Improving the official Pokémon VGC Circuit

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Euler, May 6, 2018.

  1. Euler

    Euler Active Member NPA 6 Champion

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    After having yet another discussion over how to improve the current circuit with a few friends, I finally decided to put all of our thoughts into a PDF and send it to "The Pokemon Company". As you may realize, doing it this way is about as stupid as it sounds: First off, I don't even know wether I'm actually speaking on behalf of the majority of the Pokémon VGC Community and second, I'm not exactly sure where to send the document to.

    This thread therefore serves to get clarification on both issues: To get a document that represents the opinions of as may active VGC players as possible, I would like to discuss the contents of the draft which I have attached to this post and improve it to a degree where most competitors can agree on its contents. Thus, please read the entire PDF carefully if you are planning to participate in this debate. To ensure that the recommendations reach someone in charge at The Pokémon Company who can actually motion changes if possible, I would like to collect a list of possible adressees, so please feel free to contribute to it if you have information on that matter.
     
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  2. 2thyfor

    2thyfor Member

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    You should also mention how it takes judges a really long time to even be qualified to become a VG judge, iirc it takes like 2 years minimum if you go the non-TCG route.

    Also, of the point of:
    • Decrease the overall amount of TOs in a way so that no more than about three of them are located within a distance of around 150 km of each other.

    As a player that has almost no local scene, wouldn't this greatly decrease the local scene even more? Wouldn't be a better solution to have a time frame of when you can have PC's? Or is this mainly saying that if there are 3 TO's in one area they cannot have events near each other?

    I can probably find the person to send it to, however it might take some time.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2018
  3. Mitch

    Mitch Member

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    The suggested BFL changes don't really have a significant impact on current standings, the biggest changes are in Europe. I modified the CP tracker spreadsheet (link available here: http://bit.ly/VGC-BFL) for those who currently have their worlds invite.

    I would personally prefer to see a BFL of 2 for regionals, but that kinda goes against the philosophy outlined in the initial document.
     
  4. ck49

    ck49 Member

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    I'm not sure how I feel about all X-2's cutting. That punishes players who went X-1 and X-0, especially given the current CP Payout structure. That would mean a 17 person cut at a 76 person regional (almost 25% of people attending), including someone who went X-2 with a 35% resistance. Is it fair to the person who won all 7 rounds that they could end up getting 80 CP and no prize money based on a single elimination match?

    My ideal structure is a certain amount of CP guaranteed for going X-0, X-1, and X-2 at events (and X-3 given >Z people), like you mentioned. We'd keep top 8 cut, and every win adds 30 CP to your count, so winning a regional going X-0 gives you 220 CP, winning a regional at X-1 swiss gives you 190, and from X-2 gives you 160. This would make it so going undefeated is rewarded more highly than bubbling into cut, and the 8th place finisher isn't rewarded more than the 9th place finisher unless they actually win a game in cut.

    Also the BFL section is a little confusing. Is it only applied for travel awards or is it for everyone? My understanding from reading it is that you propose a BFL for regionals when counting CP for travel awards, and only CP from that quarter counts towards the travel award. If that's the case I think it's a fantastic solution to a currently broken system.

    I think your solution for locals will cause more problems than it solves.Specifically, decreasing the number of TOs. We need MORE TOs, not fewer. That way, when one TO moves or stops hosting tournaments the local scene doesn't die out. I don't see a point in decreasing the number of TOs. Yes it balances areas like Ohio that have an abundance of them, but I don't see one state having a thriving competitive scene is something to punish. Very few areas have more than 1 PC per month. 1 PC per month is just enough that you can see your friends regularly while it also isn't a burden to go to every one. Having a local community is important to grow the game, since it gives less competitive players a fun way to keep playing. Instead of weakening the local scene by putting an emphasis on regionals, we need to encourage the local scene by putting an emphasis locals. The LA pokemon community gets 20+ people to their average PC, and it's not because everyone there is grinding towards their worlds invite. It's because everyone there are friends and like hanging out with each other. That makes it really easy for new players to come in, join a community, and even if they go 0-3 drop they can have a good time by hanging out with people and want to come back. That's how you build up a player base. Instead of making PCs less common, we should increase their value to what you recommended and keep them at one per month (and eliminate MSSs). Yes, that lowers the bar for worlds. No, that's not an issue - just give out more day 2 invites to players that deserve it. We're should be trying to increase attendance by making the pokemon community more of a community.

