Live Tournament Coverage

Hogg

grubbing in the ashes
is a Tournament Director Alumnusis a Site Content Manager Alumnusis a Social Media Contributor Alumnusis a Community Contributor Alumnusis a Top Tiering Contributor Alumnusis a Battle Simulator Staff Alumnusis an Administrator Alumnus
For the 2019 official tour cycle, the TD team has been working pretty closely with various folks from other areas of the site in an effort to make the overall tour experience better. Some of these things have been happening behind the scenes, while others are a bit more public, like the introduction of custom PS avatars for teams or Zracknel's awesome redesign of SPL artwork. And we’ve tried to become a lot more actively engaged with the social media crew in particular, helping to make sure important games get highlighted and working with them on things like the great team primers they did for SPL.

One big area that we’ve never really managed to capture, though, is live coverage. While the smogtours lobby is a great way to view tours as they happen, official live coverage has always been all but non-existent. And that’s a shame, because live coverage is such a quintessential part of any sports spectating, and is huge in most other eSports. With good commentators it can provide some really interesting on-the-spot analysis that can really change the way people spectate games. However, there are a couple of stumbling blocks that have always prevented us from providing this.

The single biggest issue is definitely timing. Good coverage requires a decent bit of planning in advance. Commentators need to be recruited and scheduled, streams need to be advertised, etc. Since games can happen almost any time, it becomes difficult to schedule these things in advance.

Another issue with smogtours is that its visibility to the people playing means that we have to crack down hard on speculation. We want to make the playing environment as fair as possible, and that means preventing any ghosting or information advantage whenever it’s within our power. But the flipside of that is overly sanitized discussion where people can’t really discuss the game itself.

We’ve been talking a lot recently about how to expand and improve tournament coverage, tour-related community resources, etc. And as part of this, we’ve decided to dip our toes back into the waters of live coverage starting this Snake.

Here’s what we’ve discussed:

1. During team tournaments, we plan to schedule a Twitch stream on Sundays from 2 to 4 PM Eastern. From reviewing previous tournaments, this timeblock is the period when the most number of games tend to get played.

2. When any games occur during this timeframe, the casters will announce the game live on stream, including play-by-play analysis and discussion.

3. In between games, the commentators will look at replays from earlier in the week, discuss games, talk about tournament trends, interview winners, etc.

4. In order to prevent the stream from being used as ghosting, the stream will be time-delayed by one minute. This is significant enough that it should prevent players from being able to use the stream to influence their plays, but brief enough that it still more or less captures the game live.

5. Because the stream is time-delayed, we will not carry the smogtours lobby rules about speculation over to the Twitch chat.

We’re going to try this out beginning Sunday, September 1, to see if there is interest in this kind of content. If there is, I’d like to make this a staple part of tournaments in general, and also expand it to coverage of other tournament games of note.

So why am I posting here, since this isn’t technically tour policy? Well, part of it is to discuss the speculation aspect, since a few people have complained about the quality of the smogtours lobby chat since we’ve begun strongly enforcing the rules on lobby speculation. But also, I wanted input specifically from the tour community on this, which is why it’s being posted here instead of IS or announcements.

I’m especially interested in hearing things like your thoughts on the type of content you’d like to see when games aren’t being livecast (player interviews, team analysis, “what each team needs to qualify,” etc.), thoughts on the one minute stream delay (too long? not long enough?), etc. Also, if you’re interested in potentially being on stream, please reach out to me via PM or on Discord. We’ll be sticking to folks with casting experience for the first week, but ideally this becomes an ongoing feature once we get any kinks ironed out.
 

Kink

it's a thug life ¨̮
is a Tutor Alumnusis a Forum Moderator Alumnusis a Community Contributor Alumnusis a Top Tiering Contributor Alumnusis a Contributor Alumnus
ideally this becomes an ongoing feature once we get any kinks ironed out.
Sold, how can I participate?

Fun topics we can include would be things like "Current Tournament Trends & the Effect On Tiering". Special guests can also be a thing to keep engagement high. Stream delay gives a good buffer, but a minute might be a tad long since immediate engagement is a big part of what makes watching high-level battles fun.
 

Shurtugal

The Enterpriser.
is a Tiering Contributor
What if there was a tournament that could be ran and completed in one day? That would be easier to cast. Maybe like an invitational where x qualifications gets you invited, and could run single or double elimination bracket style? Could be announced / ran tri monthly or something with trophey incentive as a way to guarantee strong participation?

