Seeding and Rankings Debate

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jamesofptfs
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Seeding and Rankings Debate

Post by jamesofptfs » Wed Aug 31, 2011 7:42 pm

I took issue with the system of qualification, seedings and ranking in the Open Singles event at The Barrels and expressed my opinions to Joe and Rich but thought it was important to open these to debate given their implications for the outcomes of tournaments and their fairness. I would stress I am not questioning how well the tournament was run - it was a huge success and everyone had fun so in many ways my points are of little consequence.

For those who weren't there or didn't realise at the time, there were 5 groups with 8 or 9 players in each and 3 qualifying from each plus one 4th place finisher making a total of 16 advancing to the knockout stages. All players were seeded initially for groups by being placed into sets of 5 (set A seeds 1-5, set B seeds 6-10 etc) then randomly (I believe) assigned to groups much like the Rugby World Cup, Football World Cup/ European Championships qualification and so on. After qualification, however, players were seeded for the knockout again by their BFA rank.

Issue 1 - SEEDING TWICE BY BFA RANK IS UNFAIR AGAINST NEW AND INFREQUENT TOURNAMENT PLAYERS
I understand I have possibly a difference of opinion here to those involved in discussion at the time - Rich, Tom, Joe etc and am interested to hear how any of them can justify it.

It was not fair to seed players by rank for the knockout rather than by their performance in their group. This penalises lower ranked players twice. Phil (a semi pro) suffered under the system - he is a better player than his rank but due to it had to get through a group with a pro and a pro master. He won all his matches including beating Jon May and topped the group but because of the system was penalised again. He lost to Simon, the number 5 seed where he might well have beat a 3rd place finisher in a group and made it to the quarter finals where prize money begins. Likewise, as the lowest ranked player to qualify, no matter how well I performed in groups I would have faced Tom Burdett in the round of 16. I was trapped by my rank. I know you can argue that if I can't beat Tom and Phil can't beat Simon then we wont win the tournament anyway but the fact is there is £50 on us getting to the last 8 which I could live off for a week.

Although I acknowledge some seeding is necessary, efforts like this must be made in future to make sure we don't have a protectionist system which favours too much the higher ranked players over new, up and coming players. It doesn't have to be manufactured to be Tom against Jon in every final - yes if they both won their groups it can be set up to happen in theory but Jon only coming 2nd in his group should have opened new possibilities.

Issue 2 - RANKING AND QUALIFICATION DID NOT ADJUST ACCORDING TO GROUP SIZE

In theory, if groups are entirely seeded, a group with 9 teams (players) is as easy to qualify from as a group with 8 teams as the 9th team are among the worst in the tournament and will probably lose at least to all who qualify (much like Andorra in football qualification). I believe 4th place team qualification was done on number of wins whereas in order for it to be fair I think results against the bottom placed team in larger groups should be removed to make all groups comparable. Similarly, ranking should be done position in groups and not wins so everyone who finished 5th in a group for example would be ranked T-21. There was also a group that was reduced to 7 players as one was absent - I don't know if those matches were considered forfeits and 7-2 results or if people in that group were unfairly hit in rankings.

Issue 3 - TRANSPARENCY

Decisions at the competition were taken after group stages were completed as often seems to happen with events beyond OS and OD at competitions. The format that was chosen at this event favoured all those who were making the decision. I'm not saying this was deliberate but these things should be clearly decided beforehand so they aren't put in an awkward moral position and to avoid complaints from people who the system works against. Perhaps the BFA should have a more clear and exhaustive set of rules or guidelines.


I'm interested to hear what people think. My opinion is that while people just playing in a competition don't necessarily even notice what is going on, if they were actually called to think about the consequences of it would realise the importance of making the system fair and clear at big national tournaments.

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Re: Seeding and Rankings Debate

Post by Bundy Volume 1 » Wed Aug 31, 2011 8:39 pm

jamesofptfs wrote:Perhaps the BFA should have a more clear and exhaustive set of rules or guidelines.
When the TCC approves a tournament for ranking status we back all aspects of the tournament - including the tournament director's ability to run the tournament to standard. There are many counter-opinions for many aspects of a tournament, and it is not the place of the BFA to impose the majority opinion of the committee, on these, to all UK tournaments. We do our best to ensure tournaments are of a certain standard - by approving those that we have faith will be - and different ways of approaching a situation do not necessarily mean a difference in the basic standard of the action. In many cases there is no completely 'right' answer.

