Implemented Private vs Public Games in Official Tournaments

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Currently for official individual tours, replays are mandatory for the top 8/12 of each tournament, all OLT games cannot be privated, all games for Smogon Tour are played on smogtours, and OSDT has a requirement of replays for every round. It is also the case that 1 person can force any given series to be played on smogtours.

I believe that the current system is inadequate for our tournaments and what they strive for. As such, I believe that all games for official tournaments should require replays. This would notably apply to Classic cups, Slam opens, and OST.

To be more specific about the issues, I think modern tournaments involve far too much of an “information war” with regard to scouting. Right now it’s competitively optimal to play as many games as possible on main with inaccessible replays. Maybe your social connections let you get your opponent's private replays anyway, or maybe your opponent happened to play on smogtours for a previous round. It's pretty much a guessing game to figure out whether or not your opponent has seen your previous round stuff. Additionally, the concept of "bracket luck" is compounded by the fact that it's better to get an opponent who agrees to play on main. Personally I play on smogtours regardless because I think it's more fun, better for spectators, and still feasible to qualify that way anyhow. However, far from everyone does this and I think we'd be better off if everyone did (and was forced to).

So, my list of pros for this proposal would be
- fair and balanced information access between opponents (by far the most important point)
- better for spectators
- less reusing, more metagame development and creativity
- less people who are terrified of more than 5 people watching getting far and subsequently flopping

The main con I can think of is "increased counterteaming" but it is not that hard to have more than 2 teams in a given tier. We also still have counterteaming it's just less predictable with when it's gonna happen because no one knows who has actually seen which replays. If this proposal does not go through I would recommend that 1 person is able to force main instead of smogtours, so privatization can be fully embraced for the applicable rounds. Obviously that sounds unappealing though so I suggest we go fully in the public direction.

I understand the hesitation to implement such a thing but I strongly believe it's a major step up from the status quo. Please do consider this.

Thank you.
 
I'd also consider mandating Smogtours for all official tournament games for the same reasons as outlined above, with the added benefit of being guaranteed to be able to watch hype matchups live before the latter stages of the tournament (such as McMeghan vs. august in BW Cup Round 5).

The negatives to this I see is it would be rough for people who have nerves while playing and also would it be worth the hassle to not count a tournament set played on main when the replays are posted.
 

May

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This is another one of those weird Smogon things that I always think should be the case from experience in other competitive communities but just isn't for some reason. It's something that should be standardised from a competitive integrity perspective as a whole, especially from the swathe of community benefits this brings to the table. Remember: notable replays are not only resources but also provide extensive historical preservation.

If someone is going to counterteam, they're going to do it whether everything is public or not. I feel like people need to embrace that the preparation phase is a part of the competition in and of itself; this is why I held the position in the previous thread as well. If you prepare better than your opponent, you should be rewarded, and evening out the playing field ensures that there is further competitive integrity in this area. We should not reward players for having connections to get just a drop of replays that were literally in an official tournament, it just feels yucky all around. If you're concerned about counterteaming, well, good: you should be prepared for those situations. Y'know, rather than spending your life trying to hide everything and crying when someone gets tired of it and goes "hey kid want some secret replays?" and you get blown out of the water for not adapting. I have seen this so many times, and it's just masking a problem. Preparation is a skill and part of the game that we should encourage, reward, and accept. Counterteaming is a part of that.

I know people are going to (and have) bring up nerves, but keep in mind that if they actually get far in the tournament, they are going to experience it anyway. Worse still, not only are they going to experience it, but they are also going to be less used to it than if they were exposed to it in early rounds. I'm saying this as someone who has these nerves themselves and doesn't compete as often (in part) due to it: it's something you must get used to. If you're out getting better and gradually moving up in the competitive scene, eventually, you will need to confront this, and it only grows more difficult as time goes on. Again, I am saying this from abundant experience, and it's something I wish I was told a very fucking long time ago. It is a character flaw you should work on if you want to be a successful competitor. If I ran the site I would have this be a thing unilaterally but I know someone will say L + Ratio for their 200 likes and wholesome 100 award but hey whatever.

If someone messes up, it's their fault. Yeah, it'll inconvenience them, but we should also encourage some sort of object permanence and reading comprehension. Some people on this site can't even count the hours on time zone differentials correctly.

