Disclaimer: This will be a very long post. So before you proceed, grab a beverage, turn on some soothing music from STLNDRMS and put your thinking caps on because the aim of this post is to make CPL better than ever with the help of everyone who is willing to contribute.
Throughout the course of this league, lazersnipe and I have heard many people asking us about what’s coming next, among other things. In this manifesto I will try to cover all of the above queries, as well as outlining what I think should be the next move for the CPL community. This is by no means a “this is how it has to be,” or even a “this is exactly how things are,” because everything in life is subjective. I am doing this in the interest of sharing my experience in running this league so that anyone who may decide to run something similar in the future has the benefit of building on something that L_Master, lazersnipe, later on seriosity, and I had put a lot of effort into making a reality. I also felt like there needs to be an explanation for why neither lazersnipe nor I have it in us to make CPL 2 as successful and put in as much time and effort necessary to match our commitment to season one... Not to mention striving to make it even better.
First, I will discuss the positives: all of the things that went well and my interpretation of why they went well. It is important to recognize the things that make this league a pleasure to run and the reasons why it has been successful in many ways for many of its participants.
Next, I will explore (expose?) a lot of the problems that I feel were detrimental to the operation and universal success of this league. This section aims to help future organizers, coaches, and players make informed decisions about their participation in the league.
In the section titled “The Future” I will combine the lessons learned from the positives and the problems and outline my proposition for how CPL should continue, regardless of who steps up to make any future efforts a reality. I will try to explain my reasoning behind the rather drastic format change that I am proposing and how it serves to maximize the positives, minimize the problems, and continue the base principles of CPL in a way that is more manageable for everyone from player to coach to administrator. In the “Tools of the Trade” sub-section I will provide what I think is basically everything you would need to use to prepare for and successfully implement my vision of “The Future.”
Finally, I will give thanks to those who made this league a possibility, a reality, and a success in more ways than one, because I feel that everyone who spends their time and hard work on building a community effort of this nature should not got unnoticed or unthanked.
In the next post, I will open the discussion for what YOU think should be the future of CPL. We are at the dawn of a new era for Brood War, and I think that CPL can be highly relevant to the development of the foreign Brood War community. I will post a couple of polls to get some discussion topics going, but they are by no means the only things that should be discussed.
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1. Dedication: The amount of dedication shown by many of the players, coaches, and organizational staff in in the league cannot be understated. More than anything, it is this that has kept this league together. It is also this that has pushed the most successful elements of CPL to the forefront. There are many examples of this. One example that should be mentioned here is Dragon’s exemplary dedication to coaching, which purportedly spans thousands of words in guides, the involvement of other high level players in the practice schedule, weekly “replay parties,” in-house tournaments, and many other things. This is also a good place to mention the dedication of many of the players to fulfilling the requirements of the league, to practicing with their teammates and coaches, to communicating with their opponents, sending their replays and arriving on time. For the most part, the active population of this league was pretty stellar about all of the above, and for that I thank and commend you. Team unity is very important as was demonstrated by Drag n’ Herb’s success, and what I think added to the cohesion beyond the quality of coaching were things like the player draft, the team logos (you can’t lead an army without a flag), the broadcasts, and the system of picking your assistant coach.
2. Organization: This was a crucial element to the success of this league as well, indubitably a consequence of dedication. Aesthetics cannot be underrated. Lazersnipe’s CPL OP is well-organized and presented, with graphics and formatting that make it more than a block of stale text. The follow-up posts on the first page are for the most part very clear in purpose and deliver the information they promise. This also extends to the VODs post and the Liquipedia entry. The weekly posts and updates by lazersnipe and myself are another crucial element of this – it gives the league more exposure, it reminds people of its presence, and has netted over 27 thousand views on the CPL thread at the time of this writing. The CN/I Discord is an extension of this as well, which has really helped keep things together and connect the CPL teams to form what I consider to be the CPL community.
