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Your Personal Guide to the new World Cup

2021-01-10 21:13:00

After months of work, the new World Cup system is ready for kick off. It’s loaded with new stuff, such as a more flexible format allowing all 144 leagues to compete, as well as new continental championships for Europe, Africa, the Americas and Asia-Oceania.

The overall aim has been to make national teams more fun to follow and participate in for all users, whether you train players for the NT, help scout opponents, or you are just a virtual football patriot who enjoy rooting for your team! This week marks a perfect time to get into the national teams if you are not already, as elections for the new coaches are already underway.

The national teams in Hattrick have been around for a long time, with the first World Cup played in 2002. Sweden won 6 of the first 7 competitions, but with time other leagues have risen and today World Cups are a close and exciting affair where close-knit and devoted communities can reach spectacular success if they work well together. A lot of it comes down to planning how to train to make the most of the talents available in the league, which is why the national teams have always been an important part of getting users involved in the wider Hattrick community as well.

We want the new World Cup system to further boost these positive aspects, and hopefully also make national teams accessible and interesting to more users. Some such features have already been released, such as the new prospect lists for national teams, allowing more players to be earmarked for national teams and making it easier for NT coaches to keep in touch with their owners. A more playful thing we recently did was to give all users who returned to Hattrick in our Christmas campaign a unique and boosted, but unsellable, player from one of 16 new national teams, as a way to encourage them to contribute to their progress.

The main course of this feast, however, is of course the new competition format. Instead of a very long qualification process for 128 teams followed by a World Cup for 32 teams, the full set of 144 Hattrick leagues can now participate, and if we ever expand beyond 144 leagues in the future these will be able to join as well.

All of these teams will compete in the new Continental Cups (one each for Europe, Africa, the Americas and Asia-Oceania) during the first season of the national team cycle. These matches have been moved from the classic 20.00 HT starting times, to allow for match times that fit better into local schedules.

At the end of season one, these regional winners are crowned and based on the results in the regional championships 96 teams qualify (either directly or through Wildcard matches) to the new World Cup. The groups of the World Cup will be decided by ranking points as well as by a live draw, which we hope will be a fun little happening all in itself.

Please check out the full details of the new schedule in the Hattrick manual. It has already been presented, but since it was first published we made minor changes to the schedule to prevent having too many matches during the weekends.

We will roll out these changes in phases. This season, the U20 teams get new coaches and will start their first season cycle, which means they will play regional championships this season and a World Cup next season. Next season, the senior national teams will have elections and start their first cycle in the new format. Next season U20 teams will also change to becoming U21 teams, increasing the age limit for which players can participate.

Elections also get a big overhaul. One major issue for national teams have been that not many users vote in elections, which means that especially small leagues have been vulnerable to “rigged” elections. This has typically happened by way of fake accounts registered ahead of time, then placing the vote on a certain candidate. We are taking several measures to avoid this happening in the future.

Voting will now be weighted. Like before, a minimum of one season is needed to vote at all, but over time you can acquire “bonus” votes, making your vote count for more than a recent arrival in your league. We will also give bonus votes for users that have been activly managing their team in the previous season.

To solve the extra vulnerability of very small leagues, where there may be only a handful of real local users, we are also giving users with additional teams abroad the right to vote in their “adopted” leagues, as well as in their home leagues. While these users may not be local, they have still committed to the league and are often actively helping out the national teams. With the voting weights, we give these users a smaller vote than local users, but big enough to counter attempts to rig elections using fake local accounts.

As a user, you will only vote once in each league that you own a team. But behind the scenes, depending on your seniority and activity in the game, your vote achieves extra weight in the final tally. Local users receives their first vote after one season, then extra ones after 5, 10, and 15 seasons in the game. Additional team users receive their first vote after 2 seasons, then just one bonus one after 10 seasons in the same league.

Users also get up to two engagement votes, depending on how active their team management have been. We will not explain exactly how these work, to make it harder to manipulate them, but they have been designed to be very easy to achieve for any normally managed team, but very tedious to achieve if you are maintaining a set of fake teams for several seasons just to rig an election somewhere. Please note that as a user, you will not see the exact weight your vote has, we will just explain the principles behind the system.

Two examples of how this can work:

* You are a local user in Botswana. In this case, your election vote for the Botswana NT coach will have the weight of one after your first season, the weight of two after 5 seasons, the weight of three after 10 seasons and the weight of four 4 after 15 seasons. If you managed your team actively at the time of the election, you will get up to 2 extra votes added to that weight.
* You have an additional team in Malta. Your vote will have the weight of one after 2 seasons and the weight of two after 10 seasons. If you have managed your team actively at the time to the election, you get up to 2 extra votes added to that weight.

An active local team will always have at least twice the vote weight of an actively managed additional team.

Additional team owners may vote once per team, but only when teams are in different leagues. That is, if one owner has more than one team in the same league, their vote weight is capped to that of the oldest team they manage.

To sum up why we are doing this:

Elections have long been a fragile system, easy to manipulate. After the summer elections, we made a careful analysis of all votes (checking user history, IPs, etc) and saw that the problems were more widespread than we had thought. Given the upcoming changes to the World Cup, we wanted to create a new and more robust system that maximizes the chances that communities get the NT coaches they deserve, users who win their position through merit and dialogue rather than manipulation.

With this new system we will not only expand the base of verified, trusted users who can vote in each election - in our opinion the critical step - but we will also undermine the voting power of any team set up just for voting purposes, making these schemes much more difficult. If needed, we may add extra rules and filters in the future.

We would be very happy if this release lead to some of you, who still haven’t discovered how fun it can be to follow the national teams, giving it another look. Why not start with checking the candidate speeches for your local league, then jump into the national forum to ask the candidates some questions about he or she plans to achieve greatness and glory for your league? Who knows, maybe there is even a future national team player in your team right now, just waiting for the proper training?

Have fun, and stay safe!

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