First off, I understand you are playing devil's advocate here (in the proper sense of the expression now as, unlike Drew, you were NOT part of the team that made these decisions, but are still supposed to defend them). So please do not take any of this as any kind of personal attack. I do, however, feel obliged to express my concerns.
I believe a big part of the reasons behind the mess that was (and still to some degree is) CWII is explained by the thought process behind it. It really looks that, instead of a cohesive and focused vision, it was the result of a brainstorm-like mishmash of ideas, much like a checklist, some of which are in conflict with each other.
Take for instance your first two points: "feel the investment is worth it" and "minimize the mismatches". You may not notice at first, but these two ideas are in clear contradiction to each other. You can't feel your investment gives you an edge unless you allow for mismatches. If you try to match according to level, what's the point of leveling up? I'll just get stronger opponents so no advantage for me (I know it's KL and not card level, but ultimately those are linked). But since you were just trying to tick checkboxes, you just added a weird fix for this: let's remove level caps!
Overall it makes no sense. Instead of a controlled playing field with level caps where players can progress to higher leagues as they level up (and thus reach better rewards, hence "feeling the worth in the investment"), you create a system where no player is safe in any league from fully maxed level 13s, and add this weird KL matchmaking that just opens the door to a multitude of exploits (see level 6 players in legendary II).
And this is justified because "it allows low-level players joining higher league clans". But why should they in the first place? As low-level players doesn't it make sense for them to join lower league clans, and then as they level up move to higher league clans? Or even better, let their own clan organically grow and rise up the ranks as their clanmates level up (instead of keeping them stagnated for months at a time in the same league because of the new progression system for clans)?
And if low-lever players are supposed to join high-level clans without penalty, who is supposed to play in the low-level leagues then? Why would anyone do it (from a rational viewpoint)?
You also claim level caps would "Further fragment the matchmaking pools, which would lead to longer matchmaking times". I fail to see how. Level caps has no effect on the matchmaking pool (unless there is something else going on that's not being explained). What does have this effect, however, is KL matchmaking.
To me, nothing here makes sense. Trying to check too many boxes is like trying to move in multiple directions at the same time. You just don't move. That is what I feel about CWII.
Thanks for the reply and the feedback.
Before anything, I want to say that our job as Community Manager can sometimes be difficult because we must balance what the community wants and what the game team thinks is best (or possible) and explain that in the best way possible.
I don't know Drew's personal opinion about levels cap, but as it was a strong community request at the time (still kind of is), I'm pretty sure that his life would have been easier if it had been implemented. But sometimes, community requests can't be granted for an all lot of reasons.
- Incentive to upgrade
I must insist that the central thing here is that one of the main goals of CW2 was to encourage players to upgrade their cards. We wanted players to upgrade at least a second deck so they could use it on the ladder. This is the key element that you must keep in mind.
- Feel the investment is worth it vs minimize the mismatch
I don't think those two concepts are in contradiction.
You upgrade your cards to get better rewards, climb the ladder, and progress in the game. You say it yourself: "and thus reach better rewards, hence "feeling the worth in the investment"".
Yes, you get stronger opponents because you're becoming stronger, but that's the point of the game. Progress is not based on mismatches. The goal is not to get to level 13 so I can crush level 9, that would not be very healthy. If you follow this logic, why should I upgrade any of my cards, ever?
- Coming back to level cap
If there's a level cap, there's no point in upgrading a card to max if it can only be used up to level 11 in Clan Wars. You just wouldn't be incentivized, and the goal of encouraging players to upgrades more cards would not be met.
- Low-level players in higher leagues
This is not "the" justification (encouraging players to upgrade their cards is), but that would be one of the side-effects. As to why low-level players would join high-level clans, well, there can be many reasons. The important thing is if they want to, they can do it without being penalized. I'm not saying that it's something all low-level players are doing, just that it's not something impossible.
Overall, it just gives players more freedom.
- Matchmaking pool
If you implement a level cap per league, you can only match players within the same league, so the pool is limited. Right now, matchmaking for players is done based on the "war ELO" and KL, no matter the league you're in. So it's wider.
- Exploits and other issues
Players are very inventive when it comes to exploiting the system. Exploits happened in CW1, they are still happening in CW2 and would probably still happen with another system. We're working on fixing them.
Thank you again for expressing your feedback in a constructive way, it's valuable to us. Game design choices are influenced by the "whys" and the kind of behavior we want to encourage for players. I don't think we are in a right vs wrong discussion, level caps are fundamentally not "wrong", just not aligning with the goal we were aiming for.