From an BFA official pov, and as a player at Hereford (where I was negatively affected by BFA ranking seeding in both OS +OD) and as an experienced TD, I have complete faith that the tournament director made unbiased decisions that were best for the tournament and it's unique aspects.

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Re: Seeding and Rankings Debate

Post by Jonathan may » Wed Aug 31, 2011 8:44 pm

For the record, I totally agree with James and raised these issues myself at the time (and have previously).
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Re: Seeding and Rankings Debate

Post by Jude » Wed Aug 31, 2011 10:05 pm

Jonathan May wrote:I totally agree with James
Ditto

What James has described is patently unjust... I'd be concerned if it was allowed to happen again...

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Re: Seeding and Rankings Debate

Post by ybbun » Wed Aug 31, 2011 10:22 pm

I also agree with James, and I think it's worth adding a couple of other things under the "transparency" issue:

Issue 3a - The total number of qualifiers should be decided before the group stage
A few times, the person running the tournament changed the number of qualifiers during the group stage so that they would qualify.

Issue 3b - The method for breaking ties should be decided before the group stage
I remember once, using goal difference would put one person through, and head-to-head someone else. It was decided to use head-to-head, because the person it benefited was more likely to complain to the desk if the decision went against them.

You also need to decide how 3-way ties will be split, how to adjust goal difference with forfeits and different numbers of players in each group, etc., as these questions always come up.

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Re: Seeding and Rankings Debate

Post by ed_taylor » Wed Aug 31, 2011 11:02 pm

ybbun wrote:I also agree with James, and I think it's worth adding a couple of other things under the "transparency" issue:

Issue 3a - The total number of qualifiers should be decided before the group stage
A few times, the person running the tournament changed the number of qualifiers during the group stage so that they would qualify.

Issue 3b - The method for breaking ties should be decided before the group stage
I remember once, using goal difference would put one person through, and head-to-head someone else. It was decided to use head-to-head, because the person it benefited was more likely to complain to the desk if the decision went against them.

You also need to decide how 3-way ties will be split, how to adjust goal difference with forfeits and different numbers of players in each group, etc., as these questions always come up.
Good points. In agreement with these and those from James.

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Re: Seeding and Rankings Debate

Post by Teeb » Wed Aug 31, 2011 11:18 pm

James,

You are right to query the method of seeding after groups, this has been discussed many many times since I started playing 5 or 6 years ago and I'm sure before then too. Here are my thoughts.

There are two main reasons why seeding from group results should not be used:

1) Pro players end up having very unenjoyable matches against beginners and vice versa. If a pro knows he/she will be seeded from goal average they will try to win every game to nil and take each match far more seriously. It is no fun for the pro, the pressure not to concede is great, and every bit of slop is like a dagger to the heart. It is also no fun for the beginner who ends up leaving the table having been humiliated and disheartened, it is not fun foos!

2) The difference in goal difference between the qualifying players is likely to be very small and the influence of one or two fluky goals can have an unacceptably large effect on the seeding. Essentially it turns the seeding of the KO into a lottery.

Tom

edit: I agree with your issues 2 and 3

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Re: Seeding and Rankings Debate

Post by jamesofptfs » Thu Sep 01, 2011 12:43 am

Tom,

I am not proposing that goal difference be used except where it is unavoidable where players who are in the same group have the same number of wins and cannot be separated by head to head. I acknowledge that goal difference is not good for seeding as you want to give novices a chance and it depends more on how bad novice players in a group are over how well you have played. Only group position would matter.

