Implemented On WCoP Eligibility and Continental Teams

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There were a few discussion points last year about WCoP eligibility, how locks work across qualifiers and main event teams, and continental teams as a whole. I'm opening a thread to reignite that discussion and find a direction from there; I already have a few ideas for proposed changes and I'll share them at a later point after hearing community feedback.

As a reminder, current rules are as follows:
Eligibility Requirements

Eligibility requirements are listed below. If you have any specific questions about eligibility, please contact the hosts.

Players who participated in WCOP 2022

If a player participated in WCOP 2022, they will be locked onto their team from the previous year, barring the following exceptions:
  • If the team they most recently played for no longer exists, they will be treated as a player eligible for a new team (see below).
  • If a player's region has changed since last WCOP, they may choose to instead play for the region currently associated with their forum IPs. This is a one-time choice; doing so forfeits their previous eligibility. They will not be able to be grandfathered back onto their previous team in the future, and even if they return to their old region in the future, this eligibility will remain forfeited.
Players who did not participate in WCOP 2022 / players eligible for new teams

Players that are not locked on a team and are not eligible for grandfathering (new players or players whose previous teams no longer exist) may only play for the regions associated with their forum IPs. Tournament directors will not consider any other means of identification for regional eligibility. Please do not submit real-world identifying documents such as passports or birth certificates.

If a player has IPs to prove that they spend extended periods of time in multiple regions within the past 12 months (e.g. students who attend university in one region and live in another), they can apply to join the team associated with either region. TDs will review this on a case-by-case basis. Eligibility for the rejected team will be forfeited.

Players with significant periods of provable residency prior to the past 12 months may apply to join the team associated with their old IPs. The TD team will consider these applications on a case-by-case basis, but as a general rule, the minimum amount of time we will consider is one year of residency in the old region. As referenced above, you MUST be able to verify said residency via forum IPs; if your IPs do not reflect this prior residency, your application will not be accepted. Eligibility for the rejected team will be forfeited.

"Cultural eligibility" rules were removed in earlier editions of WCOP, and have not been reinstated.

As a reminder, hosts and TDs reserve the right to reject any player they deem to be insufficiently eligible. An example of this would be a player whose IP drastically changes shortly before the start of the tournament.
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Banned deucer.
Time to ruin someone's day (maybe?)

The major point of discussion was people randomly changing eligibility when, for example, the country team was sucking off in the qualifiers while the continental team was already in, so some people ditched the country for the continental (hi UK)

For me there should have never been that choice

Eligibility should be locked in after the first year you play for any team; for examples:
- If you're a player that has both country and continental eligibilty, but already played in either country or continent: stay in the team you already played with (for people that played in both, I'd say you should go back to the country team, but that could be subject to debate; if I had to guess, the two UK players that ditched their team last year don't wanna go back, so...)

- If you're a player that has continental eligibility and gained country eligibility: you have a one-time opportunity to pick the team you wanna support, after that, you'll be locked in.

- If you're a player that has country eligibility and lost it: go in the continental one, unless you actively refused to play for your country one and that's the reason the country team died, just so people don't try to "game the system"

- If you're a player that never played a single WCOP and have both country and continental eligibility: feel free to pick, but after picking you'll be locked in your pick, until something happens (like, losing country eligibility)

Simply make it so you can't just go around and pick your team of choice like it happened last year, and this should solve most eligibility-related problems.


Banned deucer.
As the Captain of Team Africa for the past couple of years. I would like to bring up the topic regarding the eligibility of players who possess dual, or multiple citizenship. Team Africa has had some problems in the past regarding the rate of players retiring from old age and the lack of fresh new talent, as Pokémon games are not advertised or marketed in Africa as they are abroad. In addition, multiple African origin players simply live abroad due to better living conditions and for their well-being. I consider myself an example of this, and as a working multinational person living in Finland, I rarely have opportunities to go to Algeria (my home country), and with the recent border closure due to Covid-19 restrictions which were implemented in 2020 and 2021, I was unable to find a window which suits my work schedule allowing me to visit my family abroad (I haven't been in Algeria for nearly 5 years now).
Some people argue that African players living abroad should be eligible to play for Team Africa, while others believe that they should not. I will argue that the eligibility of dual nationality players should be loosened and that players who live abroad but travel to Africa to visit their families and extended family should be allowed to play for Team Africa.

My proposal is to grant automatic eligibility to players traveling to Africa as long as they weren't part of an existing WCOP team the prior year, this rule is to prevent players from ditching the team that they were on last year, this can be taken in the context of holidays, family visits, etc. As if I am going to visit my family, I don't want to spend my valuable time on showdown all week, I want to go out and see my relatives, and visit the beaches, the towns, and cities, rather than worry about logging into PS and Smogon account every other day for a week to obtain eligibility.

This can also help the overall competitive scene in the upcoming years as the topic of retirement is always being discussed by players.

Peace and Wakanda Forever.


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here are some thoughts I've formulated over 2 editions of hosting WCoP and counting.

