FAF League Invitational Series

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So to get 2 birds, or rather several, with one stone, I've decided to utilize the bimonthly League system to supply players for a bimonthly tournament. As one might expect, these events will operate on concurrent months, meaning that odd months will be League Months and even months will be Invitational Months.

The tournament is intended to boost ladder activity particularly at the higher level, provide more consistent tournaments for all of viewers, casters, and players to get comfortable with, and finally a way to award reliable, well performing FAF players with potential slots in the end of the year tournament.

Structure:
These tournament series will be formatted as 8 person round-robins in which each player plays one another in a BO3. The tournament will happen consistently ever 2nd weekend of every even month on both the Saturday and Sunday of that weekend. The first day will have 4 of the BO3s and the final day will have the last 3.

For ties, I will be utilizing a few systems:

First, I will utilize total BO3 wins against the opponents you are tied with.

Then, I will use total point differentials. Essentially if someone won a series 2-0, they will gain 2 point score differential in the tournament. If they win 2-1, they only get 1. If you have more total points across all of your games than the person you tied, you rank higher than them.

If there is still some sort of tie left, then it will be determined by highest ladder rating.

Dates:
As said before, the 2nd weekend of every even month. The tournaments will start at 14:00 UTC each time.

Qualifying:
In order to qualify for the tournament, Ladder League performance will be used to collect the top 8 performing yet active players in the 1800+ brackets and these 8 will then be invited into the tournament for the following month.

If a player is uninterested in participating or cannot play, then their slot will be forfeited to the subsequent player on that month's Leader League leaderboard. Regardless, there will always be 8 players in these series.

Map Pool & Vetoes:
The tournament will utilize the ladder pools of the preceding month with minor adjustments in order to bring the total map pool down to 15 with the same 4/6/5 ratio utilized in the last LotS format.

In order to select the maps played for each BO3, the two participants in each stage will discuss amongst themselves which maps they would like to veto. Each player will be given the right to 3 vetoes and the bottom player in the bracket will be given the first veto. Each player will also submit vetoes sequentially. Once the list is down to 9 maps, the players will be given the right to pick which of the nine they wish to play. The bottom seed will be given the right to pick the first map and the top seed will pick the second.

In the case of a tie, the players will veto down to a single map with the bottom seed once again having the first veto.

Faction vetoes will likely not be part of these series due to the fact it requires additional tournament director support, but this may change depending on the manpower situation.

Rewards:
These tournaments will operate with a consistent $100-150 prizepool supplied by FAF as well as a point-based system which will be utilized to determine LotS slots.

10 of the 16 LotS slots will be given to the individuals that secure the most points across the year through the Invitational Series. In addition, substitutions for LotS will be determined via the points system rather than a qualifier.

So taking this all into account, the standard tournament will follow as:
1st: 12 points, $75-100
2nd: 10 points, $25-50
3rd: 8 points
4th: 5 points
5th: 4 points
6th: 3 points
7th: 2 points
8th: 1 point

Then, once the November Invitational is over, the points across all of the year's Series will be added up with the top 10 performing players getting their slot for LotS.

This means this year there should be 5 of these series to then determine the players invited for LotS.

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As always, people interested in covering these events, helping out with directing the events, or helping by sponsoring the events should get into contact with me.

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The general underlying idea isnt bad - but I have one major issue with this:

What is the point of making lets say, the top 4 from last lots (or scored like Swkolls invite points system), perform in a circus to qualify? There are 3 scenarios that can happen:

  1. Nexus, Petric, me, etc play the majority/all of those. We place 1-4 every single tournament, because thats what would happen. The rest will be very random cause it depends who plays us in early rounds, and you will have beatdowns every single tourney and people qualifying only by seeding luck.

  2. We dont play the tourneys. This leads to 10 (!) slots given out to extremely weak players and a majorly stacked last qualifier/last 2 qualifiers. Those then have a decent chance of a very competent player not qualifying, cause he met someone strong early by bad luck.

