Proposal Revisiting the timings of Smogon Tour

Dj Breloominati♬

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As we bid farewell to this iteration of the tour and I finally acquire the permissions to write in this subforum; I want to bring up a concern in regards to the tour setup and possible steps that can be taken to avoid it in the future. This is regarding Smogon Tour , one of the most prestigious and historical tournaments on this forum. Its format is clearly distinct and unique from your more standard tournaments, which is exactly what makes it so popular. The close proximity of games gives a plethora of competitive matches for spectators to watch, whilst allowing the players to play successive high calibre games without the need to wait several weeks. And obviously, with the tournament being in such a distinctive format, it’s been remodelled several times in the past few years in order to “perfect” it. Whether that be tiers or an increase in the number of tournaments in a week. But there’s one big flaw which has been brought up several times, yet keeps getting overlooked. Timings.


Addressing the elephant in the room, the current times are incredibly unsuitable for those in Asian and Oceanic time zones. Given the growth of these communities in recent times, it feels quite unfair to brush this legitimate concern aside.

Current Timings:

• 6 pm GMT -4 on Fridays
• 4 pm GMT -4 on Saturdays
• 2 pm GMT -4 on Sundays.

Translation to some Asian/Oceanic countries:

India: (3:30AM Saturday, 1:30AM Sunday and 11:30PM Sunday)
China: (6AM Saturday, 4AM Sunday, 2AM Monday)
Australia: (10AM Saturday, 8AM Sunday, 6AM Monday during their summer when daylight savings are reserved ; 8AM Saturday , 6AM Sunday , 4AM Monday otherwise)

Majority of these timings are very early in the morning, which collide with unavoidable activities such as sleep and work. And again, this is just a major inconvenience for most people. The only really “reasonable” time listed above is the Friday timing for Australia. You could make an argument for India’s Sunday timing being sensible, but a lot of these tours drag on for 2+ hours, and roughly lasting until 2AM, which interferes with the sleep schedule of many.

Growth of Asian Communities on Smogon:

Roughly 8 years have passed since the last change in tournament timings, around Season 14. Tony also made a thread concerning this topic roughly 3 years ago. Notable time has passed since both of these changes/proposals respectively, and Asian communities in particular have experienced significant growth. Several more Asian based teams are competing in the likes of WCoP and POWC, with the percentage of signups from Asian/Oceanic gradually increasing within recent times.

Although it is not by virtue of the timings alone , the representation of Asia + Oceania in ST has been skewed to a great extent in recent editions of the tour. I have compiled the data of the qualifiers of the past 5 seasons in order to get my point across more directly / visually :-
Screen Shot 2021-06-02 at 7.35.03 PM.png


Proposal:

There has been a substantial growth of Asian communities within Smogon since previous proposals of changing the times. Right now, it is practically impossible for anyone living in Asian/some Oceanic countries to compete. It wouldn’t be fair to neglect these growing communities and persist with these inconvenient timings, especially when this is the only official tournament which occurs twice a year. A participant from the US has three suitable timings to choose from, whilst only being allowed to select a maximum of two. Asian/Oceanic communities virtually have 0, which honestly should not be the case for a tournament that occurs as frequently as this one
.
I’d like to make a proposal for the change in the existing timings to (one of) the following:

•9PM GMT -4 on Fridays
• 5AM GMT -4 on Saturdays
• 1PM GMT -4 on Sundays.

Conversions:

For Friday:



For Saturday:



















For Sundays:





This proposal aims to give 2 reasonable times for each “major” timezone to attend. Albeit some time zones have more favourable times to attend, it is still way more inclusive than previously. The screenshots above aid to help visualisation, so the dates can be ignored.

