St. Patrick and the Casting Out of Snakes


grubbing in the ashes
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Alright, spent a few minutes last night having Feelings about UU not being in SPL despite having been pushing for a dual-SPL structure for the past couple of years, because the reality of seeing the tier you've worked hard on to build for half a decade leaving your favorite tour is hard even when you think it's the right decision overall. But now it's morning and I've had my coffee so it's time to talk about something more serious: casting snakes out of IrelandSmogon and making sure that the new summer team tour is every bit as good as SPL.

Because, like, that's the point, right? I know some people wanted to see the team tours split up because they wanted an excuse to kick out lower tiers, but for me it was about making sure that BOTH tours stayed prestigious and competitive.

So, how do we build the absolute best possible team tournament for our summer team tour? Unlike Eo in his previous post I'm not going to refer to it as Snake for the sake of convenience because if we're doing this right, we should be doing it from scratch. We don't need to be tied down by any association with Snake or any other tour (even SPL! except that personally I love SPL so I'll probably model most of my own preferences off of it).

Starting from scratch, here are the things that would need to be hammered out:

  • Branding
    • Tournament name
    • Theme, if applicable (but let's not make the mistake of being so locked into a theme that we get forced into something either milquetoast or silly again please!)
    • Team names
    • Art! SPL looks so goddamned professional since Zracknel's revamp. Having coordinated art just puts everything on a whole new level.
  • Team drafting process
    • Draft style
      • Snake draft
      • Round-robin allocation (aka Shittier Snake Draft)
      • Expansion draft (essentially a way to create retentions in a draft system by giving teams the ability to "protect" certain players)
      • Prolly a bunch of others, I don't know, I don't really follow non-American draft sports but I bet there are a million draft models out there
    • Auction
      • Standard SPL-style money auction
      • Sealed auction (teams submit bids on players but cannot see other bids, highest bid wins)
      • Sell-back auction (basically, allow teams to place purchases back into the auction pool, in which case the money from the winning bid goes back to them)
      • Two-stage auction (variant of the above except one initial auction, usually sealed bid, then a second live auction where teams put players back on the market - so basically initially teams would be created by running a sealed bid auction, which doesn't need to be live, and then the live auction would be teams offering up their own players for sale)
      • Dutch auction (basically a reverse auction, only really works with the above two-stage system - teams wanting to sell players would declare a price for a player, and keep lowering the price until someone agrees to pay it, if no one accepts after a certain period of time then they keep the player)
    • Qualification-based metrics (need to meet XYZ requirements to qualify for a team)
    • A/B leagues
      • Variant of above, where teams are drafted from pools of players in smaller or separate tournaments
  • Format and Tiers Played
    • Please, for the love of god, no more 4 CG OU slots
    • Tiers included
      • Multi-tier slots?
    • Total team slots
      • Number of subs?
      • In money auctions, fewer required subs = more competitive auction, more required subs = more forgiving auction
    • Weeks? Pools? Bo1? Bo3? Who qualifies for playoffs?
    • Number of teams?
  • Team Continuity
    • Retentions
      • SPL system
      • Re-auction (essentially you auction off your retains, several ways of doing this, including incorporating it into the second stage of a two-stage auction system)
      • Full retention of teams from year to year plus a free agent system! It's teal6's dream!
    • Expansion or reserve draft
  • Promotion
    • If you build it, they will come - a lot of what makes a tour prestigious is promotion, site resources, casting, advertising, etc. We're in kind of a unique opportunity in that we can start building up this tour now, and create the structure with this in mind. A bit harder to talk about but maybe let's make sure to include social media/livecasting folks in the discussion and figure out ways we can hype this tour beyond the standard "random facebook/twitter blurbs a couple of weeks before it starts and maybe a power rankings that enAds up coming out a week into the tour because whoops!"
    • Art falls under branding technically but it's definitely important here, too
  • Scheduling
    • Obviously with most of 2021 presumably scheduled already things are probably a bit restricted here but it's still theoretically possible to shift things around
These are just general discussion points. I've obviously got opinions but hell, my opinions aren't always the best ones, so I figured I'd leave it open. I'll respond in a bit with my own take on the best possible tour but for now I just want to get the conversation started. I know we're months out but I really don't want to see us wait and wait and then put forward something boring out of inertia. If UU is only in one official team tour this year, it had better fucking be the best team tour of the year.

Later gators.


grubbing in the ashes
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Oh, one fairly big incentive to get all of this done early rather than waiting until the last minute: I've been talking to Zracknel and he has expressed a willingness to put together artwork and branding for the new tour from the ground up, like he did with SPL before SPL X. That said, he was only able to do that because he had more than 6 months to work on it all. We would need to come up with things like overall theme, tournament name and team names relatively early, rather than waiting until Spring to hammer this out.

I think that the coordinated artwork for SPL makes the tour a million times better, so personally I really would like us to take Zracknel up on this (extremely generous) offer. But it does mean we can't wait until the last minute to figure this stuff out.

ZracknelToday at 11:34 AM
Things I would need you and the community to decide: should this tournament be an extension of the SPL brand, or should it stand alone? I will make sure it has its own look and feel if it is separate

[11:35 AM]
you guys deciding team names would also be best. Suggestions for mascots welcome, I might weigh in on the balance, but respect your opinions on all

[11:35 AM]
ideally, no repeats from SPL, no repeats from WCOP

[11:35 AM]
if the whole thing is connected to SPL, maybe that's different. could re-use mascots or something

[11:37 AM]
give bias to famous/popular pokemon or those that have had a legacy in competitive play
[11:37 AM]
a mix of gens would make it feel less out of place if teams rebrand in the future

[11:40 AM]
even if format is all CG OU, not sustainable for every mon to be from the latest generation

[11:40 AM]
mixed feelings from me on pet favorites being used

[11:46 AM]
last thing that comes to mind, a situation is coming up that may or may not prevent me from doing Smogon work for a while. So making sure things are "built to last" will be to our advantage

ZracknelToday at 11:23 AM
"I can't tell the teams apart" is a very challenging problem to solve. Diversity in mascots is very important

[11:23 AM]
even with the pokemon being wildly different, it was very hard to make the SPL teams feel different

hoggToday at 11:23 AM
I mentioned this in the previous thread but part of why the spl theme works is because a ton of freedom was given in how it's interpreted

[11:24 AM]
I think that needs to be kept in mind with any theme we create

ZracknelToday at 11:24 AM
The Sharks are a very memorable team for a lot of reasons. Their merchandise has outsold everyone else's. Their mascot is one of the most badass characters in the franchise

hoggToday at 11:25 AM
like if we did "pokemon region" + "trainer type" and required everyone to be super strict about that, it wouldn't be much better than snakes

[11:25 AM]
a little bit of freedom from structure is good I think

[11:25 AM]
it's what makes teams memorable
[11:26 AM]
when people say we can't do site sections anymore because there aren't enough, I think it's because they're thinking that it means we need to name the teams "The Smogoff Sneasels" or whatever

[11:26 AM]
but if that was the case, teams like the alpha ruiners and indie scooters would never have existed

ZracknelToday at 11:27 AM
visually, not every team can be "the badass team". One team probably needs to do something feminine. One team can probably look vintage/old. There are a lot of tropes that exist within the branding of team sports.
[11:28 AM]
I think the community can maybe keep that in mind, but no need for everyone to solve that. I feel like I can help take care of that part of things
[11:30 AM]
the names really can be on the crazy/silly side... maybe not all of them, but it's fine for some, like you point out. I don't think that part is quite as important
[11:30 AM]
teams love to put their own spin on things anyway. That's part of the fun. TIGRES, MAGMA BIGS, etc


is a Super Moderatoris a Community Contributoris a Tiering Contributoris a Tournament Director Alumnusis a Site Content Manager Alumnusis a Contributor Alumnusis a Past WCoP Champion
UU Leader
if we want this to feel equal to spl it needs to be during a better time of the year (summer). primarily benefits those still in school but no one wants to play during snake bc its a really inconvenient time of the year. im aware this is when wcop is but its not gonna be equal to spl without being a better time of the year. lets be real with ourselves, a majority of people who are gonna play in this will still be in school and will be inconvenienced by the timing of the tournament as is. im not necessarily saying it's more important than wcop, but if we want it to be equal to spl, it has to have priority over wcop and be during the summer. wcop is also infinitely easier to schedule for the vast majority of participants because half are gone after r1 and you have 3 weeks to schedule for that. it does lose a lot of the real "world cup" feel but we'll need to decide whats more important

it should mirror everything else except tiering (and maybe team name themes) if we're going to stick with the current plan.
That other thread is pretty dark, this is the fun one

I think something really important is not to be too literal with branding. Part of where snake fails regarding team names is where it has tried to tie in to actual places in the Pokemon games (Celadon City Cobras, Shinto Ruins Serpents particularly egregious). A lot of people on the site got into this game competitively due to a love of the in-game as kids, yes, but aren't die-hard Pokemon game fans anymore - for these people, being a "Lumiose Lopunny" or something is cringey af and I'm sure it affects how seriously people take it. It borders on fanfiction. Stark Sharks only works because of the "shark" branding - Stark Garchomps or Stark Dragons would be awful.

