underdog of the year
credit to teal6 for the video, written guide by the TD team, based on original guide by stratos
Guide to Scheduling (with Pictures)!
Sometimes half the battle is figuring out when you and your opponent can actually have the battle. Whether you're new to Smogon tournaments or an old hat looking for a refresher on the correct way to schedule, this is the step by step guide for never suffering an activity loss again. As an added bonus, you'll cause significantly less stress for your local tournament host.
A quick guide to some common terms used in this guide:
VMs - Messages on the user profile (a user's "wall"), found by clicking through on somebody's forum username.
main - the main Pokemon Showdown server, psim.us (play.pokemonshowdown.com). If you've played on PS before, it was probably here.
tours/smogtours - smogtours.psim.us, the official Smogon tournament PS server where all battles are broadcast to the public and replays are automatically saved. It's preferable to use this server for official games.
Rule 1 - Schedule in Public
Scheduling is a three person event. Aside from you and your opponent, you want to make sure that the host of the tournament is aware of how your scheduling is progressing. A tournament host has two sources of information: user profiles and the tournament thread itself. Anything they need to know should be accessible in one of these two places, otherwise when the time comes for the host to make an activity decision they'll be working with no information and that doesn't end well.
It's acceptable to schedule in other locations, most commonly Discord, but you still want to follow the general structure of a scheduling conversation laid out below. If you do schedule in a different location, make sure you save logs of your scheduling conversation for later (if they're not saved automatically) and post a summary of the scheduling conversation, or at least the final agreed-upon time, in the tournament thread or on either user's wall. That way the host knows this conversation happened, and can use it to make activity decisions.
If you do schedule outside of forum walls, then you or your opponent must let a host know. Failure to do so puts you at risk of getting subbed out or your game being coinflipped.
The Ideal Scheduling Conversation
The ideal scheduling conversation ranges from three to four messages long, and proceeds like this:
0) User 1 locates User 2's User Profile. If it is already set to public, move on to the next step. If they're unable to post on User 2's wall, User 1 tags User 2 and the host (using an @ before User 2/the host's forum name) in the tournament thread requesting that User 2 make their profile public. If User 2 does not, they will risk being subbed out or suffering an activity loss.
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) If an exact time was not specified by User 2, User 1 replies with an exact time from the times which User 1 and User 2 are both available to play. If an exact time was already specified, User 1 instead confirms they will be ready to play at that time. This is vitally important - if you do not confirm the scheduled time there's not an expectation that you or your opponent will actually show up. Always confirm the scheduled time!
4) If User 1 proposed an exact time, User 2 confirms the appointment.
This is the completely clear, desirable scheduling conversation. You want to always have these conversations rather than have scheduling turn into a convoluted mess. In picture form, here's the ideal scheduling conversation in its entirety.
The Less Ideal Scheduling Conversation
Sometimes things aren't going to be this simple, but that doesn't mean you can't still figure out a time, you'll just need to put in a little more time.
You're User 2 and your opponent has listed their times of availability on your wall. The problem is that none of those times are going to work for you - maybe due to timezone differences and your opponent's asking to play at 2am or you've got a work/school schedule that makes none of those times possible. At this point you want to respond as soon as possible giving all your available times, because there's good odds one or both of you are going to have to play at a less than perfect time.
There's only a couple ways things should go from here.
1) Best case scenario, you and your opponent figure out a time that's not perfect but is possible, and schedule for then. At this point your scheduling is done and all that's left is to play the game.
2) If your schedules are absolutely incompatible, consider asking for an extension. Extensions in tournaments are half of the following round's length, rounded down to the next full day. 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 find a time that works in the original round, see if you can schedule for sometime in the extension timeframe. For example:
As a reminder, always confirm the scheduled time even if it's in the extension timeframe! Generally a host will see that you've scheduled for within the extension's timeline and will figure out that they should give you an extension (if you've scheduled outside of wall VMs, remember to post the scheduled time on either player's wall), but it does not hurt to post in the tournament thread asking for an extension just to be safe.
