Season 44 - Newsletter Part 1

A Changing of the Guard

January 28, 2021 / by SamE

Hello everyone!

Ever since Season 2, the League has been run by a team of moderators, but there is always one moderator who serves as the de facto leader. The first 13 seasons, this was Stef, the founder of the League, before he passed it over to assemble me for the next 13. I broke this streak by serving as the administrative moderator for the last 17 seasons, but as I prepare to move to Singapore for good next month, it’s now finally time to hand it off to our next fearless leader, alibby1152. (I will still be around, but I’ll be back to being a regular moderator just moderating divisions.)

The past nearly 3 years have been a whirlwind. The biggest story of my time as the administrative moderator of the League has been growth: We’re now about 10 times bigger than when I started moderating. In fact, after a bit of decline from the early pandemic peak in Season 41, we’re back on the rise again to our second-biggest season ever in Season 44:

Indeed, the League seems to be in a great place right now. We’re still not sure what the post-pandemic world will bring, but until we get there, we can play Dominion together.

In Season 44, we’ll mainly be adding some new features:

  • The availabilities that you each provide us in the check-in form will now be compiled and automatically posted by a minion for ease of access. No more scrolling through a bunch of posts in the channel to find them!
  • If you put your match on the calendar, there will now be an automatic reminder in your division channel when the match is about to start, both as a reminder to you and so the other players of your division can watch!
  • Losing players mid-season always sucks, but if that happens in your division, the standings will be more informative about what is happening. Let’s hope you don’t need to see that!
  • If the second place finisher also promotes in your division, they’ll also get a shout-out in the #congratulations channel and your division channel in Discord.
  • Starting in the Season 44/45 break, if you fill out the Returning Form in time, you can optionally sign up to get paired with a random opponent in your tier to play a just-for-fun exhibition match during the break. Hopefully this helps those of you who have a tendency to get bored without League!

In terms of rules changes, the only major change is to the deadlines. Starting with the end of Season 44, all deadlines will be moved back to 0 UTC from where they have been at 15 UTC, in order to standardize and align with the client’s daily ratings updates. For players in the Americas, this will be in your evening, not your morning the next day.

This includes the end of season deadline, the signup deadline, the late signup deadline, and the deadline to fill out the returning form (which still coincides with the signup deadline). We are also moving the late signup deadline back to Saturday of Week 2, at 0 UTC. We make no guarantees for players on the waiting list, but if you have a friend interested in joining the League, they can still sign up for nearly two full weeks into the season!

For the full details of these decisions, see the minutes below.

