Wizards EventLink Update Log

Wizards EventLink Update Log

December 8, 2021 | 5 min to read

December 8, 2021

By Bill Stark, EventLink Product Manager

December marks our final updates and releases for both EventLink and Companion for 2021, and what a year! Before I dive into what’s new, I want to highlight what we accomplished this year.

State of the Tech

To check our progress on what we’re building and whether it meets the needs of our users we monitor several key metrics. For 2021 we reached or exceeded all those metrics, in some cases quite handily. The team’s hard work on building resilient systems meant our up-time was 100%, never experiencing a disruption caused by the EventLink and Companion technology.

We did experience some brief outages related to global disruptions to internet infrastructure, and while those are mostly out of our control the team is looking at even more means of hardening our systems to make us immune to those as well. In total those outages impacted users for less than 1/1000th of a percentage of time for the year (that’s not a typo).

Our customer ratings for Companion on Android and iOS are 4 stars or above. The ratings system is a simple check that players enjoy the app and the features we’re building meet their needs, and our target is to be at 4 stars or above.

In our annual survey of retailers, favorability of EventLink also doubled in a year with the overwhelming majority of WPN retailers in every market satisfied with the product. That’s in no small part to all the features we released this year. Speaking of which…

What We Shipped

The laundry list of features we delivered this year is as exciting as it is long. Some of the major improvements:

  • Adding a card database to the Companion app

  • Enabling multi-event creation in EventLink

  • Companion life tracker and match slip integration

  • Round timers in Companion (more on that in a moment!)

  • Supporting the return to in-store play with no service disruptions

  • Scrolling pairings/standings in EventLink Mirror

  • The interstitial standings phase to reduce misreporting of results

  • Successfully moving out of Beta

  • Intentional draws added in EventLink

  • Currency and time zone defaults

  • Auto-scaling for resiliency

  • Event capacity increase to 500 players

  • Die roller in Companion

  • Event Options Menu for easier navigation

  • Hundreds of bug fixes and smaller feature updates

Many of these improvements were brought to life in part by feedback from users like you. Make sure to use the “Submit Feedback” button in EventLink to share your feedback with us. We read every message!

What We Missed

While 2021 was a banner year for our tech to manage in-store play, there were some misses. A feature to expedite player entry by “remembering” users who’ve played at your store recently, reducing the number of email addresses you must enter for non-Companion registrations, had to be cancelled due to a shift in technical requirements that made it impossible to implement this year. I haven’t given up on that feature and we’re looking for solutions that will enable us to still meet the needs of users and get it released, perhaps in 2022.

Our work on Two-Headed Giant is underway, and the back-end portion of the technology has been fully implemented. Unfortunately, the work proved to be complex enough that we need to adjust our delivery date from December to sometime in January. The front end, or the portion you and your players interact with in Companion and EventLink, is what remains, and we’re confident we’ll deliver well in advance of the Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty Prerelease.

Finally, there was some confusion about functionality colloquially known as “manual pairings” that I want to clear up. First, it’s important to distinguish what I mean by “manual pairings.” When we use that term, we’re referring to the ability to un-pair players and re-pair them against any other player at any point in the tournament once match records have been recorded. This is not the same as pairing players together in the first round of an event before any match records have been recorded, which, while unintuitive, is actually random pairings.

I want to reiterate that we don’t have intentions to implement a “manual pairings” solution that would allow the re-pairing of players by human selection at any point in an event after match records have been recorded. The reason is primarily risk- and cost-based: that feature in prior versions of the technology has led to events breaking when pairings break down from human error, inadvertently pairing players together in an illegal fashion, breaking the pairing algorithm, and even in several cases leading to significant financial harm to users.

It’s also very expensive to build and maintain from an engineering perspective, making it much harder for us to build other features that serve more users and improve tournament experiences more broadly.

We’ve built several solutions to help manage the very real situations that lead to pain points manual pairings were once used to try to fix. The Companion app helps reduce the number of players who misreport their results by putting the power of reporting and verifying match results directly in the hands of players. The interstitial standings phase, which displays standings between each round before pairings, empowers users to verify that their results were reported correctly and get any fixes made before moving to the next round. In a pinch, you also have the power to roll your tournament back up to one round, make a fix, and re-pair the next round if an error is serious enough.

We feel this is a good balance of flexibility in features to solve many of these problems without exposing the system to risk and significant maintenance costs by implementing an outdated, riskier solution like manual pairings.

The ability to pair players as desired in the first round of an event—functionality that is often mistaken as “manual pairings"—is something we’re looking at in 2022. We have a lot on our plates for tackling next year, which I’ll discuss in more detail in January, but this is a pain point our retailer research has shown us would be valuable to solve. The solution would likely be available for casual events only and for booster drafts that offer cross-pod pairing. No timeline yet, but it is on the docket.

What’s New in This Release

As someone who has been playing tournaments since 1995, I’m ecstatic to announce our big feature in this release: event timers in the Companion app. Now your players who use Companion will see the EventLink timer for your events directly on their phone.

This is a huge quality of life improvement for players and helps reduce burden on your staff by decreasing the number of players who need to ask, “How much time is left in the round?” It’s also been one of our most highly requested features since we launched EventLink.

In EventLink the Two-Headed Giant backend work has been completed. This means the “brains” of the pairing algorithms are done. Unfortunately, we’re moving the delivery date of the front-end slightly—from December to January—to accommodate additional complexities discovered during the backend work.

We still expect to deliver Two-Headed Giant well in advance of the Kamigawa: Neon DynastyPrerelease next year to give you and your staff time to learn the new functionality. (Note: templates for Two-Headed Giant Prerelease events won’t be available until the feature is completed.)

We also fixed several bugs, including an issue that prevented new staff from being added to stores based on capitalization in emails and the bug preventing event quotas from working in event templates.

Thanks for a great year of new milestones, features, fixes, and more from the EventLink and Companion teams. We’ll be back in January to talk about what we’re building for 2022, so until then Happy Holidays!

Keep Your Feedback Coming

As always, you have a critical voice in what our teams focus our effort on next. You can use the “submit feedback” option in EventLink to share feedback directly with us and shape what features and bugs we tackle.

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