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  PowerPlay Magazine

Interview with capsaicin

Hi everyone,

There is enough time before the next world cup and I decided to study the three U.S. teams individually. Today we are going to take a look at the U18 National Team, where everything starts. The U18 team did very well season after season for a long time now, and a medal is just what is missing to reward all this hard work. I really hope I do not jinx it guys! Capsaicin really helps for the development of several promising players and a new high quality team grows every season, thanks. His role is not limited by his manager status and he is also a precious scout for the three U.S. national teams. In fact, he should be considered as one of the best managers in PPM and one of the most experimented managers in the U.S.

Good morning cap, thank you for your taking the time to answer my questions. Can you explain how is it to prepare the national team for the upcoming World Cup ?

1) The biggest part of preparing the U18 team for the World Championships is the team selection. The senior team drops a few old players or players who had bad luck with CL and replaces them with a few younger players who might start in a few seasons or else an older player who had better luck with CL. The U20 team largely graduates the better 18 year olds from the previous season's U18 team. The U18 requires me to start scouting one season in advance to build a completely new team from the best of every player from a U.S. sports academy from 2-3 seasons ago. I scout every 18 year old who will have 800 OR by the start of the season from a U.S. roster with with a level 12-15 regeneration and training facility or from the transfer history of a U.S. team (to catch all U.S. players currently playing in other countries). I also scout 17 year olds with 600+ OR and 16 year olds with 400+ OR. I'm less lenient with OR for players from teams with weaker facilities. Ideally, a player will have least 900+, 80+ average quality, and level 15 facilities, but the depth isn't always there at that level. A player from a level 12 facility won't ever make the senior national team, but he might be good enough through his 18th year. At the start of the season, I go through about 500 players from the last 2 seasons of scouting and add all active U.S. players to a spreadsheet on excel. The spreadsheet calculates some metrics to account for things like experience, deviation from a good ratio, the effective value of a poorly trained player, shooting% for forwards, technique percentage for defensemen, and effective positional quality. The spreadsheet automatically highlights players that are especially bad in a particular area and sorts them. In round 1, I eliminate horribly trained unsalvageable players, average players with horrible qualities, and average players with bad facilities. In round 2, I choose players from the remaining shortlist. I generally add the best 5 lines of starters (including the best 3 goaltenders) and the best 2 prospects (not including 17 year olds that made the team as a starter) at each position. I leave room to add players from teams that fold or in case a seemingly promising player fails to train well or gets sold to a bad team.

2) I put players with 99 chemistry on the bench during exhibitions (they still get the training bonus) to start to develop the chemistry of next season's starters. This helps to make sure that a few players will always have 100 chemistry at the start of the World Championships.

3) I keep track of players over the season. If a player is especially promising but could use some improvement, I have in the past sent a message to the player's manager to ask if the player can be improved. Peoples are generally willing to cooperate. Teams without propack sometimes pay less attention to the day to day training of players that are a decade away from starting. Some teams also tend to keep the primary attribute down at first - I believe to keep the salary down or to get the most OR possible before selling the player. I need to make sure players continue to improve, don't start to train poorly mid-season, or in case a player that I was counting on for 200+ more OR suddenly gets sold to a team with no facilities. This is another thing that is relatively unique to the U18 team since players for the senior team are generally set and unlikely to improve much more.

4) I have in the past consulted with managers from some of the best U.S. teams or my assistant.

5) Before the tournament, I look at the game histories of my potential opponents over the past few seasons to determine what tactics are likely to have good chemistry and therefore be more likely to be used and/or effective. I also look at the game history of the NT with the particular manager to determine how that manager chooses tactics (keeping in mind that tactics chosen for exhibitions are likely to be chosen for chemistry rather than tactical reasons).

6) I maintain and develop tactics chemistry


What are your ambitions?