And before someone goes "this isn't a business or government, why are you being so serious?", consider that Smogon is one of the biggest competitive Pokemon communities in the world with a cosmopolitan population. I think it is perfectly reasonable to have something like this be implemented solely to further establish its integrity.
 
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INSULT

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Please please dont do this. It just creates a stupid disadvantage if u ever wanted to reuse a team and ur opponent could just look at all ur sets. A huge part of the competitiveness of pokemon is the surprise factor of cool techs/sets and this only hurts that and punishes people who dont wanna build a million different teams. Having public replays in the later stages of a tour is fine enough for the spectators and given that this only affects like 3 tours idk why it should be changed now. About the whole information war thing, id like to hope the vast majority of ppl when a round comes out dont go contacting their opp's previous opp asking for their replays. Of course there are sweats who do this and hopefully those previous opponents dont give up the replays that easy but yeah I feel like this is a minor problem in the grand scheme of things. If anything id say this makes the information war even more skewed: newer players who arent as accustomed to building (if at all) want to reuse a team the whole tour but are immediately cted r2 by an opp who knows how to take advantage of the system. Also there are def alot of vets arent big on building and dont wanna make 3 teams every round (its exhausting to even make 1 imo).

The pros listed in the op are all quite lacking:
-in an ideal world it is fair yeah but reusing should not be punished and this will just lead to unfair and unbalanced information
-this one is fine i too love watching quality games
-the meta will develop anyway and all i see happening is more cting and less actual development coming from this
-ily adam but this one is just quite dumb idk why it was even listed (basically saying newer/more nervous players should be put at disadvantage).

The cons were slightly mentioned in the op but this post should hopefully add more detail as to why the problem of increased counter teaming outweighs all the pros that were listed. SOo yeah please dont do this, i know it sounds appealing to alot of you who want to watch as many quality games as possible but the competitive integrity should always be prioritized. I am also not a big fan of the olt format with sniping and such but that is more troublesome to solve.
 

Hipmonlee

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Honestly ABR it feels fundamentally absurd that this isn't the case already. I understand the 20 years of lineage at play here but the IRC days are long gone, no reason not to get with it and professionalize the tournaments a little bit more. Approved
Just want to defend the IRC days, because back then all games were public. You couldnt miss them, they were being posted to the same chatroom as your own game at the same time.

I wish I had access to my ancient games, but they all got lost when my computer got stolen. If we make them public, maybe they'll still be around in 15 years.
 
The current system is a bit silly to be fair. Tours become an information gathering fest and this reinforces the formation of circlejerks even further.

Using two names as an example, let's face it if you get paired with someone like Starmaster you'd more or less assume ABR will know your teams in the next round. These players are far more connected by virtue of the legacy they have created for themselves and will more or less always be one up on you information wise.

Taking this information asymmetry out of the equation can only be positive overall for the community and will no doubt promote young and studious players enabling them to enter the big tour scene.

The argument about game changing techs being revealed is a bit moot again as vs any named player you'd assume the replay is now circling around in the jerk domains anyway. And vs a complete nobody you probably don't need to go completely overboard with revealing your strongest assets.

One downside of this is that the average lifetime of teams will go down, though i am not sure this is bad for competitive play. Sure it will become more strenuous for builders as they'd need to constantly be innovating, but at the same time this might be very well needed if the game is to be pushed beyond its current limits.
 
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I can see and appreciate both sides of this argument, and unlike many of the silly Smogon debates I've been around over the years I don't think this one has a clear "this side is right and that side is wrong". I don't think we're selecting anything close to a perfect solution here but rather the lesser of two evils. Ultimately, while the concerns listed by Insult and Triangles are perfectly valid, I side with ABR on this one.

From my perspective the new player that Insult/Triangles is trying to protect by not making their team public and letting them reuse it "safely" in actuality will be playing with a false sense of security a lot of the time by assuming the opponent does not know their team when in fact very often they will, which is even worse. I think it's a false assumption that only top players like the aforementioned ABR/Star examples have a vast network of information and can ask a friend of a friend of a friend what the person you're about to play against has been using. In this tight knit community many people are friends with many people and it'd be pretty darn easy in many cases to get the information you're looking for.