What SPL should teach us is - just give people a catchy 2-syllable word they can shout or type in all caps, and the branding can be the biggest nonsense you want. I know they're all named after subforums, but nobody actually associates them with that anymore - they just sound cool. Indie Scooters is just two catchy words with a badass looking Alakazam behind them, and SCOOT is catchy and fun to spam. Same with BIGS, and several others. Its important not to tie players down too much with super heavy branding that they then have no freedom with. RATTLERS and MAMBAS are the only SSD teams that comes close on this front, and tbf they could probably have made it as SPL teams.

That said, filling up several of the teams with some based on irl sporting teams certainly helps ground the tournament in reality slightly rather than everything being CRYONICLES and CLASSIEST and other nonsense buzzwords. Stark Sharks is one of the most popular teams for this reason - it sounds like it could be a real thing and it evokes actual sports teams, without leaning too heavily into the Stark part. Circus Maximus Tigers is a branding masterstroke.

tl;dr give us LIGHTNINGS, BEARS, CHARGERS, ROCKETS, KNUCKLES, AKIMBOS, THUNDERS, BUCKS, BOARS, COWBOYS. If its catchy when you type it in all caps or shout it at the top of your lungs, it'll probably make a good team name. Nobody wants to be a lindworm

Alternatively, the idea of having "sister" teams for each of the SPL teams is pretty fun
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Palico & Hinoa enthusiast
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May be a dumb question but since we're willing to make a new teamtour from scratch does this mean we need to change the color of the next trophy since we want it to be a brand new thing ? I think trophies represent Smogon tournaments as much as their name (or logos for SPL) so even tho it's not the most important thing to deal with since we're only at the beginning of the brainstorming, I still think it's a notable aspect of Smogon tournament.. With that in mind I made some tests in order to find a brand new identity to this upcoming tournament...

Individual Tournaments:

Full NameAbbreviationTrophy
Official Ladder Tournament​
Official Smogon Tournament​
Smogon Classic​
Smogon Grand Slam​
Smogon Frontier (alumn)​
Smogon Tour​
Smogon VGC Tournament (alumn)​

Team Tournaments:
Full NameAbbreviationTrophy
Smogon Premier League​
World Cup​
Smogon Snake Draft (alumn)​

The main issue is that those trophies are pretty damn small (16x16) which means it's pretty tough to make something which would have its own identity without be like an old trophy which already existed. With that in mind I try a couple of things :

Dark Blue Trophy:


As you can see this color is definitively different than the current blue trophies we have by being much more darker. The issue with those shades of blue is that it tends to be tough to distinguish the trophy from the background. It's also kinda tough to make it lighter without looking too much at the current WC Trophy.


This version is a bit lighter but the difference isn't really impressive even when you're zooming in :


Orange Trophy:


Unlike the blue color, there is only one orange trophy on Smogon and it's the Smogon VGC Tournament which has a more light version of orange.

When we compared it to the other tournaments with warm colors, the difference is rather significant so that may be a good thing to look at..

Dark Purple Trophies:


This colors are also quite nice and are not really represented yet in Smogon trophies. The closers we have to them are OLT and ST which are quite different as you can see below :


That's all for today.. Really nice thread tho. I hope we'll be able to gather some great ideas on it..!


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Ubers Leader
I think Ubers should strongly be considered to be included in this tournament. In the past, Ubers had a legacy of being in official tournaments, but continues to be punished for the actions of a few players years ago. As a relatively new player to the Ubers community, I've seen very little toxicity. Cheating is rare and hasn't occurred throughout tournaments this year. Although Ubers has a higher tolerance than other tiers might with regards to what is deemed broken, a lot of players very consistently perform; Ubers is the same as other tiers in that it very much rewards the better player. In edge cases, tiering has occurred in Ubers in order to maintain the competitivity of the tier, with more tiering potentially on the table. What I'm getting at here is that Ubers has as good a community, and is competitive like other tiers and should be treated as such again. Ubers' problems are firmly rooted in the past and have been for a while; I think it's now time for Ubers to get another chance.


Angel Rain
is a Community Contributor
If the tour's scheduled to Summer, what then of Slam/OLT? Fall team tour is incredibly inconvenient for all the reasons TDK pointed out and more, yet its current placement in the tournament schedule grants far better opportunities for low tier/cg ou players to get noticed by Managers through the aforementioned individuals + WCoP. If we don't care to preserve that aspect of Snake into the new tour (opportunity to cultivate/test new blood in team tours) then go for it, but something to be conscious of at least is how a summer team tour dramatically shifts the demographic of the players in it so long as the rest of the tournaments calendar remains unchanged.
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Bono My Tires are Deceased
is a Contributor to Smogon
Disclaimer: I play tiers that aren't realistically included in these tournaments, nor are they likely to be in this new format, so take this with a grain of salt...

However, in terms of formats, I think there should only be one or two Gen 8 OU slots.

This serves a couple of different purposes. This tournament should, in my opinion, be the Generation Eight Showcase in a way, now that SPL is OU land. I personally feel that making this a tournament where several different tiers all get the same amount of attention, as well as the same spotlight as each other. While giving OU slots is very important for obvious reasons, lowering the spots that it has would give this tournament its own flavor and really hammer home the idea that this is THE tournament for the current generation, and it should be advertised as such. The other thing this would do is free up slots for several different metagames to be all included.

Outside of the givens of OU, UU, RU, NU, and PU, I think that LC and DOU should also definitely be included here. Limiting the OU slots a bit leaves slots open for other metagames to be included in this tournament, such as Ubers, as Icemaster mentioned above, as well as potentially other things such as Monotype, or even a larger OM such as 1v1, although (no offense to 1v1 or others that fall into this category, such as ZU, AG, or NatDex) that should probably be considered a lower priority.

It is my personal opinion that this tier, after what SPL has become, should be a sort of Generation Eight (or whatever Generation we are currently in should this tournament stick around) Showcase, and I feel like trimming down OU slots a bit and giving all sorts of different metagames the spotlight would really help hammer this point down.

Edit: Amaranth has made a very good point in that "Showcase" is probably a poor choice of words to be used here. I should clarify; I want this tournament to rock the damn site, I just also think that including these tiers is very important considering what this is trying to be.
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Formerly Many
is a Tiering Contributor
Call it Smogon Elite Championship. It sounds good and the name isn't taken already.

As for format, I agree that there should be one slot for every single current gen tier on Smogon. Ubers, OU, UU, RU, NU, PU, LC, and Doubles. There is no reason to prioritize OU; that is what SPL is for after all.
It is my personal opinion that this tier, after what SPL has become, should be a sort of Generation Eight (or whatever Generation we are currently in should this tournament stick around) Showcase, and I feel like trimming down OU slots a bit and giving all sorts of different metagames the spotlight would really help hammer this point down.
Not a lowtier main (yet?), but if lowtier mains think of this tournament this way, then no wonder they're unhappy with being cut from SPL. This is not a "showcase", this needs to be some cutthroat shit and advertised as such, otherwise the competitive players in these playerbases are obviously going to be unhappy. This is quite literally a clean slate to make something as badass as possible; it shouldn't be giving away slots to lower tiers and different metagames for brownie points and spotlight, it should be giving slots to those tiers because the quality of play there is good enough to deserve them (which, to be clear, it is). Hogg's introduction hits a very important point imo: this tour needs to feel just as elite as SPL, otherwise it's a design failure. I think 2 OU slots would go a long way in helping with that, the amount of elite level CGOU players is so large that it would be a waste not to.

I also think there's terrific potential to theme all the teams here as sister teams of SPL teams, for multiple reasons. One, it strengthens the idea that this tournament is on the same level of SPL despite not being called "premier". Two, there are a few managers who manage frequently in both tournaments who already imprint similar team cultures on teams across the two tournaments - if the branding reflected that I think that'd be Cool. Three, the theming of the SPL teams is so neat that it's pretty easy to come up with cool sounding stuff that has a clear affiliation to an SPL brand. Off the top of my head, Raiders and Bandits, Wolfpack and Foxes, Cryos and Embers or Blazes or any number of Fire-related things, etc.
Thank you for remembering my dream Hogg. I'm going to take it one step further and try and plan out what I see to be a unique opportunity with the public sentiment seeming to be "lets keep two non-WCOP team tours". For what it is worth, the following suggestion has just about no chance to ever be implemented, I think primarily because it's a fairly large change and the community generally doesn't like that - that said, might as well try and write out my sketch for how I'd reorganize tournaments if given dictator powers, and see if there's anything useful for the rest of you in there.

