RuneScape [official site] remains one of the most enduringly popular MMORPGs around, but the finals of its most recent PvP tournament ended with the winner and several others disqualified, accusations of staff favouritism, allegations of targeted DDoS attacks, and a $20,000 prize pot with nobody to go to.
In short, it all went a bit Wacky Races.
In a recent statement, developers Jagex outlined the issues faced in the final of their latest 2,000-player Deadman tournament. One group of fighters was accused of working as team despite repeated warnings from moderators, and found themselves disqualified en-masse - a decision debated by the community amid allegations of favouritism by the organising staff. Many other players were also bumped off by massive lag. While some have alleged the lag was due to DDoS attacks, Jagex carefully avoid repeating any specific allegations and say they're impossible to prove.
You can see some of these deaths-by-lag below:
After player '5PLUS50K12', representing the Reign of Terror clan, finally emerged triumphant in the brawl, Jagex's "standard" investigations discovered they had created a bot farm. The winner was disqualified.
The event itself was based on Old-School RuneScape, a popular (official) legacy variant of the game, with rules detailed here. On September 18th, the Deadman PvP competition servers were opened, and players fought, farmed and ganked their hearts out. The top 2,000 (the maximum player capacity of a RuneScape server) most successful were invited to take part in the finals on September 23rd, a one-hour grand melee with permadeath enabled.
At the moment, the fate of the $20,000 grand prize remains in limbo, with Jagex weighing up the options on whether to distribute it amongst the runners-up, donate the whole pot to charity, or to carry it forward and raise the stakes on the next tournament. While I feel the sensible option is just to split the pot amongst players, the latter option has the most potential for fascinating chaos at the next event.