In an attempt to make Fight Night combat tournaments more fair for the players involved, I decided to take inspiration from the ATP Singles Rankings and apply a similar process to Fight Night tournament results. First, the (provisional) points and top 10 ranked players for 2013, then following that some more thoughts and ideas:
|1||Jochen Pfeiffer||2000||9-0||(3) Berlin, EJC, Karlsruhe||(3) Berlin (d. Emil Lamprecht)
EJC (d. Luke Burrage)
Karlsruhe (d. Luke Burrage)
|2||Luke Burrage||1240||9-3||(4) NJF, Berlin, EJC, Karlsruhe||(1) NJF (d. Simon À Campo)||(2) EJC (l. to Jochen Pfeiffer)
Karlsruhe (l. to Jochen Pfeiffer)
|3||Alexander Müller||720||3-3||(3) Berlin, EJC, Karlsruhe||–||–|
|4||Emil Lamprecht||480||2-2||(2) Berlin, EJC||–||(1) Berlin (l. to Jochen Pfeiffer)|
|5||Jonas Gengnagel||450||2-2||(2) Berlin, EJC||–||–|
|6||Matty Schneider||360||2-2||(2) Berlin, Karlsruhe (Q. EJC)||–||–|
|7||Dominik Harant||270||1-2||(2) NJF, EJC||–||–|
|8||Aleksej Laihmanski||250||3-0||(1) Rostock (Q. Berlin, Q. EJC)||(1) Rostock (d. Rufus Oelkers)||–|
|9||Remi de Vos||250||3-0||(1) Brianza (Q. EJC)||(1) Brianza (d. Busk)||–|
|10||Rufus Oelkers||240||2-2||(2) Berlin, Rostock (Q. EJC)||–||(1) Rostock (l. to Aleksej Laihmanski)|
The EJC Fight Night is the most valuable event, with 1000 points for the winner. There are many jugglers looking to qualify for the 8 places in the final, and a lengthly qualification process (this year 13 1-on-1 games to decide qualification and seeding for the final). All matches were played first to 5 points (except the third place match to 3 points):
- Winner: 1000 points.
- Finalist: 600 points.
- Semi-finalist: 360 points.
- Quarter-finalist: 180 points.
Berlin and Karlsruhe Fight Nights were the two second tier events, with the winner taking 500 points. These tournaments held open qualifications immediately before the knockout stage, where the first 8 winners of group (melee) combat going through to the quarter-final matches. Many winners and finalists of previous big tournaments took part in each. All matches were played first to 3 points except the 5 point finals:
- Winner: 500 points.
- Finalist: 300 points.
- Semi-finalist: 180 points.
- Quarter-finalist: 90 points.
The Nederlands Jongleer Festival, Rostock and Brianza were third tier events, with 250 points for the winner. They also used open group combat rounds for qualification. They are worth fewer points due many fewer top players taking part (neither winners of Rostock or Brianza got through qualification at the EJC). All matches were played first to 3 points except the 5 point finals:
- Winner: 250 points.
- Finalist: 150 points.
- Semi-finalist: 90 points.
- Quarter-finalist: 45 points.
Why points and rankings?
At many Fight Night tournaments, there is open qualification, with 8 group combat rounds deciding on who makes it to the quarter-finals. Using “first to qualify as first seed, second to qualify as second seed” is one way to decide who fights who in each round. However, group combat rounds are more random than 1-on-1 matches, and often the best 1-on-1 player doesn’t win the first round. Two examples; at the NJF, the two best players in the tournament met in the semi-final; at the Berlin Fight Night, the two finalists from the previous year met in the first round.
Using points and rankings, the players who qualify in the group combat rounds can be seeded based on previous tournament results, with the two top players meeting in the final, or at least not in the first round. If unranked players qualify (eg. it’s their first tournament) they can then be seeded based on qualification order in the group combat rounds.
At the EJC (and maybe other tournaments in the future) where there is a strict qualification process with many 1-on-1 matches to decide the top eight and their seedings, exact ties in this process can be fairly decided by previous tournament results.
Rankings also enables bragging rights for players. Sounds petty, but maybe it’ll encourage more players to take part more seriously and in more tournaments. At the moment, only me and some other Berlin jugglers know about this points and rankings, but in the future (2014 and beyond) it could become a real race to the top spot for the end of the year.
I hope the points system will encourage more small conventions to host Fight Night events. If they can offer 250 points to the winner, it’ll be an immediate incentive for jugglers to take part.
Problems with the points system (with some solutions).
If player X only competes in two tournaments, winning them both, and player Y competes in ten tournaments, but loses in the first round each time, it’s possible for Y to have a higher rank than X. Does this means Y is better than X?
The ATP system counts the best results from 18 tournaments from the previous 12 months. The top players also have to play in 13 mandatory tournaments (the 2000 and 1000 events), which if they don’t play they receive a zero point score for one of the 18 tournaments. This encourages all players to enter as many tournaments as possible, even if only to better a result from a previous tournament to up their rankings. No player will ever lose points by doing well, or badly, in a higher number of tournaments.
Of course, at the moment there are far fewer Fight Night tournaments, so 18 a year is simply impossible. In the future, if there are more tournaments, there can be a maximum number of tournament points that count towards the final ranking per year (6 or 7, or at least more than the average number of tournaments entered per player), with the EJC Fight Night being a mandatory tournament (it counts in every player’s rankings, even if they are awarded zero points).
This will encourage players to enter as many tournaments as possible, including the highest rated tournaments, but will balance out the better players who win few tournaments with those who merely do well at many more tournaments.