  3. Only a small portion plays the tourneys. This is probably the optimal case, but hinges on people not playing + still has tons of randomness. Again, my goal is that the strongest players end up in lots, not the ones that grind the most ladder or whatever.

Then on top of that, we have the scoring system which isnt very top-heavy. Means that you have to play a ton of tourneys if you really want to be sure to qualify. Why does a good player like the ones I mentioned have to prove themselves in 10 pre-tourneys if they have been a top5 player for literally the past 10 years? Why is participation and time investment valued more than actual playing ability?

What other sport has this system? Does Magnus Carlsen have to beat up 2500 rated players in 10 different tourneys so he is allowed to defend his title? Does Ronaldo have to beat up granny football leagues until he is allowed to play in a world cup? Does Khabib have to choke out 10 toddlers to be allowed to defend his UFC titles? Makes zero sense to me - people want to see the strongest people play, so just let them.

If you want to push ladder activity, you will have to increase the pro player count, which is the only relevant variable. You dont increase it by punishing you once you got there. Why not cut down the tourneys and put some bucks into showmatches (like the BO15 we had at various points in time, maybe a BO15 ladder showmatch?), which would attract loads of attention?

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I really like the idea of bi-monthly tourneys to promote activity at the top level and provide a consistent stream of games and tourneys but I have to agree with Blackheart here that this shouldn't have that big of an impact on LoTS. While I understand that other games often have leagues which then grant player spots in big tourneys I don't think it will work for FAF for reasons stated above by BH. We just don't have enough pro players and most of them are the same ones from 5 years ago.

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@Blackheart I'm going to ignore your other points, some of which are completely frivolous and irrelevant, and respond to the most serious point you raised:

Does Magnus Carlsen have to beat up 2500 rated players in 10 different tourneys so he is allowed to defend his title?

I don't know why you're asking this rhetorical question like some kind of gotcha, because the answer is yes. Magnus Carlsen does. Magnus Carlsen beats up 2500 rated players on a regular basis to defend his title. If you count online titles, he definitely plays in more than 10 tournies a year. In 2020 alone, between FIDE Online Steinitz Memorial, Lindores Abbey Challenge, Clutch International, Chessable Masters, the various Banter Blitz's, Legends of Chess, Norway Chess, Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour & associated Finals, St. Louis Rapid & Blitz, Skilling Open, Tata Steel Masters, and Airthing Open Masters, Magnus Carlsen has played more than 400 official tournament games, winning most of them. Why is Magnus doing this, when he could be super cool, not play anything, and just show up for the biggest tournaments? Most of the top chess tournaments invite the top active players, right?

Right. They invite the top active players. Magnus is beating up 2500 rated players on a regular basis because, if you stop playing chess and achieving tournaments results, you are retired. Do you know what happens to retired chess GMs? They don't get invited to chess tournaments. Gary Kasparov would not automatically get invited to Group A of the next Tata Steel Chess Tournament, even though he had once held the highest rating in the world and won that particular tournament 3 years consecutively. If you look at FIDE ratings here (https://ratings.fide.com/), you will notice a distinct lack of retired top players like Kasparov. Would Kasparov, with some secret preparation with his also-retired GM buddy, be able to beat the other active GMs at Wijk aan Zee if he just showed up there? I don't think it's impossible. Perhaps even likely, depending on the amount of preparation he committed to doing. However, could he just show up, claim that he has "been a top5 player for literally" decades, despite having not played any serious tournaments recently, and expect to compete against them?

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Personally, I think that everything that ftx said is a cool idea and is already a good motivation to lose another half of your life playing ladder against thomas.

