Interview with a Member of SOTAC

Hello avid readers, for my last article of the season I’ve been able to get an interview with a member of the Secret Order of the Altador Cup (SOTAC). Because of their rules preventing interviews he only agreed to speak under the condition of anonymity.

 

You are a member of SOTAC, what attracted you to joining them, and how did they go about recruiting you?

Because I cannot reveal who I am I cannot go into detail of how I was recruited; it wasn’t just due to some random neomail I got. But after I got referred to the person in charge of recruiting for the group, I began the process of joining. The process is long as it involves a bunch of steps such as letting them know your email address, being directed to a questionnaire that asks a bunch of questions just about you and your hobbies, agreeing to the main rules and guidelines for being a member and pretty soon they set up an account for you offsite in our own small forum. I found that process surprising because it wasn’t simply just signing up for a memo regarding what team we’ll be joining and whatnot, you’re really being let in to a community of great teammates and friends who care about you and not just your stats.

As for the reasons I had for joining it was kind of a tough decision. I was previously loyal to a certain team. I’ve formed a lot of great friendships and friendly rivalries with the good people at that team. Since I’ve been playing for so long I have experienced both being on a powerhouse fighting for first place, along with having no real expectation of being contenders. Being on a team like that is fine as it’s calm and it’s nice to spend time with your longtime teammates as you push each other towards each of your rank goals, but I really craved that other element of having that extra push from watching the podium positions in the standings, having the positive feedback of seeing your work translate to a lot of green in the daily matchups … long story short, I’m a competitive person. I’m used to trying my hardest to be victorious and to be strategic in that approach. Those are just my values. Other people reject invitations from ASGs because they value being loyal to their team more than that strategic and competitive drive, and I completely understand and respect those views. It was a hard decision for me to put one up over the other, but ultimately I still visit my old team whenever I can and I’m always playing attention to them and cheering for them during the cup. So it’s not like I’ve completely abandoned them; you could say that my heart is with my previous team and my mind is with SOTAC.

Do you know anything about the formation of SOTAC, its origins story so to speak?

Well I wasn’t personally with them during their formation. But my understanding of it is that the original members of SOTAC were all-stars on the Roo Island team of AC3, when they won the championship. Then they decided to move to a different team but to stay together as a group. Why did this happen? Like I said I’m not an original member but I suspect it was because at the time the Winner’s Curse was just becoming a pattern, as both HW and DC fell to 7th place the years immediately following their victories. And at that time everyone wanted to win, I mean getting 4th or lower resulted in a participation medal regardless of your rank. And also, loyalty wasn’t as strong of a force then as it is now. AC1 was all about people ditching their teams when they lost (because you had no other choice) and choosing another team you think would be successful in the next round. So with the influence of loyalty still developing, and the influence of the winner’s curse dominating everyone’s minds, it made absolute sense for people to leave their team after winning it all (I remember planning on leaving my team if they were to win). And if you’re in a tight group of friends all making all-star, why wouldn’t you want to make that decision of where to go next, together? That’s how I understand and rationalize the origins of SOTAC.

How does your group as a whole (and you as an individual for that matter) view the ACG’s?

We naturally dislike them, as they use means that break the rules in order to get what they want. And from what I’ve heard, achieving 1st in the cup is a part of their means; their end goal is just to see chaos and drama unfold on the boards about them which is basically notoriety and free advertising for more people to go join their site and use their programs. Staying within the cup though they’re the ones who we’re pretty much planning for and trying to put ourselves in the best position to beat. I’d call them supervillains but I think that’s just flattering them.

Do you view your group as different from the ACG’s, and do you believe the Altador Cup community should view ASG’s and ACG’s as the same?

This is one of the things that gets me going the most. It takes great restraint on my part not to yell at people who put us in the same category. I’m glad that now the term “ACG” exists. I don’t want Codex to be considered an ASG, as that puts them in the same category as us and Stealth when our groups are in fact completely different from each other, in both our goals and our means of achieving them. It’s impossible to know with certainty who is legit and who’s not; in any sort of grouping of all-stars there are sure to be some cheaters present. But in the general sense and in principle we are a group of legitimate all-stars who physically play as hard as we can to achieve the objective of the cup, while the ACGs are groups who not only use programs to automatically send a ton of scores, but also create a bunch of accounts as well as purchase and use old shell accounts to help saturate the team they choose with these automatic score-senders. I’ve heard figures as crazy as over 200 accounts belonging to one player, making them all max or be near the maximum amount of games played per day. So the means of going about things cannot be more different, along with the goals. As I’ve said before, the goals of the ACGs include pleasurable drama and attention toward their products. Where we simply want to organize our hard work and turn it into wins.