The Problems With IP-Based Eligibility
I've had to reject someone from Team Switzerland because, despite traveling from France to Switzerland frequently, they only ever connected from mobile - IPs would show up as French because that's where their mobile data provider was based and mobile IPs sometimes function that way. I had no reason to doubt this person's claims, but I had to reject them.
Likewise, as Amir explained, there are many many situations where legitimate African players do not have Africa eligibility simply due to not having been in their home country since creating their Smogon accounts. This can be an issue with players from other regions too, but it's mostly prevalent here.
Additionally, some old IP data can be inaccurate. Many American IPs from 5+ years ago show up in the incorrect states, or show up as a default location at the center of the US (I believe this is due to IP providers relocating or stopping operations). I had multiple cases of US players with such issues who could reasonably prove an eligibility from multiple years ago, but had all IP evidence erased by these technical obstacles.

The bottom line is, as much as I'd like for IP addresses to be a perfect representation of fair eligibility - and they are in a vast majority of cases - this doesn't hold up all the time.

The Proposed Solution
I suggest allowing more freedom / host discretion on occasions that justify it. There are many situations in Official Tournaments where host discretion is employed and I don't see why this couldn't be one. This doesn't mean returning to the wild west of old - we definitely should keep the current IP-based guidelines in place and uphold them for a vast majority of cases, it absolutely ought to be the decider for >99% of cases. At the same time, I've had more than a handful of examples where it just seems worse for the tournament overall to blindly stick to IP data and nothing else. I believe the strict regulations currently in place have washed away the "just claim you're from wherever" culture that used to be in WCoP years ago, and I don't imagine loosening things the slightest bit will cause much trouble.


The Problem With Team Locking
Current team locking is, frankly, a bit silly. Forcing people to sit out 1 year and then allowing them to swap the year after is just bizarre. IMO, swapping teams is almost never justified. Allowing it at all leads to a lot of fuckery, especially around qualifier teams but not only them. I just don't ever see a world where this "wait out 1 year then you're free again" stuff makes any sense.

The Proposed Solution
Players are locked PERMANENTLY with the first team that adds them to their official roster. A big document that records everybody's teamlocks is created, making it much easier to verify eligibility on host side too (for all returning players, just cross-check the document - only having to IP check the new players is a significant timesaver).
Players that have multiple valid eligibilities can sign up for any of them, but as soon as they debut for a team, they are locked to that team forever.
Exceptions around qualifier teams that may or may not form from year to year may be made (see following paragraph).
Exceptions for people who genuinely gain a new eligibility and wish to switch may be made, but with much stronger requirements than if they'd never played in WCoP before.
Detailed rules for "grandfathering" (= automatically locking players who have already played many WCoPs) can be ironed out at a later date.


The Problem With Qualifier & Continental Teams
There was huge uproar around Team Europe picking up UK's best players last year. The current rules obviously already disallow this for all main event teams, but they don't for qualifier teams. We were one game away from losing Team France in qualifiers in 2022 and Europe would have been allowed to take any French players this year if that had happened. It's also not unreasonable to foresee more scenarios of this kind with teams like UK and Greece on the European side, and they are already happening with India and China on the Asian side, as well as potentially also happening for Latin America soon.

The Proposed Solution
Stop making distinctions between qualifier teams and main event teams.
New players must play for their national team if it exists.
Old players may be grandfathered into a continental team if they have significant history with them (exact numbers TBD, possibly subject to host discretion?) and are otherwise forced into their national team as well.
If a new national team is formed, players from that nation that are locked on the continental team may choose to switch to the national team instead. They will be locked on the national team as long as it continues to exist.


I hope and imagine that all of these changes wouldn't be overly controversial, but I'm open to feedback. I do think these solutions will lead to a better tournament overall but if there are flaws I've overlooked I'll be happy to address them.

Grandfathering especially is left purposefully vague because I want to hear the community's thoughts on where these lines should be - should 2 years with a continental team allow you to lock for them over your national team? more? less? does it matter if the national team was in qualifiers or not? does it matter how long ago you played? Etc.


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After discussing with a few more people, I want to consider small amendments to one of the proposals.

Essentially, there's a line to place somewhere to decide which national teams are established enough to lock all players of that nation to themselves rather than the continental team. In WCoP 2022, the line was "below top 16". I think it's pretty safe to say this line is far too high, with UK already causing incidents, and other qualifier teams having high potential for similar issues. If we're trying to decide where to place the line, I'd say that's the highest boundary.

The lowest boundary would be what I suggested in my last post - national teams have full rights. But this causes some issues too. A continental team may plan together with a player from a nation that they think is free, but that nation may suddenly sign up and force the player off the team. That seems rather unfair to the player and the continental team who had no way to foresee this. Therefore, I'd suggest raising the line slightly.

I think that in the year in which a national team is formed, they should not yet restrict all new players of that nation to play for them. Continental teams planning ahead with players that they think are free, only to having them stolen last minute by a sudden group of relative unknowns signing up, is no good. Once a team exists two years in a row, I think it's fair to consider them established enough.