It would be great to get a medal. More realistically, the United States has an especially tough group this season. The Czech Republic is always a top contender with a ton of depth available to choose from. Russia is always a top contender as well. These are 2 of the 4 teams that have been in the top division longer than the U.S. U18 National Hockey Team. Serbia used to be one of the better teams a while back (they only spent 2 seasons outside of the top division and finished first in division I both times). The U.S. has beaten the Czech Republic and Slovakia in the past with some luck and good tactics. Russia is often at about the same level. Serbia will be tough but is a must-beat team to avoid relegation once again. If the U.S. advances (and I expect at least that much), the U.S. will have to possibly face Hungary (another consistently top team) and Latvia (a frequently strong team). It will take some luck to make the playoffs, but that is my (more reasonable) ambition. I have a few tricks for compensating for an OR disadvantage (I won't go into detail here), but those can only help so much. This season's team isn't the best I've had to work with, but it's not the worst either. As usual, lack of quality depth is the biggest problem.


As a scout for the three U.S. teams, how much time do you spend doing this?

Since I've been managing the U18 National Hockey Team for a long team I've U18 teams that included players that are now into their 30's. I have about 75 pages of 50 players each in my scouting history (though a lot of the oldest players are no longer active, and it also includes a handful of staff members and foreign players). I generally go through every player, select the ones that are sufficiently good enough to be close enough to warrant consideration (making sure to provide enough enough depth and diversity of player types so that the I don't effectively end up making the selections myself), organize them by position, and note down the pertinent information. Overall it takes 5-10 hours to produce a shortlist of 100-200 players. Since I am probably the only person who has all of the players that made or could have made the U18 team for about 2 decades in-game, I feel like I should provide scouting information for the managers that lack that information, at least once I can settle on a night to spend preparing that information. I've helped pretty much all of the U.S. Senior National Hockey Team managers scout since I've started to have scouting information for players over 21 through scouting for the U18 team.

When I started, we had a website to save time, but it died and also relied on managers volunteering to send the information for their players. After it died, I asked a player with some website development experience to develop a new one that would take a link to a player and produce a scouting report. It was very useful for a while, but eventually that manager quit and the website died off. I still had to go through sending 1,000+ links to the website, so it didn't ultimately cut down the time required too much, even if it provided a nice format for viewing the players. I also didn't like relying on other managers to always send the information for their players, so I ended up doing the scouting myself. With this in mind, as well as the time to build a website and the cost to maintain it, I wouldn't really recommend building a new one for the U.S. A shared google doc could eliminate the cost and perhaps some of the time, however, when I helped work on one for the U.S. Senior Basketball Team, the manager randomly quit one day and took away access. I had luckily backed up the google doc on excel on my computer, but I'd be leary about the (hopefully remote) possibility of going through that again


Do you work with in collaboration with other managers?

I usually work with the senior and U20 manager. I currently have the U20 manager as my assistant so he can more easily keep track of the upcoming class. I provide player scouting for new senior managers and U20 managers. Senior and U20 managers sometimes end up taking the scouting into their own hands a few seasons into the job once they've had the opportunity to catch up with the scouting. I have in the past heavily consulted my assistant managers about tactics, but it can be hard to find someone interested in spending a lot of time discussing tactics, especially for more than a few seasons. The manager of the Razorback Thugs has frequently provided advice about tactics and player training. I also work with managers of starters on the team to optimize training. Interested U.S. managers have in the past and are always welcome to provide feedback in the U18 forum. I have in the past had scouts to use google translate to keep track of the U18 hockey forums of other countries the U.S. might face in the World Championships (I usually take care of this myself). From time to time, useful information has been gleaned from those forums. Finally, I have asked other U.S. managers to scout the rosters of potential opponents. This has helped determine how other teams train shooting and defensemen, and if they have an especially bad player starting. On a few occasions, U18 teams have tried to play players out of position to manipulate their team strength into looking weaker than it actually is before the tournament (sometimes this also happens with an inactive NT manager). I haven't been asking for the opponent scouting recently because it's a lot of work and doesn't necessarily provide enough value to make a difference. If I have 6 opponents scouted, I might discover an opportunity to adjust my line matchups against one of them, and then the RNG and team strength still end up affecting 75% of the result.

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