Yesterday Loki went through his estimates for player numbers at SS2k12. With this sorted he moves on to finalising the pool structure for the official tournament games and explains how the team went about getting enough setups to make it all work.
HARNESSING THE HARDWARE
Going back to basics, how do you run a bracket with 512 players? Well the simple answer is to run separate 32-man pools at the same time, making sure they have separate setups and separate volunteers with enough time between each to make sure there is no overlap.
This time around we started with the idea of doing 32-player pools, but after some consideration we quickly settled on the fact that 16-player pools would be more manageable for both the staff and the players. Considering that we already needed a huge amount of volunteers to run our brackets, cutting down the amount of people they’d have to deal with at a time was the best way to make sure they were able to run each of their pools efficiently without needing another helper to cope with the people waiting for their match.
With 16-player pools, to support 512 players we would need to run a total of 32 separate pools, not to mention that after taking 2 players from each pool (the winners bracket finalist and losers bracket finalist) we’d still have 64 players to whittle down. This would require running an additional 4 semi finals pools before we arrived at the top 8 for Sunday.
Now because we realised we couldn’t actually start our semi final pools until we’d finished all of our normal pools we were faced with the problem of how to run 32 pools using 12 setups. Clearly we can’t, and shouldn’t, run all of the pools at the same time as this would undermine half the reason for running pools and make overlapping with other games a nightmare.
Solve it with Setups
The first and most obvious solution was to break the 32 pools up into 4 groups of 8 and run those. Unfortunately 8 doesn’t divide evenly into 12, giving us leftover stations that would have to be shared. We could have done sets of 4 pools at a time, but we’d have to cycle through 8 times and finish each pool within just half an hour to have enough time to complete the semi finals with a little bit of breathing room. With 3 setups each the numbers just didn’t match up, and long story short, whatever we did we’d be running late at the end of the day.
The solution we arrived at was to add more setups. We chose to go back to the idea of running 8 pools at a time, but instead of using 12 setups we expanded our target to 24 setups. Each pool was scheduled to finish within one hour, running across 3 setups, leaving us 2 hours to run our top 64 until we whittled that down to the top 8.
We then went through a similar process with the other games. This should have been simple but the issue here was that SSF4:AE and SFxT were already scheduled to run all day long. As a result there was no way we could use those same setups to run any of the other 7 games in the tournament. Thankfully two of those games, namely Tekken Tag Tournament 2 and Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown, had their own hardware, but even so we quickly realised we needed setups for 5 more games!
Based on the method above the SS2k12 team worked out that to support the 5 remaining smaller games we had to add 12 more setups. Larger games like Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 would use all 12 of these setups during pool play while smaller games could get away with using only 6, meaning we could run 2 smaller games at a time. Finally when we put all this on paper and shuffled it around a little bit to avoid what we thought were the worst clashes, we had a schedule which worked, and allowed for way more players than we actually expected to get.
The schedule we’d drawn up presented us with a harsh reality: we knew we needed at least 36 setups to make it happen. Taking into account that we also needed setups for the stage (and the second stage), as well as possible backups for any setup that might stop working or not have the correct patches installed, 36 still wasn’t a viable minimum number, and even then we’d only really be covered for tournament setups. If we wanted any casual or money match stations we’d need to rely on others to bring those machines, or supply even more of our own.
The biggest issue here was that we didn’t even have this many setups between us to begin with. Perhaps within the community they existed but relying entirely on community donations for an event of this size would have been very risky, and we needed everything to go off without a hitch.
With this in mind, over the coming months we chose to buy several more setups, CouchWarriors picked up 4 for its equipment stash (we previously had none as an organisation). I personally picked up another one and several other individuals and community groups within Melbourne also picked up setups of their own to make up the numbers, a monumental effort that I can’t thank people for enough. Thanks to all of this shared investment, a few weeks out from the event we had an arsenal of equipment that made our lives significantly easier and thankfully it’s a supply that will continue to help us every time we need to put on an event, at least until Xbox 360s become outdated.
– Brendon “Loki” Watson
Now that the setups are sorted, the team gets down to business staffing the event and seeding the brackets. Next week Loki will cover these matters in detail, as well as outlining the registration process that was employed at SS2k12.
Video of the SS2k12 venue courtesy of jlynx.
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]– Ziggy –[