Proposal SPL Format Discussion

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DrReuniclus

Smogon's full of bullies.
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Hey some of you don't know me, but that's ok its nice to meet you! Let me preface this on the fact that this post may fall on deaf ears and may be completely off topic and worth deleting, but I just wanted to share what I found on a larger scale and thought this could be an outlet. There have been points where I saw people say both that smogon is growing in tournament representation in threads like WCOP and shrinking when talking to other people individually and something people have posted here. I was generally curious about what it actually was early last year, so I did an analysis trying to simulate the number of signups in different tournaments by using some python code to parse the number of replies on the sign up threads of certain tournaments (filling in manually anything I couldn't get the darn thing to work on) and convert it to csv to make some graphs. Some of the biggest problems with these would be people deleting sign ups/ posts over time, people posting in as sub in the round 1 thread and shitposting especially in some 2015ish threads. Some of these graphs are still a little unclean too, but I'm not getting paid to do this. Anyways, this is what I ended up coming up with:
1604771902808.png

This is the overall number of replies for major individual trophy tournaments consisting of OST, Grand Slam, Classic, Smogon Tour and OLT. There still needs a few more days worth for Smogon Tour 2020 H2 to end and it could make small difference based on it having the largest total replies. However, as you can see, individuals saw a general increase until 2018 where they peaked out across most individuals and saw a subsequent decrease in 2019 with a slight recovery in 2020. Overall, less people are signing up individually than those had in 2018 and there are not the growth rates seen previously.
1604772652443.png


OSTGrand SlamClassicSTOLTTotal
2015​
621​
1976​
1264​
6078​
2834​
12773​
2016​
1,011​
2996​
1473​
5312​
2584​
13376​
2017​
896​
4406​
1527​
7511​
2263​
16603​
2018​
2653​
4127​
2592​
8896​
1870​
20138​
2019​
1868​
3067​
2264​
7956​
1916​
17071​
2020​
1711​
3041​
2426​
8804​
1632​
17614​
When breaking it out by individuals you can see the largest decreases from the 2018 value to 2019 in Grand Slam and Smogon Tour (which is only largest due to reply values I set up by half) with everything decreasing that year aside from OLT which saw 46 more replies across its threads. 2019 to 2020 saw its increase largely due to Smogon Tour increasing back up and classic seeing 162 higher reply number than the previous year.
1604773442149.png

While looking at overall team tournament growth based on reply numbers to sign up threads, SSD saw the initial surge of being a new tournament in 2017 and decreased largely into 2018 with things being relatively consistent and less hyped than the other two tournaments as commonly spoken about and seen with the decreased signups. SPL is close to a zero growth tournament over the past 5 years with no more than 652 replies and no less than 595 replies. My best guess for WCOP is people largely decide teams prior to the tournament so people pretty much know if they are participating beforehand signing up opposed to previously in 2015 when more people thought they had a chance to make a team and try out. Also more shitposting in 2015 wcop sign ups. From the looks of it, people don't really want to grow team tours whatsoever to keep things more competitive.
1604773983538.png


RBY CupGSC CupADV CupDPP CupBW Cup
2015​
179​
173​
247​
334​
331​
2016​
250​
235​
248​
367​
373​
2017​
255​
241​
338​
363​
330​
2018​
438​
391​
491​
573​
699​
2019​
374​
366​
482​
531​
511​
2020​
403​
402​
527​
553​
541​

Next I'll move onto classic because its probably most relevant to most people still reading. Honestly, I can't really see the convincing of calling RBY a dead tier without calling GSC one too because RBY has been getting slightly more sign ups throughout the years than it. Still averaging about 100 less than the other three, ADV, DPP, BW. But to me if you want to call RBY a dead tier you'd probably have to call GSC it too in a numbers game. Additionally, you can slightly contribute the increased numbers in stuff like BW due to the order that the threads are posted in with the initial hype being there. Otherwise, 2018 saw the largest overall classic playing numbers with a slight increase from 2019 to 2020 after the 2018 to 2019 drop.
1604774403368.png


UU OpenRU OpenNU OpenLC OpenDoubles OpenUbers OpenPU Open
2015​
494​
336​
285​
381​
217​
263​
2016​
601​
484​
448​
397​
311​
388​
367​
2017​
1023​
869​
1025​
687​
802​
2018​
1032​
831​
758​
719​
787​
2019​
697​
628​
584​
517​
641​
2020​
648​
714​
594​
540​
545​
As for lower tiers, They saw a much more significant drop in 2018 to 2019, while seeing only a slight increase in 2020. Overall between UU, RU, NU and LC they saw around a 27% drop on average from 2018 to 2019. However, looking at the overall values, they are still higher on average than what's available for classic and always have been generally. Still not current gen OU numbers however.

Next will be OU stuff and an extra lower tier one so I'll put that into another spoiler for those of you who don't care.

1604776470534.png


Cycle 1Cycle 2Cycle 3Cycle 4Cycle 5Cycle 6Cycle 7Cycle 8
2015​
777​
425​
304​
258​
259​
262​
250​
299​
2016​
691​
479​
353​
347​
276​
254​
184​
2017​
1007​
505​
423​
328​
2018​
695​
435​
395​
345​
2019​
723​
455​
373​
365​
2020​
567​
435​
350​
280​

OLT saw a peak in 2017 different compared to most of the 2018 peaks, but has decreased going from 2019 to 2020 in almost all cycles. Don't really have much else to say on it other than the obvious decrease in participants cycle after cycle.