The working of what I would have proposed are as follows: players ranked 1 to 5 are automatically put into groups so seed 1 is in group A, seed 2 is in group B and so on. The knockout stage would be set up so that if the top seeds win their group then seeds 4 and 5 would meet in the quarters, seeds 2 and 3 would meet in the semis while seed 1 would meet the winner of seeds 4/5 and therefore if it goes to form seeds 1 and 2 would meet in the final. However, these positions are allocated to the winner of the group from which the seed originated; goal difference is not involved at all. Likewise, the 1st knockout round opponents of the group winners would be made up from the 4th place finisher and 4 of the 3rd place finishers - who would be randomly assigned allowing for them not meeting someone from their group. The remaining 3 quarter finals would be made up of the 2nd place finishers and a remaining 3rd place finisher (who would get that right either by points and goal difference or if that is disliked, as a randomly drawn 3rd place finisher). Again these would be randomly drawn against opposition making sure the 3rd place finisher does not play the 2nd place finisher from their group. The formula could be worked to ensure players do not meet those from their group until the semi final with more thought (but it is late and I'd rather watch the cricket highlights!).

This as far as I can see would have been the best system. I can't see any of the fairness flaws of the magnitude of those in the double ranking system.

James

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Re: Seeding and Rankings Debate

Post by Bundy Volume 1 » Thu Sep 01, 2011 8:39 am

I'm not going to get too involved in this debate as it has all been said before and just going over old ground really. But a couple of quick points.

James - at Hereford seeding group placings the same wouldn't have been close to fair. This would have resulted in Matt Price being the same seed as Jon May - and which of those you would have faced would be random in your system. Jon still won more games, with both in groups of 9, and had a much better GD. No disrespect intended there, but there is a bit of a difference between a good semi-pro and one of the countries top Garlando players.
This is why I don't have any great desire to get too involved - as there is no right answer to this problem, and every solution has positives and negatives. So debates tend to go round in circles.

Also, pre-event planning is very difficult due to not knowing tournament attendance. Rich said about 9/10 people pre-reg'd with a total turn out ending up to be 50. Numbers were unknown to him - so how could he have known how many should have been in each group and how many to take through to make sure people get the most amount of games whilst still allowing the tournament to run on time. Making the decisions at the time, seeing how things progressed, allowed him to do this brilliantly. If he had not done so, the tournament would have been poorer imo.

I completely back allowing TDs to make judgement calls on the day and not being tied by pre-event decisions that might not be the best in varying tournament situations.

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Re: Seeding and Rankings Debate

Post by Teeb » Thu Sep 01, 2011 10:50 am

James,

Your suggestion is a better one than I thought you were suggesting but still has some problems (as do all methods to some degree).

Using your proposal the seedings will still be dependent on results of very short format matches (1-7 in the case of Hereford). It would be far too easy for some n00b (I hope he reads this) to fluke a win against Jon May in a short format match and, therefore, make the seedings for the knockouts ridiculous.

Tom

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Re: Seeding and Rankings Debate

Post by ed_taylor » Thu Sep 01, 2011 3:54 pm

Joe Bundy wrote:
James - at Hereford seeding group placings the same wouldn't have been close to fair. This would have resulted in Matt Price being the same seed as Jon May ..... No disrespect intended there, but there is a bit of a difference between a good semi-pro and one of the countries top Garlando players.
There is absolutely no problem with this. No offence at all to Jon, but a player's final result at one of these tournaments should be as a result of their performance at the tournament alone. If 'one of the country's top Garlando players' or any other pro has a bad day, and doesn't perform as well as they'd hoped, then their final result should reflect this. If someone beats them, they should feel rewarded. The quote above clearly highlights your opinion that your knockout seeding should be a result of your rank and therefore previous ability, and it seems that you would think it ridiculous if a semi-pro be given the same level of opportunity to win the tournament as a pro master.

At hereford, James stood no chance whatsoever of winning the tournament based on how it was seeded at the knockout stage (regardless of how well he'd played, therefore not getting the result he deserves), but if Jon had been seeded the same as a semi-pro, he stands a far greater chance of achieving the result he deserves (he'll probably get to the final regardless). This is especially the case as the format is longer in later rounds, with more games etc. so it is much less likely for a n00b to fluke a win.