Rules Meeting Minutes

  1. Feedback
    1. Returning Form
      • Motion to automate compilation of the availability posting and pin the compilation (keeping the first post at the top of the pins).
        • YES (unanimous)
      • This seemed like a nice idea to make the availiabilty more useful. We'll have to be careful with the pins but it should work
      • Motion to add a league-videos channel for all League videos only.
        • NO (3 dissenting)
      • The #videos channel is fairly functional as it is for surfacing League videos, among others.
      • DISSENT (amoffett11): It seemed like a requested feature from a few players (and non-playing league fans?) that wouldn't be too hard to implement; and players who hadn't requested it maybe find it more useful than #videos to find matches they want to watch (like me).
      • DISSENT (Lemonspawn): I don't feel strongly about this, but I just thought it was a nice idea to make the videos channel(s) more organized/ less cluttered.
      • Should the new league-videos channel, if it is created, allow discussion?
        • NO (2 dissenting)
      • Had we created it, the main purpose would be to help people find videos to watch, while #videos could hold any needed discussion.
      • DISSENT (amoffett11, Sharur): There probably wouldn't be much discussion here, but why prevent people from tagging their opponent, or commentators tagging the players, or players just saying thank you for commentary. Preventing all discussion would be overkill.
      • Motion to add "Starting Now" notifications for calendar events of League games to the players' division channel.
        • YES (unanimous)
      • This seems like a nice way to tie in the calendar to the League, also giving players a chance to find out that a match in their division is taking place.
      • Should we add a question to the returning form about changing the match length to an odd number of games (so that, barring ties, there's a "winner" to the match)?
        • NO (2 dissenting)
      • This isn't likely to get much support. We don't count match wins for anything, so there isn't a need. People can play whatever exhibition games they want to play, of course.
      • DISSENT (nottoobad): It's always nice to confirm that moderator opinion matches player opinion. Having a vote will give us evidence that we are doing what players want, and we can use that evidence to show players who disagree with the consensus that they are in the minority.
      • Should we add a suggestion that "whenever you decline a time to play, offer another time to play in response" to the opening post regarding scheduling?
        • YES (2 dissenting)
      • We have a bunch of platitudes in the opening post in Discord encouraging good behavior; this is behavior we would like to encourage, so it belongs.
      • DISSENT (tracer, truffles): People don't read opening posts because they are too long already. We would be better served having this as a non-hidden announcement to the entire league.
      • Motion to save a discussion about splitting up matches for a later meeting (next Rules meeting at the latest), led by tracer.
        • YES (unanimous)
      • We are concerned from both feedback and our observations as moderators that excessive splitting up of matches is having negative effects on player experience. We are conducting a results audit to find out how common and in what form match splitting usually takes place.
      • How should we display to users the expiration date of expiring subs? (Approval voting.)
        1 - Don't show it (status quo).
        2 - Show the half of the season (first 3 weeks or last 3 weeks).
        3 - Show the week of the season (1-6).
        4 - Show the expiration date.
        OK - No preference.
        • 1 - 13
          2 - 7
          3 - 6
          4 - 4
          OK - 2
      • This will cause too much noise in the subs category.
      • DISSENT (SamE): Sometimes players will try to schedule their matches before someone's subscription runs out, and since we have that information, it seems fine to provide it. Showing the week of the season doesn't seem like it'd be a major privacy concern.
      • Motion to, starting with the end of Season 44 and beginning of Season 45, move all deadlines to 0 UTC (i.e. earlier by 15 hours).
        • YES (1 dissent)
      • The 15 UTC deadlines were originally based on a motivation to letting players in western timezones playing in the evening definitely have enough time to submit their results. From that original end-of-season deadline, we simply matched all the other deadlines, which themselves had no special motivation to be at 15 UTC. In some ways, 0 UTC is easier on the mods, since it's the evening in the US. But this is also relevant for making the next motion possible.
      • DISSENT (nottoobad): I agree with moving most deadlines from 15 UTC to 0 UTC, but I believe the end-of-season deadline should remain the same and allow US players to play evening matches on the last Sunday of the season without needing extensions.
    2. Moderator Suggestions
      • Motion to move the rating cutoff to the signup deadline.
        • YES (unanimous)
      • We need to make decisions about the top tiers shortly after the signup deadline so that we can send out invitations to players eligible for play-in matches. While it can be nice to give players who signed up time to ladder to the appropriate point, exactly that laddering would be problematic if it changes the tier they would end up, particularly if they are in a high tier. Locking ratings at the signup deadline will also simplify the deadlines -- that's the deadline for everything.
      • How should we break ties between equally-eligible candidates for play-in matches? (Approval voting.)
        1 - Randomly.
        2 - By tier history (higher tiers in the past are better).
        3 - By tier history (lower tiers in the past are better).
        4 - Ladder rating.
        5 - Ladder mu.
        6 - By number of seasons played.
        7 - By number of consecutive seasons played.
        OK - No preference.
        • 1 - 7
          2 - 12
          3 - 2
          4 - 3
          5 - 2
          6 - 11
          7 - 7
          OK - 1
      • We're in a multi-season process of solidifying our rules for play-in matches. We have a priority scheme in place, but some players finish the season with identical positions and Win%'s in the same tier and we need to decide who to give the match to. (This isn't a tiebreaker since they're usually in different divisions.) Several of these options listed here would work, but tier history is the likeliest to predict future success.
      • DISSENT (tracer): We should not be taking past performance into account when evaluating present performance. Basing our priority off of tier history is giving people a reward for having demoted. Additionally, continuing to restrict ourselves with respect to play-in matches is nothing but trouble. (tracer)
      • Motion to establish the following minima of division counts below which we drop a tier:
        9 to 8: 1 + 2 + 4 + 4 + 8 + 8 + 8 + 8 + 8
        10 to 9: 1 + 2 + 4 + 4 + 8 + 16 + 16 + 16 + 16 + 16
        11 to 10: 1 + 2 + 4 + 4 + 8 + 16 + 16 + 32 + 32 + 32 + 32