By and large, people do not enjoy playing Pokemon. The match on Smogtours itself is, often, not an enjoyable experience for a huge amount of players. Many notable names, winners and losers alike, get sincerely anxious beforehand, dislike the nonstop teasing that comes with playing publicly, and dislike the amount of effort necessary to remain at a level where you can realistically compete.

So why the hell does everyone keep playing? I argue that there are two aspects that keep a person in the tournament community as a participant. The first is just the feeling that comes when you win - any competitor knows that a win on a big stage feels phenomenal. Bringing home the trophy, writing the victory post, shouting out your buddies for their help, all of this is incredibly fun and cathartic. The second reason I posit is the community and camaraderie that is formed around the game - bluntly speaking, Smogon itself is really just a forum with some legacy, without the personalities, stories and history surrounding the game, there's nothing particularly special about it. If we were to magically transport everyone to Serebii to host Serebii Premier League, it'd be the same thing provided the same people participate and took it seriously.

It is this latter impetus that I place a lot of my emphasis on. I've been quite vocal about this in the past, but I only truly started to love the game once I was on the Cryonicles in SPL VII. Logging in to Skype (lol) to bullshit with the team, playing tests with Teddeh (someone I never knew beforehand), making what seem to be genuinely life-long friends with folks like Star, all of these are the reason I continue to stay in this community 5 years later. For all the complaints about toxicity or whatever, we all must love the community and interactions with one another to some degree to keep us around, as every single person on this site loses tournaments far more often than they win. If we accept my premise I think the next step is to maximize that feeling of togetherness that is formed by a team and apply it throughout the entire team tournament structure.

An Abandoned Idea
Some of you that I've talked with in the past might know I really like the idea of, if I had a time machine, structuring Smogon entirely around team tournaments, with individuals being the "lesser". Of course, this isn't going to happen at this point and is even more unrealistic then what I will propose in a further section. However, I truly think a year-long league or something along those lines would be such an incredibly fun idea, with a traditional league structure (think the English Premier League) serving as one prize, with a knockout tournament or two serving as some others.

Unfortunately, the will behind a year-long endeavor doesn't seem to exist, so this will need to be scrapped. I thought it was appropriate to mention though because it forms the backdrop for the next section, which is my suggestion:

Same Teams, Different Tournament
We can and should use the same teams in SPL and NeoSnake.

This idea would radically restructure SPL as well, but I think it also can potentially help solve some of the inclusion arguments that constantly plague us very publicly. Right now, I see our structure like this:

Managers have some degree of control over team continuity, however, there are mechanisms in place to "punish" keeping the same players, so it is disincentived to some degree.
The bulk of players enter into an amorphous draft pool, and managers drafting ability is tested in a traditional dollar format.
Team composition and identity changes a fairly significant amount year over year due to the changing of tiers and, often, a majority of the roster making up a team.

Snake / NeoSnake (if we kept it the same) -
Snake has nearly no team identity as the managers and the rosters change significantly year over year. Very few individuals form a lasting connection to "their snake team" because it's just unlikely that you will work with those individuals again. There are going to be isolated incidents of this not happening, of course, but by and large it is difficult to truly "care" about the Basilisks or whatever, because you're almost certain not to play for them again, and if you do, the buddies around you might be largely different.

What I would propose is this:

SPL teams become teams into perpetuity, existing outside the band of SPL itself
We would implement a draft system nearly identical to current SPL, where managers are given some sum of money to bid on the entire playing pool
The newly constructed teams will be entered into two tournaments per year - SPL proper, and NeoSnake
Managers have the ability to conduct trades outside of the tournament they participate in, in a similar fashion to how players are moved around in sports (I'm thinking, again, soccer/football here as an analogy)
A "contract" system would be implemented where managers can retain players indefinitely, year over year, at a cost from their running balance of credits
Credits would be refreshed (not to the full, initial amount, of course) on a yearly basis

What I believe would be born by such a switch is a much stronger feeling of continuity, inclusion, and identity. A player could, over the course of a few years, become a "Cryonicles legend" as opposed to just a player that happened to be on the Cryos once or twice. This system could also encourage far more managerial involvement, giving them a significantly bigger role in the success or failure of their club. No longer would it be sufficient to pick a team that manages to win just enough games to secure a trophy, but to establish a dynasty, one would need prescience and foresight so craft a team that could not only compete in two tournaments, but one that is likely to loop around to SPL and still be competitive.

I don't think the structure of this would be terribly difficult to hammer out, but the following are concerns that I've heard on similar ideas:

- Managers don't stick with teams that long
At this juncture, I think we're beyond this being a concern. The managerial class on Smogon is really the same handful of folks time and again, and the concerns that they might disappear between tournaments randomly I think is unfounded. Even so, we could and would have a system in place to promote a manager should one decline their responsibilities to continue managing (or be found negligent by the TD team). I do not think it is a problem that some managers coming into roles this way would be left with teams that are "weaker" than others, because it is common in real life for this to be the case too. There is merit in building from a failed team and creating it into a winner.

- Players won't stick around
Again, I find this unfounded, as one of the other major complaints about the tournament community and SPL is that it is the same faces time and again (this was repeated a few times in the prior thread, particularly with respect to old generations). Realistically, those of us still here are incredibly huge nerds who are unlikely to give up Pokemon at random, and I think with the additional feeling of loyalty instilled by a persistent team this would be even less common.

- How do I draft a team that competes in both SPL and a lower tier tournament?
This is the point! It's a different challenge, one that asks more of managers. As well, I think that it would encourage players to stop being "mainers" and broaden their horizons - there is more value in a player that can play GSC and OU at a reliable level, more than an individual that can only compete in GSC. Additionally, we'd expand the roster size for additional slots, and while a DOU player might not compete in SPL, they'd be there for support and slot into the starting lineup come NeoSnake time.

- What if a player cancers?
We'd need to devise a fair credit system that allows for recouping some value, but this is also a test for the managers. Finding a player who is unlikely to do this means managing your credits better, and so it instills an incentive to both 1) draft non-toxic players and 2) be a non-toxic player (so as to be drafted more, unlike now, where you sit out a team tour and you're back posting a week later like Charmflash or whoever quit last SPL)

- I really like the draft and don't want to see it go, it's fun to watch how high people bid on BKC and Ojama
This would not be entirely lost. For one, if a player refused to renew their "contract" with a team, the open enrollment period still exists, and teams that wisely conserved credits between drafting periods would have an advantage in picking up a big name player. Additionally, a "transfer window" type setup would create a different type of excitement, as big name players could and would move between teams for potentially large sums.

This is grown from what I mentioned in the thesis, but I think the biggest bonus this would give us would be an additional layer of camaraderie between teammates. Granted I was clearly drafting my friends over and over as manager, but a lot of folks don't do this, and meeting new people on Smogon and getting new experiences and making new allies is really the best aspect of the site. At the end of the day, the pixels are pointless, but the jokes and the fun you have with the friends you make on the team are what you really remember. SPL X is strong in my memory despite Cryos somehow finishing in 11th place because there was just so many funny moments between the team, and I think it we were to double down on this being the emphasis for our team tournament structure, we'd have a big boon in interest in the site.

Lower tier main players would be exposed to and incentivized to learn other tiers, eliminating or reducing some of the problems we have with Snake/NeoSnake proposals. They would still be included, even if their main tier isn't present, in SPL - so long as they made themselves viable enough to remain on the roster for whatever cost they carry.

The inverse of this is that old tier players are also incentivized the same way, and now they should become more capable in modern generations to make sure they remain worthy of a roster slot and credit allocation.

We could also remove team trophies from the post-bit, which I know there is a chunk of people that like the idea of. Instead, we could have an HOF page on the actual site or in a forums thread detailing the performance of teams, as the team itself would be the superstructure through which everything is conducted (right now, I feel that the team, even in SPL, is secondary to the player playing, if that makes sense).

Merchandising becomes easier as casuals can form an attachment to a particular team that now exists in two iterations and persists outside the tournaments themselves (potential $$ for chaos or whoever, think like that guy that's always obsessed with Raiders every season).

Aaaaand here's the big one, in my head: development. One thing I've always moaned about is that team tournaments barring WCOP do not really engender themselves towards a development mindset whatsoever. In turn, there is some degree of staleness in the playing population (this has some positives itself, as its easier to identify the players if they're not turning over nonstop, though). However, if we expand the view of the team not only to one single tournament, but to two per year AND years beyond that, it now becomes much more important for managers to be smart with how exactly they allocate their teams' resources. Scouting a player performing well in ST or GS becomes a much bigger deal, and buying an unfinished product that might have performed well in a recent individual but maybe can't keep up against top tier players week over week becomes a reasonable strategy to spend bigger elsewhere. WCOP has this embedded in it as well, but the geographical limitations mean you can only really work with what you're given - BTB is unlikely to win a WCOP despite how good he might get, for example, because team India just doesn't have a ton of top tier players.