I know this seems off topic but the reason I suggest this is because part of the problem with live coverage is the type of tournaments Smogon runs. Other eSports that do live coverage run within 1-3 days. Part of the issue is that Smogon needs a major tournament that is ran like a single/double elimination bracket. While it might not be possible to have everyone we would want to play participate within these limits I also feel it is neccessary if Smogon wants to push live tournament coverage.

My fear with this current plan is there is no consistency in terms of how much actual tournament games are covered and what is filler. I hate to bring attention to problems without offering a solution but in this case I cannot think of a way to consistently cover SPL/Snake. This is why I suggest trying to live cover a tournament that is ran liklike other eSports: single/double elimination bracket style, with high level play (offering a trophey might boost incentive for strong players to enter). Sort of like the casual tournaments hosted in tier rooms on showdown but a larger degree.

It is my understanding that there arent any major tournaments that are ran like this but if i am wrong please forgive me.
 

MajorBowman

wouldst thou like to live fergaliciously?
is a Site Content Manager Alumnusis a Top Social Media Contributor Alumnusis a Senior Staff Member Alumnusis a Community Contributor Alumnusis a Top Tiering Contributor Alumnusis a Contributor Alumnusis a Dedicated Tournament Host Alumnusis a Battle Simulator Moderator Alumnus
My fear with this current plan is there is no consistency in terms of how much actual tournament games are covered and what is filler. I hate to bring attention to problems without offering a solution but in this case I cannot think of a way to consistently cover SPL/Snake.
This is fair and Hogg's plan somewhat relies on games happening during this time period, but
From reviewing previous tournaments, this timeblock is the period when the most number of games tend to get played.
he spent a good chunk of time analyzing when games took place during SPL X and this was easily the most concentrated time. Obviously I'm not Hogg but I'm at least a little bit involved with this project and I'm optimistic. It wouldn't be too hard to ask around and see if players are willing to be a little flexible and play a tad bit early or late in order to make it easy for us to cover more games, and generally speaking the schedule of the stream is flexible in that we don't necessarily have to make it a hard cutoff at 4 pm. If there's a game in progress I'm sure we wouldn't just cut off at 4, and I know I'm personally fine staying past 4 when I'm the one doing the streaming to cover a game about to start if there happens to be a good one and I'm free.

I really like this idea and I'm excited to get it started. Personally I think the one minute stream delay is right around optimal if not a bit long since it discourages players from listening in and running down their timers while still being close-ish to live for viewers. We could probably pare it down a little bit if we put some guidelines on what casters can/should be talking about but what makes for good content from casters is an entirely different conversation (which I would love to have but this probably isn't the right place). Short version is that if casters aren't talking about specific plays that players could be making in the next few turns (which I think should be avoided regardless of any ethical implications because it tends towards baseless speculation) and are instead focusing on things like general board state or remaining wincons then there's less of a need for an extended delay. From a spectator's perspective you'd clearly want as little of a delay as possible (but keep in mind there's always going to be at least a ~15 second delay on any stream), so the shorter we make it the better the stream quality for everyone but the two players. You could also just make viewing the stream while you play punishable (if it isn't already) but that's so insanely hard to enforce that it may as well just be an honor system.

I feel like I'm just repeating myself at this point so I'll shut up, basically I think this is a super cool idea, I'm really looking forward to being involved, and I would love to have conversations about what I think makes for good content on streams or other various ideas with whoever is interested. See yall on twitch :blobwizard:
 

MANNAT

https://spo.ink/aq7
is a Social Media Contributor Alumnusis a Community Contributor Alumnusis a Contributor Alumnus
I just want to start off this post by saying this is a fantastic idea and a great way to make tournaments more accessible for newer viewers and members of the smogon community and I'm personally very excited for it!

Looking at individual tours that could be live casted, the best one to do is probably Smogon Tour, which is nice because it’s coming up soon. I imagine that the casters would pick out the “highlight games” for each round and cast those specifically. Admittedly, it would probably be difficult for newer players to keep up with it because of the sheer degree of games played during that timeframe, but STour is still the best individual tournament to live cast due to you being able to easily get it live without concerns of people missing the time or going AWOL, derailing the entire stream, like there is for something like Slam Playoffs.

