An Update on DuelCircle Tournaments in 2020

An Update on DuelCircle Tournaments in 2020

2020, an unusual year to say the least. This long-form article is to serve as an update to the community and general public about the past, present, and future of DuelCircle Competitive. The PvP scene is the founding premise behind DuelCircle, and our goal has always been to create better content and products for everyone. Although this article may not answer every question, we hope to provide as much context as possible.


Luau/Clash Tournaments + Ultimate Bravery

Over the past few years, we have striven to improve the overall competitive experience within our tournaments. In early 2019 we began to explore alternative formats. Our site’s tagline, “Innovate PvP” was not being lived to it’s potential. This May, we introduced 2 more formats through the DuelCircle Census, which both received tons of praise. However, this format was deemed more favorable within the community and internally.

Although the gamemode based tournaments were enjoyable for many, there was also tons of criticism regarding rules and the format itself. Our goal was to create a much more serious type of tournament that was structured in a way where players feel more at ease instead of being in a high stress environment. We have decided to retire the current Clash/Luau seasonal tournaments in place of the Spring and Fall Splits. (More details below, the 2020 Summer Split was a special case.)

When I (@MikeFirehammer) competed in the 2015 Clash tournament, I succumbed to the high pressure and made a huge mistake when creating my deck for one of my matches. That mistake lead to Lail Ashblade defeating me, and essentially winning the entire 64 player tournament.

No format is “the best” since all formats have their flaws, but this new format felt extremely solid with quite a bit of flexibility if needed. We understand that change may feel strange and different, but felt confident that this would be a massive improvement. Many people have expressed their concerns with the 2-3 month length. We understand that concern, as well as the want for the original tournaments.

In the future, we plan on incorporating the gamemode based activities through Ultimate Bravery and we may bring back those famed weekend tournaments throughout the year. (This would be in addition to the Spring and Fall splits.) Those events would not hold the amount of weight that the Spring and Fall splits do since those are catered to the more serious PvPers.  

Although there hasn’t been many announcements and updates regarding Ultimate Bravery as of late, don’t fret. We’ve heard your requests and bug reports. We plan on holding another “Alpha Event” in the near future.


League Format Explanation

Each year (which we call a “Season”), there will be 2 splits, the Spring and Fall spit. Each split is its’ own tournament. Similar to previous years where Luau and Clash were the 2 flagship tournaments, these splits take on the same vain.

In the past with Luau and Clash, the top 8 participants automatically were guaranteed acceptance in the following tournament. With the introduction of this new format, only the 2 finalists will receive guaranteed acceptance moving forward. This keeps things similar to the ~25% of participants who were offered guaranteed acceptance. We want to continue to reward the “cream of the crop” while also maintaining a steady amount of new participants.


Regular Season Format Explanation

During the “Regular Season” of a split, each player faces the other 9 competitors within the league twice in a Double Round Robin Best-Of-One format. At the end of the 9th week, the top 6 players within the standings (barring any potential tiebreakers) advance into the playoffs.

Tiebreakers are determined based on Head-To-Head record. For example, if Rachel Stormcloud went 2-0 against Ryan Rainstaff during the Regular Season, Rachel would therefore be the higher seed.

For more information regarding tiebreaker scenarios, reference the official rulebook at any time.

Instead of how we’ve traditionally done single elimination as a format, the regular season allows you to face the entire player pool. We wanted to eliminate the randomization of the old format where some players may have been unlucky with their initial match-up. This also allows players to have more opportunities since you can afford to lose regular season games.


Playoff Format Explanation

The top 6 players move onto the playoffs based on regular season standings. The top 4 players will compete in a double elimination format (Upper Bracket) while the 5th/6th seed compete in a single elimination format (Lower Bracket).

Playoff Matches are played in a Best-of-Three series. In between games, players have 15 minutes to reset and prepare for the following game. Similar to the Regular Season, games will also have a 45 minute time limit.

The 1st place seed will be able to choose between the 3rd/4th place seed as their Round 1 opponent in match A1. For more information, reference Section 5 of the DuelCircle Rulebook.

Instead of how we’ve traditionally done single elimination as a format, we wanted to provide opportunities to redeem yourself. Many people in the past have felt “cheated” by the old format where losing one single game (or a best-of-three series) would result in elimination.

We wanted to reward the top regular season competitors by giving them the benefit of double elimination, however we needed to make the regular season standings more meaningful. By allowing the 1st place seed to choose their own opponent, it gives a unique reward since you could choose to play an easier opponent or get out a juggernaut early.


Fall Split Info

The Fall Split will run from Friday, September 11th through Sunday, November 29th. With Playoffs from Saturday, November 14th through Sunday, November 29th.

For more information regarding the 2020 Fall Split, check out our megapost which includes standings, weekly game schedules, league news, highlights and more.


Summer Split: What Happened

Many people were surprised and confused when we “announced” the Summer Split minutes before the Opening Day broadcast. Internally, that was never our plan or intention. Towards the end of May, we began full work on the format. The main issue however, was time. It was too late to conduct the Spring Split so we decided to do a special Summer Split for 2020. In the future, there will only be the Spring and Fall Splits with a 3 month break in-between during the Summer.

