After reading the tournament rules when the format for the Top X cut was changed, I was skeptical. Initially, it struck me as a less-than-stellar idea, but I was wary of an unjustified knee-jerk reaction - after all, I’ve been organizing Swiss-based tournaments (with the occasional top 2 duel every now and then) for a long time now, so there will presumably be at least some degree of bias. Therefore, I sort of shelved it in the back of my mind until I could gather some empirical data.
Fast forward to this saturday - I finally had the chance to observe a Top 8 double-elim in action. I’m less than impressed. From where I’m standing, there’s a bunch of downsides and I’m having a hard time coming up with upsides that would make it worth it.
- It’s pretty non-transparent - I dare you, try to make sense of a top 8 double-elim just from watching the 8 finalists sit down and play, without seeing the chart. I couldn’t, after the first round was over. Making this appealing to spectators probably requires a data projector or some other method of making the whole structure available on-demand to them.
- Intangible stakes of any particular match - Basically, without seeing the spider thingy, you have trouble telling how well your buddies are doing. This is mostly a trait of the whole “one of the finalists progressed into the final through the loser’s bracket” idea which messes up the clarity of single-elim. What that ends up doing is reducing spectator interest - hell, at saturday’s regional, a full half of top 8 was part of our expedition, and yet we ended up not watching them play. You can’t tell “he’s playing for top 4” or something similar - he will be top 4 if he wins, but he might very easily be top 4 if he loses, too.
- Irregularities with the sides you play - This is admittedly an issue mainly in the first match, but seems to me like a pretty bad one. Since the higher seed gets to pick which side to play, presumably he’ll pick the stronger one. This is all fine in a reasonably balanced environment, but invites trouble if that’s not the case. Being eliminated simply because you didn’t get to play corp at all (for instance) due to a coin flip in the second game seems pretty * “meh” *to me, personally
- Him again?! - playing the same opponent up to three times in the process of a single top 8 is probably something you’re not really keen on doing after 5-6 rounds of swiss, in which you’ve more than likely faced him once before already
- Variable depth of the match-up tree - This is probably the worst offender. You need an equal number of victories total to get to the final, regardless of the bracket you came from, I get that. But that means not only that one of the people will have played one more match, it also means that a fair amount of waiting around “for previous games to finish” takes place, making it practically impossible to structure the finals into rounds in a transparent enough manner.
- You don’t get screwed out by one bad draw (it takes two). As a frequent traveller to agenda-floodville, this one I can get behind. There’s naturally the issue that you’re only playing half-games now, but… whatever.
- It’s faster…presumably. But… the speedup is the result of “you only play 1 game against an opponent”, rather than an actual property of the pairing/resolution method. If you really wanted to leverage that, you could change the swiss part of the tournament into “an even number of rounds, you play either runner or corp” - SW:CCG tournaments were using this format and it was totally fine. You could cut the time requirement for a tournament almost by half, and the results wouldn’t be too skewed, I feel.
Am I missing any upsides? If so, are there any resolution methods that actually provide them, without all the bad baggage double elim is bringing to the table?
Let’s hear some feedback. Thoughts? Experiences? Suggestions? Insults ( )? Hit me!