Extensions are up to host discretion, but it is strongly suggested to arrange and confirm a scheduled time before requesting an extension in order to maximize your chances of receiving one.
3) If you can't make any time work at all, not even with an extension, then that's just how it is occasionally. In this case, the match will be coinflipped to determine the winner. All you can do at this point, if you've exhausted all possible times to play, is hope you've got better luck than your opponent.
When the time you've scheduled for comes around, it's important to make sure your opponent and the tournament host know that you're online and ready to play. In the same place that you originally scheduled - user VMs if you scheduled on walls, Discord messages if you scheduled there, and so on - message your opponent to let them know you're online, what server you're on, and what your PS username is at or right before the scheduled time.
To find your opponent on PS, go to the same server they stated they'd be on and type /user [their username] into chat. If they're online, just click the challenge button and proceed from there.
If your opponent isn't online, it's time to wait for them to get on. The standard wait time is 15 minutes (30 minutes if your opponent communicates a delay to you). If your opponent isn't online and the wait time has elapsed, their status has officially shifted from "a bit late" to "no-show" and you have grounds to claim an activity win. After this point or whenever you're no longer able to wait (whichever comes later) you can post in the original scheduling messages or in the tournament thread explaining that you were online at the scheduled time and they never showed up.
It's generally encouraged to reschedule, but if you're not able to find a time to play later on in the round and you've done everything right to this point, you'll likely be given the activity win.
What if I can't make 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. Like with all other parts of scheduling, the major key is communicating with your opponent.
As soon as you know you won't make it, contact your opponent to let them know. This takes less than a minute to do and can be done from your phone, so you don't have any good excuse for not telling your opponent. If you're going to be slightly late, tell your opponent so they know to wait longer (the standard extended wait time is 30 minutes).
If you're going to be even later than 30 minutes or need to reschedule for a different day entirely, say that so you and your opponent can work out a new time. It doesn't need to be detailed, you just don't want your opponent to waste their own time waiting for you to never show up - something that reflects very poorly on you when it comes to activity decisions.
If there are still times of availability your opponent offered you can make later in the week, suggest one of those. Be proactive! If there aren't any periods of availability like this left, jump back up to the Less Ideal Scheduling Conversation section and work from there.
If the Opponent is not Responding
As long as you messaged your opponent, you're not obligated to do anything else if they're not responding to you, and can take the activity win or substitution as they come. You can always message your opponent again, since sometimes people do miss the initial notification, but you're not required to.
One of the common issues with scheduling is uncertainty about what time you are relative to your opponent. A significant amount of this confusion can be removed if you schedule using GMT timezones for easy conversion. Timezones like EST or MDT are ripe for misunderstandings in a way that "GMT-5" and "GMT-6" are not.
To convert from one GMT to another, you can subtract your time zone from theirs to convert between them. Let's say you live in a timezone of GMT-4. For an opponent with a timezone of GMT+1, you do 1-(-4)=5, to figure out they are 5 hours ahead of you - your 12pm is their 5pm, add five hours to your current time, and that's their current time. If their time zone is GMT-6, you do -6-(-4)=-2, to figure out they are 2 hours behind you - your 11pm is their 9pm, subtract two hours from your current time, and that's their current time.
What GMT am I?
Aside from googling "What Time Zone is [insert your preferred acronym]", you can also use this website to do conversions and double check that you're using the right timezone. If you think that you're GMT-5, but when you look at the website it says that the current time in GMT-5 is an hour later than what time it actually is for you right then, you're not GMT-5. Make sure to keep in mind Daylight Savings Time will change your GMT time zone, if you're in a place that follows Daylight Savings Time!
If you've gotten through all this, congratulations! You now have all the knowledge you need to successfully schedule for Smogon Tournament games. If you've got questions about unusual situations not covered in this guide, you should approach the tournament host so they're both aware of the situation and can provide advice to help you get your game scheduled. Good luck!
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