underdog of the year
credit to Stratos for the written guide, credit to teal6 for the video
Guide to Scheduling (with Pictures)!
Hello everyone! I've been entering tournaments on Smogon for nearly six years, and have never once incurred an activity loss (at least that I remember). Furthermore, as a prolific tournaments host on Smogon, I have witnessed some rather... innovative methods of scheduling for tours. Having seen how an activity loss catastrophically affects some users who were betrayed by their own less-than-stellar scheduling abilities, I decided to share the secret of my success with the masses. Follow this simple guide and you, too, will never take an activity loss again! Throughout this guide I'll refer to user profile messages as VMs because that's what they were called on vBulletin and it's a much more convenient name.
The Golden Rule: Do it in Public
Remember, scheduling is a game with two goals. Goal 1 is to schedule with your opponent, but Goal 2—which is actually more important!—is to make sure that the host of the tournament knows you're on top of scheduling with your opponent. A tournament host has two sources of information: user profiles and the tournament thread itself. Anything they need to know should be accessible on one of these two media. Scheduling with your opponent in a private conversation without saving logs may seem like a good idea at the time, but if disaster strikes and you don't actually play, you have no proof that you deserve the activity win. Oh, no!
The Ideal Scheduling Conversation
The ideal scheduling conversation ranges from four to five messages long, and proceeds like this:
0) User 1 locates User 2's User Profile. If it is already set to public, skip ahead to step 1. Otherwise, User 1 tags User 2 and the host (user 2, @host) in the tournament thread requesting that User 2 make public their profile. User 2 will have up to 24 hours to comply before they are at risk for a substitution or disqualification.
1) User 1 contacts User 2 on their User Profile. User 1 mentions the name of the tournament for which the two are paired, states their time zone (in GMT) and lists their times of comfortable availability.
2) User 2 responds to User 1 as a reply to the same message. User 2 states their time zone, and which of User 1's listed availability windows are convenient for them as well.
3) User 1 replies with an exact time from the times which User 1 and User 2 are both available to play. User 1 names the server on which they wish the battle to take place; by default, this should be assumed Smogon Tournaments. If User 1's Pokemon Showdown name does not match their Smogon name, they also note it at this time.
4) User 2 confirms the appointment. This step may not seem important, but it is! If I tell you that we should meet at McDonald's at 4 and you never respond, there's no expectation for me to show. Same thing with Pokemon simulators! If User 2's Pokemon Showdown name does not match their Smogon name, they too note it at this time.
Side note on server names: Pokemon Showdown servers have acquired some slang nicknames over the years. Here is a short lexicon to help you understand your opponent's lingo:
main - the main PS server, psim.us. This is the one that people chat on and shit. If you don't know what it looks like, I want to congratulate you on coming out of your coma alive.
tours/smogtours - smogtours.psim.us, a special server set up for official Smogon tournaments where all battles are broadcast to the public, replays are automatically saved, and timer is often auto-set to on at the start of the battle. This server is very neat!
So there you have it, that's exactly what every scheduling conversation would look like in a perfect world. Here's a pictoral representation:
When Things Go Wrong
Of course, things don't always go according to plan. I've noted the common mishaps that occur during scheduling here and how to deal with them!
I can't make any of my opponent's times!
So you're User 2 in a particular scheduling conversation and your opponent has listed their times of easy availability on your wall. One slight problem: None of them work! Maybe you're in a shitty time zone difference, or maybe you just have opposing schedules. The first step is to reply with all of your available times—you already know that you can't both be comfortable with the time chosen, so it'd be rude to only give your opponent times that are good for you and force them to play on their laptop while herding cattle in order to get the game in!
From here, the conversation can diverge in a few ways.
1) The best, and probably most common, outcome is that you can both actually meet, just at a slightly shitty time. If this happens to you, of course, you will then continue to schedule like normal following the above steps. Congratulations, you resolved your scheduling conflict!
2) If the above doesn't happen, it's time to think about an extension. Typically, extensions in Smogon tournaments are given halfway into the next round, rounded down to the next full day. So for example, if the next round is 7 days long, as is usually the case, you can get an extension of up to 3 days into the round. If you can't meet in the allotted time for the round, try scheduling with your opponent into the typical extension window like so:
If this works, fantastic! There's typically no need to actually request an extension if the host can see that you have scheduled for a time after the deadline; they'll use their noodle and realize you need one on their own. That being said, it can't hurt to be safe and ask.
