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New Cup system

2014-07-17 11:29:00

At the start of next season, we will introduce a completely redesigned Cup system for Hattrick. With the new Cups, our primary aim is to give the experience of a meaningful Cup run to more teams than today. In addition to a new setup for the National Cups, we are also introducing Divisional Cups for the lower divisions.

One of the most interesting challenges for any Hattrick manager is to balance your squad and tactics between the demands of your league matches, the necessity of training players, and the excitement of making a good Cup run. And while we love the Cups in Hattrick, it has been rather clear to us for a long time that they could be improved. For one thing, they are limited in size which means not every team even gets the chance to start the Cup. And even for the vast majority of the teams that do qualify to participate in the Cup, their Cup journey will end almost immediately. This is a natural consequence of the design constraints we have for any Cup in Hattrick where we simultaneously want to include as many teams as possible AND be able to finish the Cup over the course of just one season, and with just one Cup round per week.

With the new Cup system, we wanted to preserve the good things about the current National Cups - such as the benefits to any team that is able to stay in the Cup for a long time and the feeling of having one main competition for the whole league that will really produce a worthy Cup champion. But we also wanted to make sure that for the majority of teams, the Cup was about something more than just providing cannon fodder to the handful of elite teams that have a realistic chance of actually winning the whole thing. For this reason, we are making major changes to how Cups work in Hattrick.

National Cup and Divisional Cups

The main change is that we are dividing the National Cup competitions into two categories. In leagues that have up to six divisions, there will still only be the National Cup to consider, but for the first time every team in the league system will be able to enter the National Cup. In larger leagues, we will add a new Divisional Cup for the divisions below Division 6 which teams in these lower divisions will play instead. In the Divisional Cup you will only play against other teams of the same Division, and the champion at the end of season will be named the Divisional Cup champion of that specific Division only.

Challenger Cups

Both the National Cup and the Divisional Cup will be accompanied by secondary and tertiary cups. These are lower ranked Cups for the teams that lose in the main cup. This means that losing one or two games will not be the end of your Cup experience for the season. You will be guaranteed at least three Cup matches per season, but if you lose one of the early rounds in the main Cup you will drop down to a Cup that has, perhaps, a more suitable level of competition. You will still have the chance to win a Cup trophy, just a more modest one.

The Challenger Cup system will consist of four different competitions, each with its own unique trophy, and a separate winner will be named in each one.

Cups that fit the Divisional Structure

Today, it can sometimes be quite hard to figure out whether you will qualify for next season's Cup or not. This is because the number of teams in the Cups doesn't correspond very well to how many teams there are in the Hattrick league system as a whole, or even the divisions inside it. As a result we have never been able to include every last team in a league into the National Cup - it is always a question of using the Cup rank to decide where to draw the line between those that get to participate and those that don't. With this redesign, we are changing this so that the Cups fit better into the league and division sizes. The division you play in will decide which Cup you participate in, and it will be the same for every team in your division. To fill up the National Cup we will instead add a number of temporary "neighborhood" teams; low skilled teams that will enter the Cup at the lowest rank and thus get to play the highest ranked teams through the first few rounds. Competition-wise, this is not very different to how the Cup works today.

More rounds to be played at neutral ground

In the new Cup system, matches will be played on neutral ground at an earlier stage of the Cup. Before this only happened in the last two rounds of the Cup (the semi-finals and final), now it will happen in the last 6 rounds of the Cup. We want to lessen the impact of the home advantage in the Cup, since it already plays too large a role in deciding the Cup winners and this advantage would be likely to become even more important when the Cup becomes more compact.

Advantages of the new system

Our main aim in this redesign has been to give more teams the chance to have a meaningful Cup experience. We think this is achieved in several ways: More teams get to play in the Cup to start with, and they have a much higher likelihood of staying in their Cup beyond the first and second rounds. For the top teams, the National Cup will become a little more compact and competitive - but the rewards at the end of the tunnel will also be higher. For those that get eliminated early, there will a second and even third chance to win a national trophy.

Another advantage is that we will boost the importance of achieving league promotion. Being promoted may guarantee your place in a more attractive Cup or, if you are already qualified for the National Cup, getting promoted will at least mean a better rank in the Cup.

A few teams may today be actively choosing to stay in very low divisions in order to maximize their chances of getting far in the Cup. This strategy will have to change a little, as now you will at least need to play in Division 6 to participate in the National Cup. To some extent, this may lead to a more balanced competition in lower leagues as these overpowered teams finally may choose to promote to higher divisions.

Cup hierarchy

One very important aspect in designing the Cups has been that we want to make sure that teams will want to stay in the tougher Cups as long as possible. We don't want to see any teams tactically dropping out of the main cup in order to secure easy prize money in a lower ranked secondary or tertiary cup. The lesser cups should be seen as a good alternative to being eliminated altogether, but as long as you can, it should be preferable to fight it out in the main competition.

This will be achieved in two ways: using economic rewards (prize money and attendance) and using team spirit effects.

Prize Money & Attendance

As already announced, prize money will be substantially increased for the Cup as well as the League, starting next season. As part of the Cup redesign, we will also start awarding prize money at earlier stages of the Cup. This makes the incentive for progressing clearer. Progressing far in the main national cup will be a lot more rewarding than it is today. For the Challenger cups, prize money will be significantly lower, but still attractive enough to want to stay in the Cup rather than just play friendlies. Crowd attendance will be the same as today in the main Cups, and similar to international friendlies in the lesser ones. For the full list of prize money, please check out the Manual.

Team Spirit Effects

Only Cup games in the National and Divisional Cups will affect your team spirit. When playing in any of the lesser Cups, team spirit will work as in friendlies - that is to say, you won't be able to use Play It Cool or Match of the Season to manage your future team spirit.

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