UTC-7: 6PM and 10AM are reasonable.
UTC-4: 9PM and 1PM are reasonable.
UTC-3: 10PM and 2PM are reasonable.
UTC+1: 10AM and 6PM are reasonable.
UTC+2: 11AM and 7PM are reasonable.
UTC+5:30: 2:30PM and 10:30PM are reasonable.
UTC+8: 5PM and 9AM are reasonable.
UTC+10: 11AM and 7PM are reasonable.



These are obviously some significant, imperfect suggestions. And in a hypothetical, reasonable, situation where a time change is seriously considered, these should be further discussed, even if they’re not as significant. Any change should be changed, especially if it can benefit growth by catering to quite a growing playerbase.


The other proposal is potentially having different times for each smogon tournament season. One that caters to the wider demographic, whereas the other one caters to the current demographic. With a tournament that is as unique and frequent as this, there shouldn’t be a reason for those with unfavourable time zones should suffer by not being able to participate.


Time changes are something that have been discussed in the past, and with the constant growth of Asian communities, I feel like something, however small, should be considered.
 
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Oglemi

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I've been a big proponent of making one of the two Tours we have each year being Asian-centric. You always run into the "well, is there enough people to justify it" questions, but it's rather difficult to get an actual idea if you never run a tour during a string of times that works for them.

We did try catering saturday mornings(?) I believe for a couple years, but what really needs to happen is a full run. Hopefully we're in a place to give this a chance.
 

Aurora

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I remember starting out on Smogon and wanting to join Smogon Tours but finding it really difficult to motivate myself to wake up before 8AM at the latest on a weekend to load up Pokemon Online and get knocked out in the first round. Friday 10AM, the least frustrating option for Australians, was out of the question at the time because I had school. This is coming from someone who lives in a part of Australia which has the most "ahead" timezone, too. Someone in Perth, which shares a timezone with the Philippines and parts of Indonesia, would as it stands have to join the 8AM Friday tournament, which is even worse, and the further back you go timezone-wise it continues to get more and more prohibitive (up to a point, I guess, but...). Something like this would be a great change for Australian hopefuls too.
 

Batzi

Banned deucer.
As an Australian, I believe there should be some time that caters to Oceanic countries as well as some Asian countries in similar shoes to us. I only attended one Smog Tour just because I happened to be up early for an auction PL I was managing in. Other than that one very rare opportunity, I am not able to easily attend Smog Tours, and if I am, I would most likely be to disorientated to make logical plays when I have just woken up. I am not just saying this for myself, but also for some of my friends and my tutees who want to improve at the game, but they are unable to get much tournament practice because they can't wake up at those times to play. It honestly gives those in other timezones a bit of unfair advantage because they get to play the better players more often in turn gaining experience but us Oceania and Asian dwellers do not get.

Possibly one solution to this as someone said above is to host one day that is on a weekend but also during +10 afternoon (around 3 or 4?) which will allow Asians to join as well as the Americans who are daring enough to stay up and wait for it. However I can also see how this is unfair for European and some South American countries.

I should add that a total of 47 people received a group DM for Oceania WCop tryouts with some people who haven't identified their countries left out meaning that there is well over 47 people who are from Oceania as well as the existing roster. Additionally ( devin might be able to confirm) Asia had plenty of players trying out for their World Cup as well as China and India who come in large numbers. In saying this, I do not think this is an issue of trying to find "numbers" in Smog Tours.
 
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agree with OP, timings should definitely change. Just have a different proposal:

Remove the tour on Friday entirely. The Friday timing is pretty awful for just about everyone - it historically has the least signups for a reason. The west/midwest people are at work/just getting done with classes, the east people are just getting home for work/have been at home for a bit but have two pretty fantastic timings on the weekend they will generally be able to join, the Europeans obviously prefer the Saturday and Sunday timings, and the Friday time doesn't even translate remotely well to the Asian/Oceanic countries barring some places in Australia, which is still pretty early for most people to be waking up on a Saturday for pokemon.

