Tournament Structure: Why Not Swiss?

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Tournament Structure: Why Not Swiss?

Postby tototavros » Thu Jan 12, 2017 11:18 am

This is my first post on this forum, so please make sure to tell me what I screwed up.

This may be a question with an obvious answer, but not being fully indoctrinated into the cult of Scholastic Bowl, I have not yet found the answer. Given how long some tournaments can run and the frustration it causes, why have tournaments not adopted a modified Swiss style tournament structure, or is there reason to not do so? I come from a background in Pokemon TCG, where games are either 30 min. or 50 min. (best-of-1 or best-of-3) and Swiss is the default tournament structure. Usually, with tournaments in the 15-30 attending range, there would be 5 rounds, cutting to a top 8 single elimination (more info below).

How does Swiss in Pokemon work?

For a given competition, there will be X rounds and a cut to a top Y. X and Y depend on the number of participants, but given what I've found at tournaments (15-30 people attending), there would probably 4-5 rounds and a cut to a top 4-8 (I can't find the actual guidelines, but it's around that).

For the first round, pairings are random. For upcoming rounds, pairings are based on records, with equivalent records being paired (a 1-0 team would be paired against an 0-1 team), if there are odd numbers of teams with a given record, then a team would be randomly up-paired or down-paired, but only by one game. For instance, a 4-0 team would probably be down-paired to a 3-1 team. An 0-4 team might be up-paired to a 1-3 team. If there are an odd number of teams, byes are assigned randomly. After X rounds, the top Y players are chosen, tiebreakers being the average win-percentage of each teams' opponents, average win-percentage of each teams' opponents' opponents, etc. For instance, with 24 players with a cut to a top 8, all teams above 3-2 are guaranteed to cut, and, on average, 3.5 teams with a record of 3-2 will make the cut, assuming no drops, double game losses (both teams assigned a loss, usually for severely breaking some rule). After this, simple single elimination is played.

How does this help with time? It makes tournaments run faster. With the hypothetical 24-man tournament, only 8 rounds will be played, altogether. With 3 pools (4 pools of 6, 2 pools of 4, then 1 pool of 4 (well, a championship pool and a consolation pool), pools playing round robin and assuming advantaged final for the championship game), 5 rounds will be played for the first pool, then 3 rounds, then 3 rounds, then at worst, 2 rounds for the championship round, being significantly longer. With this modified Swiss system, the tournament would only take 6 hours.

One of the benefits of the pooled round-robin system at which I've played was the ability for teams to easily dropped without a re-seeding being necessary, if a team drops after being eliminated from a pool, thus a beginning team can just play 5 rounds. With this system, a team would be able to drop after any round, without bye issues resulting.

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Re: Tournament Structure: Why Not Swiss?

Postby Skepticism and Animal Feed » Thu Jan 12, 2017 3:14 pm

Swiss pairing is used for very large quizbowl tournaments.

It is not used in smaller tournaments in part because shortening the tournament is NOT seen as good: people enjoy the act of playing quizbowl and would prefer to play 10 - 15 rounds while also getting to see all of the other teams there. Indeed, you will find that tournaments that have fewer than 10 rounds of quizbowl are often criticized here for not being long enough and not providing folks enough quizbowl.
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Re: Tournament Structure: Why Not Swiss?

Postby jonpin » Thu Jan 12, 2017 3:15 pm

The short answer is: the teams at a quiz bowl tournament tend to put a higher premium on playing more quiz bowl games than on "let's get this over with as quickly as possible".

In addition, Swiss formats tend to run into significant issues where teams are being compared by win-loss records which were earned against significantly different schedules. There are a handful of tournaments that use Swiss system, primarily NAQT's national championships at the pre-college level, and every so often these discrepancies are pointed out (as in, "Here are Team A and Team B. Team A had more powers, higher PPT, higher bonus conversion, and beat Team B head-to-head, but Team B ranked higher because they played an easier schedule and so had more wins."). In short, for any tournament whose size allows it, group play is considered superior and more fair.
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