Wednesday, 16 July 2014

[VG] My Thoughts on Recent "Rule-Bendings"

Some people love everything TPCi does for or against us. Some people can find reasons to hate absolutely everything. Some people are just the devil's advocates and some other people are just egoists. In this year alone, I'd probably see myself as a bit of everyone of those.

So, what actually happened? We have two major stories here, only counting this season (the previous season had a way more ludicrous thing in it, you can bet your ass on that). The first is the story of Europe's National Championship being not at all comparable to each other, as identical player performances throughout the tournaments would lead to very varying results. The second lies in North America, where a first-round bye allegedly costs more than a Worlds invitation. I very well expect two or three fools to void my opinion for being "biased" just because one of the stories has affected me very negatively, but oh well, that's pretty much expected, isn't it? Who am I even kidding when I try to believe that one day, we would finally have a season of Pokémon VGC that has neither of rule-enforcement inconsistencies nor simply bad rules, haha.

6-2 Out, 6-2 In, 7-2 Master Race

The first of the three tournaments strictly followed the rules that have been set at the beginning of the (for us non-existent, mind you) season. It happened to miss the threshold for a bigger top cut just by a handful of people, which ultimately led to only one 6-2 advancing from one flight and zero 6-2 advancing from the other flight. With my 6-2 that had a last-round loss in it, I was top 16 in the latter flight. It may also be interesting that, if I interpreted things right, I wouldn't even have been top 32 with the results of the flights merged. Resistance sure is a cool thing, think of that what you will... At the end of the day, going out like that was probably my most heartbreaking defeat in all my time of playing this game, but it was perfectly perfectly within the rules, no matter how badly designed they were.

The second tournament also strictly followed the rules, and this way it happened to amusingly prove why exactly the rules were bad. Expectably, it just met the top-32 threshold by a handful of people, and then the numbers in the day-1 results looked confusably similar to the first tournament, yet 16 more people made day 2 despite performing in absolutely no way better than we who have been sent home. I already had been angry at the system, now my Rage obviously was building further. However, we have to note: It's still all within the rules, it's what we implicitly agreed with by signing up.

The third tournament, now this is the big one. Following the rules, it would have been stuck with top 16 again for sure. So what, did it get top 32 instead? Haha, no, it got a top– I don't remember the number. The quintessence was that absolutely everyone with a 7-2 record at the end of the Swiss rounds made day 2. Objectively, that's one of the fairest ways we can arrange these tournaments, and I very much wish we keep that for the next year. Also objectively, it's still extremely unfair to the people who happened to play in the wrong tournaments. Whenever I asked how any 7-2s of Assago were more deserving of top cut than any 6-2s of Bochum, people would seriously answer that they won a game more and thus were "better". Like, really? Give me that ninth game please, then maybe I would be 7-2 too! The issue is, we didn't even get to play that additional game to prove that, with a 6-2 record, we still are "worthy". Also note that technically, players in Assago were allowed to start 0-2 and then win out, but I in Bochum wasn't allowed to start 1-1 to go into 6-1 into 6-2. See the difference?

The realist would probably infer, also taking 2013 into account, that European players might want to put some kind on priority on their very last tournament, haha. I for myself infer that the system (or lack thereof) intends that players travel across the continent for a month if they want to make it to Worlds, thus turning the things that are strangely labeled "National Championships" into ones that actually are interregional championships. And names are just names, so I know with what attitude I'll be tackling next year's VGC.

The community, though... There isn't really much disappointment to suffer from TPCi when you go in with low expectations to begin with, but the community appears so selfish to me, it's mad. I again sincerely congratulate everyone who made 7-2 on acquiring the achievement of reaching day 2, for they absolutely deserved it, but some/most of you could use more humbleness. If it's just a twist of fate that made you be successful with an equal result that turned out absolutely worthless for other people, you should accept that you got lucky to get there, instead of celebrating right in the graveyard of those who even made this twist of fate possible by their sacrifice, dramatically spoken.

Bye Bye Elo, See You in Dee-Cee

The puns were made, the hate is rising... Now we're in pun-hating America, where there is an established circuit but things still aren't solid enough for seasons following the same rulesets, yet alone one season being consistent in itself, one may think. This year, prize support has been increased most notably towards more travel awards towards US Nationals (I know right, this is exactly where some of the budget goes that denies us in Europe more opportunities to play at all, and we didn't even get these oh so despised card packs at Nationals...), where the Championship Point rankings determined who would get what travel award and who would get a first-round bye in the main event. Ties in CP were broken by Elo rating (a system that in the past has already been used for doing TCG rankings by the way, where it horribly failed), probably for lack of a better idea or complicatedness of just comparing direct placements or so, I don't know. Well, who am I kidding here, breaking ties based on numbers in itself ain't a good thing, because I think that people should get to play each other in order to determine who of them is "better".

Now it's somewhat understandable that ties are broken on travel awards, because a budget is a budget. The monetary difference it actually makes is peanuts, mind you, but that is the argument that seems to be widely accepted. Free wins in the first rounds, however, don't cost anyone a half Cent, and with how unfair they themselves already are, I can't say I'd disagree with them remaining left unbroken on CP ties. (I say it loud and clear, byes have foul impacts on tournaments and should be removed for good – but if they're acceptable anywhere in the world, then in the USA thanks to their actual circuit.)

It all has actually been accepted, because that's pretty much how it has been announced at the beginning of the season. The thing that now suddenly caused trouble is that the invitations to Worlds were awarded without breaking CP ties – it mattered, and it mattered even in such a large scale that the amount of paid trips got increased by one or two across the world. The additional trips alone do make one wonder why seemingly easier things weren't possible, and aside from that invites got increased thanks to this, too. A small but noteworthy thing that people have been dedicatedly picking out, is that it's unclear how a bye can cost TPCi more than a bag of swag. Both are considered to be a financial non-issue, whereas, say, trips are not.

So what is my opinion on this story? I very well think that some decisions in the past could have been made differently, but I also am happy for the few on the arbitraly worse ends of CP ties, and Worlds probably for everyone is the single event that matters the most. I think that crying outrage over this series of events is too much, considering what a lot of unfortunate European players yet again had to put up with. I'm not denying people largely different opinions on this matter though, simply for being not at all involved. But I do think that I'd rather have it this way than another way that follows separating the equal till the very end.

Will I Quit? Should I Quit?

(Yeah, people in the know should be easily able to recognize the reference, but I'm not judging. It's everyone's own power to decide whether to play or quit the game. Except: there is no such thing as "quitting" in Pokémon, haha.) I will not quit, at least not now. I possibly should quit, but not simply because of flimsy rules but more so my worthless results. There were times when I believed the results would simply not reflect my skill level, but I'm actually no longer sure of that, haha. But well, that's not the issue of this article, so... If we are seeing progress based on what happened this season for the next season, then the trouble was worth it for the greater good – even if I then just go out 6-3 and stuff, but to a somewhat manageable extent it lies in my own power to at least play a good tournament and I will try to do so if the format/metagame doesn't pose me unsolvable riddles. I still like this game after all, and I've seen way worse tournamental stuff in it than nowadays. We have come a long way, I appreciate that and I love to see the playerbase prosper like never before.

So that's it for this rant of varying degrees of injustice. As for the development of my blog, I still intend to release logs on my season – will just take till I feel like writing this stuff, pretty much. I didn't even get to do a lot in it, to be frank. Take care.

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