June 7 Match I Ruling

We didn’t have enough summoners for Match I, and some problems arose as a result. I think the problems were serious enough that they warrant a formal decision, at the risk of being a little too SRS BUSINESS about Factions funtimes games.

This is a peculiar situation in that I am here reviewing my own decision — appealing my own decision, as it were. This makes it sound a little schizophrenic. Still, I believe that’s the right frame to employ.

Relevant Rules

At the time of the match, there were three potentially relevant rules.

Start times. Matches start no earlier than the posted time. If one team has a gap at 15 minutes past the posted start time, that team forfeits. If both teams have gaps, the team with the most gaps forfeits. If both teams have the same number of players ready, the match is played as-is (e.g. 4v4).

Pause time. Each team has up to 5 minutes of pause time per match, to be used when tech issues require a temporary halt to play.

Five-minute rule. Within the first five minutes of gametime (i.e. not counting pause time), either team may call a remake if one of their Summoners is involuntarily disconnected or has extremely serious lag issues (e.g. 1000ms). They will have 5 minutes to get a substitute in place. Each team may call a remake only once per match. Remake requests are subject to staff approval. Lag happens, and brief d/cs happen; this rule is in place for the most serious problems only.

Organizer discretion. The tournament organizers have the ultimate responsibility for ensuring fairness in these matches. We have final say on how to apply these rules, and the authority to develop ad hoc rules to address novel situations.

There are also certain principles to be considered in addressing a situation like this:

  • It is better for matches to be played than not to be played.
  • It is better for matches to be even than uneven: 5v4s and the like are to be avoided.
  • Factions should be given an incentive to fill up their teams as quickly as possible.
  • Rules such as the five-minute rule are intended to restore unfair games to fairness, not to convert a fair match into an unfair mismatch.
  • Forfeits should be avoided, both because they are inherently somewhat “unfair” and because they deprive the audience of a match and waste the time of casters and players alike.
  • Rules must sometimes be bent in the interests of fairness. However, there is also a fairness interest in having clear rules that are followed.
  • Discretion must have limits. At the same time, however, decisions once made should be respected unless they are so clearly erroneous that it would be greatly unjust for them to stand. The convenience of the remedy should be considered in deciding how strongly to enforce this principle, which is primarily a practical principle designed to avoid (e.g.) awkward day-after remakes. As a general rule, we want to avoid “turning back the clock” and redoing matches.

Facts

The unfortunate facts which led to this situation are as follows:

  • At 15 minutes past the posted start time, Bandle City had 5 Summoners in the lobby, while Demacia had only 4.
  • I made the call to “hit the start button” and play it 4v5.
  • The match began. From the start, however, one Summoner on Bandle City’s side (Soneji) had tech problems that knocked them out of the game.
  • Bandle City used up its 5 minutes of pause time.
  • The match then resumed.
  • The match proceeded as a 4v4 briefly.
  • Bandle City’s entire team disconnected.

This prompted the question of how to characterize this first match.

Questions Presented with Short Answers

What should have been done, according to the rules as written, when we reached fifteen minutes after the posted start time?

The match should have been declared as a forfeit in Bandle City’s favor.

Was my decision to start the match 5v4 within the proper bounds of “organizer discretion”?

No. Although it was one of the first Howling Abyss matches, it was not a sufficiently novel situation to warrant a deviation from the plain letter of the law.

Should it nonetheless be ratified as a formal rule change?

No. The start time rules are due for revision, but it is not appropriate to issue formal rule changes “on the spot” with nunc pro tunc effect.

Does what happened once the match began have bearing on what should be done now?

It was unsportsyordlelike for Bandle City to “ragequit” the match when Soneji’s tech problems made the 5v4 into a 4v4. However, upon reflection I believe that it is not necessary to evaluate what happened once the match began.

What should the match outcome be considered as: a win for Bandle City? a “null” game warranting a remake? a win for Demacia?

The decision to deviate from the start time rules was neither a proper application of organizer discretion nor an appropriate circumstance for a formal rule change. Bandle City was entitled to a victory by forfeit. The match is to be considered a victory-by-forfeit for Bandle City.

Discussion

Limits should be placed on organizer discretion. Where a use of discretion is ultimately found to be improper, the question must be asked: is reversing the decision worth the inconvenience and hassle doing so would cause, e.g. in the form of rematches? Here, no remake is necessary. These matches are part of an ongoing battle for dominance, and are only a piece of the picture: rather than arrange an official rematch, it would be better if Summoners from these factions simply organized a pick-up match or two. At the end of the day, it would not be fair to award Demacia a win for a match they failed to show up for. My own error should not result in a windfall for Demacia. In making this decision, I am looking back at a previous match, in which Bandle City was forced to forfeit by a strict application of the start time rules. I would rather accept fault for my error than inflict an unfair outcome.

Conclusion

The start time rule, and other tournament rules, are due for revision. I will be inviting public comment on how the rules should be changed going forward. However, for this particular situation, I believe the rules ought to be strictly applied as they were written when the situation arose. By those rules, Demacia lost by forfeit at 12:45 p.m. Pacific time.

Caitlyn, you monster.

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