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@archsimkat

Magnus Carlsens title is that of the World chess champion. A world championship cycle happens currently every 2 years (with 2020 delayed due to covid) and he does the title defense regardless of the amount of games he played in those years. (Since you clearly didnt want to read up on that before posting, here a link to make up for that: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Chess_Championship)

That first obvious point (he does not have to play a single game at all to be able to defend his title) out of the way - why does he play many tourneys & games regardless? He thinks it trains him (earlier champs used to be less active in their title defense years btw). He would be outclassed because the others dont slack if he doesnt play at all and also arent incredibly much weaker (Another interesting link for you: https://2700chess.com - the difference between top 1 and top 50 isnt 600+ points like on FAF).

To your next point, which is also inccorect. They do not invite only the top active players. A great example is the St. Louis which marked Kasparovs temporary comeback to professional chess - funny that you even mention him as not being able to be invited, when that is just what happened (https://www.chess.com/news/view/carlsen-kasparov-saint-louis-chess-chess960). Same thing goes for Karpov/Kramnik who have a trivial time getting invitations whenever they wish to play a tourney (https://en.chessbase.com/post/anand-vs-kramnik-no-castling, just 3 days ago, even catering to Kramniks favourite playing variant). The reason those people are not in the tourneys is because they do not want to play.

Then, to make it even more obvious how incorrect your statement is and because you picked it as an example: If you win the TATA you get invited back the next year. This is the same distance in time as there is between 2 LOTS. Also added on that, if you win your group in the TATA, you get moved up and automatically invited the next year (this happens to every chess prodigy rising up the ranks). So yes, chess works exactly as I stated and nothing like you think it does. All of what I wrote here can be trivially fact-checked where I didnt already provide the links myself, so feel free to do so.

Adding up, Magnus does not beat 2500 players in tourneys "all the time". If you would check his tourneys and games (as I do, a link for you to do so as well https://2700chess.com/players/carlsen), you will see that in serious competition (Banter blitz is not serious competition, neither are lichess titled arenas) he very rarely plays a player more than ~150 rating points apart from himself. In fact, some upcoming GMs even complain about this due to thinking they dont get enough chance to compete against him.

Anything else? Ah yeah. The majority of the big chess tourneys (including almost all of the ones you mentioned) are invite-only with ~2 wildcards mixed in. In fact I even disagree with this because I think you should have qualifying chances in some way (even if it is just rating).

So in sum: Your post is mostly incorrect and borderline intellectually insulting. I didnt pick my examples because they are blatantly wrong.

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First off, I like this system and as someone who typically does well in ladder league, I'm looking forward to playing in it as well as hopefully seeing more high rated players in ladder. Props to ftx for setting this up.

That said, I'm curious what people would like to see from my invitational series going forward. My main motivation for it was to have quarterly serious tournaments when LoTS isn't around. I think it's been reasonably successful with the tournaments seeing decent player turn out and community interest.

This system seems to basically serve that role going forward with serious 1v1 tournaments in even months (side note: November isn't an even month?). This likely seems like it should be sufficient in terms of keeping higher level player interest and hosting bigger tournaments in between seems like it would attract less interest than it currently does.

Instead I would probably host other tournaments. I think we've seen a bigger interested in 1v1s with lower rated players with the Holiday Tournament and map gen than we have in several years and I would like to host some of those. I also have some ideas for gimmick tournaments.

My point is that I want to know: are people still interested in seeing a Swkoll Invitational style bigger tournaments 2-3 times a year in between these league tournaments and LoTS?

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@Swkoll said in FAF League Invitational Series:

First off, I like this system and as someone who typically does well in ladder league, I'm looking forward to playing in it as well as hopefully seeing more high rated players in ladder. Props to ftx for setting this up.

That said, I'm curious what people would like to see from my invitational series going forward. My main motivation for it was to have quarterly serious tournaments when LoTS isn't around. I think it's been reasonably successful with the tournaments seeing decent player turn out and community interest.

This system seems to basically serve that role going forward with serious 1v1 tournaments in even months (side note: November isn't an even month?). This likely seems like it should be sufficient in terms of keeping higher level player interest and hosting bigger tournaments in between seems like it would attract less interest than it currently does.

