Upper/Competitive Divisions

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Ben Fry
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Upper/Competitive Divisions

Post by Ben Fry »

A few times at different tournaments, our team has been asked to join "Upper" or "Competitive" Divisions. Generally if we stay in the Lower Division we're usually in the top 10-ish, but entering a competitive division will most likely place us at the bottom. I understand that using tougher packets is an important way to practice, and often Upper divisions offer these packets, while lower divisions are more likely to use easier ones. But barring this (some tournaments use the same packet for both), is there a reason to join an Upper Division if we will likely be defeated many times, while staying in the Lower Division would (ironically) keep us competitive?
Benjamin Fry
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Re: Upper/Competitive Divisions

Post by Woodward-Eschenmoser »

Playing in the upper division offers you valuable experience playing against stronger teams.
Geoffrey Chen
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Cornell '23

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Re: Upper/Competitive Divisions

Post by iarehavethestupid »

Although I've never played in a tourney with Upper and Lower divisions, I'll throw in my two cents.

Honestly, it probably comes down to if you believe your team will actually get anything out of it. Playing against stronger teams can offer valuable experience as Geoffrey said, but losing every single one of your games by triple digit margins will probably just demoralize your team and drive them away from Upper/Competitive divisions. For example, in my very first tournament, I had to play Robert Muniz. I'm not sure my team got much experience out of losing by 600 points.

I would recommend practicing on harder packets if your team is considering competing in an upper division, but, in my opinion, experience is experience, no matter the field.
Ethan Xu
Liberty Middle School 2017-2019
James Clemens High School 2020-2023
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Romanos I Lekapenos
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Re: Upper/Competitive Divisions

Post by Romanos I Lekapenos »

In general, playing upper/competitive in a tournament is the way to go if you want to improve.
Robert Muñiz
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Re: Upper/Competitive Divisions

Post by UlyssesInvictus »

theclassicsguy wrote:
Fri Feb 08, 2019 5:31 pm
In general, playing upper/competitive in a tournament is the way to go if you want to improve.
I really think this "in general" has to be stressed. Good teams buzz so much earlier in questions that often you're not even learning clues because you couldn't even figure out what the question is about. My first memory of actually learning something from a tournament is during a bottom bracket game at NSC my freshman year.

As people have mentioned, motivation is a big factor either way (if you win all the time, you won't try to better yourself; if you lose all the time, you'll quit), but there's also just the plain fact that if you're tuning out of bonuses because you never hear any, then you can't expect to learn much.
Raynor Kuang
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Re: Upper/Competitive Divisions

Post by CPiGuy »

Yeah, I'm gonna split with the majority wisdom here and say that if you are not even consistently in the top bracket (usually a lot fewer than 10 teams) at regular divisions, and you invariably come last in the "competitive" divison, maybe you should stick with the regular division for at least some of your tournaments. If that's the case, you still have some room to improve before the competitive division consistently gives you more competitive games than the regular division -- Robert and Geoffrey are correct that playing against stronger teams is good, but I think beating weaker teams by 100 offers more experience than losing to stronger teams by 500. If it gets to the point where you're winning most of your games in the standard division by considerable margins, then sure, go for the upper division.
Conor Thompson (he/him)
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Re: Upper/Competitive Divisions

Post by bmccauley »

Coming as a coach from PA where we use Open/Novice or Competitive/Open divisions somewhat regularly, I would say that there are a few things to consider:

(1) What does the field composition look like? I would much rather my players experience a few tough morning matches to have a target to improve but I also wouldn't enter them into a field where they will go 0-10 losing by 200+ points every game. If you think your team could find itself around .500, I normally prefer the challenge as opposed to a top novice performance. I'd also say that I try to make sure that my team is appropriate for the field--I wouldn't take a group of MSNCT experienced 9th and 10th graders to a novice event that is 50% new teams who have never played pyramidal before (or something like that) where your team could be on the other end of those blowout games--and really be demoralizing for new players.

(2) Where is your team at in terms of set difficulty? You don't want to have your players feeling overwhelmed with lots of dead tossups or 0s and 10s on bonuses. I think the experience does matter and it needs to be fun. No one wants to sit there converting only a few questions per game.

(3) What goals do you want to accomplish? If you think your team is close to taking a "step" in quality, the opportunity to see teams at those next levels can help and give a definite target (we want to make the middle bracket next time or make the playoffs). If your goal is to have players gain confidence by staying down, converting lots of questions, & hearing lots of clues, playing for a title in a lower tier might make sense. I think it really varies by a tournament by tournament and team by team experience factor.
Bernard McCauley
Coach, Great Valley High School (PA)

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