There may also be an argument to place the line a touch higher than that. The definitions here are a bit less clear, but I think a rule like "all teams that manage to go even or positive in qualifiers will be considered 'established' for the next year" might work.

I realize a lot of this is very much a matter of feel, but I think it's good to get my thought process out there and let anybody contribute ideas if they have any that are worthwhile, as well as try to get a grasp on where the community is standing overall.


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After further internal discussion, we have reworked the eligibility rules for WCoP 2023.

The new ruleset aims to achieve the following goals:
- Introduce a minor amount of wiggle room for host discretion in cases where IP history data is inconclusive
- Introduce permanent teamlock unless players move and obtain a new eligibility, streamlining the process
- Replace the distinction between Qualifier and Main Event Teams, which can lead to plenty of issues around player poaching for continental teams, with a new definition of 'Established Team'; this should significantly reduce poaching opportunities for continental teams while also keeping them from losing key players to weak newly formed national teams
- Create a record of all teamlocked players, which should streamline the eligibility process for players and hosts alike

The ruleset will be as follows:

Eligibility Requirements

Eligibility requirements are listed below. If you have any specific questions about eligibility, please contact the hosts.

Definition of Established Team

A national team is considered Established if it has reached the Top 16 or the last round of qualifying at any point within the last 3 editions.
All continental teams (Latin America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania) and the four US teams (US West, US Midwest, US South, US Northeast) are automatically considered Established.

The Established national teams for WCoP 2023 are:
Argentina (Qualifiers 2022)
Austria (Qualifiers 2021)
Brazil (Top 16 2022)
Canada (Top 16 2022)
China (Top 16 2021)
France (Top 16 2022)
Germany (Top 16 2022)
Greece (Top 16 2022)
India (Top 16 2022)
Italy (Top 16 2022)
Spain (Top 16 2022)
UK (Qualifiers 2022)

A team will lose Established status if it fails to sign up to WCoP or fails to reach the last round of qualifying for 3 consecutive years.

Players who participated in BOTH WCoP 2021 and 2022 for an Established Team (not just one)

You will be locked to that team for WCoP 2023 and all future WCoPs.

You will have the option to forfeit the lock in two scenarios:
- You played for a continental team, and you wish to switch to your national team. If the national team you switch to is an Established team, or becomes one through WCoP 2023, your former eligibility will be permanently forfeited.
- You gained a new eligibility by spending considerable time in a new region or nation. Your former eligibility will be permanently forfeited.
If you wish to do this, please contact Amaranth with an explanation of your circumstances.

Data on all locked players will be available in a public document to help both players and future hosts keep tabs on things.

Players who do not fit the above definition

You are eligible to the national teams of all the nations in which you have resided since creating your Smogon account, as long as this is verifiable through IP records. Though there are strict guidelines, IP history can be ambiguous on occasion, so if you are not sure about your eligibilities, feel free to ask a WCoP host ( Amaranth ) about it.

If you have resided in a nation that does not have its own Established Team, you are also eligible to the continental team associated with that nation.
Residing in a nation that has its own Established Team does not provide you with eligibility towards its continental team.

Players with multiple eligibilities are free to play for any one of them, however, please take note that starting with WCoP 2023, playing for an Established Team will lock you to that team permanently, or for as long as it remains Established. This lock will only be able to be forfeited in the same situations that were described above.


To go with these rule changes, we are also formally abolishing the distinction between Qualifier games and main tournament games. This means that teams will no longer be able to replace banned players between qualifiers and main event (as happened last year), and that in general all qualifier games are subject to the same regulations that apply to any official game.

We hope these changes will lead to a more satisfying WCoP experience overall. For any feedback or questions about the implementation feel free to reach out to me.
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World Cup of Pokémon Eligibility Locks Spreadsheet

If you are on this spreadsheet:
You must play for the team that you are linked to on this spreadsheet.

If you are not on this spreadsheet:
You may play for any NATIONAL team for which you have IP records as proof of residence.

IPs from past years may count. If you are unsure about your eligibilities, just ask me.

If you reside in a nation that does NOT have their own Established Team (see post above for the list), you may play for the associated continental team.

In any case, all participants in WCoP2023 will be locked to their team in future years, and added to this spreadsheet, as long as their team is Established.
If their team gains Established status through their performance in WCoP2023, they will also be locked.

You may be removed from this spreadsheet or have your teamlock status changed if:
- You move and acquire residence in a new region, with new IPs to prove it. You can change to the team corresponding to that region, but be aware that this permanently forfeits your old eligibility.

- You wish to switch from your 2021+2022 team to something else. This is subject to extreme vetting, but since we are implementing a harsher teamlock going forward than what was present in these editions, we may provide some opportunities to special circumstances. These exceptions are especially unlikely to be implemented in 2023.

- You currently play for a continental team, and wish to switch to a national team.

- Your team loses Established status.
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