So yesterday we attempted to break the record for the largest tournament in Planetary Annihilation history, which was held by the Commander of March tournament at 53 participants, with the second largest being Clash of the TITANS, with 44.
Unfortunately we didn’t quite manage it. While we had 89 participants signed-up we only had 35 of them show up to play, giving us a no-show rate of 60%. I bring this up because this, amongst other things, caused some logistical issues which disrupted the event. Thankfully the feedback from players has still been incredibly positive, but I want to cover what we’re doing to address these issues in the future.
We have taken a mix of approaches to brackets in the past. Generally eXodus tournaments have marked no-shows as no-shows and given their opponent a bye, while non-eXodus tournaments trim the brackets, deleting the no-shows and recreating them, then reseeding. The line has become blurred these days to the point where every tournament is to some degree an eXodus tournament, but the divide in approaches remains between ones we stream ourselves and ones we don’t.
Yesterday I took the decision that we would just issues byes. I anticipated a no-show rate of around 30% and felt that while this would lead to some disruption in the first round, it would make it easier to get things started on time. It would also mean that late arrivals had a possibility of making it back into the tournament if their opponent hadn’t showed. While we ask that players arrive thirty minutes ahead of the starting time, the more casual the tournament the worse players are at doing this and we try to avoid unnecessarily penalising them. In addition I’ve seen numerous instances in past tournaments of a player being accidentally missed during bracket recreation and getting shut out from the tournament through no fault of their own.
In hindsight though this was a mistake. 60% no-show led to instances of players sitting around for long periods of time waiting for an opponent. If we did the tournament again I would trim the brackets. In the future we will likely adopt trims – and the risks that come with them – as a matter of course as player attendance at tournaments has proven too unreliable for byes to be a good system. This will also mean that late arrivals (those that arrive less than 30 minutes before start) are less likely to be allowed to participate.
There has been an intermittent global rollout of PA Chat to the Planetary Annihilation community. This has been great for fostering a feeling of community, but has led to us hitting the 100 player limit in the main chat room, after which point no one else can join. A new backend is being developed by mikeyh but was unfortunately not in place in time for the tournament due to external factors.
Anticipating the difficulties this would bring we updated our PA Chat guide, as well as the e-mail communication that went out to players, to provide an alternate recommend method for connecting to the patournaments room using the friends list.
PA Chat being full may have been a significant factor in the no show rate (or it might have been irrelevant), but beyond providing guides via our rules and e-mail communications highlighting workarounds there is not much more we can do here. The new backend will ultimately solve this problem.
60% no shows marks a record for eXodus eSports, and a personal disappointment for myself. The more no shows the greater the disruption and the later a tournament will start. While some players were kind enough to let us know they wouldn’t be attending through the withdrawal system, most did not. We will be reaching out to them to try and identify why they didn’t attend and see if we can do anything to improve attendance in the future.
We also have some players leave during the tournament. Sometimes life gets in the way, we understand. All we ask is that you try and ensure you’ve blocked out a window in accordance with the tournament’s estimated running time (we’re getting very good at these), and you let event staff know you have to leave before you go. It just makes our lives easier.
The clarity of the rules has also been tricky for us, trying to ensure they cover every situation while also being clear and concise. We think we’ve done a pretty good job, but we recognise that we need to do more. One area to be addressed is that we use a general set of rules across all 1v1 tournaments, but this is not necessarily suitable for our casual events which operate according to some slightly more relaxed rules in certain areas. We’ll be doing a pass over the rules to improve their alignment to the instructions given on the day.
In many instances though we find people have not read the rules at all, leading to questions like “What is Legion and how do I get it?”. We already highlight rules on the tournament page and in e-mail communications, but we’ll look to see if the sign-up page can highlight it too. At the end of the day if players don’t read the instructions we provide there’s not a lot we can do.
If you found any rules difficult to understand, confusing, or in conflict with the guidance provided during the tournament, we’d love to hear from you!
One area we overlooked was not accounting for numerous players not understanding that a double-elimination means that a loss does not mean the end of their tournament. In the future we’ll include a summary of the tournament type on the tournament page.
Despite all this, and an initial delay in getting things running, player feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. We appreciate you all being incredibly patient during the initial delays, and we certainly don’t intend this to be the last casual. We’ll crack that 53 player barrier yet!