Managers Picks in Team Tournaments

#1
I'm posting my personal take on this, not speaking for the rest of the TD team.

The current system is alright, it's old but it gets the job done and the large majority of the "controversies" are extremely inconsequential. I don't think I have ever fully agreed with the managers pick, before or after being a TD, but they have always been decent enough. However, I fully believe the system can be made better.

The TD team generally focuses on a few factors when discussing potential pickups:

- Experience (in) Managing: Picking someone who has gotten decent results in the past, hasn't created any problems and whose players have had a decent experience with is easy and risk free. All new managers are a potential risk and that will always work against them.

- Tournament Results: Having good results as a player and manager is a good trait, but there's no way we can pick solely based on this. There are more than a handful examples of absolute top tour players completely failing as managers, there are people with completely unremarkable results as individuals winning tours as managers, there are managers who win one tour and end last in the next one and viceversa. Skill and results alone aren't enough, but we do give them a lot of weight.

- Behavior: We don't want fake "kindness" or people who never rise their voice. We want managers who won't get (tour)banned midtour and/or won't relentlessly attack their own players if results don't go their way.

- Team Affiliation: Having managers who have history with the team they are managing helps create a stronger team identity. Some people really care about this, some don't (myself included).

It's rather straightforward, has lots of subjective elements and is safe. I'm pretty sure everyone has their own personal criteria and preferences, but I don't see the core of this changing. Nonetheless, there's room to improve the system.

As things are right now, the odds are heavily stacked against new pairs because they have to compete with former managers and people with better team affiliations than themselves. A proposal I had to lessen this issue was implementing a "relegation" system. The relegation would "ban" the bottom two manager pairs from managing in the next installment of the tour and the team affiliation aspect wouldn't be used to pick their replacement, this would prevent relegated managers from simply picking their friends to take over the team. This would open up more opportunities for new managers, keep managers picks fresh, and increase the competitiveness of the last couple of weeks in team tours.

It was recently suggested we made a player feedback survey which would be sent to all players after a team tournament. This could give us a better feel of each team's environment and quality of contributions of the managers, which is important because we tend to use a lot of hearsay when it comes to discussing these things and they are one of the biggest factors used to repick a manager.

Those are the two main ideas I'd like to discuss and try to implement. Is there any other idea we should talk about?
 
#2
i'll post in this too both as a td and as someone who has managed in 5 out of the last 6 team tournaments when you include spl x... my bad. i'm also for relegation and i think (when done right) the surveys could really be of use, too.

a big thing to note in terms of recent events is how there were significantly less manager signups for spl than there were for snake. i'm assuming that's because of the theory that returning managers would just get their teams anyway regardless of how they did, which honestly is fair enough.

i know hikari didn't bring it up but i'm sure someone else would in this thread, so before that happens: i don't think capping managerial opportunities to 1 or 2 team tours per manager per year is a solution. i obviously am very aware of the bias here, but the quality of manager signups is almost always downright dire, in my opinion. this spl being no exception. if someone wants to manage more often and they're a better option than the (scarce) alternative, then so be it. i'd vastly prefer relegation as an alternative and we'll continue to work on the survey idea as well.
 

miltankmilk

**hypnotic recorder plays in background**
is a Smogon Social Media Contributoris a Tiering Contributor
#3
I think a player survey would be a really useful tool in evaluating existing managers and trying to quantify the experience and attitude that are important when picking managers and relegation definitely gives opportunities for new managerial pairs.

Something brought up by teal the other day was also to give a response to managers who didn’t make the cut. There’s always questions about why some pairs didn’t make the cut and I think even spelling that out a little bit would be really appreciated by prospective managers, even if the answer was just “there were 10 pairs we liked more but we do think you’d be a good manager”. I think a little more transparency in this process would go a long way in this process.
 

LAX

excelsior
is a Tiering Contributor Alumnus
#4
My biggest issue with this whole thing is that there is an enormous time gap between the day SPL managers are picked and the actual sign-ups. I’m assuming multiple members of the TD team also had some doubts on how to approach the system, so why did you guys not take longer?

Adding on to this post, I definitely think there should be a line between team affiliation and actual competency. Managers should be picked upon results in previous tours and willingless to actually contribute to their team. I won’t make any direct callouts, but I’m certain a lot of these pairs are just in it for the ride or scared to actually play this game themselves.