I think the Friday tour should be moved to 6-7am eastern on Saturday. 6am translates to 3:30pm Indian standard time, 6pm China time, and somewhere around 7-9pm Australian times, which are all very reasonable times. I don't think the other two timings should change considering they still cater to the large majority of the Smogon population. This would give everyone everywhere at the very least one very reasonable time which I think is a fair place to start.
 
I'm sure that I've discussed about this topic looong time ago (couldn't find anything on forums so it shoulda been happened on discord, maybe), proposing to take advantage of the 3x3 format to make timings suitable for all the 3 "major timezones", which are: Americas, EU/Africa, Asia/Oceania.

There were two ways to make it happen:

Having one day more suitable for each timezone (e.g. Friday EU/Af, Saturday US/LA, Sunday AS/OC); these days can be rotated weekly in order to accomodate any possible issue with a specific day. This proposal might sound a bit confusing since there's no way to get players used to it, due to its "volatile" scheduling. On a side note, this also may "nerf" every player's changes to increase their points weekly since, on average, everyone would have only one day per week perfectly suitable for them (this may be adjusted finding timings that can work for 2/3 timezones tho, like current Sunday for EU/Af and US/LA);

Having one week per gen more suitable for each timezone; issues are similar to the ones of the first proposal, just less spreaded throughout time.

I don't know which one looks better, nor if both suck, just they seemed quite fine for me in order to make everyone have a fair timing at least once per week/once per gen.

I remember I had proposed this because, as European player, I was tired of having to play either on late night (friday), to stay at home on sat evening or to play on dinner time (sunday); I've been told the community was too much US centered to make that happen, since we would had too much difference in joining between different timings, and we had proof of that during that one experiment to accomodate Asian/Oceanian players.
This, however, happened several years ago, and things seem to have slightly changed now, just not sure on what extent.
I believe that either one of the two proposal could get a chance, and that these look quite more comfortable instead of having two whole seasons with different timings because, of the three timezones, there will be always one having to play on unsuitable timings. Sure, one can always try to wake up on Sunday morning to play Pokemon or to stay up late on Friday (let alone hosting lol), but I think that it would be way more acceptable if it's not the "set in stone standard".

I don't even play OU anymore and I think that even the "Two timings Seasons proposal" would eventually be acceptable (just a bit worse than these but it's just my personal opinion), so well, that's just my two cents.
 
With growing communities in the historically "minority timezones," the proposed change seems logical to me. Based on my 4+ years of experience advertising various Smogon tournaments within the Chinese communities, STour has always been the least popular one due to the timezone. (Literally maybe 1 or 2 players signed up despite my hundred bucks prize pool vs. Several dozens signups for OLT or OST, for example.)

So I'm here to show support to the OP on behalf of the Chinese community. Our community started from a two-tour-per-year server to today's 2000+ user (although the real number is much lower due to retirement and lurking) community with Circuit and Team tournaments all around the year. Even though on average Chinese community players are nowhere near the skill level of top tournament players on Smogon, I see the participation of STour as a great growing / improving opportunity for underrepresented communities in this tour (us alongside Indian / Asian / Oceanian to name a few). And I believe this change is also theoretically beneficial for the long-term development of the tournament community as a whole.

In terms of the implementation detail of the change, I think the OP's proposal is very well-thought-out, whereas I can see Chaitanya's proposal as a smaller and very likely much easier step to take atm.
 

