Friday, January 9, 2009

Logan's Run: PSP Style

The basics of the PSP classification rules have been released--or should that be unleashed? I am hoping against hope and looking towards the heavens while silently whispering please, please, please, please let there be something more coming that will mitigate the inevitable result of this system. But I'm not optimistic.
Okay, but what does that have to do with Logan's Run? Or even, what is Logan's Run? The answer to either of those questions should make the connection clear. Logan's Run is a sci-fi novel (then movie) that falls into the sub-genre of apocalyptic or dystopian future stories. In Logan's Run overpopulation is addressed by killing off people when they reach a certain age. It is sold as a social good and turned into a celebration. The previous classification rules did much the same, though instead of killing players the rules simply pushed (many, most, a whole bunch of?) players out of competitive paintball once they reached D1 ranking. The new rules, at least the stuff released so far, appears to be doing much the same but at semi-pro instead. For some background on the subject see previous posts here, here & here.

As it stands the classification rules only push players up the rankings. The rules take no account of, and are incapable of taking into account, the teams the players play on except for the results those teams achieve. Teams are not moved up in the rankings, only players. The classification rules cannot make adjustment for individual players except to assume any player who ever plays above his/her current rank should automatically receive extra ranking points. All the assumptions assume experience equals ability. The system also assumes that if the league doesn't compel upward movement that it won't happen. Since none of those things are universally true any result based on those assumptions is bound to be, let us say charitably, sub-optimum. Or wrong-headed and counterproductive.
I had hopes that with the new divisions the league would follow through and go all the way towards establishing classification rules they don't have to fiddle every year or so. These are not those rules. By last season's rule book 42 D3 teams must play D2 in '09. (Of course it isn't really teams moving up, it's their rosters but for the sake of brevity assume I mean qualifying players when I say teams.) 10 D2 teams must move up to D1 and if D1 used the same formula as D2 it would move 5 teams to semi-pro. (There were no rules established for D1 players to move up because there was no place for them to automatically go last year.) The old problem was that far too many of the players ranked D1 never ended up playing. Not just playing D1 but playing, period. And mass compulsory movement of D3 teams meant variations of the same when players were pushed beyond their skill level and experience before they were ready. The past problems will not be addressed simply by adding divisions to move through as long as the rules themselves aren't reconsidered (and then CHANGED.) And of course the only effort ever made to address what to do with pro ranked players was last year's mid-season pick'em. It might as well be a lottery. Wouldn't it be interesting to take the limited number of pro registered in APPA (since the NXL was outside APPA for a couple of years or more) and see where they all are today. But you already know where most of them are, don't you? Playing a different game.

D3 intro is a positive step. The new cumulative point total to push D3 players into D2 if used on last season's teams would move nearly 50% of all teams that played 2 or more events. That's simply too many and unnecessary. The reality is the great mass of teams in the middle are D3 teams by virtue of their ability and if this is the method the PSP intends to use they are not preserving the competitive balance–-they are social engineering. (One might even suggest they are trying to push teams up into more expensive brackets.) The same applies to both D2 & D1 as well. And where the resistance has been before-–moving up to D1 it will simply be exchanged for resistance to move into semi-pro. The classification rules will create a glut of semi-pro players with no place to play. This will happen even if the PSP were to open up semi-pro to more teams. But as of right now the limitation is 24 total pro and semi-pro teams in whatever combination and that is a logistical limitation. The end result gives players one extra level to pass through before the rules push them out and create the bottleneck to pro rosters discussed in Semi-pro dilemma. I will keep track of the carry-over this season and if the league wanted I imagine the APPA database is flexible enough to track this sort of thing so at least the league could see how many peeps it's pushing aside.

Next time I will offer a couple of alternatives to the current classification system. (May not be until next Monday as practice starts this weekend. We'll see.)


Mark790.06 said...

If this were Logan's Run many of us here would be Soylent Green by now ;-)

Sorry, couldn't resist.

Baca Loco said...

Mark will be performing nightly with a matinee on Saturday. Enjoy the veal.

bronc said...

I don't see why they can't take into account the team(s) you played on when coming up with who has to move up/down.

If your team plays all the D3 events and finishes last place in every single one, most likely you (and your team) should stay D3. If you play all of them and your team finishes, well duh you and your team get bumped to D2.

We already assign points to teams for their placing in events, how about adding those team points to player stats when figuring out who has to move up when, so then the players are tied to the teams as well as themselves?

Baca Loco said...

There is no down -- which is part of the problem.
The system does use team results, after a fashion. But it is only used to determine the rank of individuals. The problem is that results are team-oriented and everyone knows a) not all players on a given team are equal and b) take all the players on the top 5 teams, mix them up and those 5 teams are unlikely to acheive the same results.
The problem is that tool is not particularly descriminating to begin with and then it is applied way too liberally.
Anther point I was trying to make is that in these potentially perilous lean times one goal of the PSP ought to be to encourage as much repeat business as possible and we already know that the classification rules discourage teams at D3.
We also ought to presume that the sum of all competitive players looks more like a pyramid (when the identifier is ability) and less like a column. D3 ought to have substantially more players and teams. And pro ought to have the fewest and the fact that there has in the recent past been a disparity at the D1 level simply signals that something isn't right--and one of the things that isn't right is the classification rules.