Lavos and I actually fit the criteria Hikari proposed too. We would never flame any of our players or get tournament banned. We have tournament results and a shit load of experience. Hell, there were many many players who directly approached us saying they think we would be a really fun duo and they would be down to play for us.

This post brings up some solid points. However, it does not completely explain why we were not picked. Is it because we have no team affiliation? Is it because we have never managed before? Is it because there are a few people obsessed with us that keep mentioning us and talking shit? We would like a straight forward answer, no bullshit.

Anyways, I agree with the regulation thing but am unsure how useful a survey would be. Unless a manager was god awful and said 2 words a week or left early, there is very little chance a player would directly speak against them because they were teammates for 9+ weeks. In all honesty, there is no entirely fair way to decipher the useless managers from the useful managers unless individual teammates have complaints and proof.

We still want answers TDs
 
#5
This may not be the exact thread for what I'm going to bring up as a QOL change for manager selection, but one proposal I'll throw out is to change the way teams are signed up for. Right now in Snake and SPL, duos are expected to signup for an existing team and often there will be multiple duos signing up for the same team and being pitted directly against each other for who is more qualified. Just as an easy example from this SPL, both Stone_Cold and Void signed up for the BIGs, two managers who are pretty well revered within the community and both could have very realistically gotten the spot over the other. What this doesn't account for, though, is that while Void may have not been seen as more deserving than Stone this time around, it's very realistic that he could have been picked above some other specific pairs had everybody been signing up with no team in mind. Perhaps myself included, even.

The idea here is pretty basic, change manager signups to be general and without a team in mind, allow TDs to select their optimal 10, and then worry about team selection after the fact. This way should more realistically ensure the 10 best pairs are the 10 to be given teams rather than relying on something arbitrary like former team and "legacy".
 
#6
The idea here is pretty basic, change manager signups to be general and without a team in mind, allow TDs to select their optimal 10, and then worry about team selection after the fact. This way should more realistically ensure the 10 best pairs are the 10 to be given teams rather than relying on something arbitrary like former team and "legacy".
Implying that team affiliation/history and being a former manager is something 'arbitrary' while all the other criteria for being supposedly 'qualified' are not...

If anything, history, legacy and team background are by far the most concrete and important things for deciding who gets to manage in a tour which is constantly getting robbed of its identity.
 

elodin

kingpin jr
is a Tiering Contributoris a defending Smogon Snake Draft Championis a Past SPL and WCoP Champion
#7
Completely disagree with the relegation system suggested in the OP. Attributing a team's success or failure exclusively to managerial competence is an extremely inaccurate approach that does not recognize the characteristics of good or bad managing whatsoever. To apply the logic used by the OP, that means obii and Philip7086 would both be relegated after SPL 9 and prevented from managing in SPL X. It's already absurd to consider this when I'm 100% sure every single player in The Indie Scooters would agree our managers did an excellent job, but even more so when you think about how obii, managing a team by himself, just won Snake a few months later. So obii, clearly one of the best managers in the tournament scene, wouldn't be allowed to manage in SPL X due to his team's poor performance, which had very little to do with him and much more to do with the below average performance from most of his players. There are multiple aspects that influence a team's performance other than its managers, and punishing the ones whose teams performed badly has nothing to do with solving the problem we have regarding the overall quality of our manager duos.
(Note that I'm not sure if the Scooters were last in SPL 9, so if someone has the spreadsheet and wants to check that go right ahead. My point stands regardless)

I don't think the second suggestion would also have a significant impact because teammates are likely to vouch for their managers regardless of how good they really were due to the natural bonding that occurs during the long duration of team tournaments. However this is a much better approach than the first option, and I believe we can improve it and reach the best possible solution with something around these lines.

So far I'm unsure as to how this could work, but I believe if we change the people whose opinions we take into account that would make the "exit survey" option ideal. By that I mean if we have someone unbiased look over each team channel, this person would provide a much better opinion about the influence and participation of managers pairs than any of their team members, whose opinions will always be tainted by bias. Something around the lines of having both hosts added to team channels after SPL is over and allow them access to everything, that way they can look for messages or actions demonstrated by managers that fit the TDs criteria of good managing. After that, either keep this evaluation to yourselves or talk to the managers in question regarding what they did you guys thought was good or bad. Anyway, I'm not gonna dwell on this too much because it's merely an idea as to how to apply a much better approach (looking into the managers themselves instead of team performance) and I don't want people to tunnel vision into it if they read this post.