3) If you can't make any time work at all, not even with an extension, I'm sorry buddy, but you're just shit outta luck. I've been playing in tournaments for almost six years and this has never once happened to me, but it does happen. If that's the case, the match is just going to have to be coinflipped. Practice your RNG skills by playing RBY OU so you can hopefully win the coinflip and advance to the next round.
I missed the scheduled time!
It's ok, don't worry. Everyone's had unexpected things come up that stop them from making scheduled times once in a while. Just follow these steps and you'll be good to go.
1) As soon as you know you won't make it, contact your opponent to let them know. Everyone has a smartphone these days and this takes less than a minute to do. There's really no excuse not to do this. If you don't do this, you'll be making your opponent wait as you no-show, which will make you a dickhead. Here is how you follow this step:
2) Maybe you're in a hurry, and that's all you have time to type. Fair. But you can do better! Are you simply just running late? Give your opponent an estimated time of arrival. If you communicate this to them, you will have up to a 30 minute grace period from the scheduled time to arrive; otherwise, your opponent may leave after 15 minutes. You might luck out and get an opponent who is willing to wait longer, but nothing but your opponent's generosity will guarantee that.
3) If it's not just a delay and you miss your scheduled window altogether, contact your opponent to arrange another time. Apologize again for missing the first time. If you failed to follow Step 1, apologize for that as well, and explain why, or else you will remain a dickhead. Hopefully you both followed the model of the ideal scheduling conversation so you already know what times work well for both of you, and you can just pick another one. If no remaining times in the week work for both of you, jump to the subheader "I can't make any of my opponent's times!" and work from there.
My opponent missed the scheduled time!
So you've been sitting on Pokemon Showdown, waiting for your opponent to show up so you can battle, but the clock keeps ticking and they're nowhere to be found. What do you do?
1) Give them some wiggle room. Standard wait time is 15 minutes (30 minutes if your opponent communicates a delay to you). If your opponent isn't online and it's the wait time has elapsed, their status has officially shifted from "a bit late" to "no-show." If they show up before then, call them a good-for-nothing sluggard and play your match; if not, do the following:
2) Get proof of them being a no-show. Hopefully you won't need this, but if your opponent tries to claim that they were in fact there at the scheduled time, you can pull this out on them and call them a dickhead. PS has a chat command called /whois which will scan the entire server for a username and display their info if they are online. Simply get a screenshot of you whoising your opponent around 15 minutes after the scheduled time so that you're immune to their vicious lies.
As you can see, we scheduled for 1:45 PM and even fifteen minutes later, Arcticblast is nowhere to be found. What a shitty john.
3) Post in the tournament thread that your opponent missed time. Bonus points if you can make an insulting pun out of their name. (Note: Only make an insulting pun out of their name if they failed to follow step 1 of the previous section).
The ball is now in your opponent's court. If they fail to contact you to reschedule, collect your free activity win!
My opponent won't respond to my VM!
You have a couple options here. Option 1 is to claim your free activity win, but maybe you don't want to do that. Maybe you really want to play, or perhaps there's a really good player sitting on the sub list and your current opponent is free af. Either way, if they haven't responded to your VM, they probably just saw the notification when they were too busy to answer and then forgot. Leave another VM to remind them:
link to the puush in that picture
I've actually used this line before
Scheduling via other means than User Profile
Sometimes, you'll feel the urge to schedule in places other than your opponent's VM wall, such as PS private message, Discord private message, or facebook, carrier pigeon, or something. That's ok, as long as you follow these steps:
1) Follow the model of the ideal scheduling conversation in spirit, if not in practice. You should still make known both of your availabilities and decide upon a specific time. That's just good scheduling, regardless of if it's on a VM wall or not.
2) Post logs of the scheduling conversation, or at least the final agreed-upon time, in the tournament thread or on either user's VM wall. That way the host knows this conversation happened, and can use it to make activity decisions. If you don't do this, you have broken the Golden Rule of Scheduling, which makes you a dickhead.
If you read all this, congratulations, you're now a Scheduling Master! Now use the lessons contained within to make my life as a tournament host way easier, and stop scheduling for "weekend sometime" because I swear to god if I get one more case of each opponent saying the other missed time when they never narrowed it down beyond a 10 hour window I'm going to chokeslam them both.
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