Did Stealth and SOTAC really just happen to pick the same team or was there some sort of plan to all of it?

Thank you for asking that. Not many people believe this but it was indeed a coincidence. Stealth leadership never made contact to SOTAC leadership. In SOTAC discussions we focused on what would be best for our group and our group alone. We made our final votes before the news that Stealth joined VP surfaced. Our news just got released way later since we find out as a group what the results are later. And even when that happened, the news stayed within the group as we tend to contain less moles. I hypothesize that that is because the process of joining SOTAC is more personal so we’re closer as a community but I can’t say that for sure since I have little idea of how things work over at Stealth.

That being said, however, a lot of us welcomed the fact that Stealth would be on VP as well since our main objective was more to try and beat the ACGs than it was to beat each other.

With it seeming apparent that the two of you combined can’t stop the ACG’s are you going to continue to play in the next cup (assuming there is one of course)?

Yeah, it seemed like this year was our best chance as the two biggest ACGs chose HW and DC which are both huge teams, and both us and Stealth joined what was the smallest team at the time. That is, of course, only if the format stays the same and if TNT doesn’t get smarter about how to slow down the cheating groups (such as closing the sign-ups as soon as it all starts, as well as executing a method to detect score senders). Even if none of that changes though, and the ACGs are in position to inevitably take the cup next year, we’re not going to stop. We’re too tight as a community to stop what we have going on. It’s a great atmosphere to be surrounded by other players just as or even more crazy than you are, pushing each other to do well and even if we don’t beat the ACGs, being the best legitimate team is nothing to be ashamed of. But our level of success really doesn’t determine our odds of returning. We could completely flop and finish off the podium hypothetically and we’d be right back at it the next year, trying to get stronger and trying to make better strategic decisions to get back up there. Because that’s what the cup is all about!

Do you know of any members of SOTAC who SS in order to reach All-Star status?

No. Like I said before I can’t guarantee we’re cheater-free as you can’t know with complete certainty who is and who isn’t, but if anyone in SOTAC is found to be cheating they’re kicked out of the group. That’s what our rules state and that is what our principles are.

What do you guys think about the stigma a team gets when you guys do well with it, talking specifically about how teams fall into the third and fourth tier once you guys leave, do you guys feel the team helped pull their share of the weight or did SOTAC drag them to the top?

Thank you for bringing this up. This also tends to really get to me, when people refuse to recognize the loyalists’ hard work when it comes to achieving victory. To me, the questions “Who is responsible for the victory?” and “Would they have won without (group)?” are two completely different questions.

To me, everyone who put in effort for the team is equally responsible for that teams’ success. It’s mathematically true! After team size is adjusted the score includes everybody’s contributions. Using VP from AC6 as an example, Would they have won without Stealth? Probably not; would they have won without the loyalists? Most definitely not. People seem to forget that Virtupets, the year before Stealth joined them, finished 6th. They came a long way from what they were in cups before that, so when people say that Stealth won AC6 and not Virtupets, I find that to be really disrespectful to what the loyalists themselves were able to do not just during the year that they won but also the cups leading up to that.

Loyalists are our teammates and we make an effort to make that known by becoming friends with them and motivating each other. Every game and every player counts. When we leave a team, if they fall to a place further down in the standings than they were before we joined, that’s probably because any success we had the year we were together just drew in freeloaders and we can’t really control that.

In the first few cups you guys joined teams who placed in the first tier, since groups like Stealth showed that smaller teams could be more easily influenced is that what got you to start picking smaller teams in recent years?

Since I wasn’t with SOTAC at the very beginning I can’t tell you how the group’s thinking has changed over time. But even after Virtupets won in AC6, SOTAC proceeded to join Kreludor then Roo Island, and both are more mid-sized than small. Team size isn’t the only thing considered when discussing what team to join. This is the first year SOTAC has truly gone with one of the smallest teams available. It is however, quite a change from the first few selections, that’s true. I’d guess that Stealth’s actions just showed SOTAC that there are more good options out there than just teams that are already close to the top. But like I said size isn’t the only factor.

How far in advance does SOTAC pick the team they join, and is it democratic effort to decide, or does a leader make the decision?

Discussions for this year’s team began about a month before the cup started. It is a completely democratic effort. After we voted the top 7 teams that had votes were revealed followed by another round of discussions. We don’t know numbers of votes so while a team may seem popular in discussion there are many others in the group who aren’t active in them that vote so we really don’t know for sure who the team is until pretty close to when the cup starts.