        (Note that these are well below the maxima for the lower tier, so there's a buffer.)
        • YES (unanimous)
      • As we anticipate a mild post-pandemic contraction at some point in the future, we need to plan for when we would drop back down to 9 tiers (a number we skipped over with all of that pandemic growth!). We have a general rule for when to grow, but when it comes to shrinking, we don't want to use the same threshold or we risk toggling back and forth if we settle to around that number. This means that the number of tiers will not simply be a function of the number of players, but there will be a bias towards the current number of tiers. At the maximum growth threshold, we have 2-3 tiers with the same number of players at the bottom, so it makes sense to extend the minimum growth threshold to 4-5 such tiers, like illustrated here. Note that given the repeating pattern of every third tier transition staying the same size, these three thresholds define the general rule.
      • Motion to replace "undos of small numbers" to "undos for small numbers" in the undo rule.
        • YES (unanimous)
      • This makes that clause a bit clearer -- we had gotten some confusion about whether the rules were referring to a small number of undos.
      • Motion to add another FAQ entry or two giving examples of information-revealing and non-information revealing actions.
        • YES (3 dissenting)
      • Whenever we define a term like "information-revealing" we should explain it, and the FAQ is the perfect place for that.
      • DISSENT (tracer): In making a friendly league environment, we should not encourage overanalyzing of opponents' undo requests, which this does.
      • DISSENT (truffles): It is not black-and-white what "information-revealing" means. League moderators should not be defining it - this should maybe be a town hall topic.
      • Motion to have the moderators of the highest tier divisions remind players who don't post their matches on the calendar or in #matches.
        • YES (7 dissenting)
      • We would like to encourage every top match to make it to the calendar so we all can watch! We won't have any actual enforcement beyond your moderator reminding you after you play match that wasn't on the calendar. With the "starting now" notifications, this will be fairly easy to see for both the mods and your divisionmates.
      • DISSENT (sweetjohn33): Ultimately putting matches on the calendar is a courtesy extended by the players involved, if a player doesn't want to announce their matches they shouldn't face any negative repercussions (including nagging). I would prefer only a universal emphasis on posting to the calendar and not individual prodding.
      • DISSENT (Rozyroz): Most players in top tiers add their matches to the calendar regardless, and if they don't, they usually just forgot to do it that match and know to do it next time, so it seems like this would just create more work of the moderators.
      • If the above motion passes, which "highest tier divisions" should this apply for? A through... (Vote one, we'll take the median.)
        • A - 3
          B - 3
          C - 7
          D - 1
          E - 3
          OK - 0
      • At least for this first season, we should keep it small. It's also pretty ingrained in the habits of players in A, B and C to put matches on the calendar, so there shouldn't be too many reminders needed.
      • DISSENT (tracer, catmom): The more the merrier. E is our tier cutoff for most things that are different between upper and lower divisions.
      • Motion to add the calendar form link into the first division post.
        • YES (unanimous)
      • The first post, which is pinned, has all of the links, so it makes sense to move this there from its place in the second post.
      • When should the late signup deadline be (currently 15 UTC, potentially moving to 0 UTC)? (Approval voting.)
        1 - Week 2 Monday (status quo)
        2 - Week 2 Wednesday
        3 - Week 2 Friday
        4 - Week 2 Saturday
        5 - Week 2 Sunday
        6 - Week 3 Monday
        OK - No preference.
        • 1 - 2
          2 - 2
          3 - 8
          4 - 9
          5 - 3
          6 - 0
          OK - 6
      • We onboard people on the waiting list on a rolling basis throughout Week 2, so it makes sense to give a little more time to sign up. Signing up by Saturday at 0 UTC would potentially give them enough time to get onboarded and play their first match that weekend, not leaving them too far behind.
      • DISSENT (volfied): I prefer having a large waiting list and using it to plug holes, rather than just letting everyone in during the first batch.
      • Motion to analyze the results of all divisions with drops of players who played games and compare to potential alternative proposals by the Season 44 Rules meeting.
        • YES (2 dissenting)
      • Since we used to delete all players dropped with fewer than 18 games played, we didn't have easy access to those examples. With the last two seasons of data, we can now start to analyze other proposals for adjustment matches and see when they would disagree with the current, fairly complicated system.
      • DISSENT (volfied): We should leave the current system in place longer to allow people to get used to it and to provide more and better data for analysis.
      • Motion to change the way intermediate standings are displayed in order to make the effect of all future games played by players who did not play the dropped player a small multiplier higher.
        • NO (4 dissenting)
      • This doesn't improve the fact that it is difficult to read existence of adjustment matches from the standings, and may cause more confusion with simulations not being full.
      • DISSENT (SamE): Because any simulated results derive from the winning percentage of players, those numbers fluctuate as additional results come in. This can lead to counterintuitive behavior such as the number of wins or losses decreasing after a (blowout) match is added to the results. To make this problem go away, we can actually only include the contribution to the simulation from the portion of the season played. This would then mean that every future game simply has a multiplier attached (e.g. 2%) corresponding to the additional effect of that win on the simulated results. Knowing that every game counts for 1.02, say, makes it easier to forecast the effect of getting various results in your remaining matches.