I competed at judo for 3 years at a national level and the format at these competitions was seeded groups based on grade, and then after the group stages, the group winners going through etc. grade meant nothing. There is all to play for. The groups were often larger, making things a bit easier, but if a highly graded fighter didn't do so well in the groups, then tough- as a result he would have to to work harder if he wanted to win. If you lost after that, you had pretty much the foosball double elimination system, with a few tweaks. The best people still always ended up winning. There should be no reason why your previous success should cushion you if you slip up and fall (in this case, literally).

edit: And yes this did sometimes result in for example the 1st and 2nd top players in the country at the time having to fight eachother straight out of group stages, (whoever lost that fight could still end up winning the tournament in the end anyway), and it made the tournament all quite exciting to watch and follow for those fighting and spectating. The crowd were forced to imagine the excitement if the number 1were to end up getting knocked out in the round after groups.
Last edited by ed_taylor on Thu Sep 01, 2011 4:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Seeding and Rankings Debate

Post by Bundy Volume 1 » Thu Sep 01, 2011 4:03 pm

Haha, good missing out of a section of that quote which does a bit to go against your point. Classic. :wink:
Ed wrote:and it seems that you would think it ridiculous if a semi-pro be given the same level of opportunity to win the tournament as a pro master
Please read what I wrote again and I think you'll retract this. What I said was that it may be unfair to one 3rd seed player (for example) to play off against Jon where another, who may not have done as well, would play an SP player. Just pointing out that no system is completely right and fair.

Also, please stop using 'your seeding' when making reference to seeding by BFA rank and me. I wasn't TD at Hereford and fwi I have never seeded by BFA ranking myself in a KO stage. But I completely back Rich as a TD and thus his decision to use it at Hereford.

And it now seems this has gone the way of many Britfoos 'debates' and just got to angry posts. So I'm done.

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Re: Seeding and Rankings Debate

Post by ed_taylor » Thu Sep 01, 2011 4:10 pm

Joe, i'll rewrite that sentence the way it should have read!

The quote above clearly highlights your opinion that a player's knockout seeding should be a result of a player's rank and therefore previous ability, and it seems that you would think it ridiculous if a semi-pro be given the same level of opportunity to win the tournament as a pro master.

Im not at all trying to imply what you thought!

edit:
Plus, the section of quote which I omitted concerns James' 'Issue 2' rather than the point I am trying to make concerning 'Issue 1'. While they are loosely related, (and I admit that when I describe a players' 'performance at the tournament/group stages', it carries the question 'how should we judge a player's performance at the tournament/group stages' which is Issue 2.).

edit 2: Obviously Joe I know you have the best interests of the tournament at heart. I apologise for my rather aggressive use of persuasive language in this hot debate!
Last edited by ed_taylor on Thu Sep 01, 2011 4:34 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Seeding and Rankings Debate

Post by Matt Price » Thu Sep 01, 2011 4:17 pm

Joe Bundy wrote:
James - at Hereford seeding group placings the same wouldn't have been close to fair. This would have resulted in Matt Price being the same seed as Jon May ..... No disrespect intended there, but there is a bit of a difference between a good semi-pro and one of the countries top Garlando players.
I agree with everything that has been said by James and the comments above by Ed.

Joe, your quote does nothing but support James' argument as it demonstrates that I was in the same position as he was. I had to play Steve Lyall in the knockouts, but based on the group seedings I would have been playing a lower ranked opponent.

This essentially worked to ensure that higher ranked players placed where they 'should'.

And Tom, with respect, while I appreciate that goal difference can and does have an impact, with seeded groups it shouldn't matter as long as you achieve the wins. The highest seed *should* win all their games, the next highest *should* therefore win all but one and so on. If they don't manage to do this then they have underperformed or been outplayed. (or fluked - either way, it's still a valid win.)

People who perform well and win their groups should be given an incentive for doing so, else we may well have just played group games for fun and sent through the 4 highest seeds...

And by the way, the comment 'going over old ground' pops up way too often on these forums for my liking. If (different) people repeatedly question something then clearly it's because there are problems with it that multiple people can see. Merely ignoring issues because they have been discussed and ignored before is not an acceptable way of progressing.

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Re: Seeding and Rankings Debate

Post by Boris » Thu Sep 01, 2011 4:23 pm

As a general principle, Groups + SKO competitions should have the group stages seeded by BFA rank, but the KO draws seeded by performance in the qualifiers (fewest defeats then most wins).

However there are legitimate reasons for departing from this formula, notably to avoid teams who played each other in the groups meeting again until the later stages of the knockout, e.g for 5x groups with 16x qualifiers, groups ABC having 1 more team than groups DE, the following KO draw would avoid teams from the same group meeting in the KO stage until at least the semi-finals.