The development aspect, to me, provides a much clearer pipeline for interested participants to make their way in the tournament scene. I could even see fucking Tony right now watching r3 Smogon Tour matches on a Sunday and taking a note about some guy called BlazikenKiller13 who managed to beat Tricking in a match or something, and maybe having a word with him about his interest in the Wolfpack. Bluntly speaking, I've had a ton of people (particularly when I was more approachable lol) ask me how exactly to get into tours and into team tours, and the answer remains the same in both this proposal and currently: do well in individuals, but I also think by making teams more consistent year over year, you don't have to do QUITE as well in order to pop up on the radar. I'll say I probably wouldn't have cared that much about Pokemon, and wouldn't still be here, if it wasn't for Valentine PMing me (a complete random at the time) after r3 of UU Open years ago, saying "keep playing like that and I'll buy you in SPL".

I know damn well this isn't going to happen. Shake is going to pop in here and point to that one SPL where there was a bunch of retains and say "look vro its unviable" and that will be that. However, I've never written out the full gist of why I think continuity is very important, and at least I got my thoughts down (though a bit chaotically, re-reading) for why I truly think this would be a great idea. However, I recognize its a big departure for Smogon as a whole and SPL in particular, so I sincerely doubt any true interest would be given to such a structure.

That said, as I mentioned at the beginning of the post, I think when redesigning NeoSnake one ought to think about these sort of factors - prestige, friendship, a reasonable path in for new players, loyalty - these are the things that I think make Smogon and Smogon Team Tournaments good and fun and important. Snake currently lacks a lot of these while also having some of the worst branding of all time, so it's no wonder people always rail against it - I don't think, at the heart of it, it's the lower tiers being included that stops Snake from being beloved - it really is just that people tend not to care about their teams terribly much. Ironically, probably the only team I can truly think of that has fully retained its identity and many of the players are still quite fond of one another is the Pitvipers, the only team that stopped existing after the first iteration of the tournament.

I'm unsure who the TD team is right now but please consider trying to emphasize some of these softer, more ethereal aspects of the team tournament structure when you ultimately come up with what you want to do with the new tour. All of the other factors are important - the way players are added to teams, the tiers included, etc. - but IMO they pale in comparison to creating an environment that will lead players to making new friends that they bullshit with on Discord until 2AM. If there's anything I think my experience in the last half decade would suggest its that these are the more important things, and the above is my way of emphasizing those factors, but even if you don't like anything I've said in terms of structure, I think most everyone would agree that we aren't really playing Pokemon for Pokemon anymore.


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I am glad we are getting around to discussing this promptly. I am looking forward to this entire restructuring process and there seem to be lots of great ideas floating around already. I personally have a proposal that impacts both this prospect and the circuit as a whole that I feel should be brought up in this thread. I ask that you guys hear me out as there are a LOT of different topics here this impacts.

Proposal: We take Zracknel up on his generous offer to help design the new team tournament, we open up the Smogon Apparel Shop around the time of the draft/auction with the new designs, and we use a portion of the profits to fund the first ever DOU equivalent of OST, which Tony alluded to above.

Why? Let's break this down.

Re: We take Zracknel up on his generous offer to help design the new team tournament
  • Zracknel has done amazing work for us before (see: SPLX).
  • There is already a clear line of communication and the start of discussions for potential visions of the tournament.
  • This forces us to plan this promptly. No rushed planning, last second changes, or painful mid-tour squabbling.
    • A clear step in the right direction for making this prestigious and already an improvement from Snake.
I do not believe this is a remotely controversial take. Hogg's prompt posting of this thread and bumping the topic with his dialogue with Zracknel has been received positively and it is clear the design will be in great hands.

Re: We open up the Smogon Apparel Shop around the time of the draft/auction with the new designs
  • This has been done before for SPL and was successful enough to be brought back for a second year (see: SPL X Apparel Shop and SPL XI Apparel Shop)
    • It's not even entirely about the profitability of it either (more on this later though), but rather giving people another thing to be excited about and sharing this with your teammates/friends within the community. I always thought this was one of the more cool, personal aspects of things, especially when it was launched in SPLX.
  • This will help raise awareness of the new, hyped tournament when advertised via Pokemon Showdown and different forms of social media
  • As an extension of the above initiative, it helps build up the teams, show off the entire tournament, and form an identity.
    • This is vague, but is is phrased to be vague intentionally as it encompasses a lot. To break it down:
      • When you see who is on each team and how great some of your favorite designs are, it's easy for people that are both involved and not involved to feel excited. This builds up the teams in the tournament. It is a slightly different purpose than the SPL shops, which were building off of already existing team identities. It could perhaps be approached with different phrasing in advertisements and forum posts to address it being something brand new and interesting as opposed to carrying on a tradition, too.
      • Showing off the tournament is huge as many casuals still know what SPL is... -- hell, the people at my IRL Pokemon club at my school knew what it was through Joey and blunder even, which made for some awkward conversation the weeks after I lost :psynervous: -- but they clearly will not know what this tournament is. Seeing amazing designs, recognizable players, and their favorite fresh metagames in a tournament like this will instantly be a big draw if done properly.
      • Team identity is big if there is going to be any retention system and team names carry over, which a lot of signs point to. I am not going to expand on this as it's pretty self-explanatory, SPL is living proof, and it seems silly to do so until there's more planning on the future of the tournament.
  • Some money will presumably be raised from this, which can go towards my next point: the DOU equivalent of OST.
Re: We use (a portion of) the profits to fund the first ever DOU equivalent of OST
  • We started doing this with the SPL shop for OST a couple of years ago and it turned out well.
    • If anything, this seemed to be another reason why people were motivated to purchase something as the community regulars knew it was giving back to their community.
  • :blobstop: STOP! Community manager and the second nicest Smogon member TonyFlygon made a fantastic post here, outlining the prospect of a DOU equivelant of OST. I would advise at least skimming it before proceeding. Ok, now go!
  • DOU is quietly one of the stronger communities on Smogon and their recent dismissal from SPL left many members of the community feeling like they were underrepresented. This gives it some more representation!
    • I do not have a horse in this race with regards to SPL, but ever since DOU was removed from slam, it had no place in the official individual circuit. I believe that giving it an individual makes perfect sense for these reasons and what Tony said.
  • This allows for everyone -- including singles players -- to get a crack at DOU and exposure to their community, which seems to be important.
    • DOU players are not only numerous and experienced at their best, which their showing in recent threads and performances and various tours have shown, but they're also historically great at being welcoming and friendly to their singles playing teammates.
    • Seeing as individual tournaments are open to anyone, this also allows for a rare opportunity: giving singles players a chance to explore DOU and the DOU community.
    • I am perhaps a bit bias when saying this as I have only had pleasant experiences, but I must say that this is something a lot of singles players should be excited about. The format is a blast and the community is filled with friendly faces.
  • It is not a perfect solution and there is no perfect solution, but it is very possible to fit into the tournament schedule and, as Tony says, has very few drawbacks.
    • I will get to the logistics in the next portion of my host, but do note that if any hosting or maintenance is required for the tour, I personally volunteer to help out on that front if needed.
Timing? Let's break this down.

This is more rough than concrete and I am not going to begin to try to step on the toes of the TDs, who clearly put a lot of effort into maintaining their official circuit. However, if the new team tournament is during the summer, which the OP and TDK make great points about, then it would be possible to have a late September, October, or early November start date to the DOU OST.

Let's look at the 2020 Official Tournament Schedule:
Smogon Premier League XI - January 6, 2020
Official Smogon Tournament XVI - January 13, 2020
Smogon Tour Season 29 - March 13, 2020
Smogon Classic VI - March 23, 2020
World Cup of Pokemon 2020 - June 22, 2020
Grand Slam IX - June 15, 2020
Official Ladder Tournament VII - August 5, 2020
Smogon Snake Draft IV - August 24, 2020
Smogon Tour Season 30 - September 18, 2020
Smogon Premier League XII - January 18, 2021
The DOU tournament would only overlap with the later stages of OLT playoffs and the second season of Smogon Tour (maybe the finals/semis of Grand Slam, too). Seeing as DOU is not represented in the individual circuit, that's not an issue. If we are talking about the new team tour being around when WCOP is, then it will not be overlapping with this either.

Speaking of the new team tournament, this is a thread about it, so I'm going to switch gears to how this impacts the timing of the team tournament circuit. If the new team tournament happened around when WCOP did -- which is usually late May / early in June if no DLCs happen, then it will end earlier in the summer, letting us have a late Summer/early fall WCOP that does not even interfere with the later half of many college semesters. Obviously this is rough and specifics need to be ironed out. I would be glad to draw up a hypothetical timeline even, but I do not want to get ahead of myself and I absolutely do not want to overstep here. The point is that it is logistically possible, so there is no red flag here.

Potential drawbacks? Let's break this down.

The main negatives this plan has is that it relies on the successful development of the new team tournament. If there is not enough cause for excitement, the tournament may never reach the levels of prestige we wish and that will also compromise the DOU OST getting off the ground as well as we would like. I believe every poster in this thread has one common goal: making sure that we have the best new team tournament possible. Smogon has a lot of amazing people who are invested in the success of the community, so I know that we can make it work.

