WCO History

As we are currently halfway through the 3rd edition of the World Championships Online (henceforth called "WCO") it is worth looking back at the history of the WCO. By history I do not mean looking at the results, shocking moments and so on, but more from an organizational perspective and looking back at the initial (and current) goals of the WCO.

As dramatic as it might sound... it all started when KARAISKAKIS (henceforth called "Greg") had the idea of organizing a tournament which would unite the two Stratego communities, online and offline. At first, I was a bit sceptical to say the least about the idea of organizing a tournament which would hold the "World championships" title. The WCO would mainly attract online players, offline not so much, I thought. Looking back at it, I think this mainly is because of the lack of promotion of the WCO back then.

When Greg approached me if I'd be interested in organizing such event, as said, I was sceptical due to various reasons. Knowing that many great things were once considered "stupid", "impossible", "unlikely" etc, I decided to give it a shot. Should it fail, I could always blame Greg for it ;) (just kiddin, Greg). Morx (henceforth called "Dennis") was added to the eventual WCO team, as a result of the live WC 2014 in Greece, probably during "aftermath" of the tournament 😁).

As stated before, the goal was to unite online and offline players in a mutual way. Offline players would join the WCO (thus expanding the player pool) and hopefully some online players would next year participate in the live WC. In order to be as close as possible to a live game, despite playing online, Greg wanted to make use of Skype so players could see eachother (it also was a nice measure against aliasses). After some debate within the WCO team, it was decided to use the same rule as with clocks in live tournaments, that means if one player wanted to use Skype, it had to be used. I personally never liked the Skype aspect of it, as I deemed it very likely that some players would not become participants as a result of it. It being an experiment, we decided to give it a try in the end. This decision however did mean that it would be necessary to collect all Skype addresses and ask for a picture for verification (also against aliasses). A dreadful task to say the least. Besides using the sign up list, I created an Excel document which looked as follows (containing bogus data for demonstration purposes):
Making it easier for the WCO team to have a definitive list of approved sign-ups at the end of the period, aswell as knowing which player(s) has missing info.

True for most cases: people usually behave more appropriate offline than online. One of the more time consuming tasks for the first WCO was to make the rules from scratch, covering a lot of different aspects which usually don't apply to offline playing such as:

- Disconnects
- Site issues
- Data verification
- Sign up requirements
- Screenshots
- Late / no shows
- Aliasses
- Communication

And later on even things about video's.

It was my pleasure to take upon the dreadful task of writing a draft on things we had agreed on. One of the most annoying things being for example refering to a certain rule, for example 6.8, then later due to a change elsewhere, the numbering would change, and all references had to be fixed. Fun indeed. The draft was written on my laptop during a train trip, time well spent.

Luckily there were not too many issues during the first WCO, I don't remember the exact amount of unplayed games, but I think it was below 5% of the total amount of games.

One of the things I pushed through at Greg and Dennis was using Private Messages (PM) for match arrangement. Having learnt from tournaments at Metaforge aswell as observing tournaments at Stratego.com, I noticed often lots of pointless interference from other players would occur in the match arrangement thread. Even worse would be one thread per round where many games would have to be scheduled. In order to avoid all of this, we agreed on using PMs instead, a decision I still am happy with for said reasons. Of course when some big games are coming up it is nice to hype them a bit on the forum, but with all sorts of negative stuff (drama) often being prevalent we decided against it. We also were not really interested in fighting out wars publicly in case there were unplayed games or poor behaviour(of course a participant would be allowed to take it to the public forum if (s)he desires).

With that being said, one of the most time consuming tasks (sorry Greg & Dennis) was sending out the PMs. Editing the names and Skype addresses for every PM manually wasn't really something we enjoyed doing.

One of the things I personally disliked a lot was the fact that some players thought us to be a competitor against Stratego.com's TC, which in no way was our intention and still isn't. Looking back at it, I can understand the concerns, despite them being unjust. None of the back then TC members participating in the WCO probably didn't help with that, but luckily that's past time.

One of the most difficult decisions we had to make was the amount of time we'd allow for a game to be played. As a result of using the Swiss Perfect software, delayed results are a 100% no go. The next pairing depends on the previous round. In case of a bracket system, a delayed game would be unpleasant, but not as bad. One week was deemed too short, while two weeks would result into a 20 week tournament. In the end we chose for 2 weeks per round as this would give atleast 4 weekend days per round, hopefully overcoming scheduling issues, especially taking different timezones into account. The downside of this is that 20 weeks is a lot and will cause some players to lose interest after a while, especialy if given a bye due to an odd amount of participants.

During (actually prior to) the second WCO, the amount of signups was lower than expected, the WCO team decided to abolish the Skype requirement(as it was rarely used anyway), as many people didn't like this and extended the sign-up period by one week (Not really a big fan of these kind of extensions, but considering it was big enough of a change, it was the right thing to do). After the second WCO, the feedback survey showed a large majority in favor of removing Skype.

After two WCOs, I feel that in the 3rd WCO we finally got a nice connection between online and offline Stratego, with lots of (to me) surprising  last -minute participants from live playing.

I hope this gave you a bit of insight of some of the choices made by the WCO team and the vision we stand for. Another post will be made on a later moment in time on what kind of preperations were made to make our "work" easier.

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