Luigi

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if the td team decides to do something about this for tour 32 it should be with the mindset and expectation that it's a test run and that if signup numbers are significantly lower in the changed time that it would change back to the old format in tour 33.

i say this because the td team has tried this experiment before in 2016 and it lead to significantly lower signups, though to be fair the experiment was aborted after 2 weeks iirc, and a full season would be a more expressive sample size to see if it works or not.
 

abd1710

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if the td team decides to do something about this for tour 32 it should be with the mindset and expectation that it's a test run and that if signup numbers are significantly lower in the changed time that it would change back to the old format in tour 33.

i say this because the td team has tried this experiment before in 2016 and it lead to significantly lower signups, though to be fair the experiment was aborted after 2 weeks iirc, and a full season would be a more expressive sample size to see if it works or not.
After a detailed scout, I could only find these 2015 tours with a diff timing ORAS and BW which were hosted at 8 PM GMT -4 on Fridays (2 hours later than the regular time lol). This results in 5 AM (Pakistan), 5:30 AM (India), 8 AM (China) and 10 AM (Australia). This timing doesn't provide good time options for Asians at all and shouldnt be used as an example for last time change failure.

The SmogTour timing which we follow today (2PM-4PM-6PM) was decided back in 2012. It should be noted that the playerbase was still predominantly American at this time, much more so than now. This is also why there were barely any complaints. The situation is quite different today, Asia and Oceania have evolved into much bigger communities and it is time they get their due recognition.
 

IPF

sundown
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As someone who has played a lot of Smogon Tour in the past year from an entirely unviable timezone (+5.5) I thought I'd quickly voice some concerns I have with this proposed change that I initially brought up in the SmogTours discord, but figured putting it here would make more people aware of it.

First off, I'm heavily biased in saying I would like the timings to change, waking up/staying up until 3:30 AM/1:30 AM is not a pleasant experience, losing early sucks because it means you've wasted the effort of staying up, winning and going deep sucks because you end up ruining your sleep and generally being miserable the next day. Revised timings would be fantastic, especially considering the growth of communities outside of the US in the 6 years since the last attempt at this.

The issue I can potentially see happening is the ease of attaining points in the tours aimed at Asia/Oceania timezones. I mean no offence by this, but the US playerbase is outright stronger than that of ours, making those tours more competitive compared to one that would have primarily Asian/Oceanic players and thus harder to get points in. Would that be an unfair disadvantage to American players? Could an American player on the verge of qualification sign up for the Asia-friendly tour in order to farm points? I think these are things that need to be taken into consideration.

Overall, I like Chaitanya's proposal the most, since it's more friendly to our European friends as well (they seem to be forgotten in these talks), and it being a trial run for this season also seems to be the most fair. Just wanted to make these concerns visible.
 
As an Indian,I definitely believe there should be changes to the timings of Smogon Tours.While I very much like the OP’s proposal, since it didn’t find enough takers among the Europeans and Americans I would like to propose a slightly different schedule.

-Friday: 10 PM UTC-4
-Saturday: 1PM UTC-4 ( 1:30 PM might also be fine )
-Sunday: 8AM UTC-4 (8:30 AM or 9AM might also be fine)

It should be a bit more convenient than the OP’s for the Europeans and American time zones.This proposal gives

UTC-4: 10 pm and 1pm are reasonable, even 8 AM should be possible for some
UTC-7: 7:pm and 10am are reasonable
UTC-3: 3PM Is ideal.One of 11PM and 9AM should also be reasonable
UTC+1: 6:PM and 1PM are reasonable.
UTC+2: 7PM and 2PM are reasonable.
UTC+5.5: 5:30PM and 10:30PM are reasonable
UTC+8: 10AM and 8PM are reasonable.
UTC+10: 12 noon and 10PM are reasonable.


Obviously this is not that big of a change from the OP’s so If Chaitanya ’s proposal is the preferred one I would like to propose a small change in that if possible, to switch the timings on Saturday and Sunday.


2pm GMT-4 on Saturday allows players from the Indian Subcontinent who can stay up late to play the tour as the next day is an holiday, while the same time on Sunday doesn’t allow it as most people have school/work/college on Monday.Personally I would definitely stay up late on Saturday while I cannot do so on Sunday.It is a very small change for which I cannot think of any repercussions but would allow a few more players to play the tour.
 
I'm a fan of Chait's proposal, as well as two different timings for each season. But I just want to build upon Chait's proposal a bit.

