A single "unexpected" outcome doesn't invalidate a system. The current version of relegation/promotion isn't a failure because the Legion got relegated and, yes, it's almost certainly still a work in progress. Regulars should recall that in early discussions before the season began this blog suggested the first year would be a learning process--and it will be. It is also true the Challengers concept was conceived in response to pressure to add more pro teams when the practical limit (given the webcast and tournament duration) is 12 teams. It was determined, based primarily on "political" concerns to identify the Challengers as another pro division instead of semi-pro which would have been more accurate and more in keeping with the purpose of the division which was to bridge the gap between D1 and the pro teams. And to give the overflow of pro teams a place to go. Whatever status you assign the Challenger teams it has largely fulfilled its purpose. As the season goes on it will continue to serve as a training and proving ground for the promoted D1 teams. It should also unlock the bottleneck that for years has seen teams reluctant to compete at the D1 level and then make the leap to pro. Even if it's eventually decided that the process requires a tweak or two none of that will negate the positive benefits Challengers is delivering today.
One of the opportunities a forum like VFTD offer is the possibility of a free-wheeling no-holds-barred intelligent discussion of things of interest or concern to competitive players. This situation is no different. I usually advocate for the changes I think are worth considering but this blog also broaches topics in order to open a dialogue. Disagreement is to be expected. But disagreement alone isn't productive. Disagree all you like but bring something constructive to the mix.
As to that unexpected outcome it wasn't unexpected at all--at least not among some of the Champions. Prior to MAO the expectation was that RL stood a better than even chance of being relegated. This isn't the Legion y'all grew up watching dominate. There have been roster changes and coaching changes and a number of things have been apparent for some time. The Russian Legion system proved not to be a paintball player making machine. The system develops the individual player's skill set--a process that has expanded across Euroland in recent years--but it has limitations. It doesn't create intuitive and talented players. Fortuitously they started with a core group that proved to be both well trained but also adept at the game. What they couldn't do was develop a second generation as gifted as the first which is why they have picked up so many non-Russians in recent years to fill gaps in the roster. Include the departure of coach Max and some decline was almost inevitable.
I originally liked the event-to-event relegation and promotion concept mostly because year-to-year seemed too extreme, at least when you're dealing with only a ten team division and no guarantees about the quality of the promoted teams. As it stands now a Russian Legion can be relegated for an event but that's substantially better than if it were for a whole season. All that's missing now is for the Challengers to actually earn promotion by beating the Champion they replace. And should the league ultimately make no changes that will be less than perfect in my never to be humble opinion but then most things are.