Here's the biggie in Smogon Tour with all the data broken out over the past 5 years.

1604777084819.png


Honestly, when I originally looked into this in 2020h1, I thought this would easily break the 2019 record and make up for all of 2019/2020's activity losses, but 2020h2 almost saw as poor data as 2017h1 thus far. If there was a smogon tour in recent history to go for to get there with the least amount of wins necessary, Finchinator, this most recent one would be it. Also, I can't post to overall because its too much data, but 2020h1 was easily the largest, while 2018 to 2019 decrease was seen on both halves. You can see the overall 2018 to 2019 decrease better in the below graphs and the wide range that is 2020 tournaments.

Here's the same data but in year form instead of half:

1604777906138.png


1604777920528.png


Finally, we have the lower tier premier leagues fun stats!

1604778349870.png


OUPLUUPLRUPLPUPLLCPLDPLMPLUPLNUPLROAPL
2015​
177​
185​
177​
86​
170​
229​
199​
2016​
208​
176​
151​
169​
143​
188​
198​
157​
2017​
303​
257​
185​
161​
182​
179​
532​
202​
245​
225​
2018​
286​
220​
168​
156​
187​
110​
171​
208​
284​
201​
2019​
300​
261​
175​
216​
184​
126​
296​
194​
196​
247​
2020​
231​
236​
184​
204​
177​
100​
321​
179​
185​
225​

MPL had an outlier in 2017 due to both having probably the largest of these types of tournaments with their playerbase size and because they posted a lot of details in that one thread as well. Ironically, for other forum pls, 2018 had a below average showing for the timeframe for most of the tours (aside from NUPL) which was the highest average for the overall.

Going back to the main points of the thread, I understand the want to cut more tiers in both lower tiers and old gens keep things more competitive for those playing in the tour, but in doing this realize you are going to get less and less people who care about and participate in your community just due to the lack of things to do and this is in part why there have been stagnant sign up amounts. From the way I see most tournament discussions go its a want for competitiveness vs inclusivity and it has shown in the past few years that the goal is peak competition in these tournaments by the majority of the players and spl sign up numbers. The tournament numbers have, to me, hit a carrying capacity based on available things to do. If you're fine with the site not growing for the sake of more competitive current tournaments, that is your choice to make. Please just do not say that the smogon tournament community is growing with the current way of doing things, especially since this decision is bound to upset a decent subset of players based on the two options being looked at. To me it looks like it isn't and this will further decline participation and getting new players involved and if you can prove otherwise, I'd really want to see it non-sarcastically. I can't judge whether or not decreasing the number of slots actually makes it more competitive, but I will leave that for someone else to argue.
tl;dr: This post is kind of off topic and little rushed because I can't spend all weekend writing a pokemon post. These graphs have reply numbers to sign up amounts to look at growth, there are people who can code better than me and put more time into this than me for finding statistical values to weigh things better and parse signups better with cleaner graphs, but I would at least want to get thoughts on current numbers. Sign ups across tours are pretty stagnant over the past three years and I worry this could make it even worse, but I know this is not a problem to some people who play this game. If this gets one person smarter than me to figure out how to analyze it better, I'd be happy I posted. Feel free to delete this if its too off topic, but I do think sign up numbers and tournament activity are worth looking at. I don't follow enough trophy tour games on this site anymore to care where the decision goes, but I enjoy looking at data and wanted to give some thoughts on what I found. Also, don't just believe my write ups and make your own conclusions! I really just wanted to show some numbers I found here.
 

BKC

loose
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If the site (by which I assume you mean tournament scene) isn't growing, it's not because SPL isn't inclusive enough, it's because it's not given sufficient exposure. If you really want to expand the tour scene, then you can do so by advertising it through Pokemon Showdown (and other avenues, but mainly PS). So many people on Showdown don't have a clue what Smogon is, and small side-blurbs that link to forums aren't going to solve that. You would need to make it as idiot-proof as possible, with as many instantly understandable explanations and links, as people don't like navigating forums in the age of Discord. If your goal genuinely is tour expansion, then this is the direction to look in.

The tour scene is not going to be expanded because SPL is more inclusive. The onus is not on our most elite tournament to compromise its competitiveness for the sake of...getting more signups from people who otherwise wouldn't be aware of the tournament's existence? What does that even do? Nobody is going to pick someone whose name isn't known. If there's some secret Showdown ladder hero that needs to be made aware of SPL, then a manager who knows who they are will reach out to them and ask them to sign up. Drawing in random extra signups for the sake of it achieves nothing in and of itself.

If you want to make people more aware of tours and thus SPL, great - you can do that with advertising all year round. I also seriously doubt anyone who sees SPL and is inspired enough to want to get good enough to join is going to be persuaded one way or another by the tier selection (or amount of slots per team, for that matter) - most people are most interested in some form of OU. If a certain lower tier is that important to them, then Snake will be the tournament they're most driven to become good enough for, once again because the year-round advertising will make them aware of it. (They'll join Slam as a result, too.)

SPL shouldn't be our most elite tournament just by default - we should work towards making it premier in its quality rather than just its name. Making it more inclusive directly works against this because there absolutely are not enough quality players to consistently fill out tier pools. I don't pretend this is solely a lower tier issue because old gens have had similar problems. In my opinion, there should only be eight teams in SPL. With only eight players in a pool, you remove the weakest slots that otherwise would not be in the tournament (usually tier specialists who are chosen not for their proven skill at the game but because they know the metagame). This significantly increases game quality while not excluding anyone who deserves to be in the tournament (especially since there's midseason for anyone who may have been initially overlooked).

