My Tron Times article played around with a few ideas meant to improve Fortress for everyone. Some of them are not well thought-out and totally impractical like a player draft. Others are much more reasonable and probably beneficial like making teams 7v7. However, there is one idea in particular I think we need to adopt immediately -- the abolishment of seeding.
A seeded Ladle was proposed as early as Ladle 21 (spring 2009) and finally gained approval one year and a half later for L-38. There is a reason why it took that long to pass a vote: seeding had potential problems. Those problems have now surfaced and are not going away. I'll explain what the problem is after I recount how we got here for those who don't know.
- The main reason for seeding has to do with the flow of Ladle from start to finish. By splitting up the top teams on opposite sides, the bracket would be more "balanced." The matches would get tougher and more intense as the final approached. The final itself would be a show of excellence in Fortress by the top teams. To some players it made perfect sense that the winning team should not face their opponent from the previous final in the opening round. Sometimes brackets were really that lopsided and likely victors were easy to predict. The lopsided brackets sometimes contributed to longer Ladles (though sometimes not). However, seeding was not a perfect solution.
One plainly visible byproduct of seeding is that weaker teams will rarely get past the opening rounds because the chances of meeting a Ladle finalist or semi-finalist was higher. We all knew this to be true and decided it would be simple enough to change back to full randomization if it turned out that way. After all, we did have a fluid voting system in place to manage that type of thing. For the most part, seeding seemed to have little effect on the game at all. For the next two years after it was implemented Ladles had enough teams to warrant use of a 32-team bracket. Talent was widely diffuse and even though there were top a few top teams you never knew who would make it to the Finals. Some of those finals were very exciting and I think maybe that proved seeding was valuable, if only in a subtle way. But today's Fortress community is different.
The result is, Ladle finals are quite frankly, boring. Did anyone even notice the Ladle 76 predictions thread? Completely predictable up unil the semi finals. Had any of that wishful thinking for a final came to pass it would have been a slightly interesting Ladle. Even the finalists are so bored they can't be bothered to update the wiki after a victory (see attached below). How many here would rather watch a good quarter or semi final between two newer teams rather than see the same two dozen players in the finals every month? I know I would. But that's not the reason to abandon seeding because those top players are going to the finals anyway. The reason to abandon seeding is for the newer, weaker teams. By removing seeding there are greater opportunities for teams of the same skill level to meet each other. This is hugely important because it makes the Ladle more fun for everyone, regardless of who wins the final.
I want to have an old school vote on this (unless the feeling on seeding is shared and unanimous). I also want to open the discussion to other grievances in Ladle. Let us have some discourse about Ladle Fortress in 2014 and beyond. Let's make it better for everyone.
Seeding is bad for Ladle. It unfairly oppresses rookie teams and makes the tournament totally predictable. Let's ditch it.
Cracks in the Fortress: Part I
Cracks in the Fortress: Part II
Cracks in the Fortress: Part III
Cracks in the Fortress: Part IV