Looking at a team's performance during one season shouldn't be enough criteria to determine whether or not managers should be allowed back into SPL because there are various aspects outside the managers' control that influence a team's final result. Instead, we should look into how these managers acted throughout the entire tournament to properly evaluate them. Like I said before, I'm unsure as to how this should be done, but it's definitely the right method. This goes beyond the scope of what's said in team channels as well by the way, as managers, in my opinion, can and should be judged by multiple other aspects such as their commitment to the team, the tournament and the community, their posture, their decision-making in auctions and trades etc. etc.
 
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LL

Waves of Change
is a Pre-Contributor
#8
I think the largest issue with the current managerial selection process is the issue of how important team continuity is with regards to selecting managers. Obviously, managers that have managed teams in the past and proven they can lead winning teams are fine to keep in place because they guarantee that it's unlikely the team be grossly mismanaged or problematic in some way. However, I believe that allowing players to claim teams solely because they played on the team last season or have the "blessing" of past managers is a serious issue. As was mentioned in the OP, there are several examples of top players absolutely flopping as managers, so having the fact that one or both of a duo played for the team the previous season in spite of zero/largely negative managerial experience is very troubling. I believe that the players from last team's roster getting a claim on future teams rule should be abandoned altogether because there's no real managerial experience to judge these players on, and such duos don't exactly have the same obvious logic making them good candidates that returning managers have. Not to say that all these duos should automatically be rejected, I just think they should be judged on an equal playing field as other candidates that applied. I don't want to call out anyone in this post because finger pointing is dumb, but I just think that the team history criteria should be done away with together if the player hasn't actually managed the team (or other teams) itself.
 
#9
I don't know if implementing a relegation system is the right thing to do.

That assumes that the performance of a team is entirely on the managers which is pretty hard to claim. There are various factors as to why a team does not perform: poor team spirit, poor draft, etc but I think it's impossible to know what truly caused a team to fail. In my personal experience with spl 9, I could say that our team lacked spirit and cohesiveness which hindered motivation, but I don't think many people would say the draft was the issue as we were ranked 4th in the PR which is quite decent on paper. Another example is the Taipans in snake 2. They were ranked 1st and clearly "had a lot of team spirit" (at least that's what I know from what various taipans members told me) so what went wrong there? Was it the manager's fault? Pearl just reached spl finals tiebreak a couple months earlier so I'm not sure this is the case. Honestly, sometimes it just doesn't work out and I don't think the managers should be punished for it. Conversely, a team's success shouldn't be entirely attributed to the managers either. While I appreciate elodin's praise the truth is we won the tour because of the combination of our entire team's effort. Again, I'm a big believer of a team's performance falling on the shoulders of the entire team itself rather than the managers.

If a relegation system is implemented, the reason for it should be to create a variety of different managers every season rather than punishing managers. If you want some penalty to be imposed, then I think banning them as managers for the next iteration of the tour is still too extreme. Maybe a middleground can be found?

Anyway, I don't think the way managers are picked are that bad (or I guess I can't think of a better method of doing so). They should be subjectively selected by the TDs but maybe the subjective criteria should change slightly. I don't know which td emphasize what specifically but affiliation / history shouldn't be the dominant factor while good standing in the community and experience should be more prioritized. Maybe this is the case already but the community perception is the opposite and a possible explanation as to why manager sign ups were so low this year.
 
#10
I do not see any issue in the way managers get picked, to be totally honest. The people who get picked are usually reliable to the community's eyes (and TDs' as well, ofc) and the team afiliation is a really relevant thing when it comes to SPL. The team's identity, be It either considered by its players or its managers, whatever, is basically the main reason for having things like retain, its simply part of the tour at this point and getting rid of it is definitely ungood.

