Thursday, February 24, 2011

Another PSP Pro Experiment

VFTD has it on good authority the PSP has decided--at relatively the last minute (certainly after most teams have made their reservations and bought their plane tickets) to alter pro division play. Again. And if the measure of communication with my team is indicative of the rest of the division nobody from the league bothered to discuss it with the teams first. (If that isn't correct then I'd like to know why we were left out.)
The league will be officially returning to two minutes between points and reducing the number of timeouts by one, to one per match. (You may recall the league experimented with 90 seconds between points last season. It ended up being done manually (and inconsistently) so that sometimes the 90 seconds was really 95 or 96 or 85 or whatever. Returning to two minutes and one timeout; no problem.
The other change is that the pro division will play Saturday and Sunday only. Two brackets of 5 teams will see each team play 4 prelim matches. 3 on Saturday and 1 on Sunday morning. 2 teams will move from each bracket directly into the semi-final round. And a 3-4 match will not be played. (For 2011 prizes are limited to first & second place only.) (Of course a distinction must be made for awarding ranking points--unless they decide to award the same ranking points--which only means it will still be necessary at the next event to make a differentiation for seeding purposes. And if they are seeded in different slots how will it be determined? Keeping in mind seeding has a potential impact in deciding tie-breakers.) This change also means no quarter-final round as only four teams go thru instead of 6.
In a bracket of 5 teams playing four matches there are a limited number of outcomes mathematically. If a team goes 4-0 in their bracket there are only three other relevant outcomes possible. Another team will go 3-1 and the top two will be clearly defined. If no team goes 3-1 with a 4-0 team the only other possible results will be either 2 or 3 teams tied and 2-2. What that means is that any time a team goes 4-0 the odds are the second team will be chosen by tie-breaker from as many as 3 different teams. In a bracket where the best record is 3-1 there are also three possible outcomes. Another team may also post a 3-1 record with the result being two teams with superior records to the rest of the bracket. Alternatively, if the best record is 3-1 it is possible for 3 teams to finish 3-1 which means that one team finishing 3-1 would be left out regardless of what the other bracket did. Or, the next 3 best records will be 2-2. As with a best record of 4-0 a best record of 3-1 results with odds favoring a tie-breaker to determine the second team out of the bracket. If the best record in a bracket is 2-2 all five teams will have identical records.
Assuming WC is organized according to this plan over the year 8 brackets will play a prelim round and either 5 or 6 of those 8 times one or more semi-finalist will be determined by tie-breaker. And when it comes to assigning seed points to non-semifinalists the majority of places will be determined by tie-breaker.
Now I don't know about you but that doesn't look like a competition to me when so many of the places will not be determined on the field but instead will come straight out of Tony's list of tie-breakers instead. (And how 'bout having those published in the rule book prior to Galveston?)
Were similar issues at play in the past? Yes, but not to the same extent and taking 6 teams thru and having a quarter-final assured, as much as it possible, that the best teams earned their result. Remember, Impact won Phoenix last year as the lowest seed starting Sunday morning. If this change sticks we could see 2 teams in the semi-finals whose records were matched in the prelims by as many as four other teams--and frankly, that sucks--and begins to skirt the borderline undercutting the legitimacy of the pro division.


Don Saavedra said...

What's the fix? Shorter games so one more game can be played? I assume this is done to save money (2 days instead of 3).

raehl said...

There are 10 teams playing. Are you suggesting that 60% of the teams should advance out of the prelims?

The tie breaking rules have been in the rule book since at least 2009.

Baca Loco said...

The only savings to the PSP is one day of pro refs best I can tell.

How many pro teams played Phoenix last year? Guess what we didn't do.

raehl said...

Last year at Phoenix the teams only played 3 matches, and were in one big group, so it was very likely in the case of ties that you didn't play the team you were tied with, nor did you even play the same opponents. With 4 matches in two brackets of 5, everyone plays everyone else in the group - same opponents and guaranteed opportunity for head-to-head competition.

Yes, if you lose one match in the prelims, it is possible although unlikely that you might not advance. But then again, if six teams were taken and you lose a match in the playoffs, you're out right then as well. There is really no getting around the fact that winning requires winning.

Mike said...

Josh Davey voiced his displeasure on his twitter - so I assume Impact didn't hear about this either.

Baca Loco said...

Oh Chris
And you've been doing so well lately. Makes your backsliding here all the more disappointing. You are neither constitutionally equipped or competition savvy to try and put a happy face on this or offer a cogent argument in its favor at best or its benign nature at worst. Nor are you in a position to excuse the timing and/or lack of communication on display.

raehl said...

I'm not in a position to comment on anything other than the prelim structure and the number of teams advanced out of prelims.

If you're the best team, you should win your bracket. Taking the 2nd best team in the bracket should guarantee that your top two teams make it out of prelims even if they happen to be in the same bracket. With two brackets where everyone plays everyone else, all you need to advance is 4 teams.

Last year had one bracket of 10 and only 3 matches per team. If you only took 4 teams, it was very possible that you could be breaking a tie between two 3 and 1 teams that didn't play each other and didn't even play the same opponents. That's not a fair comparison, so to compensate, six teams were taken.

Now that a more complete playoff round is possible, a 6-team playoffs isn't needed.