3. Consistency: This in turn is a consequence of organization, and something I came to realize after many weeks of working on this league to be the crucial element of its success. From having uniform weekly schedules for submitting and posting line-ups, to having uniform formatting in the latter half of the broadcast announcements and content has no doubt created a consistency that spoke to many of our players and viewers. Every week you could expect the same format in all of these things, which means that if this was something you enjoyed and wanted more of, you knew where and when you could find it. It’s really as simple that. Throwing in various events and mixing up the casting team on a weekly basis gave enough variety and covered a diverse cross-section of the foreign BW scene, adding flavor while maintaining the same (admittedly relatively low) production values that people probably came to expect. The TL calendar has been especially crucial to promoting the league and to keeping our own players in the know of what is going to happen (as have the Discord announcements).
4. Communication: As mentioned above, the thread, calendar, team Discords and the CN/I have been invaluable tools for keeping this league running. Not much else left to say, except to say that strong communication is crucial to the functioning of any interpersonal enterprise, whether it be the determining of rules and operations or the connecting of one player to another. Any future league would do well to use these tools to their maximum potential. The use of Discord in particular was an incredible boon when there was an activity lapse and people had to be recruited to fill in the missing spaces on the less active teams. Many thanks to our post-start draftees.
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1. Lack of Dedication: Just as some of the players and coaches in this league have been exemplary in their dedication, there was also a rampant lack of dedication in other instances. This is very much a top-down inclusive problem. What I mean by this is that from the coaches to the players, there were many instances of people not doing what was expected of them, whether it be showing up, practicing, coaching, or being involved in general. This isn’t to chide anyone blindly – everyone has real life things come up, and it can’t be forgotten that there was a period of uncertainty between the last ranking match games and the next post outlining what comes next. That was a failing on administration’s part, and unfortunately there was nothing we could do about it, but we are sorry for it nonetheless. Many of the players and coaches signed up in one period in their lives, and the league didn’t start for some until almost half a year later if not more. That is understandable, and is something that I will address in the next section. However, in general, it is important that the league organizers and coaches manage expectations and include safety nets into their format/teams. This means having extra coaches per team, extra players per team, and perhaps a bit more of an allowance on game times and player substitution. As I said before though, my upcoming proposal should handle a lot of these pitfalls that are almost inherent in an amateur foreigner longitudinal league of this nature.
2. Lack of Communication: This is a manifestation of the lack of dedication. Some people just couldn’t be arsed to answer messages in a timely manner, some were hard to reach, and others were not forthcoming with their issues/concerns. Part of involvement is the requirement from everyone who signs up to be conscientious of the players, teams, and organizers that are part of the organization, and I hope that people in the future embrace this fact more. This also applies to people who did communicate, but did so poorly. This is a for-fun, low level, educational league; however, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t treat others with courtesy and respect for their time and effort. People are entitled to their opinions, they are entitled to their complaints, and administrators should hear them out. However, people are not entitled to harassing the administrators and repeating the same complaints over and over after getting a response. When making any decision in a league that has dozens of people in it, you are bound to have people who are unhappy with something regardless of what option you chose. Moreover, while in general the players’ and coaches’ comfort and satisfaction should be the top priority, certain things must be done a certain way because what would satisfy the players and coaches is outside of the administrators’ capacity. As administrators, I think we had reached out to players and coaches a respectable amount, but some of the questions and criticisms we’ve faced throughout the league has shown me that we could always do with more outreach. However, this was made difficult because there was just two of us for the majority of this league. In short, we were...
3. “Overworked and Underpaid:” I’ll put it bluntly – running this league at the capacity at which we have with only two volunteer administrators was sheer madness. Lazer and I have exchanged tens of thousands of lines of discussion, debate, delegation, and commiseration throughout the course of this league. He has spent an enormous amount of hours on posts, organization, and graphics, not to mention that he signed up and started out as just a player. I had to learn Liquipedia practically from scratch in which I have submitted 47 single-spaced pages of text encompassing 47,900 characters, 70 hours of broadcasting not including the 100+ hours it took just to make the questionable graphics, contact co-casters, negotiate times, do sound checks, manage technical difficulties, and the 18 pages of single-spaced text and 36,440 characters I have written in the thread for each broadcast in total. Even when spread over more than eight months, this was an absurd amount of effort for me. Throughout this time, both lazer and I had our own real life issues come and go, as well as life situations changing pretty drastically, often at the same time for both of us, all with no safety net besides each other. Of course when one of my broadcasts could not be completed as promised, evilEye and Herbmon stepped up last minute for which I am very grateful – but this was the only time that it was absolutely necessary because I believe lazersnipe and I had burnt ourselves out making sure that there were never any leaks or cracks when viewed externally. In the duration of this league, I’ve sacrificed nights out, parties, sleep, most of my free time to play on my own and thus my already paltry skill at the game, and to be quite honest – a large portion of the passion for both the game and the organization of things of this nature. I’ve come to appreciate all the work that all other organizers in the scene have done, and I’ve come to understand why endeavors of this magnitude fail so frequently in the foreign scene, and it is simply because there is not enough support. This is a large part of why I can no longer continue participating in the CPL in any capacity, and will most likely stop playing Brood War as well.