Regarding best of three: I absolutely support (certain) slots being bo3. As an aside, RBY isn't bo3 because lol hax (every tier is heavily influenced by RNG), it's because teambuilding in it is not as prep-intensive (I'm not saying RBY teambuilding doesn't exist or isn't high-level, I absolutely believe in both - it's just generally more easy to put things together and also to re-use in such a small meta), which means preparing for a best of 3 isn't as intense each week. I think a good argument can be made for old gens - they're more established. I realize that doing so in the current generation that is still being discovered would be a lot more strenuous. Thus, I would propose a compromise where old gens are bo3 for similar reasons to RBY. I'd be interested to see what others would think of this.

Finally, I absolutely support a Tour tiers bo3 slot, that sounds like a terrific idea.
 

Earthworm

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Rather than just liking the posts I agree with, just wanna say that I wholefully agree with prestige of the tournament being associated with the number of OU slots, don't have arguments to add though.

I also think Bo3 increases consistency and competitivity across the board but I doubt it would be accepted as the norm because people really like the idea of preparing and teching it up for a single game.

The way I see the game, players who regulary build and play would get rewarded by coming in the tournaments with teams ready and tested while coming up with new things here and there, meaning they'd always have a stash of teams ready to play a Bo3. I also reckon that it's probably more exciting to watch Bo1s in general though and it's also easier to schedule/complete this way.
This sums up my opinion pretty well. Also, I never liked the idea of the Snake tour, but now that it exists, I don't think SPL really needs lower tiers (and vice versa, lower tiers don't need SPL).

Here is a survey that I made out of interest in the topic of perceived prestigiousness: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HWSQTP7
(I'm sure there are a lot of tours missing from this... the fact that I'm certain this is the case just goes to show the insane number of tours that happen on Smogon these days!)


I also think that Hogg's suggestion is pretty good so it's a shame it hasn't been pushed for harder by the TD team.
 

Sjneider

swag to the yolo
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Firstly, I just wanna say its really easy (and happens way too often really) to disregard points/posts made from LT “mainers” just bc the overall community view them as inferior to OU players when it comes to skill. So take it from someone who plays both LTs and OU to a decent enough level imo, I agree that tournaments in general, but especially SPL, should be focused on competition. You want the best of the best playing and the only way you attract the cream of the crop is by making the tournament as competitive as possible.

I also like to think that I’m not really biased towards one or the other, I play NU for snake and OU for WCOP, SPL just bc I like switching it up to keep it interesting for myself not because I am more drawn to one or the other. If axing lower tiers will make SPL as competitive as it can be, then I am all for it.

HOWEVER, in the case that we DO go with including lower tiers in SPL, I just wanna add that we should 100% lock the tiers for the entire tournament, playoffs included. I see a lot of people driving the same point regarding competition for SPL and tier locking is THE way to make it as competitive as possible in my opinion. As someone who’s playing a Lower Tier this Snake, building for this tour has been such a headache. I went in to this tournament with the expectation that tiers were going to be locked (the way it should be) and that turned out to be the opposite. I had to build for 3, 4, different metas? I don’t even remember anymore. This isn’t even about like being lazy and recycling. You just cannot tell me that having to learn a new meta for what seemed like every week is competitive. There is just no way that anyone has the time every week to grasp a completely new meta and build a good team in just under a week’s time.

You might be wondering who cares? Why is building current NU Snake relevant to the SPL format discussion? Well, the answer is if there are going to be constant tier shifts for lower tiers in SPL like this Snake, there is absolutely no way in hell I would want to touch LTs and I’m sure a lot of LT players feel the same way. And I mean if we were to include LTs in SPL, we might as well make it as competitive as possible, right?
 
The primary issue at hand with revamping the SPL format about a month before signups go live lies in last years drafting and the promises of this year's SPL having lower tiers/doubles. The better managers of last year made investments on players with the intentions of being able to retain players to play lower tiers for them, so they should not be shafted for making wise investments (looking at the BIGs wtf are those retains). Not only that, but those prepared to manage this year should have already finished scouting their lower tier players through the lower tier circuits that basically run from SPL a to SPL b. Changing SPL now would also be unfair to the lower tier/doubles players who worked hard in their respective PLs, seasonals, etc. to have the chance at playing on the big stage (snake is not the big stage). No format changes can justifiably be made for SPL XII as the format was defined before drafting even started last year, end of story.

However, the easy solution is to make two SPLs. Spring (northern hemisphere) SPL would keep the same format of old gens and OU being the focus of the tournament, and we would be able to have the more exclusive 10-slot SPL (3 OU, 7 OGs or 2/7/BO3) that has been talked up numerous times in this thread alone. Fall SPL would simply do the inverse, 4 OU, DOU, 5 lower tiers. Lower tier/doubles players looking to prove themselves throughout the tournament cycle to be SPL quality will keep their ability to do-so by gunning for this Fall SPL, while finding a middle ground of balance between the tiers being played at a given time. Inclusion for everyone while offering exclusion at the same time.

Introducing a Fall SPL would frankly fix all of the issues that are being pointed out with snake by giving the tournament a universally-agreed upon better drafting format and it would give us a chance to fix the dreaded-franchise issue that has been plaguing the community since Snake 1. Perhaps the 10 team-name lineup that is used in SPL could even be transferred over to Fall SPL just to drive home the “brand recognition”. Looking even further down the line, a retain system could be developed to allow the two tournaments to work even more closely hand-in-hand, but that would be getting far ahead of just fixing the issues in the first place.