      • Motion to add four columns to the division standings for reweighted/non-reweighted wins/losses that we only display if someone is dropped with games played.
        • YES (unanimous)
      • Reweighted results can introduce unfamiliar numbers that can make it hard to compare. By also showing the reweighted games and non-reweighted games separately for divisions with drops who played games, we can help to make the standings more understandable.
      • Should we ever replace dropped players with games played?
        1 - Never do it.
        2 - Only if there is no one else to replace with a waiting list player in that tier.
        3 - Only if there is no one else to replace with a waiting list player in that tier and timezone.
        4 - Show no distinction in filling holes between dropped players with games played and not.
        OK - No preference.
        • 1 - 1
          2 - 4
          3 - 9
          4 - 1
          OK - 1
      • This is a weird loophole in the rules, the only situation where we would delete games. It's pretty rare -- you have to voluntarily back out in the first two weeks after playing games. But when it does happen, if there's a player who perfectly fits the division, we wouldn't want that to stop us from including them.
      • DISSENT (Rozyroz): Players who joined the waiting list know that they could be offered a spot, but there is still a chance that we won't have an opening. Since we say that we don't delete results, we shouldn't be deleting any results unless there isn't any other spot for a player on the waitlist, even if it isn't the most ideal spot.
      • DISSENT (truffles): This is just inconsistent with our rules. We should at least keep the results of those games and "simulate" it for the additional players of the division.
      • Motion to poll players in top tiers on whether they want to keep flex division sizes in time for the next rules meeting.
        • YES (unanimous)
      • Flex divisions came about because top tier players wanted to be able to take seasons off. Now that they've been in effect for a few seasons, we should check back in with those top tier players to see how much they value it.
      • If the above passes, what should the lowest tier we poll be?
        • A - 0
          B - 0
          C - 3
          D - 6
          E - 5
          F - 1
          OK - 2
      • Tiers A and C have been the only ones to experience it thus far, although B has also been close. I suppose that some players normally in C are probably in D right now, so asking A-D seems appropriate.
      • DISSENT (nottoobad, truffles, catmom, sweetjohn33): It never hurts to poll more people.
      • Motion to collect a series of common topics to ask about in the Returning Form on a regular schedule (every season, every other season, once a year, etc.) and vote on the frequencies at the Season 44 Setup meeting.
        • YES (unanimous)
      • We already have one question we repeat every season about the balance of your division. But there are other topics that it's worth collecting the pulse of players over on a less frequent basis.
      • Should we get rid of the Champion Match if A is flexed?
        • NO (2 dissenting)
      • The Champion Match is our highest-attention match and a highlight of every season. It would be a shame to lose it over top players not wanting to play another match.
      • DISSENT (alibby1152): Flexing divisions to 7 already puts a strain on players to play at a match per week pace, and adding the Championship Match forces yet another match onto the participants' plate. This usually happens in the break week, so if someone were to make consecutive Championship Matches, we're looking at asking them to play 14 matches in 15 weeks. At some point we need to give those players a breather and/or at least make the match optional since I don't see flexed A disappearing any time soon.
      • Should we also announce 2nd place promoters?
        1 - Yes, in both #congratulations and the division channel.
        2 - Yes, but only in the division channel.
        3 - No (status quo).
        OK - No preference.
        • 1 - 12
          2 - 3
          3 - 1
          OK - 1
      • We announce first place finishers, play-in match winners, and free promotions -- all the other times that someone moves up a tier. Besides, since we wait for the end of the season now, we can easily add a line to the congratulations post about the 2nd place finisher if appropriate.
      • DISSENT (volfied): Winning the division is the accomplishment. It should be set aside for singular recognition. At the very least, do the 2nd place finishers later in one batch.
      • Motion to give players an option in the Returning Form to get paired randomly with another player in the same tier to play during the break. There are no consequences to these exhibition matches, it would just be something fun to do.
        • YES (2 dissenting)
      • Every League break, there's a bit of a lull in the scheduled programming. This would be fairly easy for us to do to give people who want more League the chance! You and your match can decide to play whatever variant you want, it's all for fun.
      • DISSENT (volfied): This seems pointless.
      • DISSENT (truffles): This seems like additional work for league mods in what is an already busy period during onboarding and division set-ups. Players can already do and co-ordinate this themselves.
      • Motion to publicly commit to opening moderator applications at least every third season.
        • YES (1 dissent)
      • We've gotten a couple players express interest in moderating, but don't currently have a need for more. What should we tell those players? It would be ideal to maintain a steady pipeline of new talent with a commitment like this, and twice a year feels like an appropriate minimum frequency for onboarding new moderators.
      • DISSENT (volfied): We're under no obligation to open applications. If we're happy with the current team, what's the point in raising people's hopes?