    I don't have a problem with the listed BFLs, but I also question why we need them. Aren't we trying to encourage players to show up to events? As listed they barely impact any players who make worlds, but I don't see much of a point in having them outside of for travel awards. There's no reason to believe increasing the value of locals will reduce regional attendance, and in fact from what I've seen it's usually the opposite. And if someone gets points from 10 PCs, gets 250 points from those, and barely scrapes by in regionals, good for them. We want more of those players since it means we have more of a local community.

    Same deal with ICs. Who cares if someone gets points from 4 ICs? The players who get a significant number of points from ICs are the best players, who should already qualify for worlds. And if someone just barely makes worlds because they got 20 CP from the last 2 ICs, is that really a bad thing?

    On the topic of ICs, they had a lot more people play when they gave out event items for participating. Giving out shiny Pokemon for playing in the ICs would mean more casual players compete in them, which is good for the game since it means more players are introduced to VGC.

    One thing I don't see mentioned at all is cost of entry. I think that should absolutely be mentioned. If you halve the prize money and also half the entry fees, a vast majority of players would be better off and players who aren't in the top 5% would be more likely to show up to events. That would increase attendance in the long term and thus increase profit margin, despite a short term decrease in profits.

    The other thing that has to change is incentives to go to a regional. There needs to be more Video Game side events at regionals. Furthermore, instead of giving away trading cards to everyone, give a free event Pokemon. Make it so people who don't expect to make worlds or cut have a reason to go to regionals.

    Overall, I think there are some good ideas, but the focus is wrong. This improves VGC for the top 10% of players, who can expect to go to a regional and go X-2 or better. But those aren't the players who are quitting, and certainly aren't the players who are just starting. The goal of VGC in the next 3-4 years should be to build up a larger playerbase, thus making events more profitable and worth hosting. There need to be strides made to introduce casual players to the game and make people who don't expect to cut have a reason to go to events both big and small. Things like BFLs and cutting down on locals make it so there's a level playing field for top players, but punish thriving VGC communities that other areas should aim to emulate.
     
  5. Kyrk

    Kyrk New Member

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    That's also not exactly fair to the players who have no say on who they battle or how they perform; There are X-2 (and even X-3) players who've had higher resistances than undefeated players but still failed to make top cut due to bubbling. On the contrary to your example, you could go undefeated up to every round but the last two and still bubble because either some of your previous opponents drop out and/or the player count lets 1 or no X-2 players qualify, while X-1 players with lower resistance than any of the bubbled X-2 players are just fine. At that point you may as well make the tournament double elimination.

    [​IMG]

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but Paul Chua went X-3 at the NA International Challenge last year and made it to finals, and were it not for that being one of the few tournaments outside of worlds to allow all players with a specified record (in this case X-3) to qualify for top cut, he would have been one of the two players to bubble and miss out on the larger CP and cash prize he deserved. If the number of players that top cut who would have normally "bubbled" makes the bracket uneven, the players with the best records and resistance would get byes for the initial round similar to how the Trainer Tower Open is being ran.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2018
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  6. ck49

    ck49 Member

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    First off, let me say that the issue of X-2 cut is much less concerning than that of local Pokemon scenes, and I have no strong objection to X-2 cut. At the end of the day, I don't think it strongly affects the health of competitive Pokemon and is largely a subjective issue regarding what we want to value.

    That being said, I do disagree. You're right, not having all X-2s cut means that some very good players will not make top cut. I'm OK with that. There are good players who miss cut at every tournament. I have no doubt there are players who go X-3 at a regional who, if in cut would be a legitimate threat to win it. I don't think the goal is to give everyone with a viable chance to win a tournament entry to cut, but rather to reward players who did well in Swiss. I think most people will agree that if you go X-2 in a 7 or 8 round regional, you wouldn't expect to make cut. 1-3 players usually do, but that isn't the expectation. Going X-2 is a good tournament - you should get CP - but it isn't a great tournament run and going X-2 shouldn't entitle you to making cut.

    At the end of the day, top cut is zero sum. By increasing the size of cut, you decrease the value of going X-0 or X-1 at a regional, which is a truly impressive result. What you say is unfair to someone who went 6-2 and bubbled, I say is unfair to the player who goes 8-0 and could have that achievement diminished by ending up t16. And at the end of the day I'd rather reward someone who did consistently well in swiss rounds than someone who happened to win a single elimination bo3. For a similar reason, my proposal in terms of CP actually gives an equal amount of CP to someone who goes X-0 and loses in top 8, someone who goes X-1 and loses in t4, and someone who goes X-2 and loses in the finals (130). At the end of the day all those players won the same number of games over two days. Again, this is a subjective valuation and I have no reason to believe this is better or worse for Pokemon, but rather I think it's more fair.

