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After Hours Gaming League

AHGL Handbook

Welcome to Season 4 of the AHGL!

The AHGL is a fun, modern take on traditional corporate team-building. Instead of playing softball or basketball, our corporate teams duke it out for charity on the virtual playing fields of some of the most popular strategy games in the world. Employees follow their team’s progress on the AHGL website and gather in real-world viewing parties to enjoy games narrated and broadcast by professional casters.

Season 1 of the AHGL saw 8 high-tech giants battling for supremacy in StarCraft 2. By Season 3, the AHGL expanded to over 50 different companies and added League of Legends to the lineup. Season 4 of the AHGL looks to be bigger and better than ever! Will your company be the next AHGL champion?

Excited? Get involved! This AHGL Handbook has been designed to help you sign up to play. That means organize a corporate team, select a team charity, get the company permissions you will need from your employer and your charity.

Certain stages of the registration process may take longer than you anticipate, so start now and work on tasks in parallel! Corporate permission, in particular, can be time consuming. If you try to start this a week or two before the registration cutoff date in December, we can almost guarantee that you won’t make the deadline for this season.

AHGL staff will be here to guide you along the way! Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions. We can be reached at support@afterhoursgaming.tv.

Table of Contents

AHGL Season 4 Overview

An Introduction to the AHGL

Who can join the AHGL?

What does it cost to join?

How much time does AHGL take up?

Does playing in the AHGL involve employee travel?

Getting Started

Obtaining Permission from your employer

Obtaining permission from your Charity

Assembling Your Team

The Role of the Team Captain

Weekly Structure of the League

Practicing for the League

Communicating with the AHGL

Code of Conduct

Appendix

Sample Email from you to HR/PR

Sample Corporate Permissions Letter

Introductory Letter from the AHGL

Introductory Letter from you to your Charity

AHGL Flyer

AHGL Rulebook

AHGL Blog

AHGL Season 4 Overview

Teams qualified October - December 13, 2013
Team Profiles and player bios due December 13, 2013
Registration fee due December 13, 2013
Late registration fee due December 20, 2013
Corporate and charity permissions due January 10, 2014
Preseason Divisons finalized January 12, 2014
Pre-Season January 19 - January 26, 2014
Season schedule released February 2, 2014
Regular season February 9 - April 6, 2014
Mid-season roster update March 9, 2014
Playoffs Begin April 13, 2014
Grand finals (LIVE in LA) May 31, 2014


Teams qualified: During this period, teams pick their captains, obtain corporate permissions, hold internal tournaments to organize teams, select a charity and begin the application process. Team profiles and bios are also due. Team captains must ensure their team profiles and player bios are on the official AHGL website for the Season by the announced date. Registration fees are also due - team captains must submit to the AHGL payment by the stated date in order to qualify for the current Season. Registration is $300 per team. Submit payment to http://afterhoursgaming.tv/payment/ once you have completed your team profile and submitted it for approval.

Late Registration fee due: Teams that are delayed in previous registration steps must pay the late registration fee of an additional $100 per team by this date in order to qualify for the current Season. This is the last chance to qualify for the current Season, and this is a hard deadline which cannot be moved.

Preseason schedule finalized: The AHGL will announce pre-season divisions and the match schedule once available. During the pre-season period, the AHGL will run a two week practice season of the League. This pre-season will run with the same rules and weekly deadlines as the regular season. The pre-season is mandatory so that the AHGL can work out kinks with the teams before matches start counting towards the final prize! Just because the score of the game doesn't count doesn't mean that you can be a hooligan. The AHGL reserves the right to remove players or teams at our discretion during this period due to no-shows, poor sportsmanship, other discretionary issues, etc. See the Weekly Structure of the League, Official Ruleset, and Code of Conduct for more details on this.

Corporate and charity permissions due: Team captains must submit proof of corporate AND charity permission by this date in order to qualify for the current Season. This is a firm deadline. Please note that for this Season, we will NOT be asking for logo permission as we will NOT be displaying corporate logos.

