"Perfecting the Paramount Events" – How to Improve Nationals and Worlds

This is the companion discussion topic for this article.

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The stream scheduling issue can easily be solved by having separate streams for VGC and TCG. No need to add days that people need to take off of work.

Alex, what is a bigger priority in your mind?

  • The tournament itself runs smoothly, efficiently, and fairly.
  • The event is streamed.

I ask because I think those two objectives conflict with each one another.

This is another point that I thought about and just didn’t make it’s way into the article. I think separate streams for VGC and TCG is a good idea, but one that is hard to implement. This would require 2 sets of all of Pokemon’s equpiment, 2 main stages, and Pokemon would only be able to play one at a time at the event itself. If there’s one thing more distracting to players than a loud speaker playing the stream at one end of the hall, it’s two loud speakers playing two different streams.

Also, Pokemon definitely can’t base their events around them being convenient for people to take off of work. They know that many people already take off a week or more to go to Nationals and Worlds. Adding one more day won’t be a problem for the vast majority of competitors.

To me, the biggest priority is that the tournament runs fairly. I like a smooth and efficient tournament too, but I’m willing to sacrifice some of that for the sake of streaming. My view is biased because I have been lucky enough to be a competitor at 3/4 of the events in the last few years that have been streamed though and I recognize that. There are definitely more people who don’t attend Nationals and Worlds than who do and these people would probably disagree with me.

And I do agree that these two objectives conflict with each other (at least, they do with the time constraints we currently have on these events). I would like to see Pokemon start improving their events while keeping both of these objectives in mind. Games such as League of Legends and Magic have done this well in my eyes. I do recognize that neither of these games feature two events (TCG and VGC) at their World Championships and I think this is where the problem comes from.

I will say that Pokemon has taken a step forward to alleviate many of these problems with the new Worlds structure. I just hope that streaming for both events can fit well into their schedule this year.

My hunch is that streaming a match (TCG or VGC) adds extra time the round. The competitors need to be brought on stage, judges have to be allocated, commentators need to be in place, all of the cameras and technology to stream need to be ready to go, etc.

VGC rounds take less time than TCG rounds (probably 30 minutes versus 50 minutes plus however long 3 turns take). Logistically I don’t see how every TCG round could be streamed without drawing out the event to an unreasonable pace of completion. With VGC time isn’t as much of a problem and I think that’s why VGC is streamed more.

Making the events an extra day to be able to provide more complete streaming seems unreasonable considering the costs associated with booking a venue, hotels, at whatnot. Would you rather have the increased prize money they are giving out this year or an extra day tacked onto the event for more streaming coverage?

Streaming can be good publicity but I think focusing on creating a positive tournament experience for the competitors is way more important.

It definitely takes more time to stream TCG rounds. Taking the resources away from the main tournament to go to a streaming table can be done efficiently, but there is still time involved.

However, adding an extra day of time and cost just to accommodate streaming is, honestly, very unreasonable…even if it were just for the main events. Staff for Nationals and Worlds are already taking as much as a week off work to have meetings, get ready for the event, travel, etc…Not to mention the families of players.
That’s why the 3-day weekend structure works so well. 2 days off work (or 4 if you have a non-office job) is hard enough to schedule sometimes, and assuming that it would be easy to just take another day off is, sorry for this, a bit short-sighted. That extra day might blow the chance for some players to even make it. Isn’t that more important? To have to skip Nats or Worlds because it became a choice of keeping your job due to an extra day would be a horrible decision to have to make. I guess they could stay at home and watch the live stream though…

I fully agree that there should be a way to improve the stream coverage, but not at the overall cost of extending the tournament.

I can confirm from my streaming experience at Worlds this year that it definitely takes more time. Both decks needed to be resleeved, sound checks performed, etc. before the match could start. If memory serves, we started the game about 20 minutes into the round. I just happened to lose so quickly it didn’t matter.

I understand that the VG is easier to stream because the games are shorter. That makes sense logistically. But it doesn’t make sense to me from a marketing/advertising/promoting framework. If TCG is Pokemon’s most profitable enterprise (an assumption on my part since there is no R&D, licensing fees, etc - as TCGamers, we are paying a quarterly premium in our card purchases for what is essentially paper), why do they not do whatever necessary to promote their most profitable venture? If the answer is “They are trying to penetrate VG streaming community to build market share”, I guess I would understand that. But I still have to wonder: are they satisfying the greatest demand for streaming - and promoting their most profitable product - by streaming VG? I really am ignorant here so if anyone has any insight on this let me know.

A thought just struck me as I was finishing this: could it be that VG is perceived as the more compelling visual content for streaming?

I would have to say that VGC is likely more entertaining to watch for the random person who stumbles upon the stream at home. If you’ve ever played Pokemon, you’d know what you’re looking at with the video game. Sure, you might not understand the intricacies of switching and Protecting, but you get the general idea of knocking out your opponent’s Pokemon.

Also, I don’t have the numbers or anything in front of me, but I really don’t think that the Trading Card Game is more profitable than the Video Game. If I recall correctly, when XY came out, there were around 1 million copies sold on the first day or in the first week or something. I don’t think that the TCG sales are that lucrative.