Not to get too off the rails, but as a somewhat related aside I'd also argue that we shouldn't try to go too far out of the way to protect new players who are entering tournaments and planning to reuse one or two teams over and over again. These are not the players that will be, or should be, winning tournaments and on principle it shouldn't be as easy as mindlessly playing the same squad over and over again every round and winning the tournament. At some point building, flexibility, surprising your opponent and understanding the tier you're playing outside of a very small group of Pokemon needs to be considered a core part of the game. We're doing new players a disservice in the medium to long term by enabling if not outright encouraging them to copy/paste a known team and play only that team over and over again safely in tournaments rather than actually learning and expanding their horizons.

At the end of the day I think everything public makes the most sense. If you're entering a tournament and are only capable of piloting two teams, don't enter tournaments. At least with all replays public everyone has access to the same information and things aren't even more inherently stacked in favor of the established, connected player any more than they already are.
 
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Yoda2798

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Please please dont do this. It just creates a stupid disadvantage if u ever wanted to reuse a team and ur opponent could just look at all ur sets. A huge part of the competitiveness of pokemon is the surprise factor of cool techs/sets and this only hurts that and punishes people who dont wanna build a million different teams. Having public replays in the later stages of a tour is fine enough for the spectators and given that this only affects like 3 tours idk why it should be changed now. About the whole information war thing, id like to hope the vast majority of ppl when a round comes out dont go contacting their opp's previous opp asking for their replays. Of course there are sweats who do this and hopefully those previous opponents dont give up the replays that easy but yeah I feel like this is a minor problem in the grand scheme of things. If anything id say this makes the information war even more skewed: newer players who arent as accustomed to building (if at all) want to reuse a team the whole tour but are immediately cted r2 by an opp who knows how to take advantage of the system. Also there are def alot of vets arent big on building and dont wanna make 3 teams every round (its exhausting to even make 1 imo).

The pros listed in the op are all quite lacking:
-in an ideal world it is fair yeah but reusing should not be punished and this will just lead to unfair and unbalanced information
-this one is fine i too love watching quality games
-the meta will develop anyway and all i see happening is more cting and less actual development coming from this
-ily adam but this one is just quite dumb idk why it was even listed (basically saying newer/more nervous players should be put at disadvantage).

The cons were slightly mentioned in the op but this post should hopefully add more detail as to why the problem of increased counter teaming outweighs all the pros that were listed. SOo yeah please dont do this, i know it sounds appealing to alot of you who want to watch as many quality games as possible but the competitive integrity should always be prioritized. I am also not a big fan of the olt format with sniping and such but that is more troublesome to solve.
I really disagree with this post. Competitive integrity is putting everyone on equal footing, which levelling the amount of information each player has clearly does. As has already been mentioned several times, public replays does not "create" a disadvantage to reusing teams, that disadvantage already exists, just disproportionately affecting different players currently. If you're using something for the first time then it still has the same surprise factor as before, if you've used it already then naturally there's less surprise to it as the result of reusing it (and again, people can still get the replays to know it right now anyways). People knowing the sets of a reused team isn't "unfair", that's the benefit of building you lose out on because you didn't put the effort in, which to me seems completely fair. What is unfair is right now one player can know the sets of the opponent's reused teams, just because of the connections they have, while the reverse might not be true. Saying it only affects 3 tours, or that most people don't go scouring for replays currently (which actually just means that this benefits the majority of people which is a good thing?), aren't great arguments against, this is still a positive change regardless.

If anything id say this makes the information war even more skewed: newer players who arent as accustomed to building (if at all) want to reuse a team the whole tour but are immediately cted r2 by an opp who knows how to take advantage of the system.
Using this argument against public replays is absurd. Players take advantage of the system right now to have a leg up against their opponent in information. Not only do they have more information, but their opponent might not even know they have that information, just as CALLOUS said. A new player has zero clue what tours players know who or likely even that replay sharing exists at all, meaning they will reuse teams with no idea their opponent has any knowledge of them. With public replays they at least know their opponents have access to that information and can act accordingly. If a player still doesn't want to build and keeps reusing the same couple of teams, leaving them open to being counter teamed, the information war is not skewed, that's a fault of the player's preparation, which as May mentioned is part of the game. At least they would have the option of prepping with that information in mind, even if not taken, where without public replays they would not, while their opponent still could either way.