Better ranked players have an advantage in tournaments, as the higher seeding means they face weaker opponents in the earlier rounds. If the same eight players take part in a number of tournaments in a row, the 8th ranked player will always face the 1st ranked player, and never have a chance to face players of a similar level, beat them, progress to the next round, and gain more points. Even if the 8th ranked player could never beat the overall winner, it’s still possible they could beat players ranked 2nd, 3rd, or 4th.
The ATP system solves this problem in two ways:
There are more tournaments than any single player can enter. This means that while the top players have to take part in all the highest value tournaments, players lower down the rankings can enter other smaller tournaments where they are seeded far higher due to the top players not taking part. This allows players to accrue points and climb the rankings without having to face the better players in the earlier rounds each time.
Only half or quarter of all the players taking part in a tournament are seeded, despite all players being ranked. The rest of the places in the knockout tournament are drawn randomly. In an 8 player knockout the top four players can be seeded with their opponents drawn randomly. This means the 8th ranked player is just as likely to face the 1st seed as the 4th seed, but the top two seeds can’t meet until the final.
The second solution is probably the best for most Fight Night tournaments, with either the top four or top two ranked players being seeded. The other places could be assigned randomly or in order of qualification in the group combat rounds.
One other solution open to Fight Night to stop the same four top players meeting in the same way each tournament:
The two players who reach the final match are differentiated in points, with the winner awarded many more. To help differentiate between the two losing semi-finalists, more points could be awarded to the winner of the third place round. So far I haven’t done this, as no players have ever taken the third place match seriously, instead it’s merely used to entertain the audience while the two finalists rest before the last match. Extra points for third place could help the third and fouth ranked/seeded players swap places in the rankings so the 4th ranked doesn’t always have to face the 1st ranked player.
Hopefully a mixture of these three solutions (more smaller tournaments without the top ranked players taking part, random draws for the bottom four players, extra points for third places), should keep the tournaments fresh with different matchups each time.
Sometimes the top players in a tournament are so good that the first rounds are almost foregone conclusions. This can lead to a situation where all four quarter-finals are won 5-0 or 3-0, and that can get pretty boring.
One solution, if there is time, is to have 12 players qualify. The four seeded players get a bye in the first round (the round of “16”). The bottom eight qualifiers then play four matches against each other (randomly drawn) to see who faces the four seeded players in the quarter-final round (these matchups can be drawn randomly too). This allows for well-matched players having a chance to win, with the four best of the bottom eight hopefully being better matched against the four seeded players.
Future plans and visions.
This points and ranking system is still very much a work in progress. However, as long as I keep recording the results of Fight Night tournaments, it will become more and more useful. I’m going to need all the information from all the organizers of every Fight Night to keep the system fair and up to date.
The more tournaments, the better! Any convention or event should be able to host an Fight Night tournament, and should be able to award points to all the qualifying players. The basic level would be a 250 tournament for any small convention, or 500 for a larger convention with a greater number of established players.
I’ll write up a guide to running a Fight Night tournament and some (very basic) rules to keep roughly the same standard across different events.
The ATP has lower point tournaments for lower ranked players to increase their points without facing top ranked players:
The “Challenger” tournaments are worth 125, 110, 100, 90 or 80 points to the winner. I’d like non-Fight Night tournaments to take place, and not allow any of the top ranked players to take part (for example, none of the top 8 or 16 ranked players in the world). These tournaments could take place during the day at juggling conventions, and don’t have to be a “show” event or have an audience. They could even take place at conventions where Fight Nights are happening, without the top ranked players being able to take part.
The ATP also counts “Futures” tournaments, for young players and non-professionals (worth 35, 27 or 18 points to the winner) to help qualify for Challenger tournaments. A similar level of 3 club combat tournament could take place a few times per year at every juggling club or meeting in indivual cities, with a maximum number of such tournaments counting towards a player’s points total. Four such tournaments per year per player should help anyone who wants to get into the rankings do so. These points won’t trouble the top players, as such low point tournaments would never be a top result and count towards their final points.
Based on the ATP system, I plan to make two different rankings in 2014. The first will be based on points earned only in 2014. The second will be for the previous 12 months of tournaments, with the points awarded for the 2013 tournament dropping from every player’s totals the moment the 2014 tournament at the same convention are awarded. If a 2013 Fight Night doesn’t repeat in 2014, the points will drop from 2013 tournament at the end of the month.
I’ll post the points and rankings each time they are updated. Not sure where, but it’ll be some place public.
At the moment all qualifications for Fight Night tournaments take place at the same convention, either with a separate qualification event or rounds of group combat immediately before the Fight Night itself. In the future, once more Fight Nights and smaller tournaments take place, maybe the seeded players need not go through qualification, instead relying on their existing points and rankings. This means that fewer qualification group combat rounds are needed, leaving more time for a “round of 16” to decide who faces the four seeds. Alternatively, non-seeded players could have an earlier qualification tournament without the results being dominated by the top seeds. Or the entire tournament is based entirely on invitations/wildcard entries (though a non-open tournament would be a lower point tournament compared to a tournament with open qualification).
The points awarded at ATP tournaments aren’t just linked to the size of the tournament, but also to the prize money. Maybe in the future some tournament organizers could arrange cash prizes for everyone taking part, as an incentive for top players to travel to the host convention. Reimbursement of travel expenses and ticket price would be a good place to start. I know I’d go to more conventions if they weren’t a financial drain. A way for Fight Night organizers to guarantee their tournament becomes a 500 or 1000 level event would be to offer meaningful prizes to all those who qualify for the knockout rounds.
I’d love to organize a final tournament near the end of the year, some year, and invite the top 8 players to take part in an extended battle for a year end mega-title. This will give all players something to aim towards during the entire year of Fight Nights. Not just the year end number one, but eight players will have the chance to be the final champion at the most exclusive and high level event. Maybe in 2014, maybe in 2015, who knows?
So, who’s with me?
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