Why EventLink Doesn't Have Manual Pairing
By Bill Stark, EventLink Product Manager
Thousands of retailers around the world are using Wizards EventLink, with hundreds providing direct feedback on their experience—including many questions about manual pairings.
Today, I’m taking the opportunity to talk about what manual pairings are, the problems they solve, and how EventLink better solves those problems while avoiding the issues that come with manual pairings.
Manual Pairings and Tournament Fraud
Manual pairings allow staff members to choose who plays against each other in a Magic tournament. This feature was added to Wizards Event Reporter to solve several problems: assigning seats, late players, match result mistakes, and errors due to service outages or the pairing algorithm.
Unfortunately, our data showed the overwhelming use of the feature was to commit fraud—altering a pairing to match the desires of a third party instead of conforming to the expected tournament guidelines.
WER can't distinguish between well-meaning actions, like separating players who don't get along, and intentional fraud, like a store owner ensuring their friend gets a favorable matchup. (And both break tournament rules.)
But the above problems still need solving. In building Wizards EventLink, we focused on solving those problems so WPN members can serve their customers’ needs and players have fair events.
Using manual pairings to ensure two players who play one another regularly (or two players who don't get along) aren't paired in your events is well-intentioned, but it still breaks tournament guidelines.
In EventLink, you can assign seats for these players in EventLink to ensure they never sit near one another except in rounds where they’re paired.
If a player wants to late register for your event, you can add them at any time prior to a Top 8 playoff. They simply start the tournament with a loss for each round they’ve missed. If your late player shows up during deckbuilding for a Sealed event, like a Prerelease, you can add them with no losses.
If a player late registers for your first round, you can roll back the round and add them—they’ll be paired alongside the rest of the players. Any results or pairings from the round prior will be lost, potentially inconveniencing your players, but you have the freedom to choose what’s best for your community.
Match Result Mistakes
We found that less than 1% of match results could only be fixed through manual pairings. However, managing manual pairing and offline mode in WER were responsible for 90% of the costs of maintaining the software—a significant drag on our ability to build new features.
To solve this problem, we’ve implemented several features to help reduce mistakes while allowing us the resources to build a more robust tool moving into the future with EventLink.
First, Magic Companion allows your players to enter their own results, reducing the likelihood that you or your staff make an entry mistake. It also allows players to verify their results at any time during the round, ensuring they can catch mistakes entered by opponents, staff, or themselves.
Second, the ability to roll back a round, adjust a result, and move forward with new pairings was added to ensure you could still fix the rare mistake after the fact.
Service Outages and Pairing Algorithm Issues
To ensure algorithm and service failures don't disrupt your business, we have extensive quality management efforts to minimize bugs, plus monitoring and alerts that notify us if something unexpected is happening.
You can also reach out directly via the email link within EventLink if something goes wrong. Our team is constantly monitors that inbox so we can troubleshoot emergency outages and get it back up and running quickly.
We’ve had lots of excellent feedback from retailers about how the new software is impacting your organized play management. Keep that feedback coming! I’m excited for what the future holds and to continue working with retailers to solve problems in new and innovative ways.
In the meantime, if you're not using EventLink yet, go here to get started.