Public replays have been a thing for forever in DOU tournaments and it's unanimously supported there for good reason. I can say any teambuilding concerns expressed in the thread haven't really proven to be the case here, people reuse teams, build teams, and use surprise factor sets all the time; if you want to do low effort prep and not be counter teamed then you can just reuse a wide enough variety of teams. On the other hand, building is still rewarded, and everyone has access to replays to help prepare specifically for their opponent, not just those with the right friends. Last year OSDT lacked public replays until top 16, and the DOU community had widespread complaints as a result; it's just a much worse experience for both players and spectators alike. There's no fundamental difference to the game with this change, just making the information wars which happen already more transparent and much fairer for those competing, with the perk of benefitting spectators too.
 

Merritt

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Speaking personally ect

I support this proposal, but would like to suggest that enforcing public replays only be required from Round 2 onward (of cups/opens ect, not skipping over Round 1 of playoffs) for two main reasons.

First is to make this more "fair", since not everybody has games in Round 1, and people who played a bye in Round 1 ideally shouldn't have an advantage going against their Round 2 opponent in the form of not having recent public replays. While there are still some free wins in Round 2, the number drops off dramatically when compared to Round 1 of a tour. This would only be exacerbated by proposal to increase the byes threshold.

The second reason is host friendliness. Even "small" tournaments have an incredibly large number of matchups in Round 1, a lot of which are for players who are unfamiliar with the rules or brand new to tournaments, and so are much more likely to just not have saved their replays. The number of people who hosts have to track down after they posted their win without replays is significantly more manageable in Round 2 onwards, both due to the lower number of games overall as well as the higher percentage of players who already know to save replays compared to those who skip over that line in the OP, no matter how big, bold, and red you make it.

There's some minor disadvantages to this (i.e. if a particularly exciting R1 matchup happens there might not be public replays), but I think these two benefits heavily outweigh them.
 

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I would like to point out that besides all the other positives being mentioned here, requiring replays allows for usage stats for the tournament to be gathered better. There is less bias towards users who are willing to share replays, and generally a greater quantity of information to use which is always good for stats.
 

cityscapes

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say what you will about team lifespans getting shorter, but this change does NOT require you to build more teams. quite the opposite: you have tons of replays from other users to go off. tons of functional teams that you can slightly tweak (switching around zmove on sm offense for example) if you're paranoid of your opp searching things up. people will be less tied to building than ever before, not to mention less reliant on being in cliques to get the hottest new teams. i appreciate this change cause it lowers the barrier to entry for the game.
 
Please please dont do this. It just creates a stupid disadvantage if u ever wanted to reuse a team and ur opponent could just look at all ur sets.
While I do understand your concern, the stupid disadvantage you speak of is not going to be fully addressed by simply not forcing public replays. Consider that:
  1. Players can still do this today. I can and have scouted sets during a match and I promise that I have no way of knowing if these were forced public replays or simply other replays.
  2. You can feasibly change movesets, pokemon, or core ideas at the last minute before going into a match. Forcing public replays does not eliminate the surprise factor altogether.
  3. Your opponent has equal chances of being counterteamed as you do, making it no longer "stupid" but a reward to someone's prep.
  4. Even if we force public replays (for tournaments only) it doesn't change the fact that you can play on an alt.

his only hurts that and punishes people who dont wanna build a million different teams.
Yes, this could hurt people who don't want to build a million different teams. But how exactly do you go about a constantly evolving metagame like modern generations or a rather stable old generation meta that requires players to build teams that have stood the test of time? Either way, players can get punished for using the same team for a number of reasons, or they can end up not getting punished at all because they will bring something solid. That's part of Pokemon, seeing if consistency can beat specific counterplay is always a treat to watch and I don't see this being skewed in one or another direction simply because of forced replays.

Having public replays in the later stages of a tour is fine enough for the spectators and given that this only affects like 3 tours idk why it should be changed now. About the whole information war thing, id like to hope the vast majority of ppl when a round comes out dont go contacting their opp's previous opp asking for their replays. Of course there are sweats who do this and hopefully those previous opponents dont give up the replays that easy but yeah I feel like this is a minor problem in the grand scheme of things. If anything id say this makes the information war even more skewed: newer players who arent as accustomed to building (if at all) want to reuse a team the whole tour but are immediately cted r2 by an opp who knows how to take advantage of the system. Also there are def alot of vets arent big on building and dont wanna make 3 teams every round (its exhausting to even make 1 imo).
I don't mean to be nitpicky for the sake of dismantling, I just think that this paragraph is sort of a sign of what counterteaming for the past couple of years has amounted to, not just an information war, but also a moment where players have to pass judgement on whether scouting is right or wrong, when it's so commonplace in other gaming communities and even in professional sports competitions to study the opponent's playstyle.
We can never know for sure if it is good or bad, but clearly having an opinion on players asking previous opponent's replays is so oddly specific and is more of a quirk of Showdown.