Other causes for concern include community interest (or lack thereof) in the DOU OST, approval from the people who run the site assuming money is involved (like OST), and the "if it's not an OU tier, it does not 'deserve' its own individual tournament" folks. As for the potential for a lack of interest, individual trophy tours that are not live tours/time specific tend to always get sufficient sign-ups, the VGC tour had a decent draw historically and DOU is even more in-touch with the Smogon demographic, and the initial post Tony made has gotten lots of support on the forums/some discussion on discord today already, which is a positive sign. As for the potential for the people who the the site to disapprove, that's up to them of course. As for the "if it's not an OU tier, it does not 'deserve' its own individual tournament' folks, there is no real way to define what deserves what. The entire circuit is arbitrary and there is no perfect balance whatsoever. Let community perception, support, and the TDs discussions among themselves decide thing, not anything more or less.

If other people have more concerns, I would absolutely love to hear them and discuss them. I am not married to this idea and honestly just had it today after Tony made his post, but I think it kills two birds with one stone due to it helping raise hype/awareness for this tournament + helping improve the DOU situation.

tl;dr: let's plan now so Zracknel can make the art, open up the apparel shop after the auction, and use the proceeds to fund the first ever DOU version of OST later in the year!

I would be happy to make a separate thread on the DOU tour if it gains traction. Do not want this one to get derailed.


As for the new team tournament, I do not have much to add on the creative side when it comes to the name of it or even the format for team names, but I do think some tournament details mentioned in the OP are in my wheelhouse.

I have managed both Snake and auction tournaments. Auction drafts are better for officials. Assuming the tournament is meant to be prestigious, which you would think an official team tournament is, I will always favor the auction draft over the Snake draft. It allows for managers to have more specific priorities and valuations that are not limited by random order placement. Getting specific top players or combinations of players may be impossible for specific managers in a Snake draft, but if a certain individual or a certain group of players are believed to be worth larger sums to a manager in an auction, they can take the calculated risk of dumping large amounts of their total here. This also goes full circle as it leaves more room for planning budget picks, which is virtually eliminated in the Snake draft as everyone is going to get a handful of lower end picks at the end of the draft without any potential to stack more of them or elect for a more balanced overall roster with less of them. There are more examples of why there is more depth to the preparation for an auction that encourages sound strategy and playerbase knowledge, too, but the point is that if we are going to try to make this tournament the best possible, then we might as well trust the people we select to manage the tournament with the ability to make judgement calls without being restricted to a Snake draft. I have little to say on the specific types of auctions, but I personally am on board with the "if it ain't broken, don't fix it" line of logic, thus meaning that adapting the SPL auction model could come in handy.

Regarding the format of the tournament, I believe the following tiers should be locked in: SS UU, SS RU, SS NU, SS PU, SS DOU, SS LC, and SS OU. I do not think anyone is disputing their inclusion and if they are, I would love to hear that argument because I cannot say I understand. Assuming there is no disputing that, this then begs the question: how many total slots, how many SS OU slots, and what other tiers are worth considering?

I believe 10 slots makes the most sense due to SPL having 10 slots and the team tournament it replaced having 10 slots. Assuming a minimum of 2 SS OU slots (we have never seen just 1 CG OU slot), that leaves us with 8 slots locked in already. Personally, I prefer making the additional 2 SS OU + SS Ubers, assuming the latter is suitable and all signs seem to be pointing towards them taking steps in the right direction. You can make a case for SS Monotype or a fourth OU slot, but the former I am not personally familiar enough with to comment on and the latter unfortunately seems to have been received poorly in recent editions of Snake, so I do not know that much would change here. Therefore, I would support SS OU x3, SS UU, SS RU, SS NU, SS PU, SS DOU, SS LC, and SS Ubers as the 10 slot format.

Finally, I touched on scheduling and promotion in my proposal above, but I think this thread would be a great place to have a detailed discussion about retention policies. Personally, I think the current way SPL handles it is the best Smogon has ever had and I do not know if there is a way we would need to change it, but if there are other concepts worth considering, then now is the time to propose them, especially if people want this new team tournament to have some individually unique characteristic when compared to SPL.
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starry blanket

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i like teal's idea a lot. the specific mechanics he proposed probably aren't feasible, but the idea of having an SPL that carries on throughout the year is fantastic. perhaps we can have a december/january auction and an august/september auction, and during the specific "season" the cancering rules still apply, but outside of it, players can choose to go to auction.

having managed in wcop, i have seen the benefits of this sort of structure. being able to team with many of the same people and build friendships over a long period of time is both fun and important to team success. this idea is radical and probably too complicated to implement, but if possible, i think it would do a good job of strengthening the things we love about team tournaments that teal highlighted in his post. would love to see what some of the big manager dudes think about this.


the more conservative idea is a simple one: rebrand current SPL into SPL Winter and make the new tournament SPL Fall.

in smogtours, hogg pointed out that many great unused forum names exist, meaning we can probably make 10 teams branded similarly to SPL. we can use the same auction and retain system, too. by copying SPL while also maintaining the name of SPL, you avoid (SOME OF) the criticism that it is just "spl junior" or whatever.

essentially, you are responding to the call to give lower tiers a higher quality tournament than snake by giving them an SPL. this also appeals to the other thread, where every metagame is calling for SPL representation. the SPL name has a lot of prestige: it is understandable why lower tiers would be frustrated to be excluded, but as the TDs and many others have pointed out, it is becoming infeasible to include so many of these tiers in the current SPL. replacing snake with a second SPL that focuses on lower tiers is the easiest and safest path, while still being fairly exciting (even if it isn't as cool as a tournament with a totally new brand and draft format). the SPL brand and format work, might as well continue to use them.

some misc things:
  • i agree with the following tier proposal: 3x OU, Ubers, DOU, UU, RU, NU, PU, LC. it mirrors the current SPL (having 3 OU) while featuring the reasonable lower tiers. ubers has started to do some tiering lately, so i see no reason why they should be excluded (see icemaster's post).
  • might be a bold one, but i think it can share the same trophy as current SPL if it has the same brand. this might be a necessary move to avoid people shitting on the value of the "other SPL." if you do give this tour its own trophy, please make it different from the snake one (even though that one is a nice color).
  • disagree with TDK's idea of shifting WCoP around. for one, it's unfair to WCoP. you don't take away from one tour just to give to another, that's dumb. another thing is that if you are making this another SPL, then you have the following schedule: SPL Winter, break, SPL Summer, WCoP. i understand the fall is a busy time for a lot of people, but i think back to back SPLs (under what i am proposing) would be even worse.
  • finally, LOCK THE FORMATS FOR BOTH TOURS. not saying to literally lock them into the specific metagames listed here, but make it clear that we have one OU + oldgen SPL and one OU + lower tier SPL. the oldgen one will need to have its format edited to accommodate increasing gens of course, but beyond that, having a static format is important. it's really frustrating seeing these same debates year after year. i get that the TD team changes, but some structures need to be implemented that prevent things from just changing on a whim, unless it is absolutely necessary that things change for some unexpected reasons down the line lol.
thank you to hogg and others for starting this discussion EARLY and also bless zrack for being the GOAT and willing to do art and everything.

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I've said as much in many other venues, but I just want to put forward the idea of naming teams after locations from the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon franchise. The reason for this is that there's an abundance of names to choose from between all the games in the franchise while still being related to the Pokemon series in the first place. Now I know that prior posts have expressed concern with Pokemon related names, but these locations aren't explicitly Pokemon related in name with stuff like Temporal Tower and Spatial Rift not having strong ties to anything in the main series. I agree that [place + pokemon] is a garbage team naming theme, so something else should be used as the names, but I do think that using PMD as a basis for the naming theme is a good idea.

With regards to format discussions, I'm not particularly passionate about anything and while I myself really like the idea of a year-round tournament schedule with franchises and such I don't think it's reasonable in smogon's current climate. What I do want to advocate for is the tier breakdown posted by steelskitty in the other thread with 3 OU/DOU/Ubers/UU/RU/NU/PU/LC being the format. This last snake made it clear that having 4 CG OU slots was a bit too much, and slotting in Ubers over one of those slots seems like the cleanest solution for the reasons laid out by Icemaster and others in their posts explaining why Ubers should be in this new team tournament.

San Tomas

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as a tournament follower, making the non-SPL tournament follow the same auction style draft with the same teams would definitely strengthen the tournament's prestige in my eyes. it would instantly credit the second tournament with much of, if not all of, the same credit SPL gets.

In terms of a possible name, you could call it something like the Smogon Champions League, to indicate wider involvement from a bunch more places on the site that's still prestigious, much like how the English Premier League (very prestigious, just England) is cool and so is the UEFA Champions League (very prestigious, not just England but including them). Basically, Smogon Premier League (very prestigious, just OU), Smogon Champions League (very prestigious, not just OU but including (1 of) it).


