In my opinion the cupmode is really interessting to spectate, at least if you don't know how the mode works.
As i watched the DreamHack final i didn't know a lot about this new mode and in the beginning i thought "hahaha pwnd frost" but afterwards i noticed what that new mode is like and it was quite unfair in my view.
Sure the cup-mode makes matches more interessting for people who doesn't know a lot about our cute game (thx florent btw) and maybe the specators who will be live at paris at grandfinal will like the game (i hope so, lol), but what happens if such a thing like the DreamHack final or rapt's eswc quali final?
I believe the spectators will notice pretty fast what was going on stage or even earlier in the tournement, what they will think in this case?
Probably they would say something like "Oh, this game is quite unfair and this mode is crazy, i will spectate counter-strike (CS sucks btw:D ) the next time, because its more simple to understand and the winner usually win deserved in this game".
So in my opinion the cup-mode could make TM to a bigger spectacle but on the other hand it could even cause the reserve and nobody wants to see TrackMania anymore at ESWC as example.
And tournements like ESWC is exactly that what our community needs for growing, not that TM isn't played anymore on those tournements because the organizations think it would be too unfair and they go back on those simple "i shoot you and i will win"-games.
Okay, i know, maybe some of you believe i did a senseless post know which is quite philosophical but i hope that at least some of you will get the point in my post
But in the end I'd like to add that with some improovements the cupmode could become to a real great thing.
As already suggested you could have a slower possibility to catching about, but in this case you would usually only delay our problem with the finalist-thing.
You could even let the points count which the finalist gets for places between 2-4, if he becomes first he won or at least give the finalist some points like from 1-4 or 6-4-3-0.
But the way the cupmode works atm the finalist thing should be removed, really
On the other hand it looks quite "cool" with the finalist-thing, so i would keep it but it should be updated in the way, the finalist gets more chances -> the finalist is usually deserved the finalist!
i have some more things to add, but im quite busy atm, sorry