Proposal RE: Host Discretion with regards to Team Tournament Activity Calls

Finchinator

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The goal of our rules is to cover many feasible situations in tournaments, giving hosts best practices to act on and players expectations to account for when scheduling. It is impossible to cover every possible outcome, but when a novel perdicament arises, it is on the Tournament Policy team to react in a fashion that is best fit for the communities growing problems.

Recently we had a situation in SPL where two players had incompatible times. To sum it up, player A had more free time across peak days factoring in peak times while player B had free time across peak days, but only during undesirable (mostly overnight) times for player A.
See here -- One player offered a wide range across most peak times throughout the weekend (5pm-4am GMT+1 Friday-Sunday) while another offered a range that had a number of hours, but none of them were close to peak times or worked with the opponent (6am - 1pm GMT+1 Friday-Sunday when the opponent was GMT-3, meaning this was during common sleeping hours up until 9am).

Both teams are motivated to fight for their players and position, so naturally this causes conflict and the host should have some mechanism to not equate two vastly different schedules and the qualities of the windows offered from each player.

The rules for activity wins for official team tournaments currently exist here and state as follows:
- If no time was agreed upon (i.e. due to inadequate communication or scheduling conflicts), a player or another authorized party must have given their opponent's team notice of their last period of availability. This period must have been given at least 30 minutes in advance and must have been at least 1 hour long.
This means that despite one player having availability many would deem more reasonable and widespread, there is no mechanism to pick between the relative availability of the two players -- the default is to force a double substitute. It does not specify what defines a conflict, when one side or another is given the benefit of the doubt in many cases, and plenty more possibilities. Many argue that "common sense" should be applied, but, speaking as someone who has hosted many tournaments over the years, this is an awkward area to resort to without anything being codified.

Moreover, I believe the current rule should have another clause allowing for hosts to use their discrestion when it comes to enforcing single substitutes when players have a noteworthy discrapancy in availability. This will also combat people exploiting the current rules to try and force double substitutes while providing unreasonable ranges, which people have threatened to do in response to this situation.

Please use this thread should be used to discuss if this is something worth codifying, the specifics and wording of the addition, and anything else pertaining to the rule. This thread can refer to the situation alluded to above, but should absolutely not cast doubt or criticism on the decision that was made as it has since been rectified and there are more productive things to do here.
 

Amaranth

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what do you mean "qualities of the windows"? why is a window ever "lower quality" than another? 7 hours across 3 days is 7 hours across 3 days, it's nonsense to have activity rules discriminate against odd timezones or sleep schedules. "lower quantity" is the only thing that should matter, and it already does.

hosts already have discretion - they get to decide whether a time wasn't agreed upon due to "scheduling conflicts" or due to "one player not offering enough availability", and they then get to decide if someone has to double sub or not.
hosts also are not stupid and can clearly tell (and use discretion) to stop people from claiming fake availability windows to force double subs

can you (or anyone else) elaborate on what this proposal is actually intending to do to improve these situations? because right now that's awfully unclear and I'm not sure if you're cooking anything useful or just opening a pr thread bc mald
 
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Finchinator

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can you (or anyone else) elaborate on what this proposal is actually intending to do to improve these situations?
Give the hosts room to make a decision given one player has noticeably greater activity than another; ideally using this thread to determine if that should be the case and where any lines should be drawn. The current rule is vague and paints things to be black-and-white when it’s not always linear in practice.
I'm not sure if you're cooking anything useful or just opening a pr thread bc mald
I said in my post I agree with the hosts decision given the current, insufficient rules. Implying I am malding over a decision I agree with does not make much sense…I just want hosts to be set up for success and players to have clarity for the future.
 

Star

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what do you mean "qualities of the windows"? why is a window ever "lower quality" than another? 7 hours across 3 days is 7 hours across 3 days, it's nonsense to have activity rules discriminate against odd timezones or sleep schedules. "lower quantity" is the only thing that should matter, and it already does.

hosts already have discretion - they get to decide whether a time wasn't agreed upon due to "scheduling conflicts" or due to "one player not offering enough availability", and they then get to decide if someone has to double sub or not.
hosts also are not stupid and can clearly tell (and use discretion) to stop people from claiming fake availability windows to force double subs

can you (or anyone else) elaborate on what this proposal is actually intending to do to improve these situations? because right now that's awfully unclear and I'm not sure if you're cooking anything useful or just opening a pr thread bc mald
availability isn’t in a vacuum, you’re scheduling with an opponent.

