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Staking v4


Staking and delegation are processes that evolve over time. No system has to remain static. Our assumptions about how the market works and reacts can change, just as user behavior and market dynamics may evolve. Currently, we have approximately 400 validators, with some acting as staking providers and others as individual validator operators. While most nodes have a comfortable top-up on the base stake of 2.500 eGLD, some do not contribute to the network's security by adding more top-up.

Limitations of the Current Implementation

  • Limiting the number of nodes to 3200, creating an additional queue. New validators can join the network only if someone leaves the system.
  • Concentration of power among large providers, hindering decentralization. Top 11 staking agencies control 33%.

One of our primary objectives is to eliminate the additional queue and leverage the top-up value per node to determine the best nodes. This ensures that we do not restrict the entry of new validators, as the current system requires an old validator to leave for a new one to enter. The market will determine the actual node price, operating as a soft auction where anyone paying the node price (2.500 eGLD) can register, but the node becomes a validator only if it has sufficient top-up. The shuffling from the waiting list to the eligible list remains unaffected, focusing solely on selecting nodes from the auction list to the waiting list.

This approach, known as a Soft Auction, democratizes the validator system, transforming it into a free market.

The selection process for the best X nodes from the auction into the "to be shuffled into waiting" list can be executed in two ways.

The first and easy version is a strict selection where all nodes from the auction list are sorted based on their topUp, and only the first ones are selected.

This approach is strict, requiring validators to manage their number of nodes if their topUp is close to the selection threshold. The topUp is computed as TotalStake/NumberOfNodes - 2.500 eGLD. If a validator registers more nodes, their topUp per node decreases. For example:

  • 10 nodes, 50.000 eGLD = 2.500 eGLD topUp per node
  • 20 nodes, 50.000 eGLD = 0 eGLD topUp per node

In this scenario, if a staking provider registers all 20 nodes, they will be at the end of the list in case of an auction selection. If only 320 nodes out of 340 can be selected, and every other node has at least 1 eGLD topUp on each of them, none of the 20 nodes from this staking provider will be selected.

Since this selection occurs at the end of every epoch, staking providers near the topUp limit must continually monitor and adjust their nodes, unstaking or staking nodes based on the topUp per node of other providers. Sorting nodes based on topUp does not provide adequate protection for staking providers, requiring constant supervision and action.

The second version, currently implemented and explained in the following chapters, addresses the shortcomings of the first version.

Current Implementation


Please note that the numbers below are indicative and only used to better exemplify the model.

In the current implementation (staking 3.5), we have:

  1. A capped number of 3200 nodes in the network, including:
    • 1600 active/eligible validators globally, split into 400 nodes per shard
    • 1600 waiting validators globally, split into 400 nodes per shard
  2. An uncapped FIFO queue where newly staked nodes are placed and await participation in the network.

Currently, a queued node can participate in the network only if an existing node is either unstaked or jailed.

Current Staking

Nodes are distributed in the following steps:

  1. Randomly shuffle out 80 eligible validators for each shard, resulting in 320 (80 validators per 4 shards) shuffled-out validators.
  2. Select these 320 shuffled-out validators to be randomly but evenly distributed at the end of each shard's waiting list.
  3. For each shard, replace the previously shuffled-out validators with 80 waiting validators from the top of each shard's waiting list.

In the current implementation, each node, regardless of its top-up, has equal chances of participating in the consensus. Starting with staking phase 4, the probability of validators entering the validation process will be significantly influenced by the amount of their staked top-up. Validators with a higher staked top-up will have considerably greater chances of participation, while those with little or no top-up will find their chances of entering into validation markedly reduced.

Staking V4

Staking phase 4 will unfold in three consecutive steps, each corresponding to a specific epoch.

Staking v4. Step 1.

In the first step, we will completely remove the staking queue and place all nodes in an auction list. This process will occur automatically at the end of the epoch and requires no interaction from validators. Nodes' distribution remains unchanged.

Staking V4 Step 1

Important notes

Starting with this epoch:

  • Every newly staked node will be placed in the auction list.
  • Every unjailed node will be placed in the auction list.
  • The number of new nodes that can be staked is uncapped.
  • Owners with insufficient base staked EGLD for their nodes will have them removed at the end of the epoch in the following order: auction -> waiting -> eligible.

For example, if an owner has insufficient base stake for their nodes, the nodes will be removed from the network at the end of the epoch based on the order: auction -> waiting -> eligible. This ensures that nodes contributing to the ecosystem with a healthy top-up will not be adversely affected.

Below is an example of how nodes are unstaked based on insufficient base stake. Suppose an owner has four nodes:

  • 1 eligible: node1
  • 2 waiting: node2, node3
  • 1 auction: node4

Assuming a minimum price of 2500 EGLD per staked node, the owner should have a minimum base stake of 10,000 EGLD (4 * 2500 EGLD). If, during the epoch, the owner unstakes 4000 EGLD, resulting in a base stake of 6000 EGLD, only two staked nodes can be covered. At the end of the epoch, the nodes node4 and node3 will be unstaked in the specified order.