    One more thing to note is that X-2 cut at a tournament like Vancouver or Utah increases the number of rounds in cut by 2. If we did do all X-2 cut, it makes more sense to have an additional round of swiss followed by X-2 cut since you have 11 people in cut (4 rounds) rather than 17 (5 rounds), and everyone gets a chance to play more. I can't find the standings for Vancouver but iirc there were 20 X-2s, which also would reduce X-2 cut by a round. If there is X-2 cut, there's no reason to have a 7 round regional.

    Another thing to note is I do think we should have all X-2s cut in an internat since they have a whole day free if we don't have enough people for day 2. More streamed matches on that stage is a good thing for the game, and going X-2 at internats is tougher than going X-2 at a regional.
     
  7. Euler

    Euler Active Member NPA 6 Champion

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    I have to admit that I'm not very familiar with the qualification process for VG judges (or Pokémon judges in general). Could you go a little more into detail about what the current problems are exactly and how they could be solved?

    In my experience, oversaturation was a big factor contributing to the downfall of the local VGC scene, at least in Germany. This reduction of TOs was just an idea to reduce the amount of local tournaments held over a certain span of time to make players less inclined to skip an event and to instead encourage them to travel slightly longer distances.

    If you can, please by all means do so. Time shouldn't really be an issue since I want to make sure to get everything right before we hand the document in anyways.

    I feel like a BFL of 2 for Regionals across the entire season would result in multiple players having the exact same amount of CP, an outcome that might be desiderable for us (assuming that a tie for e.g, the 16th place results in all affected players getting their paid trip) but not so much for TPCi. I'm also somewhat surprised that especially Eduardo Cunha would suffering from the changed BFL/Structure but that might be somewhat inaccurate given that your modified CP tracker doesn't take into account the increased CP for Premier Challenges (thus it would have probably been slightly more accurate to instead only take the five best MSSs into account and neglect the PCs).

    As mentioned by Kyrk, going x-0 is still most likely rewarded by a bye in the first round of top cut. As for an x-1 immediately getting knocked out by an x-2 player: That would just mean that both are x-2 now with the difference being that the player who was formerly x-2 beat his competitor directly. It's still not optimal but in my opinion much better than having some x-2 players make top cut while others don't - or even worse, having an x-1 that doesn't make it to Top 8 (which happened at least once in the past).

    And this is exactly the issue: The 6th place at least got a chance to do so, while the 9th place didn't.

    After reading that part again, I agree with you that the BFL is somewhat confusing right now, so I will improve that part in the next update. What I meant originally was that I wanted a BFL of 2 Regionals for the travel awards to the Continentals, while having a BFL of 1/4/5/2 (as mentioned on page 8) for qualification as well as travel awards to the World Championships themselves.

    Speeding up the process of autorizing new TOs and discharge inactive old ones should probably be part of that approach, should we actually choose it.

    I actually agree with everything that has been stated above after thinking about it throughly and will probably remove the proposal of reducing the overall number of TOs depending on how this discussion continues.

    After reading through this, I suppose removing the BFL for the qualification process for worlds probably wouldn't do any harm. I will make the corresponding changes with the next update.

    I suspect that this is barely in the scope of control of TPCi since the International Challenges are probably organized directly from Japan, but offering a recommendation on this porbably won't hurt either.

    The reason for not adressing entry fees at all is that the first draft of the document was made at the beginning of 2017, a point in time at which we didn't fully realize the magnitude of the increaed entry fees yet. I wholeheartedly agree that the current fees are to high, at least for what is being offered at most events (barely any opportunities to view ongoing matches while in the venues, rather unattractive sideevents), but at the same time it should be considered that comparable events (for example in the FGC) cost significantly more due to them being largely grassroots (resulting in high venue fees and costs for streams and staff). Nonetheless, since we do have developer support, it should be possible to approximately cut the entry fees in half, even if it were to be at the cost of (maybe more than) half of the prize support.

    I doubt that most VGC players would actually be satisfied with a virtual reward, even when compared to trading cards (since those can at least be sold if you get lucky enough with your pulls). If anything, I would much rather see themed DS styluses, notepads or limited edition DS cases that hold more value than an in-game event. I will however add a list of suggestions to the document for possible alternatives to the meme-y "cool hat", that has been given out at various events in the past.

    I actually like this solution a lot since it fixes the general issue that stems from the use of tiebreakers to determine topcut while keeping the cut roughly the same size as before.
     
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  8. Talentlessflame

    Talentlessflame New Member

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    I agree with most of your suggestions, but something I'd really like to see an addition that'll benefit players who make an outstanding achievement/don't have enough time to spend multiple week-ends on locals: Auto-invites.