Looking at this idea further down the line, similar casting could be done for things like individual tour top 16’s as well as team tour playoff games. While this seems like a pretty big undertaking, I think that it would be significantly beneficial for the tournament community in the long run.
 

teal6

is a Tournament Directoris a Forum Moderatoris a Senior Staff Member Alumnusis a Community Contributor Alumnusis a Tiering Contributor Alumnusis a Two-Time Past SCL Championis a Past WCoP Champion
Moderator
Great idea. I think you will want to really be careful with who is casted to maintain interest. Because I am obsessed with mons and Smogon, I'll listen to good chunks of broadcasts for SPL and stuff like that, but even I get bored when the opinions can be too milquetoast. Recent casts have had bolder declarations, and for something like this, if the person watching can keep up with the match, that'd be really cool.
 

Hogg

grubbing in the ashes
is a Tournament Director Alumnusis a Site Content Manager Alumnusis a Social Media Contributor Alumnusis a Community Contributor Alumnusis a Top Tiering Contributor Alumnusis a Battle Simulator Staff Alumnusis an Administrator Alumnus
It is my understanding that there arent any major tournaments that are ran like this but if i am wrong please forgive me.
As Mannat mentioned, the closest equivalent would be stour, though that's only for the qualification stage, not playoffs. Still, could be fun to do a day cast of stour, highlighting the better matchups.

Creating a new trophy tour solely to get better live coverage feels a bit like the tail wagging the dog, though invitationals into a swiss bracket that all happens over the course of a day is a fun idea. Something to consider down the road if this pans out.

Anyhow, thanks to everyone who has reached out to help cast! And thanks to Roy, who has been the big push to make this work and who has been helping us organize all of this. I hope it's just the start of a lot of great tour coverage and expansion.
 

MZ

And now for something completely different
is a Site Content Manager Alumnusis a Top Team Rater Alumnusis a Social Media Contributor Alumnusis a Community Leader Alumnusis a Community Contributor Alumnusis a Top Tiering Contributor Alumnusis a Top Contributor Alumnusis a Top Smogon Media Contributor Alumnusis a Battle Simulator Moderator Alumnus
First of all, a one minute delay doesn't seem sufficient when you've got a 3 minute timer to move. You could double that time to get a minute's worth of discussion and still be safe from timing out.

Anyway, I wanted to briefly hijack this discussion for a low tier issue. For a long time I've encouraged everybody I know to avoid playing games on SmogTours due to how cancerous not just lobby chat can be, but actual game chats. Nothing sucks more than catching up on a tour replay or being interested enough to spectate a game live only to see the meta you're invested in get shit for no good reason in the chat itself. Now I don't expect the hate for low tiers or OMs or UMs or whatever to go away, but doing it right in the game chat is already pretty gross and an absolute buzzkill for spectator interest before you start streaming it as well. I imagine that any streamed game would instantly put up modchat, but if you want to encourage more spectators and more interest in games happening on tours I'd recommend trying to bring an end to this behavior. As of right now, main is still by far the better place to play most low tier games, and this seems like a perfect time to fix one of SmogTours' biggest problems before you try to bring more attention to the server.
 

shiloh

is a Member of Senior Staffis a Top Tiering Contributoris a Contributor to Smogonis a Top Tutor Alumnusis a Social Media Contributor Alumnusis a Community Contributor Alumnusis a Smogon Media Contributor Alumnusis a Battle Simulator Staff Alumnusis an Administrator Alumnusis a Dedicated Tournament Host Alumnusis a Past WCoP Champion
Tiering Lead
For a long time I've encouraged everybody I know to avoid playing games on SmogTours due to how cancerous not just lobby chat can be, but actual game chats. Nothing sucks more than catching up on a tour replay or being interested enough to spectate a game live only to see the meta you're invested in get shit for no good reason in the chat itself. Now I don't expect the hate for low tiers or OMs or UMs or whatever to go away, but doing it right in the game chat is already pretty gross and an absolute buzzkill for spectator interest before you start streaming it as well. I imagine that any streamed game would instantly put up modchat, but if you want to encourage more spectators and more interest in games happening on tours I'd recommend trying to bring an end to this behavior. As of right now, main is still by far the better place to play most low tier games, and this seems like a perfect time to fix one of SmogTours' biggest problems before you try to bring more attention to the server.
if you want to avoid this you can always get someone to put on modchat for important game, this same problem shows up all over ps main when modchat isnt used so blaming it on smogtours is hilarious. also smogtours remains the best place to play important tour games, which includes lower tier games so saying otherwise and trying to group all tiers together is just offensive.

tour culture will always be pervasive with people disliking certain metagames and trying to put and end to that isnt going to be effective at all. all gsmes are going to have people complaining about just about anything, ranging from format, to bans, to whatever the fuck goes on in the other games. we should be focuse on bringing more attention to tour games and making the server better by focusing on the right things, by getting more strict on what people are allowed to say and the opinions they have on the game is just going to wnd up hurting the community more. by focusing on higher level gameplay, and increasing the quality of streams and commentary to get people more informed is the best way to go about “fixing” whatever issues you may see by people stating opinions on what metagames they think are shit.
 

