The Splinterlands team is extremely excited to announce the addition of a new tournament format known as "Anytime" tournaments! The new format will be in addition to the current single-elimination format and will work very similarly to the standard Swiss tournament format. The key benefit of the new format is that players will be able to submit their teams for their battles at any point during the time that the tournament is active.
This means that players across any time zone can all participate in the same tournament, and players can submit their teams whenever is convenient for them rather than having to be actively in front of their computer for the entire 1 - 2 hours or more that the current tournaments can last.
This has been a change that has been requested by many players for a long time, and we expect that it will greatly increase tournament participation and make tournaments even more attractive to third party sponsors.
The new tournament format and other changes described below are scheduled to be released on Monday, May 18th, 2020, at around 9 - 10 AM EST (13:00 - 14:00 UTC).
How Anytime Tournaments Work
In an Anytime tournament, all entrants will be randomly split up into groups. The maximum group size for a specific tournament will be listed in the tournament details on the website and is configurable by the tournament organizer. Each player will then play one match against every other player in their same group.
The tournament will run for a specified period of time (for example 24 hours), which will also be specified in the tournament details and is configurable by the tournament organizer. Players can submit teams for their matches at any point during that time.
The tournament will end when either the time runs out or all players have submitted teams for all of their battles. At that point the winner(s) will be determined based on their record in the tournament. Players' records in the tournament will be represented as a "Points" total with each win being worth 3 Points, each draw being worth 1 Point, and each loss being worth 0 Points.
In the event that two or more players have the same Points total at the end of the tournament, the following tie-breaker system will be used:
- If any player has fewer losses than the other tied players, that player will win the tie.
- If the players have battled each other directly, then the winner of that battle will win the tie.
- If players are still tied, then a tie-breaker score will be used. The tie-breaker score is calculated as double the sum of the Points total of all players that the player beat in the tournament, plus the sum of the Points total of all players that the player had a draw against. The player with the highest tie-breaker score will win the tie.
- Finally, if there is still a tie then the player with the highest Ranked play rating at the start of the tournament will win the tie.
Initially, the Anytime-format tournaments will only have one round and the winners will be determined based on the record and tie-breaker system described above at the end of that round.
In the future, we plan to allow for multi-round Anytime-format tournaments in which the top players from each group will move on to the next round until there is only one group left.
Team Reveal Process
There has also been a small change to the team reveal process for Anytime-format tournaments in order to account for the fact that players can submit their teams at any time. This section is mostly for third-party developers, but may also be relevant to players.
The process for submitting teams is that the first player submits only a hash of their chosen cards so that their opponent cannot see what they have chosen. Then, when their opponent submits their team hash, they can reveal their team by submitting a "team reveal" operation to the blockchain.
In the new, Anytime-format tournaments, your opponent may submit their team hours after you have submitted yours, and you may not be logged in to the game website at that point to be able to reveal your team. To account for this, players will reveal their teams to the Splinterlands game server at the time they submit the hash to the blockchain, and then the Splinterlands game server will submit the team reveal transaction to the blockchain on their behalf at the correct time.
The Splinterlands game server will submit these transactions on behalf of players using its own accounts, so it will not need any players' private keys, and it cannot submit different cards than the player chose or else the hash will not match the one submitted by the player in the original "submit team" transaction.
Please note that you do not have to use the Splinterlands game server to handle revealing your teams. You may still submit your own team reveal transactions like normal, but then it is up to you (or your software) to detect when your opponent has submitted their team before you perform the reveal.
It's also important to note that all cards used must be in/delegated to your account and playable at the time that the team reveal transaction is submitted to the blockchain. Otherwise, the revealed team will be considered invalid and the battle will be an automatic loss. This means that any cards you submit for battles must remain available and playable in your account until that battle has been completed, which may be any time until the tournament ends.
After the initial release of the new tournament format, Splinterlands plans to run some small, Anytime-format tournaments in addition to the existing single-elimination tournament schedule in order to ensure that the new system is working well, make any necessary changes and adjustments, and respond to player feedback.
After that time it is our expectation that we will begin to shift the majority, if not all, of the Splinterlands-sponsored tournaments to the Anytime format going forward.
We plan to maintain the same overall prize pool value for Splinterlands-sponsored tournaments in USD, and roughly the same prize pool USD values for the different types of tournaments (i.e. Alpha/Untamed Only, Gold Card only, etc). The frequency of tournaments will likely be significantly decreased, as it will now be possible for everyone to participate in every tournament regardless of their location or availability, and the tournaments will also likely have prize payouts for many more places.
The exact details of the tournament schedule changes are still TBD, but they will take into account player feedback, and will likely continue to undergo revisions as we work to find an optimal setup for rewarding our players and providing value to the cards.
The following are some additional changes, not directly related to the new tournament format, which are scheduled to be released at the same time.
Card Cooldowns for Tournament Battles
Also as part of this release, cards used in tournament battles will be subject to the same 7-day cooldown period if they are transferred or delegated as cards that are used in Ranked battles.
Previously, cards could not be used in Ranked battles within 7 days of the last time they were used in a Ranked battle with another account. The only change is that Tournament battles will be added to that. So once these changes are live, cards may not be used in Ranked or Tournament battles within 7 days of the last time they were used in either a Ranked or Tournament battle.
This change is necessary to prevent the same set of cards from being used across multiple different accounts in the same tournament, which has been a problem in the past and would have become much more frequent with the release of the Anytime tournament format.
Same Teams Will Draw
This has been a highly requested change by a number of people for a long time - that if both players submit exactly the same team, the battle will automatically be a draw.
This will only happen if both teams use the same Summoner card, and the same Monster cards, in the same positions, and at the same levels (after taking into account Summoner & League level limits) and will apply to ALL battles (tournament, ranked, practice, etc).
Move Order Tie-Breakers
Currently if two Monsters have the same attack type and the same Speed, the order in which they attack each round will be randomly determined. This leads to additional randomness in battles, which can be frustrating, and can also create some odd behaviors with the Stun ability in particular.
In order to help reduce this occurrence, we will be adding two additional factors in determining move order - Rarity and Level. Now, if two or more cards have the same attack type and Speed, the higher rarity card will go first. This means that a Legendary card will go before an Epic card, and then Rare, and Common. If the cards are the same rarity, then the higher level card will go first (level is determined after taking into account Summoner & League level limits).
Finally, if the cards have the same attack type, speed, rarity, and level, the move order will still be determined randomly.
This change will apply to ALL battles - tournament, ranked, practice, etc.
Please note that the "Reverse Speed" ruleset simply uses the reverse of the normal move ordering, so in that ruleset the lower rarity or lower level card will go first.
Foundation for the Future
We hope that the new tournament format will encourage many more players to participate in the tournament system as it will be much more convenient and practical than the current single-elimination format which requires a much larger and more focused time commitment. It should also fit much better into the mobile play style, and we will be working to integrate tournaments into the mobile web app as soon as possible.
We also plan for the new format to form the basis for new features such as Guild Wars - which can be thought of as a type of Anytime tournament between two guilds (with some additional, exciting twists)!
We've gotten great feedback so far from the group of Monster Mavericks that helped test the new tournament format on the test server, and we look forward to Anytime Tournaments being one of many new features that help drive player growth, engagement, and rewards throughout the rest of this year and beyond!
Stay tuned for more updates from the Splinterlands!
NOTE: All rewards from this post will go to @steem.dao (the Hive Development Fund account) to support the development of the Hive platform.