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RAGL Season 5 Post Season Disscusion

RAGL Season 5 has come to an end. No spoilers on how the results went down but I trust you can find them through these sources: You can always check on Netnazgul's vod's for the Path of the Hidden Master, Minions and Master's Semi final matches, SoSCared Masters final vod, or Fiveaces shoutcasts as he works through all the Masters playoff matches.


This season has been turbulent to say the least. A lot of unexpected drop outs shaped each division much differently than previous seasons creating a power vacuum as new challengers found themselves in unfamiliar territory. While it was a bit unusual the league itself endured and I dare say had more than enough exciting games. I feel that to say this season was a mistake or otherwise lackluster would be a wrongful assumption. I'll talk more on that later but first I wanted to take you a trip through my experience joining RAGL all the way to the present.


I started in season 2 of RAGL in Recruit A. I'd played plenty of CNC games growing up and spent a long time playing Cnc3/KW competitively as well as Starcraft 1 and 2. OpenRA was of course a very different beast and it took a long time to find the groove. In that season Smitty, Zaqzorn, Naigel, and Raymundo were also in my division. I played Smitty early on and he completely rolled over me. It wasn't even close. Only 2 spots got to minions with a 3rd spot playing in a tiebreaker from the other recruit division. Naigel was the 1st person I saw to really implement pillboxes everywhere (they were only 400$ then!). Lucky for me he forfeited before I had to face that slaughtering. SoScared made a shoutcast of my Raymundo match if you want to see just how bad I was back then. I got a very lucky split.


Fast Forward to the last match of the season against Zaqzorn, who at the time was 1 point behind Smitty and a stronger player than me. 2 Wins would get me the 3rd spot. A home win would give Smitty 1st place and securing a spot in the running for Path of the Hidden Master. Naturally I did the opposite of that, losing my host match and winning my guest match. Perhaps I gave Smitty the mercy of not playing New-to-OpenRA-LorryDriver for path. Regardless I found myself situated in 3rd waiting to face my opponent from the other division. Some of you may be able to guess who that was as back during that time he and I played constantly against each other on SoScared streams. It was Orb of course. He probably doesn't know but back then we were relatively even and once I knew I would have to face him I began training HARD to make sure I could win. Unfortunately someone in Minions dropped out and the one off match up was never to be.


Season 3 was a very off season for me. I started off 0-2 against Orb who had gotten a lot better than I had. I ended the season 0-2 against Smitty who had gotten crazy good. Both of them ended with identical scores securing 1st and 2nd in the division. Overall I was a lucky 7-7 slotting me into 4th and in line for the 2nd leg of PotHM. From the start of the season to the PotHM I think I only played season games. 14 Games over ~3 months does not keep your skills sharp and it showed. But once again when it became clear to me that I would have a post season match up I began practicing again. My opponent was Juicebox who had managed to reverse sweep Happy in a 0-2 comeback to win 3-2, one of the better playoff series I've seen to date. Juicebox became another victim of inactivity and when we finally had our match up. The rust ultimately cost him a promotion into masters. Still as the person who won that series after being behind 0-2 it felt really good especially after the abysmal season I had. I was sad when Juicebox didn't come back as I was sure seeing him in Season 5 Masters for a rematch would have been worthwhile.


Season 4 saw my 1st season in masters, against people like Lorry, Smitty, Orb etc, people who were very much way better than me and I knew it. Unfortunately, Season 4 saw the exit of SoScared as RAGL admin and I took up the mantle. I spent far too much trying to get the league running smoothly (With a huge help from Netnazgul) that I played even worse than in season 3. I ended 1 spot of above relegation which had Han not forfeited, I would undoubtedly been in. I once again lost both my matches against Smitty and Orb, though with the latter was because my spot had already been finalized and less to do with the skill gap :P . Season 4 as a whole though exceeded expectations. We saw a huge jump in skill in all levels and things looked really good going into season 5.


