F***ing Rankings and Divisions. How Do They Work?
Yesterday, at about the same time as we published the results of the DNN 2012 Reader Poll, WFTDA released more information on how ranking and divisioning is going to work in 2013 and onwards. As well as making both our site and theirs fall over, that information dump has left a lot of people rather confused, so we have both reached out to WFTDA sources and gone through the documents ourselves in an effort to clear things up for you.
"Divisions are set once annually and do not change, regardless of rankings. Divisions will be reset each year based on the rankings results of the previous Competitive Season."
It has been assumed by many people that this means that the teams in Division 1 at the start of the year will all be going to playoffs at the end of the year. This is NOT the case. A team’s division during the regular season is useful information for the purposes of working out who needs to play who now that in-region play requirements have been done away with; it does NOT reflect which division’s playoff tournament any given team will be going to.
Rather than needing to get in two in-region games, teams need to get a certain number of in-division games in. If you qualify for Division 1 playoffs one year, you need to get at least three games in against Division 1 opponents, and a fourth game that can be against a Division 1 or Division 2 team. Those in Division 2 need two games against Division 1 or 2 teams, and one that can be against a team from Division 1, 2 or 3. Division 3 teams only need to get two games in, and these can be against teams from any division.
"Teams are assigned to Playoffs based purely on ranking, using S‐curve seeding."
The 40 teams going to the division one playoffs in 2013 will be the 40 highest-ranked WFTDA leagues as of June 30, 2013--assuming all those teams have played the required numbers of games.
Those 40 teams will then count as Division 1 until June 30, 2014--which means teams can schedule borderline teams with confidence, knowing that for the next twelve months, even if a team is ranked #40, they will still count as a Division 1 opponent for that year, even if they have a poor run of form and are ranked outside of the top 40 when the game actually takes place.
What is this ‘S-Curve seeding’? It is the way teams are distributed. How does it work? You start with a long list of the top 40 teams, and take turns placing each team into a playoff--so the teams ranked 1, 2, 3 and 4 go into the four division one playoffs as the top seeds; those ranked 5, 6, 7 and 8 go in as the second seeds, and so on and so forth. It is S-curve because of the particular way that the ordering goes: it means that the team ranked fifth are the second seed in the tournament where the top seed is ranked 4, the team ranked sixth are second seeds to the team ranked 3, etc. The first picture inset shows how this should work.
It means that all four playoff tournaments should be equally hard and of equally high quality, higher ranked teams are rewarded with a more favourable draw, but minimal ranking changes should make minimal difference to your chances of progression--it doesn’t much matter if you’re ranked four or five, for instance, but the team ranked 1 is likely to have an easier path to championships than those ranked three or four.
Still seem a little opaque? We’ve used the rankings as provided by Flat Track Stats to show you what playoffs might look like in 2013 -- the tournaments as they stand are listed at the top, and the team’s seeding (equivalent to old regional ranking in the tournament structure) in that tournament is listed on the left.. This is just so you can get an idea of how things work.
|T1: Fort Wayne, IN||T2: Richmond, VA||T3: Asheville, NC||T4: Salem, OR|
|1||Gotham (1)||Oly (2)||Denver (3)||Texas (4)|
|2||Minnesota (8)||Philly (7)||Windy City (6)||Bay Area (5)|
|3||Rose City (9)||Rat City (10)||Naptown (11)||London (12)|
|4||Atlanta (16)||Montreal (15)||Charm City (14)||Rocky Mountain (13)|
|5||Victoria (17)||Detroit (18)||Mad Rollin’ Dolls (19)||Kansas City (20)|
|6||Angel City (24)||Steel City (23)||Wasatch (22)||Ohio (21)|
|7||Tampa (25)||Boston (26)||Sacred (27)||No Coast (28)|
|8||DC (32)||Houston (31)||Arch Rival (30)||Jet City (29)|
|9||Blue Ridge (33)||Brewcity (34)||Mid Iowa (35)||Nashville (36)|
|10||Terminal City (40)||Sac City (39)||Arizona (38)||Columbia QuadSquad (37)|
The Division 2 playoffs will feature the next 20 teams--that’s those ranked 41-60; the top two teams from those two tournaments will head to WFTDA Championships too, where they will play off for the top three places in Division 2. As well as the honour of finishing at the top of their division, these games will reward the teams who play in them with more ranking points than their playoff or regular season games, which means strong performances here will greatly increase their chances of breaking into the next tier the following season.
Hopefully that should make it a little clearer how divisions and playoffs will work this year. Next, let's take a more detailed look at rankings, to see how teams will actually earn their seedings and playoff spots in the coming year.