The only thing that I see as an issue is the amount of players that manage in both Snake and SPL, and yes, its weird. Hell, CS + snaga just managed in snake and are getting another team together; tony as said by himself managed 5 out of the 6 recent tours; and obii would definitely take scooters again if he wanted to, even after managing first snake, last SPL and snake again in a row. They are good managers, ok, but if we are having problems with the amount of people signing up as manager, you can't simply ignore the fact that we have more than decent extra options that deserve this position but do not have a chance with "team identity" being a big factor. That being said, you do not need to veto those people entirely, picking managers is one of the most important parts of the tour and their experience can't/shouldn't be questioned, but we def have more than worthy extra picks in every tour (otherwise we wouldn't be discussing it now), so giving new good duals at least some kind of priority over those who already had their chance managing is, in my opinion, the way to go.

However, I don't know which parameter is the right one to decide who should drop its position, but relegation is definitely a bad idea for the reasons elodin has brought. Maybe using the surveys you have been talking about here in a way that managers get ranked by points based in specific roles, like general activity or in chat behavior, I don't know if these are the optimal characteristics to be evaluated but you might have got what I mean. You can also force em to pick the tour that they wanna keep managing without losing priority, its a fine way to decrease competitiveness and help the selection process.
 
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#11
i want to address a few things posted so far. for starters..

My biggest issue with this whole thing is that there is an enormous time gap between the day SPL managers are picked and the actual sign-ups. I’m assuming multiple members of the TD team also had some doubts on how to approach the system, so why did you guys not take longer?
the reason for this time gap has to do with the preparation of the tournament. we don't want to disclose the specifics before getting everything in order, so i can't really reveal much more than that. it absolutely had nothing to do with tds having doubts about the system or struggling to select the pairings.

Adding on to this post, I definitely think there should be a line between team affiliation and actual competency. Managers should be picked upon results in previous tours and willingless to actually contribute to their team. I won’t make any direct callouts, but I’m certain a lot of these pairs are just in it for the ride or scared to actually play this game themselves.
team affiliation isn't everything and if we considered an unaffiliated pair to be (significantly) better than an affiliated one, then we'd choose them. that's already the case. however, z0mOG this is re: your post as well, it does play a part and we won't disregard it entirely like we do with ssd, because history and legacy are a big part of spl, like triangles mentioned as well.

also to LL and anyone else wondering this, a former manager's "blessing" couldn't be more biased and less relevant to us. it is NOT a considerable factor in our decision making.

Lavos and I actually fit the criteria Hikari proposed too. We would never flame any of our players or get tournament banned. We have tournament results and a shit load of experience. Hell, there were many many players who directly approached us saying they think we would be a really fun duo and they would be down to play for us.

This post brings up some solid points. However, it does not completely explain why we were not picked. Is it because we have no team affiliation? Is it because we have never managed before? Is it because there are a few people obsessed with us that keep mentioning us and talking shit? We would like a straight forward answer, no bullshit.
that's interesting because as far as i know at least three tds took the time to talk to lavos in private to discuss why you two haven't been selected to manage. and you really wanna guarantee your pairing would never "flame" any of your players? at the time lavos signed up to manage he was devoiced on smogtours because he went on a ridiculous, offensive and alarmingly characteristic rant in which he attacked multiple users. should we entrust someone an spl franchise while we can't trust them to behave in public? i personally actually quite like lavos and i think teaming with him in an official tournament would be a lot of fun for me, but surely you can understand how things like those are extremely concerning when we're deciding managers as tournament directors.

having said all that, him being devoiced at the time of his signup probably wasn't even the biggest issue. the biggest issue was his downright terrible choice of an assman. lavos was infracted and devoiced on october 6th, which is about a month ago, and yet his assman somehow has an even more recent infraction for unsportsmanlike conduct. lavos needed a co-manager that lifted him into good standing, not someone that anchored him down. "good behavior" isn't the only quality we look for, obviously. both managers being able to do as little as talking on smogtours and avoiding infractions the very same month as signing up to manage seems reasonable to me, though. add to that your behavior in ssd 1 and you get a nice cocktail of reasons to go with essentially anyone else instead. if anything you two need to cut the bullshit.

that was me personally speaking, eo. i'll stop it here because i don't want to derail the thread or risk this turning into a slandering competition of the manager pairs; there's a reason we keep this stuff in-house. i merely elaborated because you asked us to here publicly and because you felt the need to end your post with "We still want answers TDs", despite the tds having talked to lavos in private already. feel free to pm me to discuss this further if you want to.

thank you all for your feedback thus far and keep the discussion going please!
 