Events of this nature need far more people behind them for them to work smoothly. Here are some of my rough estimates of what the administrative team for this league should have looked like, if we were to start from scratch and run it anew (and all of these people should represent diverse but overlapping timezones):
a. At least two people who are purely managerial, like lazer and I should have been
b. Two experienced people for Liquipedia updates (here are some reasons why.)
c. Two to four people for broadcasting regularly
d. An extra person for channel moderation and Discord set-up would be nice, as well as other initiatives
e. Graphics person
So ideally, a team of about 8 to 10 people who can cover each other's back would be needed to run this league comfortably and in a way that wouldn’t put as much strain and stress on the staff. My proposal should cut down on this number, as the format will be much less commitment-oriented. However, it is still something to consider when approaching a league of this nature: ensuring you have a strong, dedicated and diverse team of organizers.
Ultimately what this whole section boils down to is this: when players don’t have dedicated coaches, their own dedication falters. When coaches don’t have dedicated players who show improvement or at least effort, their dedication falters. When administrators don’t have coaches who are properly communicative, they become frustrated and have to deal with extra work, hassle, decisions, and internal communication. However, I can’t end this on a bad note: the majority of the people I have dealt with in all elements of this league have been understanding, forthcoming, agreeable, and overall a pleasure to work with. For that, I thank you. If it were not for you, I would have broken a long time ago.
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1. No more teams. Instead of teams of players and their respective coaches, the entire CPL community (preferably connected through Discord, using the CN/I channel) will be one giant pool of players who can participate in the league. Instead of dedicated coaches, there will be a pool of coaches.
2. No more line-ups; one match-up per week, sign-ups for people wishing to practice that match-up. Each week we will have one match-up to play – PvZ, ZvT, PvT, Mirror1, PvZ, ZvT, PvT, Mirror2, so on and so forth. Players who wish to practice that match-up for that week will sign up, just for that week. Coaches who wish to coach that match-up for that week will sign up, just for that week.
3. Less skill discrepancy. When signing up to play a match-up, you and another player can be paired based on skill. If C level Protoss1, D level Protoss2, C level Zerg1, and D level Zerg2 sign up, then the administrators can just pair the C level players and the D level players if they wish.
4. Weekly rotation in practice partners. As there will be no distinct teams, players can play with and practice with whomever they want, but more importantly they will have the rest of the sign-ups available for that week. What this means in the example above is, P1 is facing Z1, P2 is facing Z2, and P1 and Z2 can be dedicated practice partners while P2 and Z1 are the same. Zerg Coach and Protoss Coach will be responsible only for coaching their race’s respective players but are of course encouraged to help anyone and everyone.
5. Seasons, matches, and the league in general are far more flexible. There can be no need for seasons at all. In my proposed pattern of MUs (PvZ, ZvT, PvT, PvP, PvZ, ZvT, PvT, TvT, PvZ, ZvT, PvT, ZvZ) there can be either 1 season (all 12 weeks), 3 seasons (first set of 4 or 3 MUs with the mirror being included or excluded), or 0 seasons (if there is no desire for any capstone). Matches can be Bo1 or Bo3 or Bo5 depending on how many people want to participate, for how many games they want to participate, etc. because of player autonomy. Map pool can also be very flexible and less administrator-dependent. The Coaches can participate in a showmatch of that match-up every week as well, just as a comparison for the players to see, and for extra hype/fun for the coaches.