The main logistical issues that would need to be sorted out are the tournament name (continue counting SPLs vs. original tournament title) and putting a nail in the team-name coffin.

TL;DR I don’t want to be named an astoria or a taipan just make me a shark for crying out loud
 
Last edited:
yo, I'm not going to engage in the lower tiers vs. old gens debate (weird, I know) because ultimately that comes down to whatever people value the most between inclusivity and competitivity, and that's a debate which has existed since the dawn of time by now, and I highly doubt I'd be able to add anything meaningful or fresh to it. Honestly, rozes and Fear holding hands sounds pretty fucking wholesome, I like it!

Instead, I'm posting because I've seen something in this thread which I thought was extremely interesting, and I'm afraid it's likely to get lost in discussion when it deserves to be discussed instead. I'm referring to BKC's suggestion of cutting down the number of teams in SPL. If you value competitivity above all, I think trimming the bottom of every pool matters more than deciding whether we'll be watching RBY or PU games for SPL 12 (RBY is fine and honestly very fun. PU might also be, IDK, I'm kind of a boomer now, but that's besides the point). However, even when you exclude that side of things, this change would also improve a bunch of other aspects related to the tournament (IMHO). For starters, a reduced number of teams would make it so tournament direction doesn't have to reach the point where their manager picks boil down to the lesser of two evils due to the lack of depth in the manager pool (I have no idea whether this is an issue or not anymore, but it very much used to be in the past, you can trust me on this one). Besides this, less weeks in regular season would cut down the amount of weeks some teams have to sit around doing nothing because they were either eliminated too soon or qualified too early, which might not be the #1 thing to solve right now, but it could potentially improve commitment issues by some individiuals and teams. It's true that people will care about irrelevant series in Week 7 as much as they've cared about irrelevant series in Week 9 up until now, but cutting down on potential dead time is honestly a great quality of life improvement for SPL, even if the basis for this idea doesn't make as much sense from an inclusivity standpoint.

Seen a bunch of other interesting arguments by other people (e.g. z0mOG's perception that we should reward people for binning a tour by making "Long Term Investments". I worded it in a rude way, but I think it makes some sense to a degree, especially the part where you talk about how these discussions always happen so close to the tournament's beginning), but nothing else that I think I could expand upon.

Hoping that you guys have a fruitful discussion :spheal:
 
In regards to snake I think changing the format to an auction will give teams way more identity. The nature of the snake draft kind of prevents teams forming identities as easily they do in spl (shady sharks, cocky tyrants,boomer tigers etc). I also think rby should be removed from the tournament circuit completely. That tier is a disgrace to competition and I would rather see 1000x nu games before watching my team play an rby game, and I teamed with the best rbyer ever for 2 seasons. In regards to removing teams, there is no reason to think that shitty managers will somehow learn how how to draft with two less teams. This could be worth testing out, if anything a 4/6 team spl might be better because at this point it’s genuinely very hard not to have stacked team.
 

Finchinator

Bring back manly men
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While this thread is geared towards the format of SPL, I think it's important that we take a step back and look at the entire official team tournament circuit, which some prior posts have already done a great job with. To expand on this, if we change SPL, then we must look at how that impacts the balance of the official circuit as a whole and assure representation for active playerbases.

I agree with the notion that SPL should be an OU focused tournament, but not necessarily because old generations are objectively better than lower tiers or because lower tiers are objectively uncompetitive formats. Neither of these claims are entirely true and people who are trying to force narratives involving these claims should reconsider. It should be an OU focused tournament because it already is (close enough to being) one every year a new generation is released and the systematic inconsistency projects forward poorly for a tournament we claim to be our most prestigious. I believe that SPL having a non-constant format (due to generational shifts) detracts from the overall quality. Therefore, we should work towards a uniform format for future years of SPL. It is important to set an expectation for spectators and players if we want to reach the goal many are alluding to in this thread I feel. I do understand if it is too late for it to come into play for the next year (SPL XII) due to aforementioned notes about retention planning, but personally I feel it is fine to implement for SPL XII and beyond. Regardless, now is a good time to work towards it for some future implementation.

So this begs the question: what would this SPL look like? Clearly, SPL should still have some heightened focus on SS OU (or whatever future current generation of OU). Why? SS OU is the most played tier by a long shot, the most people should know this tier, and it being at the center of tournaments has never been a surprise to anyone. Nothing reaches the level of hype from seeing two top players battle in SS OU and SPL allows for this to happen on a regular basis. In my opinion, there should be a minimum of three slots including SS OU each SPL; this is a completely arbitrary number, but we have had SPLs with 3 CG OU slots and I believe those tournaments have been better overall and better for the metagame than the other editions. Of course, this is just my personal opinion and I cannot back it with anything beyond personal accounts and the generic "SS OU is the main metagame that we all pay the most attention to" logic, but I do think the latter is more than enough.

Next off, I believe that 1 of each OU generation 2-7 is a lock. Why? They are all generations of OU that now have history of being in every SPL they existed in as old generations, they were not (yet) put on a publicized timer for inclusion like RBY (more on this and why RBY should likely be included regardless later), and -- unlike lower tiers -- they do not require any interchangeability. Say what you want about the metagames and their relative competitiveness or their playerbases if you wish, but they present structural stability and that is a staple to a respectable tournament I feel.