The Summer Split was condensed into a special 6 week format with 1 week of playoffs. We didn’t want to potentially go “off-schedule” and interfere with the start of Fall. At one point, many people both internal and external wondered if it was even worth it to go through with the Summer Split.

We went ahead and went through with it anyway, since this was already going to be considered a test. It also didn’t help that the Wizard101 Summer Update was currently in Test Realm at the time. We knew that if we did go through with the plan, it would be extremely bumpy due to significant PvP changes occurring midway. We also didn’t want Fall to be the only tournament in 2020 either. Reflecting at the end of the Summer Split, things went somewhat better than expected surprisingly.

Participants

Since we were extremely behind schedule, as well as there being an offer for the Top 8 Clash 2019 participants to receive guaranteed acceptance, we decided to not open formal signup requests. We also had a bit of player changes, which confused some people.

Due to extenuating circumstances in Week 1, Angel Mist had opted to formally drop out of the league. We replaced Angel Mist with Ethan Myth, who inherited Angel Mist’s 1 loss against Alex Sungem (the other 2 games from Week 1 were postponed to be played at a later date. Angel Mist ended up dropping out prior to Week 4 and had accumulated 6 losses. At that point, with approval for inheriting the losses, we replaced Ethan Myth with Andrew Icespear.

Towards the end of the split Alex Sungem decided to drop out and forfeit the rest of his games, as well as Jacob Darksword due to extenuating circumstances. This will explain the numerous missing games from our 2020 Summer Split VOD collection.

Rule Changes

During Week 4 we had introduced numerous rule changes as the Wizard101 Summer Update had made it to the live server the week prior. We had banned ALL spells from the Celestian Spellemental Pack for one week to allow players adequate time to get those spells as per the Official Rulebook. We also decided to scrap the 2nd Round Robin Turn Order Rule based on player request. This rule basically allowed both players to get an opportunity to play a game with turn order priority.

Prior to the start of playoffs, KingsIsle introduced a significant update to the game in regards to critical healing values and numerous spells. Luckily the first round of the playoffs had not started. Nonetheless, due to this update, similar to the spell ban when the Celestian Spellemental pack came out, we banned the new Detonate and Balance of Power for the entirety of playoffs.

Inconsistencies regarding Rescheduled Games

During the Summer Split, we wanted to be as flexible as possible since this was a new format for everyone. We had allowed participants to reschedule games on an as-needed, case-by-case basis. However, this ended up getting slightly abused to the point where there had been over 20 games left prior to the final week of the regular season. This also had impacted the broadcast with unexpected “pauses”.

Only in special cases, rescheduled games may be played at a later time. Players must inform a League official at least 48 hours in advance or earlier. Unplayed games due to a lack of communication will result in a loss this Fall.

Site Stability and Broadcast Issues

Throughout the entirety of the Summer Split, we had numerous site stability issues including a cloudfare outage, issues with our hosting provider, and more. This resulted in sporadic periods of downtime. We also had errors with WordPress, resulting in the Summer Split megapost, rulebook, and entire split schedule not being available until recently. We did however, put as much information as possible within the DuelCircle Community Discord and Social Media, when possible. Most issues with the site do seem to be fixed thankfully, but we apologize for the lack of any Summer information similar to the previous tournament megaposts.

We also want to address the numerous broadcast issues throughout the Summer Split. During the Regular Season our Broadcast Team had Ryan slated on Friday Nights, Mesa (Maceryn) on Saturday’s, and Ambermeow on Sunday’s. Although there were times where there had been a broadcast on a given day, many days unfortunately did not have a broadcast.

This was due to both technical and scheduling conflicts. However, we were able to record each game and we plan on releasing the ENTIRE Summer Split game VODs in the near future. There’s over 500 GB’s worth of footage, please be patient as we’re gonna need some additional time to properly edit it all. In the future, game VODs will be released on a weekly basis.

Stream the entire Summer Split archive across devices, only on the DuelCircle Youtube.


Season 1 in 2021

Internally, we are considering Season 0 (2020) a test. In 2021, most people should have a better understanding and feel for the new format. With the end of the 5th anniversary branding package soon upon us, as well as the end of the Luau/Clash branding, we are currently in the process of creating a new branding package for the broadcast/site including a new abstract mark/competitive specific logo.

We’re excited for the future but as a bit of a teaser, today we’re revealing the official start dates for the Season 1 Spring and Fall splits. Keep in mind these dates are tentative and are subject to change.

Spring 2021: Friday, Feb 12th – Sunday, April 12th (Playoffs: Saturday, April 17th – May 2nd)

Fall 2021: Friday, September 3rd – Sunday, October 31st (Playoffs: Saturday, November 6th – Sunday, November 21st)

Our goal is to keep this schedule moving forward. An easy way to think about it is that Spring would start on Valentine’s Day Weekend and end prior to (typically) Finals Week for most students. Fall would start on Labor Day Weekend and end the week prior to Thanksgiving. We want to align our schedule to a typical semester schedule for most students, but also provide some breaks in between.


As we’ve said before, we want to continue to support the PvP scene. Whether you are an amateur player or someone who’s on the ranked leaderboards, our goal is to keep DuelCircle Competitive as sustainable as possible, long term. We hope you enjoyed this long-form article and enjoy the upcoming Fall split and the amount of work we’re putting in for Season 1 in 2021.