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A word from Sneb – Ready Check Cup Aftershow

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HEY EVERYONE, SNEB HERE!

Yesterday (April 29, 2023), raiders from both the NA and EU servers vied for victory and the coveted Community Hero title in the second edition of the Ready Check Cup raid tournament. Overall, it was a great success! Morale was high, bosses were defeated and the Twitch chat cheered on their favorite teams. We are incredibly grateful for all the support we’ve received during Ready Check Cup 1 and 2 and we are looking forward to making future tournaments bigger, better and more fun for all kinds of raiders.
We felt it was important to make a post outlining possible changes and our thoughts on the tournament for transparency, as well as to garner feedback from the people that matter most – you! We cherish and welcome all feedback, but please offer potential solutions where you can.

NICE TO MEET YOU

Before I get into it, I feel it is requisite that I also introduce myself. I think sometimes we assume that everyone just happens to know each other in our community and perhaps it’s a bit intimidating to reach out and say hello. I go by “Sneb” – this name came from my maternal grandfather, who served as an airplane mechanic in WWII. I have no idea why people called him Sneb, but it looks like there is a French bomb with the acronym “SNEB”. I’ve just always gone by this online, ever since I was a teen! I’m from Alberta, Canada, and have lived here most of my life.

I opted to go to university and received a degree in business and a master’s degree in marketing. I work in the non-profit sector and have a specialization in marketing. I’ve also done some minor marketing consulting, worked in tech/sales and I’m a huge sports fan! I have a miniature golden doodle named Obi, a wife, and two young daughters (3 and 8 months). Overall, I’m a busy guy, but in my spare time, I help with Hardstuck and my own raiding guild, Skein Gang.
I, of course, am also the guy many of you know from the Sneb songs and from my occasional appearances on Teatime and random chats with Teapot. I’m always open to getting to know new people – so don’t be shy!

WHAT THE FUTURE HAS IN STORE

With that out of the way, let’s turn again to the tournament. It was fantastic. The last two teams coming within two seconds of each other in the final was a spectacle. There were mighty comebacks, underdog stories and redemption arcs. This is exactly what you like to see in competitive events. The next few paragraphs will outline some of our thoughts and future considerations for raid tournaments. Please also note that some changes may not be made by the next tournament.

COMPETITIVE INTEGRITY

In response to concerns about the fairness of competition in Ready Check Cup 1, we decided to create a rating system to sort people by skill level. Huge thank you to Willster for taking on much of this challenge. These systems take time to settle, so Ready Check Cup 1 and 2 were still a bit of mix between tier 3 and tier 2 as far as skill levels are concerned. This is a sacrifice that must be made for the system to grow and develop and properly sort people into groups. In short, we need to do more tournaments and have more people compete. Know that we are very concerned about competitive integrity. But, with no in-game systems, we had to make our own. There have also been many questions about why we weren’t considering things like Raid League, etc. or records, or logs, etc. The problem is, no matter what we consider, it will still be imperfect and there will still be more questions. We need to run with what we’ve got and let it refine over time.

IMPROVING COMMUNICATION

Communication for Ready Check Cup 1 and 2 was a bit awkward. It was unclear where and how people were meant to ask questions, get clarification, and gain timely answers. Also, when people did get answers to questions, some weren’t posted publicly, resulting in the same questions being asked to both Teapot, myself, and the moderation/admin team. In response to this, we’ll have a better space on the website with FAQ’s regarding bugs, strategies, exploits, etc. We’re also looking at utilizing the Hardstuck Competitive discord for all tournament communication. No need for private messages – all questions should go in one central spot for transparency and ease of access.

DATA ACCESSIBILITY

During the event, people were often very curious about the point system and where certain teams were ranked. In the future, we’ll likely have a “tournament draw” that is posted publicly on hardstuck.gg and/or we’ll also show the totals between rounds. This will create a much stronger viewer experience. Additionally, it was requested that logs and times were made public. This isn’t something we had really thought much about, but it is something we’ll strive to do moving forward. They’ll also likely be included on the website.

FREE AGENT FRIENDLY

A lot of people showed eagerness to join a team and compete but weren’t exactly sure where to find other players to team up with. As someone who has helped grow 100+ “static” teams, I understand that it’s incredibly frustrating looking for people. This is something we are aware of and want to help with. We are looking at options to “randomly” place people into teams using a Discord bot, or something else. This would likely only be available for T3, since the spirit of T3 is getting people to participate, jump in, and have fun.

SO… WHO WON?

The end of the tournament was brilliant, but as a caster, I’ll admit that screaming that X team won when in fact they lost by 2 seconds because of stream delay is a bit awkward. It sort of deflates the moment and having 10-20 minutes of “who won?” is strange. We’ve considered creating a Blish or Arcdps addon of some kind that would shoot logs to us and automatically sort people by time. This would eliminate a significant portion of admin work, but also give us accurate information in real-time. Obviously, there are downsides to this. It adds another thing for people to install, incorporate, troubleshoot, etc. Right now, it’s just an option we’re thinking about, but we would really like to have definitive winners, even when things get close.

PRIZING

Prizing is an interesting beast. To me, the most valuable prize is the Community Hero title. However, having small “door prizes” is fun and encourages people to compete, even if they’re not super competitive. If we make tournaments more frequent, we don’t have a sustainable way to provide major prizing. We would need to cut back placement prizing and stick with door prizes and prizes from ArenaNet (gems, community chests and the title). This time around, we didn’t directly approach wealthy players and ask for major donations because we didn’t want those players to feel forced to contribute. However, if individual players and guilds are interested in contributing, we would absolutely welcome it. We’d also like to give shoutouts to these players somewhere appropriate – like the website Hall of Fame, as well as during the tournament.

MARKETING & SUSTAINABILITY

Finally, I was sick for approximately 2 months prior to the tournament and am still recovering in some ways. Don’t worry, I’m fine, but this put a real damper on marketing, prep, communication, and opportunities to make the tournament stronger. We need these tournaments to be sustainable. In the past, a big complaint was that these tournaments don’t happen often enough. We promised that we would do more community events and we are very serious about doing so. However, in the past, Teapot was spending a significant amount of his own money to make them happen. Thus, sponsorships or partnerships with brands are a strong consideration for us. There were some small opportunities that fizzled because I was sick, but I am hopeful that the next tournament will have some small partnerships to ensure that our raid tournaments are financially viable. Both Teapot and I are extremely committed to only taking on ethical partnerships.

HELP US GROW

Whew, that was a lot. Now, I’ll turn it to you!

How can we make these tournaments even better? What would you like to see? Do you have suggestions for potential partnerships? Do you have suggestions for a more sustainable prizing format? Was there something you really liked? If you have suggestions or comments, please go to the Hardstuck Competitive Discord server and drop your feedback in the #tournament-suggestions channel.

Again, you’ve all made this all possible and we’re looking forward to making raid tournaments even better… together!

Sneb

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