6. Rankings and statistics are now purely individual. No one is limited or bolstered artificially by their teams. The statistics I would compile are Protoss, Zerg, and Terran winrates; MU-specific winrates; individual player winrates; coach winrates (the winrates of the players they back).
1. No teams means a bigger pool of players and resources to draw from on a more consistent basis – one player’s or coach’s absence will not affect the rest of the unit. This also means this league has a lot of ergonomic growth potential, in anticipation of SC:R hypetrain scrubs.
2. No line-ups means less organizational hassle, and no requirement of filling x slots per week. Sign-ups can be handled through various online services quite easily. This also means that players can be matched based on skill, again catering to both existing players and SC:R newcomers.
3. Weekly sign-ups means less commitment issues for players and coaches alike, something that greatly hampered many aspects of CPL for some players/teams/coaches.
4. One match-up per week means a much more focused practice and coaching atmosphere for that week, allowing for bursts of progress in targeted areas for players who need it most by coaches who feel most confident in that match-up. This extends to broadcasters as well; if my broadcasts have shown anything, is that there are many experienced players who are willing to cast low level matches as long as you reach out and coordinate with them. This means that we can have specialists come on for a specific match-up and give much more detailed advice than I could every week as a weak former C+ mostly-Protoss player.
5. Weekly rotation in practice partners and matches means people will get to play structured matches with a broad diversity of opponents, with the same targeted environment described in #4.
6. League flexibility benefits players because it makes it a much more interactive “do what you want” format, meaning you can decide which maps, how many games, etc. you play with your opponent.
7. Rankings and statistics will highlight players more naturally than they did in the teamleague, and will do so for coaches as well. This opens the doors for more frequent and more accurate “All-Star” type events, which can be held monthly, by-season, etc.
1. No teams means very little team unity and cohesion. I respect that some teams have grown quite close throughout CPL and this format would serve to hamper that from happening in the future. The caveat is that I don’t think many teams benefited from the team-based format nearly as much as Drag n’ Herb did, and thus may not be universally seen as a desired element.
2. Less commitment could deter some people who are “in it for the long haul” type people. If people can come and go as they please, that means that there may be inconsistency in work ethic and the availability of people who you could otherwise guilt into “doing their part.”
3. Rotating line-ups would mean that there will be at least one week every two weeks when a player of a certain main race can’t play. I don’t think this is a major issue, but it’s worth noting.
4. Greater flexibility in league format means less uniformity in results, and potentially requires more adaptation from the administrative team. However, I would hope that there would be more than two people running this, and with some people (coaches? Broadcasters?) willing to help out on the more minor things like Liquipedia and cast announcement posts.
5. Less definitive “end” and “beginning” to the league, potentially giving less of a “building to something greater than this” feeling. Goes along with #2.
6. Probably some other shit I’m missing.
Here’s a brief summary of the new format the way I explained it to L_Master via Discord, in case it makes more sense for people as a whole unit of text:
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Protoss, Zerg, Terran scores. Coach individual scores (whose pupils do well). Individual scores for players. Allstars like event every so often. So one week, you could have like 5 protoss want to play 6 zergs and that's fine; one player can play twice, or one Zerg can play one coach, whatever. And other weeks you could have just 1 Terran and 1 Zerg, and that's fine too, no hassles. Never go more than 1 week without an opportunity to play for any race. That would make organization a lot easier too, and more of a community unit vibe instead of a team vibe; people using CN/I as a learning and growing channel instead of just organizational for reaching out to others. That would also pool coaching resources, so everyone can have the opportunity to have Dragon as a coach, or whoever is free that week for coaching. This is based on the things I learned this season.
Just to further clarify: It would work something like this: Sign-up as a Terran player wanting to play vs. Protoss by 8/12. Specific player match-ups announced 8/13. Game gets played before 8/20 whenever both players agree upon. Coach is assigned or chosen and coaches until then, and must also have signed up before 8/12.
There are potential issues that need to be addressed regardless of what happens next. I will list them here and add polls in the next post:
1. How will skill be measured in the new era of Brood War in order to determine the upward limit for student skill? Certain people *cough* were bitching about fazek being allowed in as it was, and this is often the case in lower level leagues where the top is criticized for being too good.
1.b. Should there be another ranking tour?
1.c. Should there be a “training period”?
