WHAT IS ITHOL is a browser-based online hockey manager, where you are in control of a prototype of a real hockey club. This is a classic "manager", where you are unable to control the players unlike in a hockey simulator, there is no graphical visualization of the 3D match, but only its broadcast. At the same time, the game has deep strategic component: you have to bear in mind your starting roster, combination of lines and tactics. And economic component as well: your team has a balance that is replenished with sponsorship money, your income from the stadium and player transfers. You spend money to buy players and draft picks, pay salaries and bonuses to players and maintain your stadium.
Duration of one season in the game is 55 days. There are clubs and national teams. Unlike in most managers, clubs are divided into leagues not according to the national rating. This means all leagues in the game are international. The rest of the mechanics are the same. There is the first League (PHL - Primary Hockey League) and lower-rank leagues. To get to a higher league you need to perform exceptionally well in playoffs.
The club season is split into regular season and playoff. Official matches are held every day from midnight to 1 am UTC+3. Each regular season lasts 34 rounds. Each league contains 32 clubs, divided into two conferences - Western and Eastern. Each conference is also formally divided into divisions. The first 8 teams from each conference get into playoffs. Teams which hold places from 13 to 16 in each conference can be kicked out and get to the league below, but not always - it depends on the occupancy of the lower leagues. The playoffs include 4 stages: conference quarterfinals, conference semifinals, conference final and Cup final HOL. There is no stage for the third place. Each stage goes up to 3 wins.
World Championship among national teams is held every season at three levels: adult team, youth (up to 20 years) and junior (up to 18 years). The matches are held at noon UTC+3. The model of the World Championship is the same for each level: 4 groups of 4 teams. The first 2 teams from each group enter playoffs. The world championship runs in parallel with regular seasons playoffs (players can participate in these tournaments simultaneously). Once in four seasons Olympics are held, when club life is suspended.
ROSTER FOR THE MATCH
In many managers, especially football ones, there is such a thing as "Match roster." It needs to be sent to a specific match to participate. Otherwise, the technical defeat will be counted. The HOL made it easier: your current roster is taking part in the next match. To see it, go to the left "Roster- > Main lines". Here you can change tactics and make
replacements. You can save your different rosters (for various types of matches).
Players are prototypes of real hockey players. They have age, abilities, potential and other characteristics which affect their performance in matches and their career. Players develop their abilities through daily training and participation in matches.
BYING AND SELLING PLAYERS
The game offers several ways to get a player to your team. The first option is exchange (transfer, transaction). It is implemented on the principle of NHL, according to which you can use several players within one transaction. The second method is an auction. You go to the auction and bid on the players you like if you have enough money. You can outbid someone else’s bet, just like any other manager can outbid yours. This must be monitored. The third way is free agents. You find a player you like and offer him a contract. After a few days, the player chooses the best option and either joins in or rejects your offer.
Many managers prefer to grow young talents into stars. In HOL, each club has a school. Various indicators of juniors in it are either completely hidden, or depend on the level of your scouting bureau. During the season in the school games are held (you can not directly control the roster or watch the matches). You just see the statistics of your juniors and their training. Based on this data, at the end of the season you are to decide whom you would like to take to the main team. The rest you can let go and get a reward.
The best juniors who were not accepted to main teams are placed into draft, which is held in each league. Such juniors are called prospects. Each team at the beginning of the season holds 3 draftpicks of their league (first round, second and third one). Nothing prevents you from bartering those draftpicks with other leagues. During the season, you can view the prospects available in your league and add them to your list of choices (draft list). Later, during playoffs the first draft round starts, then the second and third ones, in which players are drafted depending on their position in the draft list. In what turn the team chooses, depends on its position in standings. The lower your team is in standings, the earlier you make your choice.
Each club is in posession of a stadium which consists of an arena and other functional buildings. You can invest into your stadium, improving the level of buildings. Each level gives its own bonuses. For example, each new level of training center improves the players’ training.
There are 16 national federations currently present in the game. Just as in reality, the federation is in charge of managing development of hockey in a particular country: it has to follow the juniors, increase their number, control the performance of national teams. The federation has a President who determines the basic policy, appoints national team coaches and accepts new members to the federation.