I am not sure the OP, when talking about "competitive players", is actually referring to competitive players, or just players who like to pad their stats. I think the the comments about "competitive players" " prefer manual picks over auto, and warlords distribution over full " is a real tell.
I am a competitive player but I prefer random teams and auto-distro in all of my games (well maybe not when I play Biomes). Why? Because I am looking for a competitive game, rather than a game that maximizes my chances of winning.
What is a competitive game? A game which is a challenge, a game whose outcome is not preordained at the start. A game, where if I make the right choices, I will win, and if I make the wrong choices, I will lose. A game where every player, every team, has a reasonably equal chance of winning. If that is the criteria, then random teams and auto-dist are effective ways of creating a level playing field, where every player has a reasonable chance of winning.
On the other hand, there are players who are interested in padding their stats. These players, it seems, like to host the same template all the time, with manual teams with Team A usually filled with their friends, and with manual picks. As these players know each other, they usually know how to pick starts in a complimentary way to maximize map coverage, income denial, and growth. Then they wait for 3 unsuspecting players to wander into their game, who they promptly beat. No surprise as Team B likely has never played together before, likely won't pick in a complimentary manner, and likely will include one more more inexperienced players.
I don't think players hosting these games should be called "competitive". These games certainly are not competitive -- an experienced cadre against effectively 3 noobs, what's the challenge there? To me this seems "anti-competitive".
When I see games hosted by " "competitive" " players with Team A stacked, I steer clear, although I know I am more than capable of winning those games if I bring along my team of experienced players. I've got 8 tourney 1st places on my profile to prove it, and oddly enough, I have only played the OP in these tourneys, and in all 3 games, my team of experienced players beat the OP's team.
p.s. I suppose that if you are looking for a single game fair competition, manual picks are required (not sure about random-warlord). But if you are going to play more than one game, random picks are perfectly fine. Yes there will be games where you are unlucky with your starts and can't win. But the luck balances out, and on average, everyone's starting spots will be the same over the long run.
I am a competitive player, I prefer auto-dist and random teams.
p.p.s. I think the ladders are a great way to test yourself against players of similar skill level, and a great way to rank your skill at a particular template against others. I still prefer auto-picks, but the ladder requires manual picks.
Edited 8/17/2018 21:27:03