Finally, this leaves us at nine tiers and going with an odd number is silly. Not being able to tie weeks is bad and we should never go back down that road. RBY makes the most sense to add as a tenth tier. I do not enjoy spectating the tier in the tournament and I know some others do not eiher, but that really is not something you can use in an argument without something more concrete alongside it unfortunately. Plenty of other people enjoy RBY and how "fun" something is happens to be in the eye of the beholder. What matters most here is the fact that it makes the most sense to include the last generation of OU when all of the other generations are in. Drawing an arbitrary line because one of them was getting the boot eventually under dated SPL plans is not enough in my eyes.

I do like the sound of including a fourth SS OU slot -- means more representation of the flagship metagame, an STour Bo3 -- experimental idea that ties including more CG OU in with the intriguing Bo3 idea, or even deviating from the singles OU theme and throwing in DOU -- a format that has long held its own in SPL despite being a bit of an outsider, but I do not think we can justify them over any of these 10 slots. You can argue for excluding the third SS OU slot (or RBY, as we said), but I do not personally subscribe to these. If you wish to post about these yourselves, go nuts -- I'm not about to thought police you and I would love to be wrong and see any of these in the tour. What I will say is that if we stick with 12 slots, which seems to be an idea that is fading in popularity, then we have more room to include these. However, I think the 10 slot format that I have alluded to above and will outline again below makes the most sense moving forward from a consistency and stability POV. I am going to personally be sad to see DOU go because it has been great, but I do not think you can justify it.

When SS becomes an old generation, then you have a few options, but once we pick one, we have to stick with it for consistency's sake. One would be removing RBY, essentially restarting the timer it was previously put on, and the other would be cutting a CG OU slot. The former makes a lot more sense than the latter. This becomes an easier solve if we stick with 12 tiers, but assuming we do not, cutting the oldest generation when the alternative is detracting from CG OU inclusion, which is not sustainable going more generations forward as CG OU slots will run out, is not logical. So RBY OU would just be put back on a timer, same with GSC etc. (eventually).

Given this, the ideal SPL format for me is as follows:
SS (CG) OU
SS (CG) OU
SS (CG) OU
SM OU
ORAS OU
BW OU
DPP OU
ADV OU
GSC OU (cut at the start of generation 10...etc)
RBY OU (cut at the start of generation 9 for SS OU slot)

Now at this point, we have SPL as a consistently formatted tournament showcasing all generations of OU, but we now have less inclusion for UU, RU, NU, LC, and DOU (I do not think anyone was arguing for PU in SPL, but feel free to throw that in to this group if you were). This shifts me to the next topic:
basically, split SPL into two separate tours, one with all old gens and one with all lower tiers, having the latter replace SSD.
Doing this or some variant of it will help solve a lot of our problems.

Snake not being hyped up enough, experiencing a drop in (quality) sign-ups, and not being taken as seriously is a real issue. I spent dozens of hours of my time on things like Power Rankings, predictions, and quite literally pestering a handful of people to participate. I do believe these efforts made a difference and lots of other people contributing to a similar goal has led to this edition of SSD being a positive experience for our tournament community, but I believe a lot of positive improvements can be made on this front.

To start, the Snake model does not fit official tournaments as well as the auction format. A lot of what drives tournaments like SPL is superstars grouping up and team identities being present. Snake drafts cut these off and also decreases the odds of a lot of top players playing alongside their friends, which absolutely matters when it comes to their motivation. The fact of the matter is that we owe managers the trust to manage (or mismanage) a full-on auction if they are being picked for official tournaments. I think the Snake model has a place on Smogon, but solely in the unofficial arena for tier PLs/side tournaments where manager quality cannot be trusted as it is more likely to prevent overpowered super teams from forming through an auction.

Moreover, making Snake into SPL jr. with an auction lets us start to form team identities for it, makes the player selection process more fitting, and will appeal more to the playerbase. Snake also is very easy format wise: the same 10 tiers of (all CG) OU x4, UU, RU, NU, PU, LC, and DOU should be there to stay until the ZU overlords take over long after we all are gone from this silly website.

I could write an entire novel on other small ways to improve Snake and how this change opens the door for so many other things, but that is probably a post for a different thread at a different point in time and I will leave it at this for now. Overall, I echo Hogg's sentiment.

With SPL being OU focused and "Snake" potentially becoming an SPL2 that is lower tier focused, I feel that we can move forward with a far more balanced overall circuit. SPL was very obviously more important and respected than Snake due to it including both old generations and lower tiers at times, making it far more appealing overall. We can help salvage the third team tournament, which I view as very important, while also defining the current SPL and giving it some consistency moving forward, which is a bonus for players and spectators alike.

Finally, I want to say that lower tier players are not actually as screwed by this change as many are making it out to be. I will not go as far as saying it is a blessing in disguise a losing a little representation sucks and I get it, but I do think it helps the quality of games overall. With lower tiers being removed from SPL it actually opens things up a ton for those that are usage reliant. This means that tiering decisions can be made in a fashion that maximizes the competitiveness of the Snake/"SPL2" metagames, this means that there can be more of a uniform schedule for unofficial PLs that lead up to Slam and then Snake/"SPL2", and it also means a lot less room for rushed tiering decisions for the sake of preserving metagame states when there is only one big team tournament showcasing it. The fact of the matter is that when UU/RU/NU have been in both Snake and SPL while also experiencing drastic usage changes and potentially mid-generational add-ons, it has gotten very messy. We are now able to minimize that and maximize how competitive they are for the actual players of their tiers with this. Unfortunately, this is far less applicable to LC and DOU.

tl;dr: all OU SPL with 10 slots and rebrand Snake
 
I’ve always loved how SPL brings people together. Joining a team introduces you to new people. Lower Tier players, Old Gen, Doubles, Current Gen — Even with differences, you work towards a common goal. Removing lower tiers takes some of that essense away.