Then comes season 5. It started a bit late, and struggled to fill divisions at all levels. This was a great concern. Further, not only did it have a lot to prove from the previous season but It's easy to forget how good each division was supposed to be at the start. SoScared was back as a Master and had kicked my ass on stream just a few weeks before. Doomsday had graciously accepted a master's spot and was known for stealing games off players. Kazu had won PothM pretty handily and could go toe to toe with anyone. Happy had finally made it to masters. Anjew has literally always been a master, a feat that might often go overshadowed but still highly impressive. FiveAces had been practicing a lot and looked like he might take a shot for the top 4. Gatekeeper is and will always be scary. Then Smitty, who I was still 0-4 against and beat only a handful of times in regular matches, Orb, who had gotten so much better than me since the early days, Barf who I'd lost 0-2 last season and would rarely win against in any match, and lastly LorryDriver who needs no further introduction. I was looking proper screwed. All of these players could beat me.


Minions wasn't looking too much better either. Jvk, Warryker, Bulle, Craig Chirst, MechANIC, Dragunoff, Anykeyich, Netnazgul, Eskimo, Chewey(who also was a season 2 recruit who had gotten so much better), Sotsch, and Unano. All of these players were great in their own right. I knew I would have to play more RA then I ever had just to keep up or possibly fall back to recruit by season 7. I probably played more in 2 months training then I did in the entire previous 3 seasons combined. I Still managed to lose 0-2 against Orb (I'll have my day!) but I split with Barf and Lorry and finally took down the beast that was Smitty. I'm pretty proud that I ended up in the top 4 for playoffs and I personally found the playoffs extremely fun.


The point I wanted to draw from this is that this season was looking to be the best season we've ever seen in the competitive scene. There wasn't a player in Masters that couldn't steal a point from another player. Same with Minions. Recruits are always a slaughtering and I continue to look for ways to alleviate that. But the forfeits rolled in and the strikes were dealt out and in the end we ended with a very estranged group of players. I'll jokingly blame Ganon for this as he seems to be a black hole for forfeits :P. But the fact remains I don't think this season was a failure by any means, just a victim of unfortunate timing.


It seems pretty clear that some overhauls need to be made so that we can keep RAGL going because right now from what I've seen next season looks pretty dire. It takes a lot of effort to remain competitive through 3 months of a season, something both Orb and Gatekeeper professed on occasion and something I've experienced myself. There had to be a lot of lucky moments for me to even get where I am and I'm not sure if I would have the fortitude to battle uphill as much as I did had I not had that luck.


So I'm looking for options and ideas on how to fix this problem. RAGL has always taken so long because we're an international community. It's designed to be a low impact league but competitively we've grown so much from the start that it takes consistent training to keep up. Delays happen frequently because we all have our own lives to live and that doesn't always match up others. At the start of this season I had pneumonia. Having RAGL be a weekend tournament would have been really bad for me if I was sick during the event. Shortening the season might exacerbate scheduling problems but it may help players in that they don't need to devote so much time to training to remain competitive.


Net has suggested lowering the cap of players per division to something like 10 to shorten the season. Another suggestion was to have multiple opponents a week. RAGL could switch to something like a world cup format with group stages and knockout stages but that still relies on everyone being available at regular intervals and is still a lengthy process. SoScared is currently experimenting with a more traditional ladder for URA, if you haven’t already checked it out, do! However, I’m personally not a big fan of that style. You can play 500 matches or 10 and still end up in a similar spot. And without a semi rigid schedule I tend to be lazy in game finding. I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels that way. Lastly, playoff for Minions are going to be dropped. It may make sense to bring them back in some form if there are ever 2+ Minions divisions but currently they just feel unneeded. This of course leads to having playoffs in general. Round 11 saw 1 viable match up besides any delays. It would be a shame for a season to end 1, before the actual season was over because the last match played wouldn't effect the outcome and 2, only 1 match played as the season fizzled out. Playoffs for Masters guarantee 3-5 exciting games per match up at the end of the season.


This postseason discussion will need to be thoroughly vetted before Season 6 rolls around.