I’m sure the more observant of you have seen the discussion on MahjongNews.com. If not, go there immediately and read and maybe even venture your own comment. The quality (or lack of) was certainly something I considered as I was playing through the tournament.
Here comes my unsolicited opinion… I think without a doubt, the level of play has increased in Europe. However, here’s the catch; so has the disparity between the poor and the good players. The good have gotten better, and the poor have stayed the same. That’s why some people are leaving the weekend cursing all European players for being lucktards, and some of us are leaving thinking “wow, those players are strong”. It really depends on who you were sat with. (This may not have been helped by the country-dependant seating system meaning that you encountered some country’s players more than others.)
What’s to be done? We could start restricting which players can participate in the more prestigious tournaments. That creates a new problem. Do we really have enough riichi players who attend tournaments in Europe to start creating a two tier system? We would also be in danger of ostracising our novice players, when really we need to be doing everything we can to increase our player base.
And herein lies the heart of the matter. The EMA needs to perform a delicate balancing act to satisfy the needs of its top players, its intermediate players and its new players. Obviously, from current discussions the players at the higher levels don’t feel there’s an opportunity to demonstrate and challenge their skill. This is something that should be addressed, but let’s be careful that we don’t do it in such a way that we stop gaining players, or worse lose players. We don’t want the game to die a death here.