The main problem in drafting is making sure your bases are covered. The niche tiers are the hardest to plan for — UU, RU, NU, Doubles. So many OU gens stack, with certain players having knowledge of every OU. Removing lower tiers makes the top, knowledgeable players more valuable, because they can help in every tier.

Drafting will lose a couple degrees of difficulty and maneuverability. It becomes less about finding creative ways to fill slots and more about who gets the few top knowledgeable players (+friends).

This is a good way to create all time high player prices.

The format ebbs and flows with time and I will enjoy the tournament regardless! Just some late night thoughts.
 
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Finchinator

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It becomes less about finding creative ways to fill slots and more about who gets the few top knowledgeable players (and their friends).
This statement seems fine on the surface until you realize that we only needed to find "creative" ways to fill slots in the first place because of the tournament having 120(+ as the season goes on potentially) startable players over so many different formats with the tournament changing in nature every few editions.

At some point you have to realize that it is not actually a "premier" league if we have to find creative ways just for every team to field a serviceable starting line-up given old formats. Managers having their scouting and auction planning being put to the test should not be prioritized over the quality of the actual tournament.

Finding ways to justify putting-up with problems instead of simply solving the problems seems backwards to me.
 
This statement seems fine on the surface until you realize that we only needed to find "creative" ways to fill slots in the first place because of the tournament having 120(+ as the season goes on potentially) startable players over so many different formats with the tournament changing in nature every few editions.

At some point you have to realize that it is not actually a "premier" league if we have to find creative ways just for every team to field a serviceable starting line-up given old formats. Managers having their scouting and auction planning being put to the test should not be prioritized over the quality of the actual tournament.

Finding ways to justify putting-up with problems instead of simply solving the problems seems backwards to me.
I’m only pointing it out. This change would create a more centralized, and less competitive draft. Expect all time high player prices. Not saying it’s backwards or forwards — It is what it is.
 
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Diophantine

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GSC OU (cut at the start of generation 10...etc)
RBY OU (cut at the start of generation 9 for SS OU slot)
I don't know why people are so eager to cut generations out just because they are the oldest. Why can't SPL just be all OU tiers? Why is it imperative that we keep the number arbitrarily at 10? I agree that CG OU should be the main highlight, but if there's an odd number when the 3xOU model is applied, then just make it 2xOU instead. It's been like that in SPL before and no one complained about it then. That way the total number doesn't even change until 2 gens later, if that's what you want. You'll be cutting out loads of players whose only official tournament will be Classic, when everyone else gets multiple official tournaments. It's not even like the "competitiveness > representation" argument applies here since RBY, GSC, or whatever other gen you wanna cut doesn't compromise competitiveness at all.
 
I just wanna chime in to say that it is absolutely not too late to decide anything for the upcoming SPL 12. If keeping lower tiers and cutting RBY is deemed ideal for the upcoming edition then so be it but we shouldn't latch onto an undesirable thing because of "promises" that were never made in the first place. The TD team is wildly different from last year and tons of managers will be different as well.
 

Adaam

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I just wanna chime in to say that it is absolutely not too late to decide anything for the upcoming SPL 12. If keeping lower tiers and cutting RBY is deemed ideal for the upcoming edition then so be it but we shouldn't latch onto an undesirable thing because of "promises" that were never made in the first place. The TD team is wildly different from last year and tons of managers will be different as well.
https://www.smogon.com/forums/threads/growth-and-spl.3650565/post-8268553

Tony’s last post, while not Smogon legally binding, does promise to have low tiers in at least this year’s rendition. I understand he is no longer a TD, but to haphazardly remove them a month before SPL can and will screw over teams who drafted last year expecting to have to them.

EDIT: Low tiers were excluded last year because they literally did not exist. I don't want to split hairs on the post's language, but when someone tells me they fully intend to do something, I don't think "hmm he didn't say 'promise' nor hand me a notarized contract so he might go back on his word." I am indifferent to removing low tiers in the future but they should stay for this SPL.
 
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https://www.smogon.com/forums/threads/growth-and-spl.3650565/post-8268553

Tony’s last post, while not Smogon legally binding, does promise to have low tiers in at least this year’s rendition. I understand he is no longer a TD, but to haphazardly remove them a month before SPL can and will screw over teams who drafted last year expecting to have to them.
“As for lower tiers specifically, we fully intend on them being part of SPL in years to come.”

If anything this makes me feel even stronger about my initial point - there is nothing resembling a promise at all. Even if Tony was still the head TD, I’d hope that no managers screwed over their SPL 11 draft on the back of an “intention” or whatever. Reminder that there was no UU/RU/NU last year either.
 

Eo Ut Mortus

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I want to address a few things. These shouldn't be taken as indicators of any focus or thread of decision-making; they're just easy points to highlight. This probably won't be my last post in the thread.