I totally agree with the proposal of the Friday tournament being removed and rescheduled to an Asian/Oceanic friendly-time on Saturday. However, when it comes to players from these timezones who genuinely want to attempt to qualify for Smogon Tour, they're still quite unfavoured, given they can realistically attend 1 tournament per week, whereas Americans/Europeans still have 2. So building upon this, why not remove the Friday tour, and have 2 tournaments on both Saturday and Sunday? One with the current timings, and the others that are more catered to Asia Pacific timezones. You'd still limit players to joining 2 tournaments per week maximum, whilst being much fairer overall. Americans/Europeans aren't drastically affected, and people from Asian/Oceanic timezones have a much fairer shot at qualifying.

Obviously, the main issue with this proposal is perhaps finding suitable/enough hosts for the new timings, but it's tough to say without trying, since you'd also get people from the Asian/Oceanic timezones potentially wanting to host, who usually aren't able to signup. And even in a situation where a trial run is given, and 4 tournaments ends up feeling a bit excessive, the less active of the 2 new times can be removed for next season. Again, this is assuming the hypothetical trial run is even semi-successful. Regardless, any change to cater to these demographics would be a start
 

Boat

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Smogon Tour 32 will have its Friday afternoon tournaments rescheduled to Saturday, 6 AM Eastern Time. This is an experiment, and if it doesn't work well, we will revert back to the Friday afternoon time in following seasons.
 
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freezai

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We have tried and unfortunately found out that the Friday time is not working as we expected it to. The very low number of signups from the previous two Friday tours do not just make the Smogon Tour experience worse for spectators - they also do not help the players at all. Using one of your 2 tournaments/week in a very small tournament may very well set oneself in a worse scenario for qualification, and we may see even smaller tournaments later in this Season as joining the Friday tournament might very well become a liability to players in contention for playoffs.

The early Saturday tours help an entire demographic actually play Smogon Tour. For example, ever since I started using this website, the smogon tours were always 11:30 PM, 1:30 AM, and 3:30 AM, basically unplayable for anyone who lives in Asia. For the first time, I, and many others, were finally able to play Smogon Tour. But, after two weeks, that time was replaced by a time that has even less signups!

I request the TDs to bring back the early Saturday tours ( ftr I think they can be a few hours later ) and abandon the failing Friday tours.


tldr early sat more signups than friday. also early sat means asia isnt locked out from Smogon Tour
 

Finchinator

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I do not care what is done for the rest of this season at this point, but the best ultimate solution for the "third" time (really the first time each week) is going back to Saturday and finding a time later than 6am GMT-4 that is still well before the 4pm time. Sometime like 10am or 11am GMT-4 Saturday would likely fit the bill (even 9am if that works better for the Asian community -- idk timezones perfectly). I think this will solve a lot of problems, even if some compromising will be required.

Friday tour is not the worst thing ever, but it is not optimal. Friday is not nearly as bad as people are making it out to be today or recently -- nobody had any adjustment time and changes like this mid-season are unprecedented, but they still were the least popular tournaments for a while and a 64 man tournament is a pretty tough sell regardless. It's a cool time for me personally and I have loved Friday tournaments for years, but as a frequent participant, I can also admit when something feels a tad off. Friday gives out 2-3 less points than weekend tours sometimes, any European playing is basically forced to stay up to ungodly hours if they get far, and it is far less spectator friendly than weekend tours in general.

Saturday 6am tour is ideal to a vocal demographic, but that demographic is not enough when it cuts out a ton of players and did not seem to get the ideal outcome in practice either. It was an interesting idea that would be better with an adjustment to a slightly later time like I alluded to above. We hardly even had hosts for this 6am time and a lot of the communities that protested for it to begin with had a pretty mixed showing in terms of sign-ups.

Given this, a few hours later than 6am on Saturday lets you still do 2 Saturday tournaments, but also finds the best middleground.
 

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