Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Track Queens

What a great weekend for European derby.  So many teams showed the competence of derby on the other side of the pond.  Although it will be a few years before we see another Euro team in the WFTDA playoffs, this tournament showed that time to be drawing closer bit by bit.

How they did

Well, there's final standings, then there's how they really did.  Let's look first at a chart with final standings and initial seedings:
Seed Finish Team
1 1 London
2 2 Berlin
3 3 Stockholm
5 4 Auld Reekie
9 5 Helsinki
10 6 Gent
7 7 Leeds
8 8 Crime city
6 9 Glasgow
4 10 Central City

Helsinki and Gent really outperformed their expectations, with Glasgow and Central City making way for their ascendency.  All in all, not as good a day for UK derby as one may have hoped.

I was asked, though, to re-rank the teams according to my usual calculus.  A regular reader suggested that, although a knockout tournament is very good at selecting the best, it may not be so good at ranking the rest.  Thus, I plugged the scores from the tournament alone into my formula and arrived at the following:
Finish Calc Team Rank Pts
1 1 London 126.1
5 2 Helsinki 99.7
6 3 Gent 96.4
2 4 Berlin 77.8
7 5 Leeds 68.8
8 6 Crime city 64.5
3 7 Stockholm 48.9
9 8 Glasgow 43.5
4 9 Auld Reekie 32.2
10 10 Central City 29.0

Not only did Gent and Helsinki out-perform expectations, they out-performed most of the field!

Take Helsinki, for example.  They lost 1 but won 3.  Only 2 teams held opponents to double-figures scores: Helsinki and London.  That's great company to keep!

This is the problem with using a knockout tournament like this to rank teams.  The team that won definitely is the best; however, the maximum rank for a 1-loss team is determined by when they lose, not actually who they lose to.  A team losing on the 1st day can get, at best, 5th place.  Losing on the 2nd day means you can get, at worst, 4th.  

Two 1-loss teams can have lost to the same team and yet be sorted based on timing, which boils down to seeding.  Consider Helsinki, for example.  Both Helsinki and Berlin lost to only London.  However, Helsinki outscored non-LRG opponents by almost 53 points per bout, whereas Berlin only outscored their opponents by 16 points per bout.

I, as well as my reader, had the feeling that a knockout tournament wasn't the best way of ranking all 10 teams in the field.  This really shows that Helsinki deserve to be considered in the top 3, and Gent have a claim as well.  Well done, you two!

"Running Up the Score"

I know my attitude about a blow-out bout is not commonly supported by skaters.  Skaters want to play against the best their opponent has to offer, and many are concerned that a winning opponent may "take pity" on them.  Ballistic Whistle himself said that he "would never want any team Brawling plays against to go easy on us at all, regardless of what level" and thus would expect his team to do the same against whomever they're playing.

Let me go on record saying I never advocate taking pity on an opponent in competition.  Ever.

I do feel, however, that a blow out bout in which the winning team does nothing different is a missed opportunity.  Trying new skaters, new tactics, new plays in training is only so good.  Try as you might, your own team can't quite be jedi-mind-tricked into not knowing what's coming and reacting naturally.

However, the other team already is.  Even if they've scouted your previous bouts, they don't know what you've got to try out.  Thus, once the game's already in the bag, it's the perfect time to experiment.

This LRG did.  Against Auld Reekie, they gave the star to more than a few skaters I've never seen jam for them before.  This is a huge show of sportsmanship toward your own skaters.  Giving them time to jam on the tournament track in the uniform of the best team in Europe is a massive vote of confidence in them, and shows that London Brawling are more than their top skaters.

As much as I dislike a blow-out bout, I think LRG actually deserve a round of applause for the way they conducted themselves in a tournament that they knew they were going to win by a very large margin.


  1. It says on DNN that LRG didn't jam Kami for the entire second half of Helsinki. So they must have used other jammers in that game too.

    1. Ahh, thank you. Even more sportsmanship points for the M-25 Machine, then!