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Alright, going to try to respond to a few things and drop in my own thoughts. I’m writing these thoughts up while at work and posting from mobile so I’m not going to quote post everyone, but I’ll try to respond where I can.

TDK I actually agree and think a summer tour is ideal, but would probably require a more dramatic shift than just bumping this tournament earlier. I think overlap with WCOP is more of a problem than just scheduling concerns (issues with teamsharing etc become a big problem with overlapping team tours, especially considering that both will have a big focus on CG OU). I don’t know how willing the TD team will be to completely redo the tournament schedule. It’s something that probably should happen every now and then but as I (and probably you) know from experience is way easier said than done. Inertia is a powerful force and it’s really hard dramatically shifting tours that have been at a certain place in the calendar for years. If we’re living in a pipe dream though, I’d say move WCOP to fall (it’s a great time to see active talent before SPL, too!) and move this tournament to ~June, swap the schedule on Classic and Slam and maybe make some other shifts as well.

atomicllamas See above but yeah, I’ve been pushing for swapping Classic and Slam for a long time as well. Previously we avoided it for the same reasons that people are concerned about having a lower-tier focused tour in the winter - November release dates of new games - but our new accelerated tiering system, for all it provokes angry blunder videos when Blaziken drops to UU, is good at populating lower tiers quickly, and should be able to do so in time for the current Classic timeslot.

Moutemoute I hadn’t really given any thought to the trophy color. I don’t personally see any issue with recycling Snake’s green trophy, especially since by this time next year it’ll be a gray trophy regardless, but dark purple is a pretty badass trophy color too. Honestly I don’t really care too much about this one personally, though, so I’ll let folks who have more opinions on trophies and badgesets be the ones to discuss it.

Icemaster As one of the people who was heavily involved in the original (and unfortunate) decision to cut Ubers, I agree! The community has made huge strides since then, and Ubers has a long and storied history on Smogon that I’d love to see return to prominence. I haven’t played it myself since DLC2 and the Dynamax suspect, but I’ve been following things closely and it seems like it’s heading in the right direction tiering-wise.

teal6 starry blanket Oh boy this one is tough. I love this idea in theory, but at the same time I feel like it’s super unlikely that people will agree to it in practice, which makes it hard to really dedicate much headspace toward it. I guess I’d be interested to see if this is something with a decent bit of support from the TD team, and if so I’m happy to discuss my thoughts on it, but until then I think it’s probably best to move forward with the assumption that SPL and Untitled Goose Tour will not be directly linked. THAT SAID, I do have a kind of wild idea involving full team retentions that I think could possibly work, will bring this one up later.

@everyone who brought up cool ideas on tour name, themes, etc., you’re all awesome! Not going to respond to these individually but I’ll include more on my own thoughts in a bit.

Anyhow, onto my own personal preferences. None of them are that radical and a lot of them will echo @Finchinator’s general thoughts. I’ll try to go through my own checklist:

BRANDING: Ok, a few different ideas have been brought up. Of the ideas referenced, the idea of SPL sister teams is definitely intriguing. This could be done as direct relationships with the section in question, or with plays on those teams, or both.

Re: branding, I will stick to a few points that I feel strongly about though. A good theme is nice as a starting point but it should NOT be kept to too strictly. There needs to be a good mix of names, they need to sound fun and they need to sound like teams. What we absolutely don’t need is a super-regimented naming scheme like we had with Snake. I also think we should avoid being too on the nose. For example, this was discussed on discord a bit, but we probably shouldn’t just be naming teams the (Location) (Pokemon). That’s boring and it’s indistinct and it’s lazy. Themes should be a source for inspiration, but they shouldn’t be a straightjacket.

For example, say we go with the sister team concept. That doesn’t just mean we have to take the existing team name and give it a twist. That’s certainly one option, but we’ve got room to play! For example, take the Indie Scooters. If we make a sister team, we have a few things that could play off of this. We could have it related to Inside Scoop or one of the subforums. We could have it vehicle-themed or hipster-themed. We could think of something complementary to Alakazam. All of these are interesting options and we don’t need to stick to just one of them. As long as we use the Indie Scooters as the jumping off point for the new team, we’ve engaged with the theme without being married to it. And that’s good! We want teams that people want to play for, not silly SPL knock-offs. Making the Dragonspiral Tyrunts would be cute for about twenty minutes but personally I would much rather play for a team that sounds interesting or cool on its own merits, and not just as a reference to my beloved Tyrants.

I’ll let some team name ideas using various themes simmer for a bit and then post more thoughts later. In addition to the sister team idea, @Eo mentioned using PMD as a jumping off point for a theme, which is also cool (though in general I’m not a huge fan of direct uses of Pokemon names or locations). Or as was mentioned previously we could continue the Smogon connection that SPL has with site areas. I think there are some good options with all of these ideas, as long as we remember the first rule: team before theme.

And yeah, we are absolutely nuts if we don’t take Zracknel up on his offer to assist with branding. Zracknel is the best.

TEAM DRAFTING PROCESS: Money auction >>> any ordered draft process. Like Finch I’ve participated in both, and it’s just better in every possible way.

Honestly we could just steal the SPL auction system wholesale and it would work just fine. I am very much NOT a fan of making changes just for the sake of making tours distinct or interesting. However, I do have a couple of thoughts on possible changes.

First and easiest imo would be introducing some form of mid-auction sellback. Basically, introduce the ability for teams to nominate one of their own players for auction, with the winning bid going back to that team rather than to the house. Completely eliminate the ability to do mid-auction trades (which are always a huge pain in the ass and always screw up everything), because teams will have the ability to adjust if necessary by selling back players mid-auction. This would add an extra layer of auction strategy, while also allowing teams to adjust their lineups mid-auction if, for example, they got outpriced on an expected buy and needed to make some changes to their mid- to late-auction pickups that rendered some of their earlier picks obsolete. It would also probably help avoid debacles like what happened with Ojama and the BIGs last SPL.

The one big caveat is that teams would not be able to bid on their own player past the initial bid, since otherwise they could immediately raise the price to what they initially paid for the player (or higher!), making it risk-free to put up one of their own players for auction.

OK, that was the fairly simple one. Now let’s talk about more complicated solutions. I’ve been giving it more thought and I think that any sealed bid option still needs to happen live and player by player, because otherwise you can’t plan a team at all. However, I think solely running a sealed bid auction will run into some of the same problems that the Snake draft has, which is that you will struggle to guarantee certain slots that might be essential to your roster. If blunder is a key part of my plans, but I underestimate how much he’ll go for, I can just bid more in a standard auction, but if I only get one shot to guess what he’ll go for then I lose that choice.

But here’s where it might work: funds get distributed, and we hold a live, player-by-player sealed auction. Then, once the sealed auction is concluded, teams immediately go to an open auction similar to the current format, except that they auction their own players and the funds go to the team. Teams WOULD be allowed to upbid their own bids if they want in this case, which would effectively be them saying “hey you can have Christo as long as you pay a minimum of 30k” or whatever.

I do think that the Dutch/reverse auction system isn’t ideal, though. It’s cool in theory as the second stage of a two-stage auction like what I just brought up, but a Dutch auction will punish anyone with even a slightly slower connection, since the winner is always the first person to agree to the lowered price.

EDIT: The more I think about it, the more I’m leaning toward just nixing any potential two-stage auction idea. It’s fun to nerd out a bit about auction theory and different formats, ultimately I think that none of these changes would necessarily make a better tour, just a different (and more complicated) one. So yeah, keep the SPL-style auction, and possibly add in the ability to re-sell your own players after purchasing them as mentioned above.

FORMAT: Ten players has long felt like the sweet spot for team tours to me, and it’s what OUPL is going with, so let’s go with that. I also highly agree that four OU slots is just not ideal. Two is preferred but I can stomach three. Four is too much, one is two few.

So, I think there are basically two options:

OU / OU / OU / DOU / Ubers / UU / RU / NU / PU / LC
OU / OU / DOU / Ubers / UU / RU / NU / PU / LC / Bo3

For a Bo3 slot I’d recommend UU/RU/NU. Those three tiers tend to have the most overlap in terms of players among the bunch, and I think it would be easiest to draft a dedicated slot to cover those three than any other possible combination.

For substitutes, if we do an SPL-style auction, two mandatory subs. If we do a two-stage auction, we could probably comfortably go up to three, just to make things a bit more forgiving.

This hasn’t been talked about much, but for total number of teams, I think it should be either ten or eight. Eight teams makes a tighter, more competitive tour but an easier auction, because less competition over top players. Ten teams means more variance among teams but also more of a chance to see break-out stars, since teams are more likely to take risks on less proven players.

Finally, keep the SPL weeks option into semifinal playoffs, no matter what we do.

TEAM CONTINUITY: Definitely include this in some form. I see two real options.

