In addition to my time playing Avengers Alliance, I also play Marvel: Puzzle Quest. If you are not familiar with the game, it's essentially Bejewelled (or Candy Crush Saga) with a collectible card game mashed over the top. It's a much busier game than MAA, with hour and a half tournaments running frequently, at the same time as special op events and longer (3 day or so) PVP tournaments. While a lot of things from MPQ do not translate well to MAA, and MAA does some things better than MPQ, by virtue of being a somewhat bigger game, there are three things from the PVP that I think could be used in MAA.
In MPQ, you can purchase a shield for use in PVP. A shield blocks you from losing PVP defenses for a set period of time. If I am attacked by someone who would win 20 points from me, if he beats me, he gets 20 points and I lose 0 points.
I cannot make PVP attacks while I am shielded. A PVP attack will drop the shield.
Shields come in various time lengths and cost the premium currency (the equivalent of gold in MAA). The shortest shield is three hours, which represents about 1/24th of the tournament. It costs about 75% of what you can win in the tournament with a very high finish (call it adamantium) and about 150% of what you get with the equivalent of a vibranium finish. Since we only pay gold for gold and above, in a flat rate, a 3 hour shield would be maybe 15-20g. The 8 hour shield costs the full amount of earnable premium currency from a tournament, so, call it 30-50g. The 24 hour shield costs double that, so call it 50-100g.
With the current regime of PVP scoring (flat numbers to make, rather than percentages or rankings to earn), I think these can work better in MAA than MPQ (ranking). While they would allow people to park ranking, they would not do so in a way that would prevent others from gaining ranking or rating. This could lead to some score inflation, potentially a lot, but on the whole, I think a little score inflation is actually acceptable for the game, especially with the type of revenue that would be generated.
Consider a side point. Server load. If the folks who are <150 points above the margin with three hours to go buy a 15g shield, their net cost is 5g (after they win the 10g from a gold+ finish). They will not be able to initiate attacks and maintain their shield, so they will not initiate attacks. That will cause a significant portion of the player base to lock scores early, which will reduce the insanity at the end of the tournament.
The revenue potential is reasonably large, even if it's only liable to be maybe 3% of the playing population. It would also allow players from Europe to sleep on the final day of PVP and still win top prizes. And, it would open more prizes to be won, the revenue loss of which is massively offset by the revenue gain of selling shields.
PVP Rewards - Two Tracks
In Puzzle Quest, there are two tracks of rewards for a PVP event. There is one based on your final ranking, which is a lot like what we have in MAA. There is another based on milestones. Every 100-200 points of rating you acquire, another reward is given. The higher the rating achieved, the better the reward, though there are some currency rewards thrown in the high rating rewards along with gear. You keep these rewards regardless of where you finish, and you do not earn them multiple times for crossing the same threshold multiple times.
In MAA, I look at myself and the comments of others. A lot of players are able to achieve adamantium rating and have it fall away on the final day only to get vibranium or lower rewards. I am able to get to .1% rating, 1750-1900 in PVP, only to have to struggle at the end to maintain 1550 or higher. Since we put in the attacks to get high, shouldn't we reap a reward for our progress.
I'll tell you how this works for me in MPQ. I look at the reward list. The PVP score one is generally the same, while the rewards on the placement list change. If the placement ones are unappealing, I will rush to 500 points (they start from 0) to get the premium currency reward that is offered there, and then let AFK do what it will with my rating. If the prizes in the placement track are to my liking, I will work up to 600, then throw a shield on for the last 3 or 8 hours of the tournament. This gives me incentive to play in every tournament (remember, they have a lot more tournaments) and to churn my currency for the rewards I want.
I believe this to be a better system. In our PVP, the placement rewards would remain the same, along the same structure. The peak rating rewards would be things like, command points, silver, gold, lockboxes, purple points, maybe an exclusive piece of gear at a significant threshold, like 1200. While this would represent a larger prize pool in the tournament, I believe that a larger prize pool would draw more players to participate more fully, leading to larger revenues.