The Clash Royale team wanted to build excitement around their new tournament mode, and one way to accomplish this was through offering large reward chests for bigger tournaments. However, by offering such large rewards, they have also made one major miscalculation that is now being taken advantage of by witty under-the-table businesses in China: it is now cheaper to “buy cards” from tournaments than it is from the Card Shop.
A recent video uploaded by SGV Game News breaks down how this works in detail. To summarize, there are now businesses on Taobao (the Ebay/Amazon of China) that will “host” 250,000 Gem tournaments, and allow players to directly buy the chest that they want, from rank 1 to 60.
According to the price list above, a 1st place Chest (netting 15,000 cards) will cost around USD$300, 2nd place Chest will cost $200, 3rd place Chest will cost $130, etc. For those who are good with numbers, how this works as a business should be pretty intuitive: It costs 250,000 Gems to organize a 1,000 player tournament with the above rewards, which is equivalent to about $1700 worth of Gems. If a business is able to sell off all 60 spots at the listed price, they will be able to just about the same amount of revenue. However, a number of Android platforms in China offer discounts on Gems; so say the business is able to purchase the 250,000 Gems at a 30% discount, he will essentially be netting a good $510 per tournament hosted!
And given the low prices for getting these chests compared to the chest prices in Card Shops, it makes sense for players to take advantage of this loophole and pay for these guaranteed tournament chests. In the video, the player purchased a 2800 card chest for $25; calculating the accumulated worth of the Gold and Cards earned, the chest should probably be valued at around $150! And the chest opening did not disappoint, as the player netted 2 Legendaries from the opening: Lava Hound and The Log.
While players everywhere else are struggling just to get into a 30-card tournament, players in China (and perhaps outside of China) are quickly making gains by taking advantage of this flawed in-game economy and purchasing cards at a heavily discounted rate. It remains to be seen what Supercell will do about this (if anything), but one thing is for sure: the Tournament mode needs a lot of fixing, and the sooner they can get to this the better.