Season schedule released: Final regular season schedule announced and released on the AHGL website.

Regular season: The Regular Season will run for ~8-10 weeks, depending on a number of factors. The structure of the season will be determined by the number of companies in each game and division. Regardless of structure, every team registering will get to play a game every week (unless there an odd number of teams, in which case one team per week will receive a Bye.) During the Regular Season select matches will be broadcast and the website will be updated with match results and replays.

Mid-Season roster update: This is the last chance to swap out players and update team homepages with new player profiles and photos.

Playoffs: Top teams and wild cards will compete in the playoff tournament bracket.

Grand finals: Grand Finals will be held in person in late April or Early May and will bebroadcast live over Day9.tv. Exact details will be published as they become available.

An Introduction to the AHGL

Who can join the AHGL?

Any company of any size in North America can participate in the AHGL. If your company is outside the North American region, you may participate - we just ask that you contact us at support@afterhoursgaming.tv before beginning registration so that we're expecting you! There are a lot of scheduling logistics that happen with a team outside the NA time zones, and we want to make sure you understand the expectations about what it means to participate in the AHGL. The AHGL is built on a philosophy of inclusiveness, relaxation and fun!

What does it cost to join?

The registration fee for Season 4 is $300 per team. The fee helps defray a fraction the cost of operating the AHGL and the charity prize pool. The total cost of running the AHGL is significantly higher – these costs are covered by Day[9]TV and sponsors. Ensuring the team has paid is the responsibility of team captain, but is a requirement for the team, so don't be afraid to remind your captain!

How much time does AHGL take up?

Past seasons have demonstrated that the AHGL teams are made up of the kinds of employees who work hard and play hard. They are competitive and they are organized and they like to win. They do tend to become absorbed in the League, but that is because it is so much fun!

The AHGL is sensitive to the fact that employees may have shifting internal work deadlines they need to meet and we have deliberately designed the structure of the AHGL so that it’s as flexible and relaxing as possible. The Pre-Season and the Regular Season stretch over many months. We encourage teams to recruit alternates so that if one player has a work commitment and must drop out, a second player can step in.

Does playing in the AHGL involve employee travel?

In general, no. All games are played online. Most players play from home. Only the Grand Finals are played in person - and even then some team members may participate remotely because of work commitments (but it is highly encouraged that you come in person!)

Getting Started

Obtaining Permission from your employer.

The AHGL is a corporate eSports league, that is, a league open to teams of gamers who have their employer’s official backing. That means that any team applying must have secured permission to use their employer’s name in conjunction with their team’s participation in the AGHL. We have provided you with a sample letter to your HR/PR department, a letter addressed to your employer, as well this Handbook, to help you explain the AHGL to your company and solicit company support.

Start Early.

ESports is a new concept and getting your corporation to understand why you and your team want to join an eSports League may take some work! This is particularly true if your corporation is very large and securing permission will require approval from many layers of management. Our Season 1 teams report that securing company permission was one of the most challenging aspects of organizing and registering a team.

We recommend you begin by contacting both your internal HR and PR representatives to set up a meeting regarding a corporate AHGL team. (We’ve even included a sample email for you to use in the Appendix of this Handbook). If possible, take your team members with you for this meeting, so your company can get a sense of your collective enthusiasm. Bring a laptop and give your colleagues a tour of the AHGL website.

Explain SC2, LoL and the entire eSports movement. Bring with you the introductory letter from the AHGL as well as the Forbes article and Wall Street Journal article about eSports by way of illustration. Stress that you are playing for charity.

Emphasize that the AHGL is not only a corporate team-building experience, but an excellent recruitment tool. StarCraft and League of Legends are widely played at universities by top students, and having an AHGL team suggests that the participating corporation is a fun, dynamic and modern workplace. Season 1 teams report that college recruiters were among their staunchest allies:

“Through the college recruiting people, we got our company to pay for the flight to the Grand finals, our team shirts and even rent a theater for the finals party.”