Instead I would probably host other tournaments. I think we've seen a bigger interested in 1v1s with lower rated players with the Holiday Tournament and map gen than we have in several years and I would like to host some of those. I also have some ideas for gimmick tournaments.

My point is that I want to know: are people still interested in seeing a Swkoll Invitational style bigger tournaments 2-3 times a year in between these league tournaments and LoTS?

I think there's still plenty of room for your tournaments during off months for League Invitational Series (LIS, or whatever).

I also think LIS sounds cool, but unsure how to proceed with the LotS invites. In an ideal world people would be forced to practice to keep up with the competition, rather than forced to play just to meet some arbitrary threshold to qualify for tournaments.

Disclaimer: I have a horse in this race since I take frequent 6+ month breaks

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Got bored so did some fun calculations.

In LotS, 4 people have qualified for each single LotS. These are: Nexus, ZLO, Jagged, and Petric.

4 people have qualified for 4 of the 5 LotS events. These are: Turin (2016), Adjux (2021), Blodir (2017), and Farm (2021).

4 people have qualified for 3 of the 5 LotS events. These are: keyser (2021/2018), Tagada (2017/2016), Pepsi (2017/2016), and Blin (2019/2016).

Of these, all qualified for the last event aside from Farm, keyser, and Adjux. Farm because he can't manage a schedule and Adjux because he got a lobotomy over the last year or so. Keyser was busy with a degree.

I could also just include dudes like Blackheart or TURBO that also managed to perform well in all their LotS even though they only qualified for 2.

All in all, I could just do an invite tourney of the guys I know are good and disregard everyone else or maybe just give 2 slots for new guys each year.

But that kind of sucks so I don't want to do it.

For those wondering, 8 people qualified for 2 of 5 qualifiers and 12 people managed to only qualify for a single qualifier.

25% of the one-time qualifiers came last year.

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@Blackheart The system is seemingly similar to the StarCraft 2 IEM Katowice tourney layout. they host weekly tournaments with smaller prize pools and literally anyone can enter, they call them open cups. meaning right now I could sign up for an open cup as some platinum scrub and get smashed by the pros. If I managed to win or place highly I get ESL points which qualify me for IEM katowice the biggest tourney of the year.

it's not an unreasonable system and since it's a $100-$150 prize pool it is quite reasonable and allows you the shot at a few extra bucks each month. if you are confident that you will place top 4 in every one you enter then why not enter every single one for the practically free money then?

Edit: spelling.

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@WillowsDuality Because im not remotely interested in preparing for/playing an entire tourney for a share of 100-150 bucks. If I was, I would not have posted here (..obviously).

I do not care if there are monthly tourneys or whatever open for everyone (always good to have an active tourney life especially for people trying to get better), I care that there are 0 invites for LOTS (the tourney I would want to play).

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If anything Swkoll's system is the closest thing we have to ESL system. Firstly they have 200$-100$-50$ spread for 1st through 4th places which is a decent enough motivation for most people but just isn't anything FAF can provide on a weekly basis. That gives enough incentive to play them regularly and not feel like it's a brutal grind. They also only give only 10 pts for 1st and 5 pts for placing 2nd.

And here's the prize pool for seasonal (winter-spring-summer-fall) ESL tourneys which they have one per region + a global one with the finalists of the regionals for about half as many ESL points. This one is for the European region.

alt text
This goes on until 37-44th place which give 3 points.

Heromarine is the most successful ESL Open Cup "farmer" ahead of anyone from any server by a landslide with 26 1st places and 9 2nd places and summed up they only give him 305 points which is about as much as you get for placing 3rd in a single seasonal regional ESL tourney. Heromarine himself has been placing ~4th in all of them. And this is just ESL seasonals which basically are the equivalent of what Swkoll has been hosting for faf since last year. Every other tournament also gives EPT points relative to its size and prestige, just like Swkoll is giving points for winning tournaments hosted by anyone that isn't him.