    In my opinion, players who meet these requirements should be guaranteed a day 1 invite at the worlds championships:

    -Winning a Regionals (or even gets 2nd, depending on how generous you'd want to be);

    -Doing well at an International; the fact that a NA player can get all the way to top 4 at a 400+ event and not be able to qualify for worlds is baffling, I thought about where the line should be drawn when talking about what "doing well at an international" should be, and came up with the following ideas:
    -Top 32 should not, as that most of time that only requires the player to go x-2 during swiss, whether it'll be in smaller internats (Australia and Brazil) or larger ones with day 2, in the case of an internats having a 2nd day of swiss, the amount of players should be very close to 32, making getting the top 32 requirement then should only demand going 2-x or even 1-x (depending on the byes you get) so the point remains getting top 32 at internats should not be rewarded with an invite;
    -Top 16 ,on the other hand, seems like enough of an achievement to receive an invite for internats with a 2nd day of swiss, as it'll require the player to least go x-2 in the first day, then do the effort of at least going x-3 vs a much tougher field in the 2nd day. Last year we've seem Michael Lanzano (jivetime) go all the way to a 16th finish at NA internats when he needed a 1st place to go to worlds, given the quality of his play on stream, I think having that effort be rewarded with an invite doesn't seem that bad of an idea
    -For smaller internats with only 1 day of swiss, giving out an invite to top 8 finishers seems like worthy contenders of having an invite, as, in your suggested system, top 8 finishers would at least have to go x-2 in swiss, then win their first/second match(es) in top cut.

    to tl;dr this, I think auto-invites are a great way to keep veterans/busy players invested, and a player winning regionals/doing well at internats deserves competing at worlds.
     
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  9. Euler

    Euler Active Member NPA 6 Champion

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    The issue I have with this is that while those players might deserve participating in the world championships, allowing them to do so would increase the number of potential attendants to a point at wich TPCi can't plan the World Championships reasonably anymore since the range of possible Day 1 attendants is just way to large. Most of your above examples should also be able to easily obtain the remaining CP towards a Worlds Invite simply by playing Premier Challenges, assuming their previous sucess wasn't a fluke. The only art I could agree to would be giving out an auto-invite to the Top 8 at each International Championship since the Top 8 are streamed on Sunday and thus the participating players probably have gained some public interest and are kind of expected to be seen again at the World Championships. However, this aspect is rather subjective, therefore I would greatly appreciate additional opinions on this matter.


    I have also updated the PDF significantly including but not necessarily limited to the following points:
    - BFLs have been clarified and removed for the Invite parte (except for PCs for reasons stated in the document)
    - Adressed the issue of entry fees
    - Modified the tournament structure slighly (one more round in case of x-2 top cut)
    - further elaborated on the matter of decreased tournament attendance and removed the proposed reduction of TO numbers
     
  10. IAmKennyJ

    IAmKennyJ New Member

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    Pretty late, but I wanted to chime in to show my appreciation/support for this.

    As for the document itself, there are a few typos/grammatical errors I noticed that should be fixed before it gets sent. I'd be willing to fix them if given the opportunity.

    Also, concerning the potential list of players who agree to the contents of the document, I assume the first and last names of each player would be included and not just be their Twitter handles, correct? And once the document has been finalized, we should actually spread the word on Twitter so we can get as many names of agreeing players as we can on the list.
     
  11. Euler

    Euler Active Member NPA 6 Champion

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    I will definitely re-read the document as soon as we are finished discussing its contents, however, since english isn't my first language, I would greatly appreciate further proofreading and will gladly take you up on your offer when the time comes.

    Yes, I doubt that just including twitter handles will be convincing enough.
     
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  12. badIuck

    badIuck New Member

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    Although I am not sure if anyone finds it relevant or even interesting (or if it even really belongs in here), I would like to state some thoughts from my very different but not unusual perspective. Especially I want to talk about the scene not growing or even stagnating..?

    I have played "competitive" Pokemon with my friends back in gen 2-4 just for fun. Now I got interested again and after "being part" of the Dota 2 scene for a few years, compared to that game it seems insanely hard for me to get into the VGC even though Dota is (arguably) much more in depth/complicated. I can't seem to figure out when or where tournaments are streamed or where to discuss the game with anyone. All the forums feel absolutely dead though I am sure the playerbase is not that small.

    I get that this whole topic is largely decided by TPCI, but since you guys are trying to communicate directly with them anyways...