Staking v4. Step 2.

In the second step, all shuffled-out nodes from the eligible list will be sent to the auction list. Waiting lists will not be filled by any shuffled-out nodes.

Using the example above, this will resize each waiting list per shard from 400 nodes to 320 nodes.

Staking V4 Step 2

Staking v4. Step 3.

Starting with this epoch:

  • Maximum number of nodes in the network will be changed from 3200 to 2880 (3200 - 320), consisting of:
    • a global number of 1600 active/eligible validators, split into 400 nodes/shard
    • a global number of 1280 waiting validators to join the active list, split into 320 nodes/shard
  • All shuffled out nodes from the eligible list will be sent to the auction list to take part in the auction selection. The more topUp an owner has, the higher the chances of having their auction nodes selected will be.
  • Based on the soft auction selection (see the next section), all qualified nodes from the auction will be distributed to the waiting list (depending on the available slots). The other unqualified nodes will remain in the auction and wait to be selected in the next epoch if possible. The number of available slots is based on the number of shuffled-out nodes and other nodes leaving the network (e.g.: unstake/jail). It guarantees that the waiting list is filled, and the nodes' configuration is maintained.
  • Distribution from the waiting to the eligible list will remain unchanged.

Staking v4. Soft Auction Selection Mechanism

Nodes from the auction list will be selected to be distributed in the waiting list based on the soft auction mechanism. For each owner, based on their topUp, we compute how many validators they would be able to run by distributing their total topUp per fewer nodes (considering we would not select all of their auction nodes, but only a part of them). This mechanism ensures that for each owner, we select as many nodes as possible, based on the minimum required topUp to fill theavailable slots. This is a global selection, not per shard. We preselect the best global nodes at the end of the epoch.

Suppose we have the following auction list, and 3 available slots:

| Owner | Num staked nodes | Num active nodes | Num auction nodes | Total top up | Top up per node | Auction list nodes |
| owner1 | 3 | 2 | 1 | 3669 | 1223 | pubKey1 |
| owner2 | 3 | 1 | 2 | 2555 | 851 | pubKey2, pubKey3 |
| owner3 | 2 | 1 | 1 | 2446 | 1223 | pubKey4 |
| owner4 | 4 | 1 | 3 | 2668 | 667 | pubKey5, pubKe6, pubKe7 |

For the configuration above:

  • Minimum possible topUp per node = 667, considering owner4 will have all of his 3 auction nodes selected
    • owner4's total top up/(1 active node + 3 auction nodes) = 2668 / 4 = 667
  • Maximum possible topUp per node = 1334, considering owner4 will only have one of his auction nodes selected
    • owner4's total top up/(1 active node + 1 auction node) = 2668 / 2 = 1334

Based on the above interval: [667, 1334], we compute the minimum required topUp per node to be qualified from the auction list. We gradually increase from min to max possible topUp per node with a step, such that we can fill the available slots. At each step, we compute for each owner what's the maximum number of nodes that they could run by distributing their total topUp per fewer auction nodes, leaving their other nodes as unqualified in the auction list. This is a soft auction selection mechanism, since it is dynamic at each step and does not require owners to "manually unstake" their nodes so that their topUp per node would be redistributed (and higher). This threshold ensures that we maximize the number of owners that will be selected, as well as their number of auction nodes.

In this example, if we use a step of 10 EGLD in the [667, 1334] interval, the minimum required topUp per node would be 1216, such that:

| Owner | Num staked nodes | TopUp per node | Total top up | Num auction nodes | Num qualified auction nodes | Num active nodes | Qualified top up per node | Selected auction list nodes |
| owner1 | 3 | 1223 | 3669 | 1 | 1 | 2 | 1223 | pubKey1 |
| owner2 | 3 | 851 | 2555 | 2 | 1 | 1 | 1277 | pubKey2 |
| owner3 | 2 | 1223 | 2446 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 1223 | pubKey4 |
| owner4 | 4 | 667 | 2668 | 3 | 1 | 1 | 1334 | pubKey5 |
  • owner1 possesses one auction node, pubKey1, with a qualified topUp per node of 1223, surpassing the threshold of 1216.
  • owner2 holds two auction nodes, pubKey2 and pubKey3, with a topUp per node of 851. By leaving one node (pubKey3) in the auction while selecting only one (pubKey2), the topUp per node is rebalanced to 1277 ( 2555/2), exceeding the minimum threshold of 1216.
  • owner3 has one auction node, pubKey4, with a qualified topUp per node of 1223, surpassing the threshold of 1216.
  • owner4 possesses three auction nodes, pubKey5, pubKey6, and pubKey7, with a topUp per node of 667. By leaving two nodes (pubKey6, pubKey7) in the auction while selecting only one (pubKey5), the topUp per node is rebalanced to 1334 (2668/2), exceeding the minimum threshold of 1216.