Now I love watching ESL open cups but I wouldn't ever want sc2 players to be forced to grind every week to gain acknowledgement they already have and ESL does a great job at it by giving only a small portion of EPT points to these tournaments but still enough for the 2nd-3rd rate pros to compete for.

All this is to say that I think Swkoll already has a good system and I don't see why you should reinvent the wheel, ladder league could and should be made relevant but not the the extent where you are placing arbitrary grind requirements on players who really don't need to prove their skill. The only question is how many invites to give vs how many qualifier places but even that can be adjusted by changing the tournament size overall.

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The top 8 performing players in the 1800+ ladder league of last month will result in a less competitive tournament than e.g. the Fall and Spring invitational tournaments (sorry to the top 8 but it's true), yet yield higher point rewards for placing into LotS. Even worse, according to Swkoll's post on the 2021 Spring Invitational, 1st place in LotS was only awarded 4 points?

I like the idea of trying to make ladder a more competitive environment, but as stated before I don't believe the top players are willing to put in that much effort just to even get into LotS. Sure, they could resort to the usual qualifier tournaments where they'll then weed out other top players to then be matched with active 1900 ladder players in the group stage, which realistically have slim chances of getting there (as they should).
Even just placing fourth or fifth in ONE of these league tournaments (which is guaranteed to happen for at least one of the 5 <2000's in the top 8 of ladder league) would give you a similar or higher point amount than top players such as Adjux, pepsi, mephi, turin, and farms.

All in all I think this would result in LotS becoming less competitive, while I believe it should have only the strongest players. It would, if they were all to grind ladder, but this happening is very unlikely. Therefore I propose the idea of drastically reducing the points awarded for these tournaments (especially considering they will occur bi-monthly?).

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@NoundedElkWoob I think you are under the impression that these league points are going to be mixed with the invitational points. Ftx is making a separate pool of points just for seeding LoTS. The invitational points are going to be entirely separate.

The Seasonal Invitationals are going to continue to run on their own point system which currently has no bearing on LoTS. I will probably award some points for being in the lead in the League Invitational before the Summer and Fall Invitational, but these points will only have bearing on who gets invites to the Seasonal Invitationals. (I'm currently thinking 2 points for 1st, 1 for second, but this is very subject to change)

The League Invitationals will award LoTS invites to whomever finishes in the top 10 of it's Round Robin tournament series.

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Ah okay, that's a lot better then. Still, 10/16 of the players in LotS coming from the ladder league invitationals could still result in the actual top players beating eachother in the one qualifier, potentially leaving out other top players.

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I’m entertaining the idea of reducing league slots from 10 to 8 and inviting the 1st and 2nd place of last LotS into the next tournament.

I am set on having 2 qualifiers for the other 6 slots.

I’m also aware that this runs the risk of skill dilution for LotS, but I also see it as pertinent for the long term health of FAF to reward active high level players. By having the slot invites as an incentive, I not only have the incentive of prize money (which can only apply to the top placers) but also points that could allow you to win money during LotS (means you actually want to play all your games during the round robin to secure your slot).

This is me answering the “what now” question of getting into the top 10 on ladder.

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lol nice thread already!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I think its all in all on ok thing! taking all into consideration I conclude it will most likely enhance top ladder activity which the competetive scene needs to generate skill because otherwise we would lose overall skill over time, overall skill being a good proxy for "competetive scene aliveness"

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maybe I should add analysis about overall skill distribution. Because sometimes generated skill does concentrate on incumbents which leads to the generation of new top level players, a mechanism that must not be underestimated, as # of players is highly correlated with competitive scene aliveness if not directly.

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I think that it is necessary to divide the 2000+ league and 1700-2000, since the level of games and the number of possible games played are significantly different. It is really impossible to outrun by 2200 rating, players with 1800 rating, which can be caught by players from 1400-2100 depending on the tactics. Although i think so, this problem still does not interfere, but perhaps in the future it will be a problem, do you have any ideas on this? This problem can up if the activity at 1800 + - increases.