LAX

excelsior
is a Tiering Contributor Alumnus
#12
i want to address a few things posted so far. for starters..



the reason for this time gap has to do with the preparation of the tournament. we don't want to disclose the specifics before getting everything in order, so i can't really reveal much more than that. it absolutely had nothing to do with tds having doubts about the system or struggling to select the pairings.



team affiliation isn't everything and if we considered an unaffiliated pair to be (significantly) better than an affiliated one, then we'd choose them. that's already the case. however, z0mOG this is re: your post as well, it does play a part and we won't disregard it entirely like we do with ssd, because history and legacy are a big part of spl, like triangles mentioned as well.

also to LL and anyone else wondering this, a former manager's "blessing" couldn't be more biased and less relevant to us. it is NOT a considerable factor in our decision making.



that's interesting because as far as i know at least three tds took the time to talk to lavos in private to discuss why you two haven't been selected to manage. and you really wanna guarantee your pairing would never "flame" any of your players? at the time lavos signed up to manage he was devoiced on smogtours because he went on a ridiculous, offensive and alarmingly characteristic rant in which he attacked multiple users. should we entrust someone an spl franchise while we can't trust them to behave in public? i personally actually quite like lavos and i think teaming with him in an official tournament would be a lot of fun for me, but surely you can understand how things like those are extremely concerning when we're deciding managers as tournament directors.

having said all that, him being devoiced at the time of his signup probably wasn't even the biggest issue. the biggest issue was his downright terrible choice of an assman. lavos was infracted and devoiced on october 6th, which is about a month ago, and yet his assman somehow has an ever more recent infraction for unsportsmanlike conduct. lavos needed a co-manager that lifted him into good standing, not someone that anchored him down. "good behavior" isn't the only quality we look for, obviously. both managers being able to do as little as talking on smogtours and avoiding infractions the very same month as signing up to manage seems reasonable to me, though. add to that your behavior in ssd 1 and you get a nice cocktail of reasons to go with essentially anyone else instead. if anything you two need to cut the bullshit.

that was me personally speaking, eo. i'll stop it here because i don't want to derail the thread or risk this turning into a slandering competition of the manager pairs; there's a reason we keep this stuff in-house. i merely elaborated because you asked us to here publicly and because you felt the need to end your post with "We still want answers TDs", despite the tds having talked to lavos in private already. feel free to pm me to discuss this further if you want to.

thank you all for your feedback thus far and keep the discussion going please!
I swear I hear different things every single time one of the TDs speaks about this. Some TDs think we would have been a better pair because of our experience, the next TD brings up something more than a year ago with something already completely irrelevant and dispelled, and the next TD says it's mostly due to legacy reasons.

I think you feel personally offended by some of my statements despite none of them referring to you, but I would like to thank you right now for confirming something for me: the TDs are lost and all have different opinions, yet they still pushed to get the managers out early. I seriously have heard and personally conversed with different TDs and read shit that is all saying completely different things.

Instead of all this whirlwind of various shit thrown at me, I am asking for a real answer that all the TDs can answer so that I may improve if I wanted to manage next year. If it's solely a behavior thing, then tell me that in the first place. I don't mean to hijack this thread because it actually has useful info to improve the system in the future, so my bad for that.
 

Finchinator

IT'S FINK DUMBASS
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#13
Re: current manager outlook,

I feel like the pool of managers for Snake and (especially) this coming SPL has been relatively lackluster. This does not 100% align with the focus of the thread, but it ties in, so I think it is important -- just hear me out. While I intend no offense to any of the pairs picked or not in either tournament, anyone with experience stretching beyond the last year or two would be inclined to agree that we have seen much stronger manager pools in the past. There are still some highlights, mainstays, and strong picks, but the mid-bottom end especially proves to be pretty inexperienced and even somewhat unappealing.