Stress that the AHGL is a professional League which emphasizes fun over “do or die” competition, and that AHGL is uninterested in playing up traditional corporate rivalries. This will be important to your PR people, who may be concerned that inter-corporate boardroom battles will be replayed in game battles, with additional stress.

Ask your HR/PR representatives if they can assist you in obtaining permission to use your employer’s corporate name. What is the corporate protocol? Is there a Brand Manager at your company? If they don’t know, or if they are unresponsive, try networking within the StarCraft, League of Legends, or eSports community at your corporation to find someone with the right connections.

Types of Permission to be sought from your corporation.

You must supply a letter in writing from your corporation, on corporate letterhead or official email from a director-level manager, indicating that it permits you to play as an official AHGL team for your company (sample here).

It may be helpful to show your corporate management a sample team homepage on the AHGL website for a previous Season. You should reassure your managers that the team homepages have deliberately been designed to be simple and inoffensive in terms of content. They contain brief biographies of the players, headshots, team slogans, group photos, game stats, information about the charity, videos of games played, and the corporate name. Please note that for this season, the corporate logo will NOT be displayed.

The team homepage does not have any function allowing public comments to be posted to the page and the AHGL website does not maintain a public community forum which might invite derogatory comments. All content appearing on the team homepage is under the sole control of the corporate team captain and the AHGL webmaster.

You should stress to your corporate managers that the corporate name will be used in no other context. Specifically, the corporate name will not be used to endorse the AHGL or its activities or the activities of any third party.

Obtaining permission from your Charity.

The AHGL is not only a corporate eSports league, but also a fundraiser for charity. Each corporate team is asked to select a charity for which it will play in the Season 4 league. If your Starcraft 2 or League of Legends team is the winner of of the tournament Grand Finals, the League will make a donation of $5,000 to your charity.

Charities are generally thrilled to be included in the After Hours Gaming League, as your support not only gives them a chance at the grand prize, but also invaluable exposure and an opportunity to generate direct donations from the AHGL audience.

In order to maximize additional donations to your charity, we will provide a direct link on your team homepage to the charity’s website.

Please inquire whether your corporation is willing to match the AHGL Grand Prize donation to your charity if your team wins. Many corporations do have programs that will match employee donations. This could potentially double the funds given to the winning charity.

To assist you, we have also included an introductory letter addressed to your charity, which briefly explains the AHGL’s purpose and goals and explains how the charity’s name will be used on the team homepage.

It is absolutely critical that you obtain permission from your corporation and your charity. Without it, you will be unable to participate in Season 4 of the AHGL. Make it your first priority!

Assembling Your Team

Get the word out!

It is important to spread the word at your company that you are organizing a team for the AHGL so as many employees as possible have a chance to participate. Even if you personally know enough employees to form a team, you will probably be amazed at how many closet StarCraft 2 and League of Legends players will emerge after you make your announcement!

Here is how previous seasons' teams recommend you do it:

-Post in internal corporate newsletters, blogs, forums and email lists.

-Put up posters and signs in-house. (Try this one)

-Network among other employees to find out who games and ask them to spread the word.

-Post AHGL threads on StarCraft or League of Legends community sites like teamliquid.net, reddit.com/r/StarCraft, and reddit.com/r/LeagueOfLegends.

Don’t forget to reach out to new employees. Says one team captain:

“Make sure new hires know about your AHGL team; they are often out of the loop on how things work in the company and will just not hear about it, and because they are young they often are among the best players.”

Choosing Team Players

-Each company must fill a roster with between 8 and 12 players. The team captain is not required to play.

-Season 4 will not require teams to supply referees.

-Only full-time employees are eligible to apply for a company’s roster.

-Summer employees, interns, contractors, temporary employees and ringers-for-hire are excluded. :P

-Pro players are not allowed to compete, though they can be non-playing captains or coaches. If you want to clarify what counts as a pro, please contact us.

-There will be a mid-season opportunity to update rosters.

-Each player must create a profile on the AHGL website.

-Each player must edit their profile to answer the “Player Profile” questions [tutorial link].

