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Weekend Ranked Constructed: May 2020 Update #2





~ UPDATE: 21 MAY 2020

Hello, fellow mortals!

We’ve made some major changes to how Ranked Weekends work based on internal data and user feedback. Initial changes came into effect May 15 and we’ll continue to make additional refinements after Trial of the Gods releases.

Summary: from now on we will only count the first 25 games* you play to determine your standings for prizes. If you win all 25 games (through sheer brilliance), we will continue to count your wins until you lose or until the event ends, whichever comes first.

With the first Trial run of our updated Weekend Ranked event complete it’s time to look into the weekend that was and what we learned and what we’re looking to change in the coming week. With that let’s dive in!

Lessons Learned From Experimental Week One

Our first run of the revised Weekend Ranked Constructed event went pretty well! We saw greater gameplay diversity than we’ve seen in quite a while -- with a reduced emphasis on aggro decks while still keeping that play style viable for those that want it. Most importantly, we saw more players attempting to win this week -- more people playing than at any point since the launch of the Sanctum.

We’re happy overall with the prize distribution. Last week, no one made it to 25 wins. [tst] Freedan made it to 23 wins, which is an incredible feat! One player made it to 24 wins, but they were on a lower rank and therefore were not eligible for the largest prizes. Overall, about 1.5% of players who played got 20 or more wins and got a large number of prizes. About 8% of players earned at least one legendary pack, and we expect that number to go up slightly over time.

As expected, our experiment revealed a couple of deficiencies. We heard from many who were disappointed with “only” playing 25 games, and that they didn’t feel like the new system was rewarding for them. I can report that for 85% of players in the event, they earned more than they would have otherwise. (And this is an apples-to-apples comparison between players who played before and now.) But for those other 15%, they’d like to see a little something extra.

Some players wanted a 100-games table, but we’ve decided to award dedicated players another way. We are concerned about player burnout, which our data shows was a real risk. We are also concerned about intimidating players with a challenge that is too daunting for a regular weekly event. Having a Big Challenge Weekend at some point might be exciting, and we’re looking at that for later this year.

List of Changes

Changes to the prize table:

  • Lower minimum rank requirement for the 14 and 15 wins.
  • Slightly higher rank requirement for 17 wins and for 19 wins.
  • Slightly more packs overall than before.
  • Many of the Core pack prizes have become Trial of the Gods prizes.
  • Any Trial packs won will not be awarded until after Trial of the Gods is released. (There may be a delay between when the set is released and when those packs are awarded.)

For the Elite prizes:

  • There is no longer a winstreak tiebreaker.
  • All ties are now broken by peak MMR.

For all prizes:

  • You are eligible for prizes based on your rank at the start of the weekend. This is an important change.

New! Bonus prize:

  • *Anyone who wins 30 games during the course of the weekend wins a bonus prize.

Higher Stakes, Better Prizes

The prizes you win are based on how many wins you earn in your first 25 games during each Ranked Weekend. To qualify for our best prizes, you must reach a minimum rank to be achieved before the event begins.

Note that the top prizes are only available to people in the top tiers of ranked play, similar to how the prior ranked weekend prizes worked. Getting 20+ wins in 25 games is exceedingly more difficult when you are a Mythic rank compared to a Shadow rank, and we want to ensure players are not incentivized to manipulate their ranking to get better prizes.

If you win a prize for which your rating does not make you eligible you will receive the highest prize you could win. For instance, to get a prize for 20 wins your account must be in Diamond or above ranking. If you finish with 20 wins but are only in a Shadow rank (for instance), you’ll receive a prize as if you had 15 wins. 

Elite Prizes

We have established an additional set of prizes for our most-dedicated, top-performing players. Players in the Mythic tier will be facing harder opponents than anyone else in the event. To compensate them for enduring the tougher challenge, we will award these additional prizes on top of whatever they earn for their total number of wins.

These prizes are only available to those in the Mythic Tier, and are given in order of most wins earned out of the first 25 games played. Ties are broken by the player’s peak MMR during their first 25 games.

It is possible for someone to finish in first place among Mythic tier but only end up with 18 wins, and not get the top prize on the main prize table. To be clear, this extra prize list is to account for that; getting to the toughest opponents should give you the biggest prizes!

Bonus Prize

Anyone who wins at least 30 games during the entire Ranked Weekend event will earn a Bonus Prize. For now, the bonus prize will be a Trial of the Gods rare pack, but we will change this over time. We will have various bonus prizes of various types and values throughout Season 1.

The bonus prize is awarded for 30 wins overall and not just in your 25-game run, because it's impossible to win 30 times in 25 games! For people that win half of their games, they’ll need to play 60 games or approximately 12 hours of gameplay to reach.

