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Highlander Season 9 Survey Results

   WiLLmaTiC   - 10/9/2021
This article was delayed due to family matters and illness. I apologize for the delay.

Skill Range and Team Count

Skill range and team count for each division was in a good spot last season.

Newcomer through IM felt the skill range was slightly too big, however this is to be expected lower level teams tend to grow at different rates.

Admins and Sandbagging

Admin interactions were positive and when needed admins were east to get a hold of. Players also felt like, for the most part, decisions of the admin team were reasonable.

Our anti-sandbagging policies were generally effective, however some players felt we were too lax on restrictions. The divisions where players felt we were too lax on restrictions were Newcomer, Amateur, and Main. We will look into methods of improving out sandbagging measures in these divisions.

Players currently don't want to play more than 1 map per week, so this suggestion will be but on the backburner. There is discussion to possibly had about when the extra match may happen and if that would change opinions of this, but that wont be for sometime.

Map Results

Vigil was the map with the highest "Very Enjoyable" votes out of the Season 9 maps. A whopping 81% of players found the map enjoyable. This is a 10% increase compared to last season with a 71% enjoyment vote.

Ashville was voted the most enjoyable Season 9 map, barely beating out Vigil with 82% of players enjoying the map. Compared to Vigil, Ashville had a small 4% bump in player enjoyment compared to last season.

Swiftwater had a slight increase in enjoyability at 63%, a 3% increase from last season.

Nothing too notable with Product with it's 67% enjoyment rating. This is a 5% decrease compared to last season.

Again, nothing too notable with Upward. With an enjoyment rating of 72%, it had a slight decrease of enjoyment of 6% compared to last season.

The new Cascade did not fare well in it's first season in rotation, with a 42% enjoyment rating. Coincidentally, this is the same enjoyment rating Lakeside received last season.

Steel is surprisingly the 3rd highest rated map out of the Season 9 maps, with a 74% enjoyment rating. This is an 8% increase from last season.

Some interesting Tidbits

As you decreased in divisions, new Cascade's enjoyment rating steadily rose

Interestingly, although Invite players have called for Upward and Product's removal from the map pool, they are still voted very favorably.


Players are interested in having a cup focused on whitelist changes. Be on the lookout for a possible poll on which weapons should be tested to be unbanned.

Invite players REALLY do not want to move to "LAN" style playoff structure, with all matches being played over 1 weekend.

A close vote that resulted in players wanting to keep the current playoff structure.

70% of players from IM to Invite are interested in having their division become a paid division and playing for a prize pool. Be on the lookout in 2022 for more info regarding this!

Since Challenger was removed it is impossible make it either Round Robin or Swiss, however should it have stuck around it would have been Round Robin like previous seasons.

With the removal of Challenger, players voted to have Advanced be a Round Robin format, so why isn’t it? With the survey results in hand, the admin team had a discussion about which format to use. With removing Challenger, we ran into some issues with team placements. Removing Challenger essentially shifts teams down a division and has the potential to create unfair player restrictions and unbalanced divisions.

Assuming 6 out of the 8 Challenger teams live or are remade to be similar in skill as the dead teams, this would leave 2 spots open for teams from the old Advanced. One of those spots would be taken by the Main winners from last season, and the other possibly taken by the Advanced winners from last season. This would place every team from the 2nd place Advanced team and below into Main. This would lead to one of 2 scenarios: the first being we leave the high Advanced teams unrestricted, breaking our own sandbagging rules, and letting them completely roll the division. The second scenario being we follow our sandbagging rules and place unfair restrictions on them because they are in playing in a lower division not of their own accord. There is a high chance multiple teams would die due these restrictions.

With Advanced being a 12 team swiss this issue is solved. You take all the would-be Challenger teams and place them into Advanced, and you take the top Advanced teams from last season and keep them in advanced. The lower Advanced teams then get moved down to Main, increasing the skill range of the division.

Another minor issue that we ran into was the possibly of an invite off class team happening. While we don't mind invite off class teams happening, they are typically seen as "less serious" than teams with players of the appropriate skill on their mains. With Advanced at 8 teams, this would lead to either a less serious team taking the space of a team that wants to play seriously and improve, or the invite off class team would have been placed in Main, where we typically restrict invite players to only medic.

During the discussion, the majority rule in favor of a 12 team Advanced. In addition to this, there were admins that felt Round Robin would be better, but with Challenger being removed 12 team Swiss would be the better option.

Ok, but why is it 14 now?

As I was out of town with family issues on September 17th when this decision was made, I was unable to provide my input on this situation. I reached out to the Advanced Admin Joey Lemons for a comment:

"Regarding 14 team advanced, there were a few reasons for that being the direction we ended up going in. With the deletion of challenger, it created some obstacles for team placement that we would end up having to make compromises for one way or another. For example, with the division above main being removed or made smaller depending on how you look at it, moving up the main winners became a problem. We want to reward teams for winning their div with a moveup, however this put them in above other teams we would have personally chosen based on skill alone, complicating the placements. Another contributor to this was legacy teams returning in both invite and advanced that belonged in those divs, forcing other teams further down in seeding than they may have been in season 9. So again, there were teams that had solid performances in advanced of season 9 that we had to debate between placing in main or advanced this season. With what we had to work with, we believed the expansion to 14 teams was the cleanest solution to avoid being unfair to teams with achievements from the previous season. In hindsight we are aware that this change still ended up upsetting a good chunk of players and we will absolutely take this into account for our decision making going forward and for next season. We hope this shed some light on why we chose to expand from advanced 12 to 14 teams this season."

We hope this sheds some light on the decisions to make Advanced a 14 team Swiss.