-Each player must submit a headshot photo.

If you have more than 12 interested players, look into the logistics of creating a second team! Companies are permitted to have multiple teams playing in the pre and regular season of AHGL, so feel free to try to get a second (or third, or more!) group together. It's still important that your team understand the importance of the time commitment and availability requirements, no matter how many teams your company is fielding. Playing skill always plays a factor, but having a team that doesn't show up can't beat anyone!

There will also be an opportunity mid-season to make changes to the roster.

Advice from Season 1 teams:

“Don’t worry too much whether players have a lot of skill or are ace at (the game). Emphasize that the tournament is fun and for bonding, remember that meeting other teams is really cool and regardless of the competitive outcome, it will be a great experience.”

“Once you have an interested group of potential employees, you have to send out emails to update them regularly, because the idea of an AHGL team takes a long time to penetrate their consciousness. A lot of people only caught on at the end of the season. This is especially true in a big company. We had a very robust way to communicate internally but a lot of people just didn’t catch on until the very end when the finals were taking place - and these were people who were top players!“

Player Profiles

Once the corporate roster is completed, it is time for each player to tell the world who he/she is and what he/she does for a living. Players should create an account on AHGL. The team captain then needs to link that player to their team by browsing to the player profile, and clicking “Add to team”.

Now the player can edit their tournament-linked profile. The AHGL has provided a player questionnaire, which each team player must complete. (Note: a sense of humor is welcome when completing player profiles, but don’t forget that you also represent your company! Profanity and inappropriate or abusive language will be reported and disciplinary action taken.)

These profiles help the eSports audience connect with the players. The action becomes more interesting if the viewers feel like they know a little bit about the players and their personalities.

Have each player fill out their bio and get together to brainstorm answers to the team questionnaire.

Referees (Team Captain duties during games)

Season 4 will not require teams to obtain separate resources to serve as referees. While other individuals may volunteer to be referees, it will be the responsibility of the team captain to be familiar with the rules and requirements of play. They will handle simple disputes between parties, or bring such disputes to the attention of the AHGL moderators. During the suggested playtimes, there will be channels within each game with resources who can help handle any disputes which may arise.

In addition, team captains are in charge of ensuring game replays are recorded – either themselves or delegated to someone else on their team.

Finally, the winning team captain is responsible for uploading their team matches to the AHGL website.

The Role of the Team Captain

A good team captain can make or break a team in the AHGL. Prior captains report that being a team captain is a time consuming job: make sure your captain is able to follow through and maintain that commitment!

The Duties of the Team Captain

The team captain is responsible for:

-Acting as point-person for communications between the AHGL and his team.

-Publicizing the AHGL and his team within his company and recruiting players and spectators.

-Populating the team homepage on the AHGL website with player profiles, headshots, team profiles and team photos.

-Ensuring adherence to corporate use policies.

-Organizing and scheduling practice times and pro tournament viewing parties so teammates learn to be better gamers.

-Organizing and scheduling matchups between designated teams each week.

-Ensuring all the players show up on time for their matches.

-Organizing and submitting the player lineups each week.

-Promptly uploading matches to the AHGL website

-Organizing and scheduling viewing parties of matchups for fellow employees both in-house and at local venues, as appropriate.

-Aiding the team in making travel arrangements should the need arise (such as for Grand Finals).

As there is quite a bit to do, a good team captain also knows how to delegate. It is useful to have assistants specializing in some of the following areas:

-Securing permission

-In-house publicity and recruiting

-Organizing practices

-Match uploads and homepage maintenance

-Organizing spectator parties.

Find people who share your passion and sense of fun! It will make the whole experience a lot more rewarding and a lot less work.

Creating Team Profiles

In addition to ensuring players complete their player profiles, Team captains are also responsible for creating a team motto and gathering as many players as possible for a team photo. Don’t forget to wear team or company shirts and colors for your team photos!