If somebody offers you 1-8am your time for 3 days while you offer them 3pm-9pm in their timezone over the same 3 days it’s just blatantly stupid to look at quantity instead of quality. One person is offering normal waking hours and the other is offering the middle of the night.

The only purpose of this thread is to formally give hosts some leeway in judging the quality of times you offer an opponent in the case of conflicting availability.
 
Since precedent was mentioned in the commencement thread, a similar incident did happen in Smogon Snake Draft III (2019) when Nat and Ajna had to play each other. Given Nat's sleeping schedule, the two had a hard time figuring out a time since Nat offered times Ajna would be asleep and vice versa.

Hikari, the host at the time, deemed these times offered by both not really valid windows of times and said a double substitution isn't an option either since one party did offer "better quality" windows of time, ie: times that one player could technically make since they were during normal waking hours as Star puts it in their respective timezone.

I believe there's no decision post since it was resolved privately via smogon/discord dm and the two were able to play their game but I wanted to point out the fact that there IS precedent for 1 player having to accomodate another for offering "lower quality times". In the recent case, I'd expect the scooters to accomodate the wolfpack since the quality of windows offered by the wolfpack was superior despite the quantity being the same/similar. In tournaments scheduling we tend to take into account, for example, weekend availability and prioritize that over weekday availability and consider those to be "higher quality windows of time". Similar idea here.
 

watashi

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can you (or anyone else) elaborate on what this proposal is actually intending to do to improve these situations? because right now that's awfully unclear and I'm not sure if you're cooking anything useful or just opening a pr thread bc mald
as someone who has never had scheduling issues in my 10+ years of playing in tours, i can say with confidence that the only time these situations arise is when one or both parties are being stubborn dickheads with little intention of actually playing the game. the obvious solution here would be to act like a decent human being and show some leniency towards your peer. but since this is Smogon Tournaments we're talking about, the next best option is to have an arbitrator decide on who is in the right, which is what Finch is suggesting here. you could decide on the most reasonable time both players could attempt to make, and then make substitutions depending on what happens from there

as for the quantity vs. quality thing, it means nothing if you're available for 8 hours when a normal person should be sleeping. if you really wanted to judge availability based on quantity, you could take a page out of the draft league book where they turn off the timer from 10 pm to 7 am, but even then i feel like it could lead to "availability padding" situations where people are in a race to see who is available more. just a terrible idea in general to base mainly on quantity
 

D4 Repertoire

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I agree that adding a sufficiently vague clause would be helpful. Something to the effect of

"In the case that the two players have no overlapping availability, hosts may judge whether their availability is significantly different in quality (considering factors such as timezone, standard waking hours, standard working hours, and/or any other relevant factors) to determine whether a double sub or forced single sub (or coinflip vs act win) is appropriate."

would be a decent starting point I'd think.

I do worry that if the rule is too specific with its guidelines (by naming exact time windows and such) that it could be abused by someone seeking to offer less availability than they otherwise would because they know that they are explicitly fine as per the rule.
 

Perry

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I appreciate that this is being discussed, but I dislike it for two reasons. First, hosts are already able to apply common sense and award activity wins / force subs if a huge disparity in availability is shown. Second, this is a hobby. You cannot judge someone’s responsibilities outside of Smogon if they CAN’T find a common denominator of time to play a Pokémon game with someone that might be a globe away.

From some SPLs ago, the TD and hosting team agreed for a double sub for a game between Luigi and xray. The decision reads:
SPL XI Administrative Decisions said:
"Forcing a single substitution has similar criteria as the basis for an activity win, largely based on effort made attempting to schedule a time. For this matchup, both players provided significant, reasonable periods of availability to their opponent. [...] The raw number of days or hours a player is available compared to their opponent cannot be used as the only metric for granting a favorable judgement in an activity case - instead the hosting team is more interested in whether or not players provide sufficient reasonable times to their opponent.
I will not pretend to know everything about the situation that has sparked this thread. But, reading the decision that was made initially, it seems to me that Lord Enz's availability is being deemed "inferior" to TDNT's because it's mostly after TDNT's midnight; but again, I can't help but agree with the original decision and see it as the rightful one because hosts are not paid enough (haha) to talk to people and figure out if the times given by player Y or X are "REASONABLE" or not. How do you even value "reasonable" / "waking hours" considering this community has players from all over the globe (with sometimes huge GMT differences between them)? Wouldn't this put asian players at a "disadvantage" when scheduling with, let's say, americans from the west coast? How do you judge that?

