Infinite Mana League S2: Post-mortem

The Good and Bad of running the largest GU tournament to date.

[8M] saints
Infinite Mana Team Manager
September 16, 2022

Infinite Mana League Season 2 (8ML S2) concluded last week and it's time to reflect on what went well and poorly from a tournament organizer's perspective. I self-reflect after each tournament because I intend to make the Infinite Mana League the highest-quality competitive tournament series in Gods Unchained.

8ML S2 was split between an 8-round Swiss phase and a Top 8 championship bracket (meaning 11 total rounds of gameplay for finalists). There has never been a large-scale Swiss tournament in GU before, on top of that, thanks to our sponsors at Gods Unchained, E1337 Metawear, and AQUA, we were able to put up an $11,000 prize pool (~$5,000 in cash, ~$6,000 in packs).

The Good

Stack-Saints Seeding Formula

Stack15 and I created a GU-specific seeding formula, which was another unprecedented element in 8ML S2. As competitors ourselves, we've been disappointed in the past with random seeding, location-based seeding, and MMR-based seeding. Thanks to the plethora of data we have on our hands, we were able to make the most sophisticated seeding formula in GU that properly accounts for Weekend Ranked and past Tournament performance. You can see the details of that formula here.

Paying Infinite Mana League staff

While the GU community is still nascent, we try to maintain a level of unparalleled professionalism and doing so usually requires compensating the best people available. Infinite Mana League is a concerted effort to make sure that the tournament setup, administration, record-keeping, and casting is top-notch. For that reason, we've compensated Vesper, Stack15, and CopperPitch for their assistance in our tournament. If you want to get involved with the Infinite Mana League, we're looking for creatives, sponsors, and more. Keep reading below!

Multi-account detection

Multi-accounting has recently become a larger problem in GU, although it's been more of a Weekend Ranked issue than a tournament issue. Without going into details, we've implemented multi-accounting detection systems for our events. Our methodology was able to identify a handful of multi-accounters who we've also reported to the GU team. Our ability to do this helps ensure a fairer playing ground for honest competitors, and those who attempt to cheat not only risk getting banned from all 8M events, but also risk getting their GU accounts banned.

The Bad

Player/admin exhaustion (Swiss)

An 8-round tournament spanning 2 weeks already feels long. But add a championship bracket and a non-diminishing player pool after each round (thanks to the Swiss format), you get a tournament that is 10x more time-consuming to run than a regular tournament. Because we needed to fit a total of 11 rounds within the time slot GU allowed us for the Community Clash, it also didn't feel like we often gave players room to breathe.

In the future, it's likely we'll only use Swiss for small, invite-only or high buy-in tournaments and large community tournaments can still be single-elim.

Balance patch timing

We prefer the open-decklists for tournaments, especially in light of the workshop exploit, but getting 192 players to change their decks if a major patch hit mid-tournament would've been a nightmare. When GU announced a patch for mid-August, we had to shift our tournament start date from August 10th to August 20th to accommodate.

Then the GU team announced they were targeting bi-weekly balance patches throughout the duration of our tournament. The only way for us to accommodate this was removing the open-decklist concept entirely.

But then mid-way through the tournament, we found out that GU reverted their bi-weekly patch stance, meaning we could have had open-decklists all along! (Insert NotLikeThis emote)

Unfortunately, the GU team simply never gave us sufficient guidance despite us hosting the largest scale GU tournament of all time in terms of matches played (728) with one of the largest prize pools ever assembled.

Challonge Swiss brackets

There is simply no substitute for Challonge when it comes to automating Swiss brackets, they've been doing it for years. Still, I was surprised at how broken some aspects of it could be.

After Round 1 ended, Round 2 pairings simply broke mid-way during generation. This was as close to hair-on-fire moment as we got over the 3 weeks. Pairings for Round 2 were due and I wasn't about to hand-pair all 192 players for the rest of the tournament. We also couldn't use other software without breaking how we calculated tiebreakers, seeding, and so on.

Thankfully, I decided to regenerate the brackets with a new Swiss tournament on Challonge, and it worked somehow. To this day I still have no idea what I would've done if Challonge didn't work.

There were also a couple cases in which we mis-reported results (a byproduct of also regenerating the Challonge brackets meant players could no longer self-report results). Challonge's software didn't allow us to re-pair matchups manually after a round had been generated, meaning players would occasionally be placed against better/worse record players than they should've been paired with.

Challonge also appears to pick matchups randomly in certain edge cases (like with odd-paired results) as opposed to always following quarant-based seeding, which was confusing as well.

Work with us

We're looking for people who love this game and community and would like to be part of the Infinite Mana League in some way. For instance, helping manage the tournament, sponsor the prize pool or card giveaways, developing creative assets like graphics and promotional videos, and so on.

The Infinite Mana League is part of the broader 8M ecosystem. We're not simply a "team that hosts tournaments". Where Infinite Mana's competitive and content team have a reputation for being the best, we want our events to also carry the same notoriety. If you think you can help us, send me an email at [email protected].

Thank you to our sponsors E1337 Metawear and AQUA for sponsoring the prize pool, card giveaways, and bonus raffles. And thank you to Gods Unchained for putting on the Community Clash and also sponsoring part of the prize pool, including all the packs!

💡 Infinite Mana is Gods Unchained's premier esports organization. Learn more about us or check out more Gods Unchained articles.