A1 v best 4th place
D2 v B2
> Finalist 1
D1 v C3
E1 v B3

E2 v A3
C1 v D3
> Finalist 2
C2 v A2
B1 v E3

If seeding on the basis of BFA rank was used for the knockout this shouldn't really have happened, maybe we need clarification such as a BFA Sport Code to specify how these things should be dealt with in future. It is far too late to do anything about it at this stage.

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Re: Seeding and Rankings Debate

Post by potts » Thu Sep 01, 2011 4:58 pm

Not going to get into this too much...

Firstly, all decisions weren't made lightly. They were made under the advice of numerous experienced TD's etc.
The interest of both new and old players were taken into account.

Secondly, the amount of people taken through the groups was decided beforehand

Thridly,...
The format that was chosen at this event favoured all those who were making the decision.
This is very insulting for a start. Although I don't have to justify myself, FYI, I made sure I did not know who I'd be playing until after I made the decision, so people like you could not accuse me of such things.

Finally...
protectionist system which favours too much the higher ranked players over new, up and coming players.
If you knew anything about the TD (ME) you would know the idea of his decisions being 'protectionist' is hillarious, and once again insulting.

(The points you raised are important, so please dont be discouraged.)

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Re: Seeding and Rankings Debate

Post by Jonathan may » Thu Sep 01, 2011 5:18 pm

Rich - you haven't actually identified why the decisions were made, merely that they were made by consulting numerous experienced TDs. Such as?

Note: I also agree with what you've said in that I think the way these posts attack you is wrong - as I know you would have done everything to prevent this. I am intrigued as to which experienced TD influenced your decision - you may remember when I saw what had been done I was very surprised. I was fully expecting to be seeded lower.

I am suspicious that those "experienced TDs" might well be some of those who benefitted from the decision - this needs clarifying for the sake of transparency. The points raised are worth taking seriously.
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Re: Seeding and Rankings Debate

Post by potts » Thu Sep 01, 2011 8:11 pm

Jon- I appreciate that you understand that I would never compromise fairness for my own personal gain. Thankfully, people that actually know me are aware of this.

In regards to who I consulted - As I made the final decision, it isn't important (especially on a public forum) who I consulted; The final decision rests upon me...no-one else . For what its worth, I felt as though the people I asked gave the answers they felt was right. not the answer that would benefit them the most.

I am not going to 'Name and shame' (as it would become) these people (especially as I feel they did nothing wrong). I always appreciate the opinions of people who have experience in running tournaments. (If you were there I would have asked you as well.) By revealing the identity of these HELPFUL people, I would run the risk of them not wanting to give their advice in the future...this is something I am not willing to risk.

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Re: Seeding and Rankings Debate

Post by Matt Price » Thu Sep 01, 2011 8:41 pm

I think Rich is right. Lets not turn this into a witch hunt and lets not place blame for this. We should use the issues raised to discuss this and hopefully come to some agreement about how formats like this should run in the future.

I think we can and should all fully appreciate that Rich and others did what they felt was best at the time and for the tournament/situation. Personally, I feel that something like this should be covered by BFA rules/regs and should not necessarily be left to the TD - the blame perhaps lies more with the BFA for failing to dictate how this should work. (Yes, I know I said we shouldn't place blame...)

Therefore I am inclined to agree with Boris and to suggest, for the sake of fairness, that a document be drawn up which determines how this structure should work.

At the very least, could this not have been debated/discussed by the TCC when the decision was made to allow it to be ranked? Perhaps in future, the method of seeding should be discussed by the TCC prior to making a decision, as it allows those who have experience about running tournaments to give input and advice in the early stages and well in advance of the running of the tournament.

I also feel that for something like this, I would rather the BFA took it out of the hands of a TD (certainly in BFA ranked tournaments) and appeared too interfering/controlling than have blame placed on a TD.

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Re: Seeding and Rankings Debate

Post by Jonathan may » Thu Sep 01, 2011 9:44 pm

Matt - that's pointless as different members of "the BFA" and different "experienced TDs" clearly have very different opinions. There is no agreement on how to do seeding, so no guidelines can be issued. It rests with the TD.
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