Given this, I want to echo the sentiment expressed later in Tony's first post about not capping managers to a certain number of tours per year/period. The fact of the matter is that some people manage time-after-time because they excel in that position (much like some people play every tournament because they feel best as players). Seeing as there is a relative shortage in managers, which I allude to above, there should be no efforts to limit those who happen to do well as managers (which happens to be most of the recurring managers). If anything, we should encourage experienced managers in order to promote a higher quality tournament.

I also would like to touch on a point MiltankMilk covered, sort of. I feel like there are people that are interested in managing and capable of becoming good managers in the present/future. And we need more of these people in the future. However, not all of these people sufficiently fit the criteria outlined in the OP and don't get picked because of that. Given this, I think that there should be some system of feedback. I actually feel like it should not necessarily be made public, but rather done if the pair contacts the TD team after selections are made. If someone or some pair is eager to manage official tours, then they should be able to know specifically what steps to take moving forward in order to improve their chances. I am aware that there have been some informal discussions between the rejected Lavos/Lax pair and the TD team regarding why they got rejected, which I feel is a step in the right direction even if that led to a bit of a messy back-and-forth. And I believe that the TD team is relatively transparent with their process if and when prompted to be, but I hope that more prospective future managers will be assertive in requesting feedback and working towards being better candidates moving forward seeing as we do need more quality manager sign-ups given recent trends. One pretty good example of a "newer" pair of interested managers who took charge and became a more qualified duo is Chill Shadow + Snaga. I know this is not the most flashy pair to everyone, but they do take their jobs as managers seriously. They both went out of their way to successfully manage a number of smaller, side tournaments and then finally applied when they felt ready come time for SSD. Sure, their SSD team didn't win, but if you ask anyone on the Cobras, they will say that their managers did what they could. Now, they're back again to manage SPL.

Re: the OP/potential changes to the current system of picking managers,

I feel like what is outlined in the OP is roughly sufficient, but it can be improved upon and looking for means of doing so is a step in the right direction. Before I go into what I think could be beneficial, I do think that the relegation system as it is outlined in the OP is not an entirely positive, welcomed change in my eyes. I think that it places too much emphasis on raw results, which factor in far more than managers can control themselves. For example, Obii managed the Scooters last SPL and they had a very poor season. Sure, it can be said that he made some mistakes, but ultimately his team dynamic just did not work, various good players underperformed, they had some unfortunate luck, and things just didn't go their way. This is not a great reflection of Obii as a manager/presence and it should not impact his future privileges -- the dude just managed the winning Snake team and got praised time-after-time in the shoutout posts in the thread from members of his team. I think that a relegation system based solely on results is something that I would not support because of the fact that results encompass much more than any individual manager can control.

I do, however, support the idea of getting (non-mandatory probably) feedback from players on the roster about their manager. I'm sure a couple generic questions can be made by the TD team and then sent to players in order to gauge the competency of a manager; the questions can even be geared towards learning about specific characteristics the TD team is looking for in managers to see if they are present within a certain individual/pair or not. While this method is less concrete seeing as what people write on their managers can potentially be construed in different ways, it still does provide some basis of assessment. If anything, I would favor a system in which the non-playoff managers that receive the most negative feedback are barred from managing the next edition of a specific tournament. I feel like this is a far more direct and fair means of assessing things than one seasons results; what I personally look for in a manager is seen just as much in the day-to-day grind and consistent interactions, which will be discussed more in any feedback reports, than it is in the end result, which again can be skewed negatively or positive due to factors that are largely out of the manager's sphere of influence/control. I do suppose that this prospect is grounded in uncertainty and question because it is largely unprecedented, could be ruined by bias, and is subject to TD interpretation of answers, but I feel like these factors could be ironed out and if we are going to trust anyone on tournaments, then it might as well be the TD team after all...

Finally, I am not too fond of the current team affiliation emphasis. I do believe there should be some degree of importance applied here, but I feel like the entire SPL manager conversation currently revolves around prioritizing those who have a history with a certain team. While this year it just panned out that pretty much all of the pairs that signed up (aside from Lavos/Lax) aligned with a specific team, there have been more controversial cases in past years and I would ultimately prefer fielding the 10 best managerial pairs above anything else. If anything, team affiliation/history should just work as a tiebreaker of sorts. This is just my personal opinion and I understand the legacy feel that a lot of people align with -- that just is not how I think.
 

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