There is a difference between a company’s most profitable item and its highest revenue generator. I would think that the VG has to be the highest revenue generator. Perhaps even “bread and butter” from a business standpoint? But it seems to me that TCG has to be the most profitable. If Pokemon makes 10% profit on a sale to its VG distributors, it HAS to make more than that on a percentage basis on TCG (so much less overhead!). So TCG has lower sales but higher profit margin. Since they have a fully vested VG customer base, I would think they would want to cultivate customers to a higher profit purchase. Which is why I would think they would want to drive interest toward TCG. If I were on the Pokemon admin team, I would definitely work toward growing the TCG player base through the VG existing customer base.

But in the end, I think you are correct: I had never played VG, watched VG World champions on stream this year, and found it enjoyable from a spectator standpoint. Pretty sure I could not say the same if I were a VG player watching the TCG…

For what it’s worth, as a competitor, if I never have to be streamed again at one of these large events, it’ll be too soon. Please stream VGC all you want. TCG was supposed to start R7 this year; I could’ve lived with R10.

/unpopular opinion

You don’t want the chance to redeem yourself? I just want to get some Pokegym dice myself haha.

Did you have any choice at Worlds?

No. However, I cannot fault TPCI for that. I realize they need to make a product, and if the best way to make that product is to feature high profile players (I’m not delusional, I’m very much aware my match was chosen because of Igor), so be it. I don’t hold it against anything (except maybe TOM, hahah). I consented to the stream by attending the event, and that’s fine.

For most players, it probably wouldn’t be a problem. For me, with pro-mattes? Yeah, it was an issue. The noise-canceling system is also a bit of a pain, but you get used to the noise (quite literally) after awhile. Overall, it’s probably good for the game and maybe I’m just overreactive and salty.

Do you have some superstition with pro-mattes?

My bad on context, thought I’d already mentioned my issue with them here. Can’t shuffle them. If you watch the game closely, you can see my attempts to do so are laughable. The way I normally shuffle shreds them, and I can confirm there was a bit of a sleeve shortage at Worlds this year.

I’ll drop links to the game (and a comparison) to show the point. I’m well aware it’s petty and my fault, just trying to explain my dislike for streaming. I’m aware what has to be done has to be done (For the record, I did ask, Pro-Mattes are all that are permitted for streaming. My Dragon Shields are too reflective).

I noticed the Matte sleeves on the stream and wondered about that. I watched quite a bit of streaming last year from OTB and I never once thought glare was a problem with Dragon Shields or designer sleeves. Did TPCi put lots of lighting directly overhead? Did you find the lighting objectionable?

There was a good amount of overhead lighting, but nothing that was disruptive as a player. You can notice the occasional shadow from the players’ movements, which indicates there was a good amount of light. I’ll be brutally honest: I was so annoyed with the noise-proofing thing (they play the same 5-second fake crowd noise track on loop the entire match…) that I don’t really remember the lighting situation that well as I think about it more.

I think the difference between OTB and TPCI was the camera quality. No offense to OTB intended, TPCI was clearly using top-of-the-line streaming equipment (which would’ve picked up more glare). I also believe TPCI wanted a uniform playing field, and to have the sleeves themselves be the least distracting as possible. We were told no less then 3 times prior to the match to ensure we kept dice off the field of play, and reminded throughout the game.

To be completely honest, I’m a little surprised I was allowed to use my dice as randomizers (damage counters had to be the white dice provided), and not sure it was intentional (at some point, Kyle makes a comment that some of the dice I used are hard to read, which leads me to believe there was a uniform rolling die around there somewhere).

Additionally, having been on OTB’s stream a few times in the past, I noticed a degree of glare in some lighting conditions when I was using Dragon Shields. I was using turquoise at Worlds this year, which, relative to some of the other colors (all Dragon Shields are not created equal, folks), is pretty matte.

For the reference, TCG streaming starts at about 10:53:13 here: http://www.twitch.tv/pokemon/b/558699599

I don’t want to come off as complaining or anything; I signed up for it when I played, and that’s the reality of it. I don’t think I would’ve had as much of an issue with any of it as a whole had it not been fairly late and after playing 7 rounds of Bo3 (the mind suffers from it at some point). Obviously, they’ve streamed a good number of matches in the past, and there’s not been any problems raised. It’s overall a good thing for the game’s progression, and worth the hassle even for that alone.

I just wonder why all the footage has been allowed to rot on Twitch as opposed to being on YouTube or something.

Watching your match now actually for the first time. Feeling sad all over again :confused:

I will say, stream quality is not something that really needs much improvement. Pokemon has done a pretty good job with the camera set up, the lighting, the stage, all of that. My only gripe there is that there’s no consistent “Be back in (around) X minutes” where the X is a countdown. They had it between finals matches on Sunday but not on Saturday from what I’ve seen.

You said something about fake crowd noise in the headphones while playing, KPiplup? That seems strange, as that’s an obvious distraction to the players. I understand why they have it; they don’t want the casters to reveal information to the players. But what they should really do is put the casters in a booth somewhere for them to cast the games for the stream alone. They don’t need to have everyone in the room hear what the casters are saying. Just display the games on a big screen and the TCG players who are watching in the building will understand what’s happening. If the VGC players in the building want to hear the cast they can watch the stream in a room that Pokemon has set up for people to watch the stream instead of the games on the big screen. This way you don’t have to wear the noise-canceling headphones that could be an obvious distraction, and there is no chance for you to hear something that a caster says.

Just my opinion on that matter.