Such cases are balance bias, people entering judging solely to help maps with played race biases to get through whilst avoiding maps that are more even or imabalanced for other races.
While it is great if unbalanced maps are filtered, this behaviour from judges have resulted in an emphasis on the contrary, purposely assisting unbalanced maps making it through the process.
Add to this a low number of judges and there will be, and have been cases where one race goes unrepresented.
Moving on, the final voting.
If you were expecting something here you have been deceived, as nothing what the community says has any impact here but where the prize money goes.
In fact you could very well consider the map contest to be already over when it hits this stage.
Shortly, from entry til end maps tumble down the stairs of mismanagement and unprofessionalism without breaks.
If any of this alarms you even in the slightest and it really should, the following should be devastating to any hope you could possibly have left for the map contest.
ALL of these problems are known to organization and smugly brushed off with the pretentious pride that the map contest had no issues.
Which is why there has never been any, and there continues to be no desire for significant changes to the TLMC.
So in short, a serious lack of proffesional organization
Complete lack of transparency
Void of alternate options in regards to map entry
Horrible judging process
Continued denial of any of the many perssisting problems to be an issue
And no foreseeable changes.
And what would criticism be without suggested solutions
I would like to remind TLMC organization that excluding participating mappers, by no coincidence also the ones actually interested and have the ambition to build a quality mapping scene upon is a gross mistake. Any issues that this could possibly avoid are ran into head on by the current process.
Another thing id like to give a reminder off is the past existence of the qmpr system, which to date has IMO seen the highest quality judging process, and would advise any reader to look at that to get a view of what and just how much professional Starcraft has missed out on.
With this, in conclusion, I will yet again be participating in TLMC, without burden of hope and with continued disapproval and criticism.
Till next blog.