November 16, 2012 by Charlie Eisenhood in News with 14 comments
Select Flight teams have been chiming in all week about their stance on USA Ultimate’s new Triple Crown Tour. Most are feeling left out in the cold. Here are some more thoughts from our inbox and the excellent comment sections on previous posts.
[quote]Having played on a Select Flight team this past summer (that mostly played other Select teams) I guess I am sort of torn about this system.[/quote]
[quote] I do like the idea of having the tiers so that you get to play more games against equal opponents (rather than against pickup teams and such), but I am afraid of not getting the ability to earn a wildcard spot. Obviously we don’t have the necessary details yet, but it seems that with the algorithm currently in use it would be close to impossible for a team outside the top 16 to actually work their way into that group and earn an extra bid to the Club Championships. Having played in a region with only one bid and finishing third, I was really looking forward to earning the chance to get that bid and make the road easier. Certainly it would still be possible for us to win out at Regionals, but if we do not have the opportunity to earn a bid for the region, then what is the point of the structured regular season?[/quote]
[quote]There are actually two teams from Women’s that competed heavily in the regular season against the top level teams (now currently Elite/Pro level teams) and due to snafus in the 2012 USAU system did not make it to Nationals — New York’s Bent and San Diego’s Safari.
Two does not sound like a lot, but when you actually breakdown the Women’s division from 2012 and look at the teams that were playing to try to get to Nationals, based on tourneys attended/SOS, there are perhaps 20-23 teams. Here are the regular season rankings. (That number includes Toronto’s Capitals, despite the fact that you do not see them in the rankings because they did not play any regular tournaments.)
And, if you really look at SOS and wins/losses against top teams, there are probably only 18-20ish Women’s teams that were really in the running for 2012 Nationals. 20 may be generous. 2 out of 18 teams is 11%. That’s not irrelevant. And in past years, I believe that those 11% would have had a chance to be a part of 2013 Nationals. After the conference call, I’m less convinced.
In addition, for bubble teams, one of the questions asked during the call, was how does a top level Select Flight team recruit new top players that come to the area or retain their top players for 2013? There is only one potential “crossover” tourney in which top level (2012 Nationals contenders) will even be definitively slated to see better teams.
How do teams keep their top players, who may see a move to another division or playing as an out of region player on another team, as a more advantageous and competitive route. Can we blame them for making that decision given the new outline of the TCT and the tiered plan? Is that really promoting ultimate or is that just pushing top players to the top teams and causing even more stratification?
Also, given the current 2012 algorithm, what is the benefit for top Select Flight teams to play in the Select tournaments? captain during the call asked if the algorithm was going to change for 2013 to accommodate for the bubble teams in Select who will be hurt by lower PR teams…and there was no real answer.
In the Women’s division, one of the teams that didn’t make it to Nationals was BENT with a PR of 1258. The PR of the next team that didn’t make it to Nationals was 1052. The next PRs are 936 and 892. How will a team with a PR in the 1200s who plays the next 4 teams at tournaments ever increase their PR through the season until the Crossover tourney? Besides the rumored new 10 game rule for regular season to compete at Nationals, how is it advantageous for at team at PR 1258 to play the Select Flight tournaments? This is a major issue in the Women’s division, where the drop off of PR is dramatic. (The 30th team in Women’s has a PR of -230. The 30th team in Open and Mixed is 925 and 1253, respectively. To put it in prespective, the top teams in all divisions are around 1850-1900 after 2012 regular season.)
I fully understand that at the end of the day, winning the game to go at Regionals is all that matters – for both 2012 and 2013 teams. But in a new system that is supposed to: 1) provide more meaningful playing opportunities, 2) encourage participation and growth (2 of the 4 goals defined by USAU on the TCT webpage)…I am not so sure that is what this new tiered system is doing for the bubble teams. And I did not feel comforted after the conference call.
I’m concerned that USAU is building not only a 2013 season, but the future of USA Ultimate with a tiered system that is already showing weaknesses. In addition, the USAU is moving forward rapidly, but seem to be unable to fully address questions and concerns coming from their constituents/peers/teammates.[/quote]
[quote]It has been stated by USAU that Pro/Elite teams must attend the tournaments allotted to them or they can not participate in Regionals/Nationals. However, no such thing was said about the teams relegated to the Select Flight for the coming year. Theoretically, Select teams could decline a spot in the Elite/Select crossover event or invalidate their roster on purpose without any penalty of missing the post season.
What if every team in the nation not in the top 16 refused to play a ranked game against the top 16? You would have a statistical anomaly in the rankings that would not be connected to the rest of the data. This past year, there were approximately 70 open teams that had played 5 ranked games by the end of August, and 50 who made the 10 game final cut. Assuming the numbers stay about the same next year, there would basically be 2 sets of data- the Pro/Elite group of teams, and then the other 35-40 teams. This would cause the top teams of the bottom group to be ranked higher than normal because there would be no data to say that the bottom teams in the Pro/Elite group were better than the top Select/Classic teams. The rankings only work when they have data to connect all the teams.[/quote]