Word about Registration Fees:

Registration fees should be paid via http://afterhoursgaming.tv/payment/, and only after your team has been approved. Please pay a single payment for the entire team and contact us if you need to pay by check instead. If a team fails to register in full or obtain brand permission by the cutoff date, fees will be refunded in full less an administrative fee of $50. Teams disqualified for cheating and bad sportsmanship will forfeit their registration fees in full and may be excluded from future seasons. Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns about Registration Fees.

Weekly Structure of the League

Each company plays one match per week on Sunday with results always due by end of day Sunday. Teams agree not to reveal results to anyone outside the team until they are posted publicly. Times are end of day for the West Coast (PST).

Note: For this Season, we are introducing set match times and a one reschedule to non-Sunday policy. Please be available on Sundays!

For exact schedule breakdown, please refer to the AHGL Rulebook.

Practicing for the League

ADVICE on organizing teams from the Season 1 Team Captains:

“A lot of people who are interested can’t commit to 8+ weeks, so if you have a lot of interest, team captains must narrow it down quickly or teams will lose members in the middle of the season.”

“We gave them homework!”

“Sign up for a weekly tournament out there in the community, there are a million of them and they are free. A Smurf account is helpful in this regard.”

“Add everyone to your friend list and just practice against each other. ” “Have a weekly schedule – for example, get on Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights to play.”

“We did a lot of stuff in person, including team building. We even had a weekly meeting and went over replays in person together.”

“We all went to an in-person LAN in Berkeley, that was a really fun thing to do as a team.”

“Expose your team members to the GSL; not everybody knew about it. Let them know that these are high quality games. Get together to watch these replays and study them.”

With some companies now fielding multiple teams, one great way to practice is to have teams within your company scrimmage against each other to get feedback quickly and learn tips from other peers!

Communicating with the AHGL

Communication between the AHGL, the League participants and the eSports community takes place through a number of different forms.

Players – AHGL Season 4 Facebook Group

This is a quick means of communication between teams during the seaon for non - structured conversations and fun chat. This closed Facebook Page is open only to captains, players, referees, and other team members. Once your team is properly registered, each of your team members will receive an invitation to join.

Captains – AHGL Season 4 Divisions Facebook Group

This is a closed Facebook group that is only for the AHGL organizers and team captains. Most of our content will be distributed here in addition to the forums - for example, when we release details about the schedule, playoffs and Grand Finals. Additionally, this will be a great location to ask questions of just the other captains and is probably the best source of quality advice regarding the team side of things. We will invite you when your AHGL application has been accepted.

Website – Watching the AHGL

Check out the show each week and follow other companies. All the action and information can be found at AHGL website.

Website – Posting Results and Replays

After each week, the winning team’s captain will need to post results and replays for all matches played. This can be done via AHGL website.

Code of Conduct

The After Hours Gaming League is a community and we want everyone to enjoy themselves and feel included. Try to actively contribute to create a fun environment for everyone inside and outside of the League! The following is a limited list of guidelines:

Do:

-Have fun.

-Be nice.

-Help anytime you can.

-Respect all players and teams both publicly and privately.

-Contact us directly if you have a criticism or complaint about the league, players, teams, etc.

Do NOT:

-Cheat – if you have to ask, it’s probably a bad idea.

-Be mean or hurtful.

-Make a public post criticizing the League, players, or teams without first bringing it to our attention privately.

The following infractions will result in penalties to be decided on a case by case basis by the League administrators. Possible penalties include but are not limited to team/player bans for any amount of time including future seasons and forfeit of matches.

-Releasing match results early

-Not releasing lineups on time

-Not showing up for your match

-Not keeping match/team page up to date

-Poor sportsmanship in or out of game

-Excessive negativity

-Starting or contributing to flame wars

-Hate speech

-Actions which serve to demean or insult teammates or other players, referees, or participants in the league

Appendix

Sample Email from you to HR/PR

Sample Corporate Permissions Letter

Introductory Letter from AHGL

Introductory Letter from you to your Charity

AHGL Flyer

AHGL Rulebook

AHGL Blog

Submission Deadline: December 13th, 2013

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