On disrupting long-term planning:

Currently, no manager should expect any multi-year plans to pan out perfectly. While a staple in other games or sports, they're unfeasible in our current state due to retention limits and high turnover and volatility among our playerbase. Potential format adjustments are just one of several complicating factors. Ultimately, retains are an enhancement, not a promise; some teams could be starting with 0 retains due to circumstances beyond their control, such as players quitting. Adjusting the format might turn a team from great to good, but it should never completely kill a team's prospects. While a good point to bring up, this issue has a clear answer to me: concerns about year-to-year planning come secondary to the format.

On Doubles in a mono-OU format:

At least some of the posts in this thread seem to think Doubles fits neatly into a mono-OU format; however, it's as much of an OU tier as LC is. Both are divorced from the tiering paradigm that produces UU, RU, and so on, and both therefore have their own usage-based tiers (LCUU and Doubles UU). Any proposed format that rebrands SPL to mono-OU and includes Doubles without also including LC is making an exception that has to be justified. This also turns the SSD/SPL distinction from low tiers vs. old gens into usage-based tiers vs. old gens and non-usage based low tiers, and the latter is much less significant a distinction than a former, if significant at all. I'm open to arguments to the contrary, but as it stands, I don't think mono-OU + Doubles makes sense as a format.
 
All for changes. Would like a proper heads up however, so I hope these changes take effect in SPL13. While eo is right, nothing is guarenteed. Amid last years controversy, bigs staff made the decision to “play for next year” and because of that we ended with some really great retains. Changing the format would be boohickey. It could also disrupt plans for other teams. I see no reason why we must rush this immediately. Let it sit till next year and those who draft this year can keep next years changes in mind :)
 
I feel quite strongly that the best SPL XII is the format that everyone has been expecting up to this point. I appreciate that some prospective managers will be equally fine either way, and some players who intended on playing lower tiers will happily switch to another tier, but others will be negatively affected. This also places a burden on the TDs of deciding what the best changes to make are, then implementing those changes on a fairly short notice. It is very possible that these changes are not as popular as this thread would leave a reasonable reader to believe, so there is absolutely the potential for this to go wrong.

When people talk about changing SPL tiers and changing Snake into SPL 2, what you are really talking about is an almost complete redesign of how team tours work on smogon currently. There is debate to be had on the merits of this, but I believe that community polling should be done before such a drastic change is made.

I think that the cut from 12 slots to 10 is ultimately unnecessary. The meaning of "Competitiveness" has never been clearly defined in this thread. I do not necessarily agree that the cut from 12 slots to 10 will provide a noticeable increase in the "quality" of the games being played. But I accept that the quality of a game is another term that's difficult to define. I also think that cutting from 10 teams to 8 is a negative, in terms of the available fractions of playoff teams. 4/8 places too little emphasis on the regular season, 2/8 too much. 4/10 is a nice balance.

With regards to Eo's post above, I agree that it could be beneficial to change tours, even if they disrupt multi-year planning. However, this is being done on comparatively short notice. I do not like the idea of players being uncertain of upcoming tour formats, and impromptu format discussions could potentially be quite difficult to resolve. Of course future changes can be made, but for the current situation I think players, managers, and TDs would all benefit from stability.
 

Ajna

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by axing lower tiers you're cutting large communities out of spl, which to me, goes directly against what the tournament should be. spl brings together the best players from different parts of the site and in a sense, is a celebration of the community we've created. competition, or "quality of play," is definitely important to keep in mind, but like others have mentioned, old gens suffer from the same issues lower tiers do.

it's no surprise to me that top players like bkc and abr want a smaller tournament, and i don't mean this negatively. bkc and abr want to see the best possible games, but i don't think that removing lower tiers for rby solves that in any way. i cannot for the life of me understand the narrative that old gens (specifically dpp, adv gsc, and rby) have stronger pools than uu, ru, and nu. the bottom half of these old gen pools are extremely lacking and they get no where near the amount of slander that lower tiers get. i'll also add that i completely agree with soulwind that cg ou needs less than 4 slots. ss ou in snake had some of the worst games in the entire tournament by far, so let's please stop pretending like the level of play in ou is some massive step up from lower tiers.

the proposal of turning snake into "spl jr." is not a terrible one, but it doesn't really solve anything. the public opinion is that snake plays second fiddle to spl, and that makes complete sense. spl has been around longer and has a much stronger sense of identity, so then how does making a jr. of that tournament improve anything? that's the exact role that snake is currently playing?? i personally don't mind the snake draft format (for drafting), but i can definitely see the issues with it, so i'll propose this:

if we want to change the drafting format in snake, snake/spl jr. should be an actual lower tiers tournament.

once again, i am vehemently against removing lower tiers from spl, but if we do, snake/spl jr. should not have 4 cg ou slots, if any at all. if you want to cut lower tier communities out of spl, then give them another platform to compete at the highest level in.

just like everyone else in the thread, my opinion is biased, but i am saying this as someone who will get drafted in spl, regardless of the format. it would be really disappointing to see lower tier communities not get the representation they deserve based on a false quality of play narrative, or even on the basis of having a consistent spl format. the tiers for spl have never been consistent, and there is no true issue with the tiers not being consistent. the only argument for spl tiers should be consistent is, "spl tiers should be consistent, because i like when they're consistent."

tldr: lower tiers should not be axed based on quality of play or format consistency
 

Hipmonlee

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once again, i am vehemently against removing lower tiers from spl, but if we do, snake/spl jr. should not have 4 cg ou slots, if any at all. if you want to cut lower tier communities out of spl, then give them another platform to compete at the highest level in.
I think the issue is that by cutting out the SSOU slots, then you are guaranteeing that the lower tiers SPL will be seen as a less prestigious tournament. As in "old gen OUs are deserving of a spot in a competition alongside current gen OU, whereas lower tiers are not".

