There has never been a "let's all spend $1000 and burn a couple work vacation days to go to Vancouver and just play exis" event. There never will be.
It took over 10 years for someone to have the idea to have a BIG LIVE TOURNAMENT to get people together. Remove the tournament, and no one goes.
It's not just a gathering, it's an event.
Imagine playing a high stakes money tourney online, with random asymmetric lag, desynchs, "whoops my computer crashed", "my kid started puking" etc etc. It'd be a disaster.
Run one (minus the money) and people will play and people will watch. It might take a few runs to pick up steam. Run a stream so it's exciting, so it's an event. If we can get spectator mode working in RetroArch, there's a LOT of potential there. Run it as the RetroArch testbed to get people using it. Have monthly qualifiers building up to an elite event. You'll get some people playing.
I don't even disagree that letting people play with whatever team they want will show who can play the best game of 94, but the tournament is taking the approach that you need to be able to play with and win with any team. If it really gets to the point that whoever picks the matchup wins, then it'd need to be fixed, but we're not there yet (or no one noticed!). Maybe we need "bans". Maybe we need a couple best-on-best games in the finals (I don't think anyone would prevent it if both competitors wanted to play that way). We're not there yet. As a spectator, it's a lot of fun seeing the different matchups.
Go to multiple tournaments and the randomness will average out. You'll be the best.
True competitors compete. (but really it's just a No True Scotsman fallacy)
I didn't know that how much we've contributed makes being toxic ok. Maybe chaos can code up some standings on the website.