MZ

And now for something completely different
is a Site Content Manager Alumnusis a Top Team Rater Alumnusis a Social Media Contributor Alumnusis a Community Leader Alumnusis a Community Contributor Alumnusis a Top Tiering Contributor Alumnusis a Top Contributor Alumnusis a Top Smogon Media Contributor Alumnusis a Battle Simulator Moderator Alumnus
if you want to avoid this you can always get someone to put on modchat for important game, this same problem shows up all over ps main when modchat isnt used so blaming it on smogtours is hilarious. also smogtours remains the best place to play important tour games, which includes lower tier games so saying otherwise and trying to group all tiers together is just offensive.

tour culture will always be pervasive with people disliking certain metagames and trying to put and end to that isnt going to be effective at all. all gsmes are going to have people complaining about just about anything, ranging from format, to bans, to whatever the fuck goes on in the other games. we should be focuse on bringing more attention to tour games and making the server better by focusing on the right things, by getting more strict on what people are allowed to say and the opinions they have on the game is just going to wnd up hurting the community more. by focusing on higher level gameplay, and increasing the quality of streams and commentary to get people more informed is the best way to go about “fixing” whatever issues you may see by people stating opinions on what metagames they think are shit.
I really think this is missing the point here by saying it's not a tours problem and that tour culture isn't going to change. For the first point, on main you get far less of this specific issue and get to control modchat yourself rather than being reliant on a tours mod being around. People can and do discuss plenty of random things in game chats but tours is consistently where it gets toxic towards the actual tiers. On the second point, yes tour culture won't change but I'd like it removed from one specific place, the actual game chats. I don't think that should be considered a censorship issue, there's a large difference between saying a tier sucks on the tours discord or even the smogtours lobby and saying it sucks in the chat of a widely viewed tour game.
Now I get this isn't a nice thing to hear but when you say "smogtours remains the best place to play important tour games" I've gotta call citation needed because I'm active in multiple communities where people actively avoid playing the server due to this issue. Again I don't want to change tour culture or censor opinions but the fact that you don't see an issue here is not relevant to the fact that it exists. Openly shitting on tiers is all well and good as long as people don't need to interact with that toxicity, and increasing the publicity of games on tours is going to do just that.
 
Last edited:

Amaranth

is a Site Content Manageris a Forum Moderatoris a Community Contributoris a Top Tiering Contributoris a Top Contributoris a Dedicated Tournament Hostis a Tournament Director Alumnusis a Social Media Contributor Alumnusis a Community Leader Alumnusis a Past SPL Champion
UPL Champion
If we're treating Pokemon as an esport and trying to expand the scene with proper broadcasts it only makes sense to add measures to make sure people aren't cheating. You see it all the time with various referees at live events and while we cannot implement such solutions due to the online nature of things I think we can take some steps to ensure people aren't cheating - a simple enough solution would be requiring any player whose game is broadcast to livestream or at least record their screen with an outside device during the game. It's probably unfeasible if implemented for a large number of games, but if it's just a handful of games every weekend then I think it would be a reasonable request - the barrier of entry really is not that high, most people should be capable of pointing a phone at themselves in front of their monitor and that would be enough to verify that they're not listening to the stream for tips (and if they're not willing to do this they can simply schedule their games for times outside of the assigned stream timeslot). This would allow the livestream to actually be live, which would be a massive improvement. Of course really dedicated cheaters could still slip by the cracks, but I mean, it's not like we can exactly do anything against people in a Discord call already, so we're already relying on a good amount of faith on the players as far as that goes.

I speak for myself but I assume many are in the same boat, if there's a tour game I'm really excited about I'll hop on tours to see it as soon as possible rather than waiting for a delay (even one as short as 1-2 minutes). No amount of excellent commentary would change this. I think that if we really want to call pokemon an esport and make Professional Broadcasts:tm: we need the broadcasts to be very appealing, and a delay just kills a significant part of that for me. Measures to eliminate that delay would not be impossibly difficult to implement - please consider them.