The first is just to keep the status quo and run with SPL’s retain system. I’m 100% fine with just stealing the SPL system as-is - as one of the people who worked hard to close up loopholes in that system and make it fair for all, I think it’s a pretty good one.

However, if we wanted to look at some different models, there is another option I’ve been thinking about. This is pretty dramatic, but potentially interesting. Going to switch to a bulleted list because it’s a bit complex (which might be enough to sink it as an idea, but hear me out):

  • Rosters carry over fully from year to year.
  • Total auction funds are SIGNIFICANTLY reduced. Teams will likely need to get a small stipend just to get the ball rolling, but overall you go into the auction with your pockets close to empty. Will have to crunch the numbers to figure out a good starting point for said stipend.
  • You can release a player from your roster, giving them free agent status. If you do so, you receive additional auction funds equal to what you paid last year, with a cap of 10k.
  • During the auction, you can nominate a player on another team’s roster.
  • If someone nominates one of your players and you choose to keep them, you can automatically bid an amount equal to what you paid last year. You can also increase this amount using your existing funds to upbid beyond that point.
  • If another team places the winning bid on one of your players, they get the player, and your team receives the funds (rather than having said funds go to the house).
  • If you place the winning bid, you pay the house any amount that exceeds what you paid the previous year.

In other words, it will be impossible to 100% guarantee the retain of any single player, since teams can attempt to upbid you on anyone, but you can theoretically carry over your whole team from year to year, and you effectively have a solid advantage when it comes to retaining existing players.

I’ll use SPL XI as an example, even though obviously SPL is a separate tour. Let’s say I’m a returning manager for the Tyrants under this new system. All managers get a minimal stipend (again, gotta crunch the numbers here, but it’ll be super low, because ultimately everyone will more or less automatically have teams right from the get-go and can get more funds by releasing players to be free agents).

Theoretically, the entire SPL XI Tyrants roster will carry over. If there are any players I definitely don’t want, I can release them as a player, getting up to 10k in additional auction funds for everyone I release in order to cover the cost of replacing them in auction. (This is also handy for not being totally screwed by people from last year’s team not signing up this year.) Or, if I’m pretty sure they’re worth more than 10k, I can leave them on my roster in hopes someone else will bid on them and pay even more than that… but that’s a risk that might result in me effectively losing funds overall.

So, I release some of my cheaper picks for some extra cash, and go into the auction. Now, it turns out that a lot of teams have their sights set on blunder. Unfortunately for me, they can bid on him just like they’d bid on any other player! If they do, then the winning bid goes to me, rather than to the house, and I can use those funds to bid on free agents or another team’s returning player.

On the other hand, I can bid on blunder too! In that case, we go through a bidding war like normal. If I win, I pay the house funds equal to my winning bid minus what I paid last year - so if he ends up going for 35k, I’m paying the house 6.5k to keep him.

Meanwhile, maybe I’ve got my eyes on Pearl, or maybe I just think he was a huge steal last year and I want to force his price up so that the Wolfpack doesn’t get to keep him for free. I can bid on Pearl despite the fact that he’s on the Wolfpack, potentially raising his cost and eating into the Wolfpack’s ability to bid on new players if they’re really trying hard to hang onto him.

I know it’s a dramatic change, but with teal6 and starry blanket talking about ways to encourage continuity, it got the gears turning. I’ve been spending the morning trying to poke holes in the idea but I legit think it could work, if we were willing to go with something big. Wouldn’t really see its impact until year 2+, of course, but that’s fine.

PROMOTION: Start early, start often. I’m into Finch’s idea of opening the merch shop early. Let’s also have full on media blitzes including staggered reveals of new logos/managers, pre-draft casts, player showcases, more teaser vids (working on the SPL X teaser vid was so much fun), etc. Make people excited for this tournament, and find ways to make watching it an experience.

SCHEDULING: Covered above.

Whew, that was a lot. If you read through all of that, you’re a champ. I’ll do a quick summary for those who want to skim:

  • Whatever we do with the schedule, swap Classic and Slam. I’m confident that using our system of turboshifts and accelerated tiering, we can populate lower tiers in time for a late-winter Slam even with a November release of games.
  • Decide team names early. Use a theme as a basic jumping off point but do NOT heavily restrict options within that theme.
  • Have a money auction. Possibly introduce the ability to sell drafted players mid-auction, as a replacement for the absolutely terrible mid-auction trades we’ve seen in the past.
  • Possibly do a two-stage auction involving a sealed bid initial auction followed by a second stage where you can sell off people bought in stage one, though this is probably more trouble than it’s worth.
  • Go with 10 playing slots, including DOU / UU / RU / NU / PU / LC and either three OU slots or two OU slots and a UU/RU/NU Bo3.
  • 10 teams, though there are some advantages to dropping total teams to 8. Regular season of SPL-style weeks followed by top 4 advancing to playoffs, no reason to muck about on this one.
  • Either SPL-style retains OR see above for a kind of out there idea for full team retains, check the bulleted list and hideblock above, I promise this idea isn’t as wild as it sounds!
  • Promote, promote, promote! Got lots of ideas for this but we can’t really start until we hammer out the other stuff, so this kind of takes a backseat in this discussion.

That’s all, folks!

EDIT (except not really because I managed to catch it before I hit post): Ooh, Smogon Champion’s League is my favorite potential name so far. I think I like that even more than the Winter/Summer Premier League option.
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The extremely virile Tony Finau
is a Tiering Contributoris a Contributor to Smogonis a Past SPL Champion
Hi all, I'm not too concerned with exactly what format tiers and draft wise the next snake takes but I have a cool idea about branding I mentioned on Discord.
I think Snake should be called 'Summer SPL' or something to that effect, and it should keep the SPL team names.
The twist is that the teams get a new freshly designed second logo with a different mon mascot for either this tour or old gen/winter SPL - for example the Tyrants could reboot their legacy TTar mascot for old gen SPL and use the current Tyrantrum one for lower tiers, or as another example the Cryos could keep their Suicune in old gen SPL and have a fresh one with Vanilluxe or something for lower tiers. There's a lot of cool stuff you can do with this, it picks up on the history and charm of the SPL teams while also having a new spin for the new lower tiers tour. SPL team identity works, and this seems like a nice compromise between legacy and originality.


is a Community Leaderis a Tiering Contributor
Monotype Leader
Hello people, to probably no one's surprise, I think Monotype should definitely have a place in this new tournament (Smogon Champions League is a great name). The Monotype community is one of the biggest on Smogon, our room on PS! averages over 300 users daily, being the most active non-OU official tier in terms of PS! activity. This links to Monotype Premier League, the main tournament we have which has the most signups (ty DrReuniclus) (link in case the first one doesn't work) out of all the other forum PLs for other official tiers; peaking in 2017 and still surging in activity to date. We also get the third highest ladder games which was posted by Tennisace here.

The notion that Monotype is purely match-up based is blatantly ignorant and, frankly, an uneducated opinion that only serves as a way for people to discredit what Monotype is. For those of you who do say 'lol preview tier won in the builder,' if this was an obvious problem with Monotype, there would be no clear-cut top players. There are several players that have a consistent over 70% win rate in Monotype. There's no way to find such consistent success in a tier if it was decided at preview. Matchup is a huge part of every game, it can't be helped, but in Monotype, just like every competitive tier, even bad matchups are very much winnable and can easily be outplayed by a competent player. How many OU games have been lost due to not being prepared for the broken moth in SM? How many teams lost to sub kyurem earlier in SS? All Finchinator had to do was not see Jolly CB Mosa and he would've been fine but boom, game decided. It will always be impossible to cover everything in a tier, but with proper building you can cover enough to compete, which is the case in Monotype. Covering your own weaknesses is extremely important when building in Pokemon, and in Monotype by extension. An example is how balanced the steel vs ground matchup is. If you haven’t played the tier at all and spout nonsense like so many tend to, you might think it would be pretty simple to click moves with Lando-I and 6-0. This is not the case, and you see steel winning more often than not with celesteela and ferrothorn being able to take on the majority of a ground team. Similar checks exist with virtually every type to such an extent that matchups are defined by the Pokemon you choose not the type you choose, just like when you build in OU. In essence, even with the bare minimum standard sets and teams, an extremely high percentage of games will be competitive.

Many people have worked hard in both the past and present in order for us to get legitimacy and to get where we are today as an official tier. Unwinnable matchups are not common at all in the competitive scene, and the success that tour players have in monotype when they play further proves it as a metagame that skilled players can easily adapt to. Our community is large, and the competition is of a high quality. You see many Monotype ‘mains’ branch out and have proper success in other tiers, proving the quality is there. (Lax, Sabella, Thorn, 1 True Lycan among others). You see many ‘tours players’ give us a try and continue to come back. Monotype deserves to have trophy tournament representation, and suggesting that Monotype is unplayable because of some perception of matchup like those who have never played more than 2 games (if that) is foolish.