As for cutting parts of smogon out of SPL. Well, you have 15 official tiers, including ubers. If you arent willing to have 15 starters per round then the only alternative to cutting tiers is to aggregate them (eg. bo5 classic).

Cutting old gen OUs from the oldest to the newest has a smell of objectivity about it, but it also makes the tournament less diverse. RBY is definitely the least like current gen OU tier of any official tier on Smogon. It makes sense that most new players dont like it much, it's clearly pretty foreign to most of them. But I'd hate to reach a point where the non-preview gens are no longer a part of the official tournament scene here. For SPL in particular I personally dont really care cause that tournament is ass, but that's not really the point.

But if it was me, I think that bringing everyone together in one tournament is a nice idea, so I'd probably just look at a way to make aggregated tiers work. Every other major tournament on this site is already bo3 anyway I dont see why SPL should cling so hard to bo1.
 

Windsong

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Strongly agree with Ajna and Lax's excellent posts.

Anyone convinced that past-gens are all inherently more competitive/have a higher quality of play and stronger 12-man deep playerbases than current gen lower tiers hasn't been watching enough SPL past-gen games the last few years.
 

Hipmonlee

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Anyone convinced that past-gens are all inherently more competitive/have a higher quality of play and stronger 12-man deep playerbases than current gen lower tiers hasn't been watching enough SPL past-gen games the last few years.
I watched some spl past gen games in the last few years and I basically have no idea what you are talking about. The only time I've seen where the early gen quality has been poor has been when people have been playing non tier mainers.

Which kinda comes back to my point. It's much easier cover SSNU than it is RBY because SSNU is far, far more similar to SSOU than RBY is. Yeah, older tiers make it harder to cover situations where unexpected circumstances leave you without your starter, but that's just because they are less similar to all the other tiers in the tournament. That's inevitable.
 

Earthworm

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A few points:

- It's very hard to objectively or subjectively judge the quality of games. Pretty much nobody plays all the tiers in SPL competently and it's tricky to judge a game if you don't properly understand what decisions have been made, both in the builder and during the game. So I don't buy many of the arguments based on game quality. The only time I'd really pay attention to them is if tier veterans were in a consensus that a game was bad and were preferably willing to go to the effort to justify their view.
- Based on the current results of the survey I posted (https://www.surveymonkey.com/results/SM-FL85LCS67/instant/), SPL is seen as more prestigious than Snake and Classic is seen as more prestigious than Grand Slam (as well as OST and ST). I am guessing, but I would attribute this to people being of the view that the old gen OU metagames are thoroughly explored and challenging to gain an edge in or innovate successfully in, and also more significantly different from each other than the metagames played in the other tournaments. So it would be extraordinarily difficult to get anywhere in Classic without being very good at a lot of very different metagames. For SPL, it's deservedly seen as the tournament in which the best play the best, and there's a feeling that managerial skill can create a big advantage for the teams.
- The above is not to say that there is not any value in the kind of skills needed to succeed in tiers like UU of the current gen. These metagames require the players to be able to analyse tier lists and metagames and come up with clever new strategies and combinations to thwart what is seen as the current best strategy. This also means that when you discover your opponent has brought something unorthodox, you have to come up with a way to deal with it on the fly. These aspects still exist in old gens, but they are far, far more pronounced in constantly shifting metagames. I have always enjoyed this aspect of the game and so I have branched out into a huge number of tiers and alternative metagames in the past and now. But these kinds of skills are not valued quite as highly as the ability to outmanoeuvre someone in the classic metagames.
- SPL being considered so much more prestigious than Snake indicates to me a clear problem with Snake. A start here would definitely be to switch the branding. The team names are frequently perceived as a bad joke.


I think a decision needs to be firmly made on the question of whether to proceed with the rebranding and the implementation of Hogg's suggestion. Once that has been done, then discussion can proceed on the other aspects (bo3, where to put DOU, whether to include RBY, how many slots, etc). I think this thread is all over the place so clarity over this aspect prior to deciding on the others would be appreciated.
 

Windsong

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I watched some spl past gen games in the last few years and I basically have no idea what you are talking about. The only time I've seen where the early gen quality has been poor has been when people have been playing non tier mainers.
That's...sort of my point though: old gens don't have a ton of depth, and SPL needs to field 60 players across 12 teams in five different old gen tiers. The past gens have some excellent players at the top, and some of the best SPL games I've seen the past few years came from players in pre-ORAS gens--and I'm not trying to go after those dudes. But oldgens have struggled with depth; once you get past the core group of 3-4 players in each oldgen who play the tier year round (and aren't starting current-gen OU), you just don't have a ton of experienced old-gen players left.

To clarify, I don't mean this to be an argument for the inclusion of the lower tiers at the expense of the old gens -- I only hope to dispel the notion that the old-gens are the pinnacle game quality in SPL. I know my first post came across as sarcastic, and I apologize for memeing my way through what should've been a serious comment.

Earthworm: I like your points a lot, especially the first one--but only if we actually apply it universally. Armchair commentators bashing NU players' choices shouldn't be a basis for cutting NU any more than they should be for cutting DPP. I think I am one of the handful of players who's played enough of both lower tiers and old gens in official team tours (Pearl and lax, who've also done so, have already commented) to make the assessment that any argument about "game quality" between, say, NU and DPP, or RU and ADV on aggregate, is moot and should be thrown out.
 
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