Not to mention, double subs might happen once or twice every official Smogon Tournament. It's a very rare occurrence, and to my understanding, most of the times the decision is the correct one. Furthermore, looking completely from the outside, the outcome of the backlash surrounding the original decision is: a player has to play a very impactful Pokémon match at 2AM their time which, to me, leaves them at a clear disadvantage that their opponent can (and, competitively speaking, should) abuse. To me, this is exactly what should have been avoided in the first place.
 

Amaranth

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as for the quantity vs. quality thing, it means nothing if you're available for 8 hours when a normal person should be sleeping. if you really wanted to judge availability based on quantity, you could take a page out of the draft league book where they turn off the timer from 10 pm to 7 am, but even then i feel like it could lead to "availability padding" situations where people are in a race to see who is available more. just a terrible idea in general to base mainly on quantity
okay but no what the hell is "normal waking hours"? 1PM-7PM GMT+5.5 is equivalent to 2:30AM-8:30AM GMT-4 - should Indians be automatically discriminated against in any activity decision?

or let's say you adjust "normal waking hours" for timezone - what does that mean even then? people are allowed to have less orthodox sleep schedules in their lives, like what? people should quit their jobs if they're on night shifts so that they can schedule games against entitled Smogon americans? give me a break

obviously quantity is the only thing that should matter, this whole thread is fucking crazy

you can evaluate 'quality' based on day of the week - obviously monday/tuesday availability counts for peanuts, saturday/sunday counts a lot - but within one day, people's lives dictate their windows of availability, and I really really really do not to think we should punish people for having schedules that don't conform to what the average Smogon american happens to like

by the way nobody ever does "availability padding" and it is obvious when they try to do it

as someone who has never had scheduling issues in my 10+ years of playing in tours, i can say with confidence that the only time these situations arise is when one or both parties are being stubborn dickheads with little intention of actually playing the game.
as someone who has hosted a few tournaments I can tell you sometimes these issues happen organically, neither player is at fault, and your confidence is entirely misplaced
 
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Lily

wouldn't that be fine, dear
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As it stands, availability does currently have quality metrics applied to it. Weekday availability is considered less valuable than weekend availability, so much so that if someone is available for enormous ranges on every weekday while their opponent is only available for most of the weekend, that ends up being a double sub despite the obvious quantity difference.

Going purely off quantity this is pretty unfair, but we don't go purely off quantity, because most people are at work, school, or various other commitments during the week. In the same vein, most people have a relatively standard sleeping schedule (between say, 11PM-9AM roughly), so I can see the sense in the idea that those hours should count "less", especially since we already do factor in quality of availability to some extent. But like, this gets messy pretty fast and probably should not be codified into policy. I can't see any reasonable way to do it in writing.

The idea that quantity trumps all is also not very good though. To flip the example of an American against an Indian - it is pretty reasonable to say that the average Indian player is going to be free from 1PM-8PM +5.5, while the average east coast American will not be free as that is 1:30AM-8:30AM. Maybe early birds would be around in the later stage, but on average I would say they would not be around, and I don't think many Indian players would expect their American opponent to play at that time. Similarly, being free from 1PM-8PM -5 isn't super helpful when that means your opponent has to play at 11:30PM-7:30AM +5.5 - again, some might be around in the earlier phases there, but most will probably not.

What ends up happening here is that "availability padding" - which as Amaranth says does not currently happen, because there's no reason for it to happen - becomes a thing you have to do to not get cheesed in activity fishing. If the act call comes down solely to the idea that I gave a 5 hour range and my opponent gave 7, then why would I not tell them I'm free from 2AM-7AM their time? It's silly and a pretty huge step back from what we have right now.