    In my mind there are a few points that prevent the scene from growing.
    At first you have to realize that the "modern" competitive gaming scenes live from their communities, not from the few very best players of the world. Those communities mainly build on networks like reddit or twitch. Now I have no idea why all the different people spread across so many different semi-active forums like smogon, trainertower, a few small subreddits, all the wikis with their own forums. If there was one active main place-to-be like a large VGC subreddit everyone would always know when tournaments are being streamed, when a "pro" has figured out some new interesting anti meta strats or even when something funny pokemon related happened on some Regionals stream - that's the stuff people find interesting and what grows a community. Also don't get me started on Twitch Chat being disabled on the official streams. You won't believe what an huge part Twitch chat is for spectating other competitive games. Disabled twitch chat during some Dota tournament final would feel like watching a football game in an empty stadium to me. Might as well watch the replay on youtube - as silly as it may sound to a lot of you, trust me, a lot of people feel like this about twitch chat.

    Now the actual Twitch/livestreaming side would be more straightforward to figure out I think. I have just watched a bit of the Madison regionals stream and when a game was going on it was quite enjoyable and the commentators where fun but looking at the big picture there are way too long breaks between the games (because of the swiss rounds?). Maybe it would flow better with one huge bo3 single elimination bracket which is seeded by previous results which then on the second day could maybe even split up into a small double elimination bracket for the remaining 16 or whatever players. I want to especially point out that imo the most important part with the tournament system is that spectating can be made enjoyable.

    Ideally (and I guess unrealistically) we would get a Pokemon game just made for the competitive battling where you would be able to spectate tournaments and the top ranked games live in game. This way everyone could be learning directly from the best players. Climbing the ladder would have much more meaning to it. Good players would stream it on twitch, other people become fans of good players. This creates publicitiy and spreads game knowledge. People will want to watch their favourite players at the tournaments etc. which all grows the community and makes people want to participate in the scene, which then again leads more people into explaining stuff for beginners, because there will be a market created for such content. There would be easily enough content to fill an interesting subreddit like described above, instead of all these small elitist forums.
    A properly spectatable online function would also make official competitive tournaments possible online. You wouldn't have to pay any entry fees and everyone could watch it - a win for everyone. Imagine Dota, CS:GO or LoL tournaments would only exist offline. There is no way the scenes would have ever become anything close to what they are now.

    Things like this would establish competitive Pokemon in the future. Not switching around a few points here or there with the points system. I am absolutely not trying to hate and I love that you guys are trying to keep the scene healthy but I think longterm you have to see the whole picture, which in my eyes means having to realize that - from having to breed pokemon in a tortorous procedure, all the way to the spectating part - absolutely nothing about the VGC is easily accessible, hence the community will never maintain a healthy growth. Especially now when tons of people may find their way (back) into Pokemon with the new announced games, there will be a lot of people who would have fun with the competitive side of Pokemon but when you do not know that it even exists, how are you supposed to find it and how is the community supposed to grow then.

    The scene does not decline because the little amount of top tier players has to decide on which tournament they want to participate in but because it is so insanely difficult for new players to find their way into the scene. This is what should be worked on.


    I am sure it would be so easy to grow competitive Pokemon to an insane level if the people who make decisions just really wanted to. The franchise has a huge fanbase and the competitive game is really fun to play and watch as well.
    Though, I also know that writing stuff like this directly to TPCI woudlnt do anything so I just dump it here, where some people who care about their favourite games' scene might be reading it. Just trying to get a conversation/"awareness" going or something.

    Keep up the work.
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2018
  13. Euler

    Euler Active Member NPA 6 Champion

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    The best place to start right now is probably twitter or alternatively Trainer Tower. I don't really understand myself why TT in particular isn't more popular, but I guess the debate about what the community itself can do is definitely missplaced here (if you're interested in debating this matter, I'm sure you could open a thread in this subforum).

    Disabled Twitch Chat is actually an excellent point that I forgot to mention; I will add this aspect in the next update (although there have already been a few (albeit third-party ran) streams that had chat enabled).

    I'm afraid that single-elimination would be a step in the wrong direction from the perspective of the tournament participants and since attendance numbers are declining right now, I would perceive that as our primary issue at hand. In addition to this larger streams tend to have a backup match anyways, which usually keeps the breaks between matches to a minimum.

    Apparently Game Freak is actually planning something like this with the upcoming core series games on the switch, but I would assume that our influence on this matter would be even smaller than that on the official circuit =)

    I wholeheartedly agree with this, but as mentioned I would like to take care of the tournament structure first since I expect to have way more influence on this matter. Depending on our sucess I definitely plan a similar letter to Game Freak (or whoever exactly is in charge of the main series games).
     
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