Important Notes

With the reduced playtime necessary to win prizes, it now becomes important for us to implement an additional rule. Botting is already against the rules, but now it is specifically against the rules to play on two accounts to receive multiple sets of prizes. The old Ranked Weekend schedule really discouraged that. While there will be enough time for people to play 25 games x2, beware that it will forfeit your prizes and possibly lead to an account suspension. One account is more than enough!

Also, if your game disconnects (for any reason) and you fail to reconnect, it will be treated as a loss. That happens using the old system, but naturally when you’ve played 100+ games it didn’t really matter. For now, it will matter a fair amount. Future changes in development will mitigate this, but for now we’ll need some understanding while our event system continues to evolve.

This Is An Experiment, and There Will Be Changes

We’ve made changes after Experimental Week One, and I expect that we’ll make more changes in the near future. Plans can change, and sometimes our experiments don’t perfectly work out. (That’s expected!)

This week, we’ve added a bonus prize and have made changes to the tiebreakers based on player feedback. And we’ve also added more prizes and made some of the prizes Trial packs. We’ll make more changes based on player feedback and our data team’s analyses in the future.

Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve already received some feedback, and we encourage more in our Discord. Here are some of the biggest questions and our answers. We’ll have another update next week.

Where can I see my score during the event?

Ideally, we would have a scoreboard in the game. When our event system gets an upgrade, it will. In the meantime, we advise that you keep track yourself, or look to sites like GUdecks and Unchained Stats. While we do not guarantee the accuracy of other sites’ data, they did a great job with our first experimental week.

25 games isn’t enough to be a true measure of skill. Why not 50? Or 100?

Competitive TCGs have had between 20 and 25 games as the benchmark for non-professional competitive events for a long time. The typical Magic the Gathering event in their old Pro Tour Qualifier system was 8 rounds, best-of-three, for an average of 20 games to qualify for big prizes. In their current system, it’s 10 rounds (over two events) for an average of 25 games. There are similar amounts of games required in almost every other physical and digital TCG that run these sorts of events -- Pokemon, YuGiOh, etc.

We’ve received feedback that requiring 125+ games to get top prizes is just too much to ask for. As a paid event with massive prizes, 20 hours of gaming might be realistic for some. But for now, we strongly believe that this change will get more players in and playing, while still being a measure of skill.

Variance will play a larger factor. Over 100 games, bad matchups will mean less than they do over 25. We don’t believe that increased variance is large enough to impact most players most weeks, and the increased variance is worth the benefit of making an event accessible to far more players.

That said, we’ll look at the data and adjust. We might change it to 30 or 35 or 40 or 50, or even down to 20!, if the data doesn’t match our expectations.

I really enjoyed the big challenge of 100 games. What about players like me?

We’ve added the 30-win bonus prize to account for players who wish to play many more than 25 games. We have decided not to encourage 100-game weekends generally, though we may bring back in for special occasions. We don’t want to require large amount of play, or encourage players to play too much.

I have multiple accounts that I use to play GU. Do I need to just not use one of them over the weekend?

If you play with more than one account, change the username on all but one of them such that the last three letters are NCP. For instance, Seeker-NCP. This lets us know that you are a “noncompeting player” on that secondary account. This isn’t perfect, but for the tiny percentage of players with multiple accounts this will act as a workaround. We won’t award prizes to those accounts.

It would be possible to use this sort of account to artificially inflate other player’s win results, and we’ll be checking for that. Again, we know this isn’t a perfect solution, but it is a step towards a regular event system in the future.

I have multiple people who legitimately play the game from the same computer. How can both of those players play in the event?

For now, they can’t without the risk of our systems seeing this as a potential issue. This is not ideal, and we’re working on a better solution. We estimate that this impacts a tiny percentage of our users -- and a future events update will hopefully reduce this to zero.

Why not reward players based on a 25-game run, and let them retry over the course of the weekend? Look at players' games 1-25, 26-50, etc? That way those who want to grind feel rewarded for doing so.

We need to reduce the amount of time these weekly events require to increase the likelihood of more players playing in them. I feel the main problem with this approach above is that the system would still be heavily-weighted towards players with lots and lots of time. 

Assume that you had two players with the exact same skill. They both go 15-10 in their first attempt, but one of the players can make two additional attempts. (Because they don’t have work or school or kids or whatever.) On this second attempt, suppose they go 10-15 because their draws were bad, their matchups were bad, or they made mistakes, or they misread the meta. On their third attempt it all goes very well and they go 18-7. Is that fair to the player who only had 5 hours to play on a weekend instead of 15? We don’t think it is.

~ By Andrea Davis | Discord: Seeker

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