If the threshold were increased by one more step from 1216 to 1226, only two nodes, pubKey2 and pubKey5, would qualify, which is insufficient to fill all slots.


If an owner has multiple nodes in the auction, but only a portion is selected for distribution in the waiting list, the selection will be based on sorting the BLS keys.


The minimum required topUp per node, along with the real-time auction list, is accessible in the explorer at all times. This allows owners to determine the optimal strategy for maximizing the number of selected auction nodes.

Finally, validators are sorted based on the qualified topUp per node, and the selection is made considering available slots. In instances where two or more validators share the same topUp (e.g., pubKey1 and pubKey4), the selection process is random but deterministic. The selection involves an XOR operation between the validators' public keys and the current block's randomness. This mechanism prevents validators from "minting" their BLS keys to gain an advantage in selection, as the randomness is only revealed at the time of selection.

| Owner | Registered key | Qualified TopUp per node |
| owner4 | pubKey5 | 1334 |
| owner2 | pubKey2 | 1277 |
| owner1 | pubKey1 | 1223 |
| owner3 | pubKey4 | 1223 |

Following the example above, there are two nodes with a qualified top-up of 1223 per node:

  • owner1 with 1 BLS key = pubKey1
  • owner3 with 1 BLS key = pubKey4

Assuming the result of the XOR operation between their BLS keys and randomness is:

  • XOR1 = pubKey1 XOR randomness = [143...]
  • XOR2 = pubKey4 XOR randomness = [131...]

Since XOR1 > XOR2, pubKey1 will be selected, while pubKey4 remains in the auction list.

Introducing Node Limitations for Enhanced Decentralization

In tandem with the upcoming staking v4 feature, we are implementing a crucial change aimed at fostering decentralization, increasing the Nakamoto coefficient, and reinforcing the principles of a decentralized network.

Dynamic Node Limitation

To achieve our decentralization goals, a cap on the number of nodes an owner can have will be introduced. This limitation is dynamic, recalculated at each epoch, ensuring adaptability to the evolving network conditions.

Impact and Considerations

This restriction primarily affects scenarios where users wish to stake new nodes. If an individual already possesses more nodes than the specified threshold, their existing nodes will not be affected. However, they won't be able to stake additional nodes beyond the limit; only unstaking will be allowed.

Decentralization in Action

This initiative encourages staking providers to critically evaluate their node count. For larger providers, having an excessive number of nodes may lead to a decrease in overall APR. Achieving enough top-up to select numerous nodes from the auction could become challenging.

Proactive Measures

Staking providers are encouraged to strategize accordingly. For instance, they might choose to unstake some nodes themselves or explore collaboration with other small providers. Merging resources can enhance their chances of being selected in the auction, especially for those with limited top-up.

No immediate action is required from users; however, thoughtful consideration of their node portfolio and strategic decisions will play a pivotal role in navigating this shift toward a more decentralized network.


How much topUp should I have as a validator?

The required topUp for validators depends on various factors, including the number of nodes in the auction and the soft auction selection mechanism. The soft auction selection dynamically computes the minimum required topUp per node to qualify for distribution from the auction to the waiting list. To maximize the chances of having auction nodes selected, validators are encouraged to maintain a competitive topUp. Real-time auction list information and the minimum required topUp per node is available in the explorer, allowing validators to strategize effectively.

What happens if there are fewer nodes in the auction than available slots?

In this case, all nodes will be selected, regardless of their topUp.

One of my nodes was sent to auction during stakingV4 step 2. Will I lose rewards?

If one of your nodes is shuffled out into the auction list during step2, it will enter into competition with the other existing nodes. If you have enough topUp, nothing changes, and no rewards will be lost. For owners contributing to the ecosystem and maintaining a sufficient topUp, this change will not have any negative impact. However, if you have low topUp or close to zero, your nodes might be unqualified and remain in the auction list.

Why downsize the waiting list?

Short answer: to keep the APR unchanged.

Before stakingV4, if a node was shuffled out and moved to the waiting list, it was guaranteed to be "idle" (not participating in consensus) for 5 epochs. During this time, the node would not gain any rewards.

During stakingV4 step2, no node from the waiting list is moved to active. If we were to keep the same configuration, a shuffled out node from this step would have to wait 6 epochs until eligible (if selected from the auction) and therefore decreasing the overall APR:

How does the dynamic node limitation work?

The dynamic node limitation is determined by the NodeLimitPercentage, which defines a percentage of the TotalNumOfEligibleNodes from the current epoch. For example, if NodeLimitPercentage is set to 0.005 (0.5%) and the TotalNumOfEligibleNodes for a given epoch is 1600 nodes, this means owners cannot exceed having more than 8 nodes. The specific parameters, including the initial limit and NodeLimitPercentage, can be decided through a governance vote. This ensures community involvement in determining the rules governing node ownership.