(Part of me also hopes that this could start a process of normalizing anti-cheating measures such as recording yourself during tournament games, which a lot of people currently think would be a bit ridiculous but I strongly believe it would be the best way to get rid of the plague that is ghosting - that would be talk for the future though)
 
It's been on my mind since this thread started how completely dead the Smogon YouTube channel is. Over the past two years there's been almost nothing, yet if you compare to just past that it's like night and day. I hope moving forward that the YT channel can also take part in the creative process and planning for the enrichment of the tours experience (in tandem to the supplementary cause of attracting new users).

There doesn't have to be much imagination put into the endeavor either, just dump vods from the Twitch game days and add miscellaneous content (guides, interviews etc.) to round out the channel. Gen 8 is a major opportunity to attract new users if the right type of content is made and made early enough. it would be a shame to miss out on this.

Sorry if this hijacks from the topic of Twitch / Live Coverage, but I can't help but feel like we already have a medium whose creative and outreach potential has not yet been appropriately explored.
 

Camden

Hey, it's me!
is a Battle Simulator Admin Alumnusis a Social Media Contributor Alumnusis a Senior Staff Member Alumnusis a Community Contributor Alumnusis a Tiering Contributor Alumnus
It's been on my mind since this thread started how completely dead the Smogon YouTube channel is. Over the past two years there's been almost nothing, yet if you compare to just past that it's like night and day. I hope moving forward that the YT channel can also take part in the creative process and planning for the enrichment of the tours experience (in tandem to the supplementary cause of attracting new users).

There doesn't have to be much imagination put into the endeavor either, just dump vods from the Twitch game days and add miscellaneous content (guides, interviews etc.) to round out the channel. Gen 8 is a major opportunity to attract new users if the right type of content is made and made early enough. it would be a shame to miss out on this.

Sorry if this hijacks from the topic of Twitch / Live Coverage, but I can't help but feel like we already have a medium whose creative and outreach potential has not yet been appropriately explored.
To my knowledge, aim said he wanted to help a lot with Smogon's YT channel starting gen 8, so I guess he can comment on this further if he wants. Other than that, I agree that Gen 8 would be the perfect opportunity to start working on it again.
 

Kalalokki

boba fett cool
is a Site Content Manageris a Top Social Media Contributoris an Artistis a Member of Senior Staffis a Community Contributoris a Smogon Discord Contributoris a Pokemon Researcheris a Top Smogon Media Contributoris an Administrator Alumnusis a Battle Simulator Moderator Alumnus
Sprite Leader
I'll also highjack this then to respond about the Youtube stuff, since that's my area. Roughly a year ago there was a thread in IS about just this that aim started, lots of good ideas were thrown around as usual, but I was too busy irl at the time to really spearhead this by myself. But, it's not like this is the first time Youtube has died, although I've kind of helped to kill it off on purpose this time.

The gist always comes down to people able to actually contribute the brunt of the work, which is the producing of the videos themselves, as well as the overall quality and uniformity of them. At the time I took over the helm for Youtube, it had already pretty much died off and I didn't like the quality and the kind of content we, even myself as one that provided the graphics, were producing. It made more sense to put it on hold at the time, leaving it mostly as a place to house our Twitch VODs, content that was more straightforward and had more uniform quality.

Looking at it now, I do want to restart it, but there's some things holding it back atm. Main thing is uniform art for different thumbnails and other graphics, basically the foundation of the whole visuals. I've reached out to some people to help me with it during this year, but it has just fallen through the cracks so far, making it kind of annoying to have to try to get it going each time. I know this isn't the best place to reach out for it, but if any artists or graphics people are interested in this: hit me up.

Secondly is that the incentives to work on Youtube content for Smogon is fairly low. Sure you might get a badge down the line for your work, but what do most other Pokétubers get for their work? Money. That's just not something we're able to realistically provide and it'd be weird if video contributions, of all avenues to get involved on Smogon over, would grant it when no other place does that.

Thirdly is that everything is really on me so far, I don't have that many people to discuss how we wanna go about the whole revival. If Youtube is getting revived again, I want some kind of framework to let it keep going down the line and not just fade away like all other times. Not that I doubt we can find people to help organize this once we're rolling, at this early point it's all just on me.

I'd love to have Gen 8 as the starting point for the new Smogon Youtube, but it's not something that I can, or want, to revive at this exact moment in time to be relevant for SSD coverage.
 

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Users: 1, Guests: 0)

Top