Actually, I’ve never stopped playing. I’ve been playing in an offline league with a few friends & family members. Sort of a throw-back to the roots of the league during the Super Nintendo days. The offline league offers a lot of different options for a season compared to playing online. Since we play all the weekly matches on one night, there are no matches that go unplayed nor do we have problems with no-shows. There is always a winner and loser, even if the CPU has to decide it. It also gives us a chance to play some crazy tournaments and events to give the season some variety.
Over the past couple of weeks, I began thinking about another season of the SFCCL on the PSN. And I am proud to say that the 4th season of the SFCCL will begin on June 4, 2012. The regular season will run until Sunday, November 18, 2012 (24 weeks) with the end-of-season Super Brawl IV tournament beginning that following Monday. I hope to have at least 20 members to begin the season, but that number could grow with demand.
The offline season I am playing uses the original Champions & Contenders ladder system used during the first and second seasons of the SFCCL. All fighters are ranked in various divisions and move up/down based on the result of their last
match. This is a format I prefer since it is designed to sort fighters by skill level, and thus, give everyone a fighting chance to win each week. However, following the first two seasons of the SFCCL, using this format online causes many problems. Such as:
1. Members dropping out of the league: In the old format, when a member dropped out of the league (or was kicked out due to inactivity,) his 2 fighters were removed from the rankings. As a result, all fighters ranked below
his fighters would move up to fill the vacant rankings. Even if you lost your last match, your fighter could end up ranked higher because of several vacancies.
2. Matches that were not played caused problems with the rankings: Every match results in a winner and a loser. Each match automatically creates the new rankings for the next week. When playing online, even after a two week
time window, many matches still go unplayed. If the #2 and #3 fighters do not fight, who is the #1 Contender next week? Do the fighters ranked below them jump them since they did play? In the first two seasons, I had to "decide" who deserved the loss (or win), which I absolutely hated doing. And I won’t do again.
3. Fixed number of members/fighters: With the restrictions of 16 fighters per division, several divisions had to be created in order to rank all the fighters (Gold, Silver, Bronze, A, B, C, etc.) During season 2, I had to cap the number of members in the league because it was too much for this format to handle. We had 6 divisions in the Americas Region and 3 in the European
Division. A Waiting List was created to keep track of the players waiting to get into the league. Compared to the format used in season 3, a schedule format allows players to join the league anytime without much interference. Adding a new member to the league means more matches for everyone. No one is required to play any specific number of matches, since the standings are based on total number of wins. Members will have to play (and win) matches to qualify for the Super Brawl tournament. If one or two members don’t play, they simply don’t advance. All other members will still have plenty of other matches to play despite these ‘bad apples.’ No rankings to worry about.
4. 2 matches every two weeks versus play-at-your-own-pace schedule: In our offline league, we play new matches every 7 days. During season one & two, I had a 14-day week in order to give all members two full weeks to play their 2 matches. That still didn’t seem to be enough. The 2-week format restricts everyone in their busy lives, and results in members being kicked out of the league for obvious inactivity. The feedback last season for the play-at-your-pace schedule was 100% positive. Some played throughout the 4 months while some played all of their matches within the first month. Others waited until the end of the season to play their matches. Members enjoyed getting online on a specific night and playing several league matches in a row. Also, with our busy lives, not playing for several weeks is no big deal.
5. Less number of matches during the season: As I mentioned above, in the Champions & Contenders format, each ‘week’ was actually 14 days long. With the 4th season beginning on June 4th and ending on November 18th, that would only give us 24 weeks to only play 12 matches. That isn’t many matches, and offers little opportunity to climb up the rankings. Compared to the open schedule format of season 3, each member can play as many matches as they choose. If we start with 20 members, each fighter could play as many as 19 matches over 24 weeks at their own pace. If more players join, more matches are possible. The fighters with the most wins will advance to Super Brawl. Numbers of wins would be the goal for all fighters, not number of matches or rankings.
For the above reasons, I am choosing to stay with the season 3 open schedule format. Personally, I prefer the Champions & Contenders original ladder format, but the open schedule format is better suited for online play.
The 4th season will have a few changes compared to the 3rd season. There will only be 2 divisions with an even number of main and secondary fighters in each division. Instead of being sorted by location, all members will have the chance to play all members with their fighters. With 20 members, each fighter will have 19 matches with each of their 2 fighters to play during the 24-week regular season. The top 8 fighters with the most wins in each division will advance to the Super Brawl IV tournament where the winning fighter will be crowned the Grand Champion of the SFCCL. I am actively recruiting new players to join the league with hopes of having more than 20 members playing this season. The more members, the more matches for everyone to play. For example, 30 members will result in 29 matches for each fighter. The emphasis will be on number of wins, not number of matches played.
War Games, 2vs2 Tournament, and Fall Brawl are scheduled as well as the return of the Survivor Series 4v4 tournament. A new event, the Stardust Tournament, will be the first event of the season. A new rule for season 4 will be that once a member wins a live event, he/she will not be allowed to play in any other events the rest of the season. This isn’t meant to punish a member, rather offer an opportunity for all the other members to win a live event. I will post the full schedule for season 4 next Monday. Full details on the format of the events will be given then.
To fill the opening day roster of 20 members, members from the 3rd season will be asked first if they wish to play another season. If any spots remain, new players that have signed up since last season will be invited. If more than 20 players want to play, I will gladly expand the roster for the league. If necessary, I can also change the number of fighters advancing to the Super Brawl tournament if we enough fighters. All 3rd season members – be on the lookout for your invite for season 4. Your spots are guaranteed if you want to play. Invites will go out beginning next Monday, May 14th.
With the prospect of new members, I decided against the idea of having a pay-for-play season since new members will most likely be hesitant to send money to a complete stranger. The cash prizes are something I am still considering for future seasons, possibly even putting up the prize money myself. I am not closing the book on this possability, but only time will tell if & how this transition occurs.
Also, due to the European region failing to finish the season last year, season 4 will only be open to players from the Americas. Members can hail from outside of the United States, but must be in the Western Hemisphere due to time zone and lag problems.
Finally, due to our resident artist SHIN now going professional, official SFCCL artwork will be done by yours truly. I am far from a graphics artist, but will do my best to give the league a new face for the upcoming season. If any readers would like to submit artwork for the league, just let me know.
Well, there you have it. That is the 4th season of the SFCCL in a snapshot. It is shaping up to be another fun season of beating each other up online. We should all be better players by now. The new season will have more matches, more live events, and new challenges from old & new rivals. Don’t forget to join the SFCCL Facebook Group as it will be the easiest way to post videos and communicate with other members (link on the right side of this blog). Look for website updates between now and the start of the season. All former season pages will still be available under the "MORE" tab above. Stay tuned for blogs in the coming weeks listing members confirming their participation in season 4!
Good luck! And the let the countdown begin...