-in an ideal world it is fair yeah but reusing should not be punished and this will just lead to unfair and unbalanced information
-this one is fine i too love watching quality games
-the meta will develop anyway and all i see happening is more cting and less actual development coming from this
-ily adam but this one is just quite dumb idk why it was even listed (basically saying newer/more nervous players should be put at disadvantage).
By definition this will lead to a much more fair and balanced information war than with hidden replays that are never actually hidden anyways
 
Anyways I think I did a decent job at addressing some of the concerns. Now I'd like to mention what I think may be some unforseen benefits

  1. More balanced information on opponents rather than an information war like games are today.
  2. A much more insightful view in the development of a metagame thanks to SINGLES TOURNAMENT STATS.
  3. Much easier to find replays. It would be so much better for historical preservation purposes. (10 years from now, nobody will have to worry about finding out how ORAS Ubers is played today).
  4. Which also leads to a much easier time to find footage of replays for anyone at any time wishing to make the game more accessible through media
  5. More traction and attention towards all communities of online Pokemon battling in general. No more will people have to give up learning a lower tier for lack of replays.


One last thing. I do think that GameFreak actually implemented one rule for the VGC tournaments which may counteract some of the uncomfortable-ness of having publicly accessible replays. They require players to register their team for that tournament. I don't actually know if they can ever change it, but this pretty much makes it like Yugioh tournaments, where you have to go with what you registered upon signing up, and only side decking is allowed.
Either way in VGC (Please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong), you can't get counterteamed because you have to face a number of different opponents all throughout. Obviously this would affect the bracket and with how most matches require best of 3, perhaps would be a bit resistant to implementing right off the bat. IDK.
 

Quite Quiet

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I don't care much to argue for if people "desere" good teams they built or how much strain it would add to teambuilding (or wouldn't, as some people argue). A reality here is that right now, with the current rules, is that there's at least some every tour that are privated despite the requirement otherwise. We've been extremely lenient on this point in the past and only repeat-repeat offenders are warned/infracted. If this should be the default then we'd either need to be stricter here or remove all concept of unlisting replays permanently on tours. This would notably impact Smogon Tour / other live tours / circuits / unofficials that aren't listed as targets in the op.

Same problem apllies to main and private games but we can't just delete that from there.

It's just not realistic to have any other setup when the list of people who undo this for those that do it is me + merritt. If people want everything public there needs to also be somewhat of a consensus on how this should be implemented.
 
I do believe games must be played on smogtours only, with the possibility for every player to watch the live game.

Replays might be "unlisted" and shared to the Tournament Host/Tournament Directors through the lenght of the whole round being, and being published by the TD team/Tour Host on the Tournament Replay thread at the end of that specific round. This way, no one could virtually have a disadvantage because, unless you saw the game during its making, it could be like every game information is available at the same time for every player for that round. Either this or make them public whatsoever.

The only negative thing I may think about this is that the players could share the informations in a selective way (which is pretty much what we should avoid). If there's no way to work this out, then make them public so we can settle it out once and for all.

The point is, every official tournament game has to be public and their informations have to be shared to the site. It would be nice that every information could be shared at the same time. Having some private games is just a disadvantage against who shared their game.
The counterteam argument is bullshit and shouldn't be accounted on the decision, as players of official tournaments should be able to bring 3-4 teams at least that don't share the same counters, and they would be enough to not get hardpredicted on the preview. Also private games do not really ever stay private to anyone on the website, they eventually get shared but just to few people and this makes the information being selective which is plain unfair as it advantages just the few
 
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Merritt

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Thank you for your feedback. The TD team has decided to implement this for individual trophy tournaments starting with this year's OST. Replays of all games must be included in a player's winpost in order for their series to count. Replays will be required for Round 2 onwards.
 
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