The Future of [R] Tournaments - The Majors
GLN: Now, the questions everybody is interested in - the Majors! First off, let's start with the contemporary issues: Concessions. What will your stance be against this phenomenon in these events?
Malthor: Concessions, I love collecting them! Next!
Seriously, I hear the concerns of the coaches very much. In some tournaments in particular (like Rookie Smacks) an early concession can 'ruin' the tournament, or the coach who has to play the beneficiary of that concession next feels the tournament has been ruined or turned into a farce. The reality there is no simple answer. Conceding is within the rules and if a coach does not want to play the game anymore what can you do? Make the coach play on and he/she doesn't move any players at all? Or he/she just fouls the heck out of the other guy?
GLN: So, in short, you'll be making no move against concessions, leaving the RRR - which makes conceding a bannable offence - as the exception to the rule.
Malthor: I do think conceding in tournaments is undesirable, but it is not clearly something we want to punish - it's not something we want to encourage either. Although I am in charge of tournaments, I make decisions in consultation with my fellow admins, and there are mixed views on this. If there is a change to be made to discourage concessions (a desirable outcome) then there might be a slight penalty - for example, a concession from a SMACK might earn a two week ban. I am more worried about coaches who concede multiple times from SMACKs, to be honest, than a coach who concedes once in the 8 or 9 majors that they have played.
GLN: In the same vein, there have been mutterings about the prevalence of power-teams - your own experience in this matter should be succinct. Any thoughts on placing a team rating cap on any of the Major tournaments?
Malthor: Again, there are very divergent views. On the one hand, coaches want to see the biggest and/or best teams in the final series and selecting your opponents in ranked is part of being in an open league structure. On the other side, I hear some coaches don't feel it is fair for über teams (some call them artificial teams) to dominate the Majors. Lets put it into context: We have had 9 Majors. Apart from the Athel Loren Guardians winning the GLT II, no Major has been won by an über team that was super selective with their games.
GLN: But not for lack of trying! This was what, your fourth Major final?
Malthor: Fourth Major final, I think so, with one or two of those being from the days of me being a Chaos Dwarf coach. I will certainly give it some more thought. It is not appropriate for the FUMBBL Cup to have a TR cap, nor for the GLT, it seems. The FUMBBL Cup is the premier event, and the GLT - well, the fluff is about publicity, after all. I could see the UI or the WO having a cap, though. Alternatively, there is also the possibility of other TR capped tournaments besides the Majors that will have worthwhile prizes, for instance a 64 team KO Cup with a TR 250 ceiling. Then again, should the new team structuring rules code-named "LRB5" be implemented on FUMBBL, the point of TR 300 teams will be moot.
GLN: On to the issue of qualifiers, then. Are you planning to change the existing formats, introducing Swiss style qualifiers, perhaps, or removing them entirely in favour of a straight 128 team Knock-Out tournament?
Malthor: Handling who progresses with so many teams and getting it all done quickly is an enormous challenge. There are some coaches who like Swiss style tournies, but they are very difficult to manage with large groups - handling ties for example. My plan at the moment is to try out some Swiss and round robin type 16 team tournaments to see how well they work before we progress further. Obviously if we use a 16 team tourney, we are not going to make them play all 15 teams! We'll probably break them up into groups of four groups of four round robin or four swiss game rounds to work out the four winners. Then they might do a Swiss or round robin again or proceed to straight KO.
GLN: That sounds like an awfully long dragged out qualification procedure.
Malthor: And there you have the problem.
GLN: No plans to forgo the qualifications altogether and make the Warpstone Open a straight-up 128 team tournament, then, for instance?
Malthor: As for a straight 128 team KO tourney with no break for recovery/cash games inbetween, you read that and think "Great idea!" - but then lets think this through... Many coaches complain (coaches will complain about anything, heh) that the Majors and the SMACKs are dominated by bashy teams. If you take out the UI, which gives Elves a better chance to reach the final 16, the majority of Majors and SMACKs have been won by bashers.
GLN: A myth, surely, as out of the four current Major champions, we have one Orc team and three different Elf teams.
Malthor: Go back and include all 9 majors. Anyway, make it a 128 team KO and the Elves will all stay away. Now I've got nothing against bashy teams, but we want a wide range of teams participating if possible.
GLN: This has nothing to do with you preferring and coddling to the cherry-picking, team-building, treasury-hoarding crowd, then?
Malthor: I think it is interesting that Dominik who I played in the GLT final series with a killer chaos team against my Elf-Bowlers has made posts supporting a break before the main round. As he points out, there is a reason why the Bashers have so many Stars they can hire while the Elves are limited to naff Stars (Horkon vs Dwarves anyone?) and the Wizard. As I said above, I am not averse to looking at measures to get as many coaches playing as possible. If a 128 straight KO cup is not suitable, we can try limiting the number of recovery games after qualifying, or handing extra cash for making it through the qualifier and removing MNGs. Then again, you'll get complaints that the Dwarf team who is already going to suffer fewer casualties is going to have more cash to hire Grim Ironjaw and Zara, etc. In some ways, running any league is a lose-lose proposition: there is always going to be someone who isn't happy.
GLN: Now that you've brought it up yourself, what about the friendly games that many teams play between qualifying and the tournament itself to generate cash and keep their players in shape?
Malthor: We could always limit the number of preparation games people can play to one, or so. We could offer bigger cash prizes for reaching the final 16, or, if you reach the final 16, we delete any MNG results to simulate a week off when you reach the final 16, instead. The other thing to add is that whatever rule we use, there will be coaches preparing their games to min/max and get their team to the optimal position before the start, be it a max of 100K for Stars/Wizards or making sure they have 3 DPs. Our coaches are very good at planning ahead.
GLN: Then there's the timing issue. Many spectators complain that one game every two weeks does not keep the interest at a sufficient level. Sponsors are grumbling and Purchased Phantasmagorical Visitations are down by 50%! Any plans?
Malthor: There is a common perception that bi-weekly tournaments are just way too long. The majors just fizzle out after the initial first few weeks as the very interested specs and followers wait and wait for the next game to be played - so I am going to look at weekly KOs for the majors.
The interview continues on the next page.