2. What should be the policy in terms of returning players? Were some players too successful, or have outgrown the league?
3. If team format is followed, what should be the policy in terms of returning teams? The dominance of some teams over others was obvious, as was the varying level of dedication of the coaches.
4. If team format is followed, how should the draft be run?
Sample template (2 pages): https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1JG5AVJ6yWcevBniqT9pGxgETlfbKRg40LF1_UFKWzL4/edit?usp=sharing
CPL News/Info channel link: https://discord.gg/EnjPrt9
Liquipedia channel link: https://discord.gg/D2Hq7Kk
Liquipedia, with the relevant templates (you are more than free to copy my templates):
Broadcast announcement format:
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[center][b]** TEXT [RED]WEEK # - MU[/RED] TEXT CAST ON [date]XX:XX TIMEZONE MM/DD/YYYY[/date] **[/b]
[big]>> [url=https://www.twitch.tv/STREAMLINK]https://www.twitch.tv/STREAMLINK[/url] <<[/big]
[b][u]--- Week # - MU ---[/u][/b]
player :p: < Map > :p: player
player :t: < Or Bo# > :t: player
player :z: < Description > :z: player
1. Replay analysis (potentially with VOD, like this).
2. In-house ranking tournaments.
3. Practice sessions on calendars (multiple online free calendars exist).
4. 1v1 Practice with the coach.
5. Save game states; say you are practicing how to micro vs. FD, you just save the game when the FD is moving out, and keep loading it up over and over.
6. Various training UMS (multitask trainer, MicroTournament, etc.).
7. Recommended progamer VODs/FPVODs. Watch together and analyze.
8. Build order practice/sharing.
9. Many more I'm forgetting.
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El Jefe, the chief, lazersnipe for the tremendous amount of effort he has put into this league and for being an absolute pleasure to work with. Without him, absolutely nothing after the ranking tournament would have been possible. It takes a certain type of man to step up and take something of this magnitude on and stick through it for 6+ months. All accolades go to you.
L_Master, the man with the plan, for starting this league and for his numerous broadcasts which helped cover the games that I did not have time to cover myself.
STLNDRMS for agreeing to provide the super chill, extra dope official music for the league, ensuring that my Twitch VODs would never be muted even for a moment. Please check out more of his music here, available for “pay as much as you want:”
This is his website: https://stlndrms.com/
TL staff for consistently assisting us in the operation of this league through numerous PMs, allowing us to add categories to the Leagues/Events section in the calendar, approving our broadcasts promptly, and being responsive on Discord.
salle and fontax and many others in the Liquipedia Discord who have helped a total Liquipedia noob like me make a decent-looking page and climb from copper coins to two silvers.
My team [ｔｅａｍ] in particular for being an overall positive and friendly group of people that I enjoyed working with over the past months. I wouldn’t trade you guys for anything.
Special shout outs have to go to the people who have expressed their support and appreciation for the work we have done in CPL. There are many of you, and you know who you are. This often felt like a thankless job, but when those thanks were given and the praises were sung, they kept me going when things felt overwhelming and fruitless, like that one time I spent 6 hours straight trying to figure out how to set up one damn matchlist for Week 1.
I am extremely grateful to all of the great casters that have joined me throughout the length of the two leagues. Here is a list of all of the co-casters who dedicated hours of their time and shared their knowledge and love for the game throughout my broadcasts: Fazers, L_Master, Schamtoo, Elegant[AoV], Ty2, Qikz, SuGo, NinaZerg, eonzerg, LaStScan, evilEye, PiSan, Greth, puppykiller, m1_garandad, Herbmon, dark.matter, Lumix, and of course Sayle. Extra thanks go again to evilEye and Herbmon for filling in for me when I disappeared with short notice!
Many thanks to Blizzard, mca64launcher, ICCup, Fish, OBS, Discord, YouTube, Twitch, foobar, Microsoft Word + Excel + Paint + Video Editor + Media Player, Google Docs + Sheets, and of course our beloved TeamLiquid; without these sites and services, none of this would have been possible.
Last but not least, all of the coaches and pupils who have participated in this league. Without you, there by definition cannot be a Coach Pupil League. My many thanks go to you.
— CPL Staff