The Bo3 multi-tier slot being proposed would quite frankly be an awful idea. You're taking away from our huge player base and community to add in a random bo3 out of nowhere to fill a slot. We have plenty of players capable of playing in this tour without pulling from other tiers. Also, not enough people play all 3 of UU NU and RU at a high enough level to fill out the bo3 slot and you would just be taking away from the quality of Bo1 UU, RU, and NU slots, which people already claim to be a problem. There's really no better time to integrate us into the tour scene. We have the player base to back it up. Having the format of this tournament be 2x SS OU / SS UU / SS RU / SS NU / SS PU / SS Ubers / DOU / LC / SS Monotype satisfies everyone.
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Former Pro & Content Creator for @USWEST
is a Community Leader Alumnusis a Tiering Contributor Alumnusis a Past SPL and WCoP Champion
I think this new tournament should include Monotype. (I randomly decided to write this before Chait posted lmao)
official tiers.PNG

Monotype is an official tier on Smogon, right alongside LC, DOU and Ubers. It is not like OU through PU, but it is heavily based on the OU tier, just with a specification aka your team must have each Pokemon with a shared type. This isn't very different, in my opinion, from a tier like LC that is a competitive tier just with base stage evolutions and a level 5 limit. This also isn't different from a tier like Doubles OU which is OU with two Pokemon present on the field for each side. These tiers all have their own viability rankings, councils, suspect tests and most importantly, they all are Official tiers. Based on this fact alone, there is no reason not to include Monotype.

People might have doubts on Monotype in terms of playerbase and competitiveness (a useless word at this point based on everything going around). I used to frequent Monotype and its tournaments, and I can say with 100% confidence that this tier has what it takes to produce a strong player pool and gameplay.

From name and expectations alone, it might seem like a complete joke of a tier. "Lol wtf do you do as a Flying team vs an Electric team" or something like that. The tier goes way past that, and that's demonstrated in every generation the tier has been active in. From that example alone, you have Zapdos with a neutral effectiveness from Electric types and Ground/Flying types like Landorus. There are countless replays of techs created to help in these matchups and the thought processes and thinking that goes into constructing a Monotype team is really impressive. You would really have to play the tier to understand that, but there are many examples.

Here's a random replay I found from browsing the current Mono team tournament:
Team preview observations:
Psychic is super effective vs. Poison!
Wow, no Gengar switch ins!
Drapion can switch into Psychic moves if you predict correctly!

The Poison team is an example of being able to prepare for your obvious Psychic weakness. The Psychic team doesn't just automatically win this matchup, though. As you can see, the game comes really close and is won by... Agility Weakness Policy Latias. This game required outplaying from both sides to produce a close game, something you would want from any tier. Most, if not all, of the Monotype teams you'll see in tournaments have sets that would never be used in OU. These sets are made to account for as many matchups as possible and always have a specific use. Obviously, there are matchups that are too much for a Type to handle, but this is where prep goes beyond trying to account for as many matchups as possible. Prep is done by analyzing trends of what your opponent likes to bring, sometimes taking a risk on them not bringing a certain type. This is very similar to every other tier, like not prepping for Urshifu because in 7 weeks your opponent never used it once so you don't mind going light on the Urshifu counters. The entirety of Monotype feels like a mind game, and that's one of its biggest appeals. It feels really good to outprep and beat somebody through type matchup or by building.

As for the playerbase, Monotype is one of the most popular tiers on PS/Smogon and is also one of the most played ladders, but that's not too relevant. The Monotype playerbase is strong and the players are extremely dedicated. I'm not writing this post as a member of the Monotype community, but I am writing it as someone that has participated in it. In a tier one would assume to have many autolose matchups or whatever, you wouldn't really expect there to be consistent records among the players. However, there are players like 1 True Lycan who has the all time goat mono record with what, +30 wins? He either has that currently or used to have it. There are also very consistently strong players in peachyclouds, Chaitanya, Flossed Over, wanka, Sae etc the list truly goes on forever. These kind of players have something else besides just skill over some other players and it really shows by their records. I've never seen a single tier's playerbase this dedicated and this consistent.

Also, I know somebody is gonna try to use my post against me by going "Oh, yeah? Isn't National Dex also a category? What about the Other Metagames? Where do you draw the line?" Well, National Dex incorporates mechanics that aren't available in Generation 8. It has Megas and Z-moves and afaik moves that were removed from the game before like Pursuit? It is clearly not fit for a Generation 8 tournament. Other Metagames have additional features such as Almost Any Ability allowing your Pokemon to have any other ability as long as it is not banned. An example of this would be like Dauntless Shield Mew, or something. These rules go beyond what the current Generation 8 have to offer. While they are fun metagames and I'm not discrediting that at all, it is sort of like hacking your game to use these abilities and moves etc.

tl;dr Monotype has lots of potential to provide entertaining and quality games. It is the only "Official" tier that isn't represented besides NatDex and OMs for obvious reasons. I agree with 2x SS OU / UU / RU / NU / PU / Ubers / DOU / LC / Monotype


Never playing Little Cup in an Official TT again!
is a Tiering Contributoris a Contributor Alumnusis a Smogon Media Contributor Alumnus
if we want this to feel equal to spl it needs to be during a better time of the year (summer). primarily benefits those still in school but no one wants to play during snake bc its a really inconvenient time of the year. im aware this is when wcop is but its not gonna be equal to spl without being a better time of the year. lets be real with ourselves, a majority of people who are gonna play in this will still be in school and will be inconvenienced by the timing of the tournament as is. im not necessarily saying it's more important than wcop, but if we want it to be equal to spl, it has to have priority over wcop and be during the summer. wcop is also infinitely easier to schedule for the vast majority of participants because half are gone after r1 and you have 3 weeks to schedule for that. it does lose a lot of the real "world cup" feel but we'll need to decide whats more important

it should mirror everything else except tiering (and maybe team name themes) if we're going to stick with the current plan.
Completely agree with the switch, I feel like late august for a tournament like snake in particular is a bad starting time. I don’t even think this would be giving it priority over WCoP since, as you mentioned, scheduling is easier.
EDIT: Forgot to mention this when I posted this, but classic also provides old gen games between SPL and snake, so there’s diverse tier representation.

If switching the schedules is considered unfeasible, I think snake should nevertheless start earlier. There are other circuit tournaments in the fall and SPL is pretty near by then anyway.
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we live because we were born and haven't died yet
is a Tiering Contributor
I've said as much in many other venues, but I just want to put forward the idea of naming teams after locations from the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon franchise.
I love PMD, played Sky like four times and it's my favourite Pokémon game by far, but using a single spin-off series that is not even related to competitive battling as a theme for the main current-gen Smogon tour just doesn't sit right. It's too.. narrow and it's.. just a single spinoff series which is not even related to competitive battling. Perhaps extend the theme to the main/memorable story elements/moments/concepts of the entire franchise? Let's say.. Exiled Explorers/Exiles and/or something time-related from PMD, Rangers (Ranger), Warlords/Spartans (Conquest), maybe something card-related, add something like Beasts or a villainous-scientist-team-like name like Omega Team or w/e from the main series, etc.. It is different from the names used in SPL and unofficials, there's a lot of room for creativity (i am not creative) and most teams won't be just Location Pokémon.

With Winter SPL and Summer SPL team identity/continuity is a bit concerning. It would be awkward to have Winter Stark Sharks and Summer Stark Sharks as two entirely different teams if the tournaments are treated as separate in terms of retains, allowing managers to buy their BW mainers in SSPL to cheaply retain them in WSPL is just stupid and counterproductive, and creating different team names for Summer SPL - making them the counterparts to SPL teams would make SSPL feel like the SPL's little brother much more effectively than a new tournament, and.. there is no point in insisting on the new team tour keeping the "SPL" name when everything is different, really. The "premier" means nothing, as long as the tournaments are treated as equal. Nothing wrong with Smogon LaLiga Champions League.

Also free Monotype and Ubers, full team retains and the trophy should have a different colour (orange) as the new tour is not a Snake continuation.
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is a Forum Moderator Alumnusis a Contributor Alumnus
I don't have much to say about this for the most part, but I am personally pretty heavily against making the teams 'sister teams' of those in SPL. Especially combined with those already having more prestige, you'll like see that the new teams will be seen as the B teams/academy teams/lower division teams/whatever you want to call them, rather than equivalent ones. If this does happen, then you'll immediately have the new tour being basically 'SPL B League' or something similar, which is exactly the opposite of what we want.

New chantable team names are way better in my opinion, as they allow teams to form their own identity.

Smogon Champions League is a perfect name, go with that.


Heating Up
is a Tiering Contributoris a Past WCoP Champion
I cant say I have much to add regarding the monotype discussion. I completely agree with everything Lax and Chait have said and hope to see it be included. It is a tier that is wildly competitive and at its highest level matches are generally decided on skill rather than matchup advantage. I will not beat a dead horse about this but I would love to see the opinions of the other tournament players that have joined the monotype team tours over the years.

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