If someone decides not to join the group team what happens to them?

Well when you join the group you’re agreeing to join whatever team is voted the group’s team regardless of whether you voted for it or not, so we haven’t had any cases of that this year. I imagine they wouldn’t be a part of the group anymore if they went against that agreement.

What would be your best estimate to the size of SOTAC?

It’s just over 100 as of now.

Would SOTAC ever consider using SS methods in order to beat these ACG’s?

No… we’re a legit group and we are going to stay legit. We’re not going to become the enemy in attempt to beat the enemy. Again I can’t speak for individuals but as a group that’ll never happen. The rule is, you’re found cheating and you’re kicked from the group; that rule will stand.

Assuming you guys play in the next cup what other methods would you use to try and beat the ACG’s?

Hope for a format change hope for smarter methods from TNT. Like I said, this was the year we had the best shot under this system really.

What do you think about the remarks the ACG group made about SOTAC in their interview?

In regards to the claim that we “invade” the chats and never talk to them causing them to go to their guilds: I haven’t really visited ViPZ often but from my experiences at the beginning of the cup they were very welcoming, and we always make an effort to work with the loyalists and motivate each other. I’m not sure how evident that may be on that one particular chat but I know that I personally have had good experiences teaming up with the loyalists of VP.

Recently our leader contacted the leader of ViPZ regarding this saying that if we were disruptive we are sorry and offered to tell us as a group to refrain from posting there. The person from ViPZ replied back saying that SOTAC has nothing to apologize for. It’s awkward when you’re a tiny team so have a ton of new people join like that and it takes getting used to but ultimately they encourage SOTAC to continue being on the boards without feeling like we’re disrupting anything. So as you can see we have their best interest at heart and we never meant to cause any unwanted disturbance.

Other remarks either have already been addressed or don’t deserve to be.

Closing remarks:

To close this I just need to tell people what I think and what some of my fellow members have said in regards to the argument against ASGs. . Right now the cup is incredibly predictable, but that’s more of a function of the format telling you the standings day one than it is ASGs. The idea of an all-star group is a phenomenon that’s bound to occur in any sport; people just need to look at their values and decide what’s more important to them. We aren’t elitists, we are constantly looking to help grow our community and as long as someone works hard that opportunity should show up at some point. If someone values loyalty over being more strategic in team choice that’s completely fine, but to say that those who do not necessarily have those same values don’t deserve their success in the cup, I think is false. The cup is meant for players to organize and play hard together in order to achieve victory, and that is what we set out to do.

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10 Responses

  1. I joined an ASG just to help fight against ACGs… If there weren’t so many cheaters in the cup, I probably wouldn’t have ever joined.

  2. I have a question for the SOTAC member:

    “How do you/your organization feel by losing to the ACGs year after year? You put in more effort, more time, and yet achieve inferior results.”

    If you wish to refrain from answering, this is completely okay.

    • …Are there a bunch of cheaters commenting around here? I’ve seen so many defenders for ACGs, it’s insane. At least ASGs are human. Making a bunch of programs to play for you on multiple accounts is not that much better. I don’t care if people cheat for themselves, but making an event unenjoyable for others is inconsiderate. The ASG on VP were really nice and welcoming; whereas poor legit players on HW couldn’t even enjoy their ‘victory’ knowing it was programs that did it, not them. So, where the sense of community for them? ACGs don’t offer anything to the other players on their team, except for a place on the podium, and even then it feels like a hollow achievement. Yeah, ASGs rig the cup too, though at least it is by their own effort. How is cheating any better? It’s basically ASG power x100. Other teams don’t stand a chance.

      • A good proportion of our readers are from NeoCodex.

      • That makes sense. I’ll admit that I am part of Codex too, but I don’t make multiple accounts to sway results. I just want to get a lot of points so I can get a decent prize for once. XD
        I like Codex for their community, but I’m not for rigging the cup at all.

    • just mail drazu im sure he’ll tell you and if you ask nicely maybe he’ll send u a list of memberss

  3. ASGs are in no way any different than ACGs and anyone who thinks otherwise is delusional. Both are bad and against the rules. It’s why the stock market is random. It’s a group of people joining the same team to affect the final score, making the winner clear as soon as the team they’re with is announced thus ruining the competition. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing legitimately or not, ganging up on a single team to affect the final score is against the rules. At least ACGs have the decency to admit that they’re cheating and go all the way with it.

  4. oh hi drazu. 😉

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