I don't think it'd be a bad idea to give hosts a little more leeway when making decisions - as a whole, not just for activity cases - but none of the ideas presented in this thread so far are very convincing. The status quo feels like a better solution to me than either of the quality or quantity arguments. There's also the elephant in the room that once threatened with substitution, it seems that players end up with significantly more time than before quite consistently; maybe the issue we're facing is cultural rather than perpetuated by our ruleset.
 

D4 Repertoire

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Amaranth's post completely misses the point. The point is that offering someone to play when the vast majority of people are sleeping / working in their region is a significantly worse attempt at scheduling with them than offering someone to play at times that could actually work with their timezone. There is no "America bias" or asymmetry here. As Aislinn points out, an American who can only ever offer to play a European or Indian or whoever in the middle of their night is creating the scheduling conflict if the other player can offer the American good American times.

It's fine for Pokemon to be low on people's list of priorities as Perry points out-as it should be-but the source of the scheduling conflict is on the person unable to offer their opponent reasonable times due to wacky schedule / other responsibilities / other priorities / etc. It sucks if someone has an unorthodox situation that makes it hard to schedule with the 95% majority of people, but that comes with the territory of being in that situation. That would cause issues with any event or competition.

Essentially, someone shouldn't ever be getting subbed out if they are only offered to play in the middle of the night in their country, and they can offer their opponent real times.

From Aislinn's post:
"There's also the elephant in the room that once threatened with substitution, it seems that players end up with significantly more time than before quite consistently; maybe the issue we're facing is cultural rather than perpetuated by our ruleset."

I don't think this is always indicative of what you're implying. Many players would rather get 3 hours of sleep than risk letting their team down by getting subbed out, but they shouldn't Have to do that if their opponent is the source of the scheduling conflict. Realistically, you can always find a time if you cut into people's sleep enough; but, there are cases where players clearly shouldn't be subject to equal treatment in this regard.

"But like, this gets messy pretty fast and probably should not be codified into policy. I can't see any reasonable way to do it in writing."

I think if you leave it sufficiently vague as I suggested above, it's fine. My suggested wording uses "may" and "or" as is anyway.

"The status quo feels like a better solution to me than either of the quality or quantity arguments."

The status quo is clearly untenable if you can offer someone the compliment of their availability or just whenever they're sleeping and double sub, especially maliciously. I imagine your response to this is that hosts have room to make judgement calls as is, but then I would point to the SPL decision that sparked this thread to say that that judgement clearly needs better guidance.
 

Amaranth

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Essentially, someone shouldn't ever be getting subbed out if they are only offered to play in the middle of the night in their country, and they can offer their opponent real times.
i agree, but this didn't happen in the decision that you biasedly find to be oh-so-revolting. TDNT did not offer Enz any times that worked within Enz's schedule. no "real" times. if Enz's times are "not real" because they were inconvenient for TDNT, exactly the same applies the other way

TDNT's availability did not align with Enz's availability. Enz can have any fucking reason in the world to be unavailable 5pm-4am within his own timezone, that can be sleep or it can be work or it can be anything else, we are not owed knowledge of what he does with his life, all that matters is that he puts forward the hours where he is available and that those hours are reasonably enough to play a majority of smogon opponents, which they very often are unless he gets unlucky and finds an opponent where they don't match up.

your opinion is disgustingly corrupted by bias and completely unproductive to any potentially positive policy changes that may or may not come out of this thread, please stop posting
 
I really do not think we need strict codified rules in this area. Host discretion is the only way to solve activity murkiness, any rigid rules would either be abused or just insufficient. We do not need to add anything besides "let hosts decide who is being reasonable and well intentioned" here.

Yes, many people were annoyed by the recent SPL situation. However, even if you disagree with the outcome, the solution would still be more of a "host mindset" or "hosts being in touch with the reality of team tours" thing rather than a flaw with the rules.
 

soulgazer

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Moreover, I believe the current rule should have another clause allowing for hosts to use their discrestion when it comes to enforcing single substitutes when players have a noteworthy discrapancy in availability.
As long as the decision is reviewed by a third party, that should be fine - assuming that will help avoid any bias the hosts may have towards one of the players.
 

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