Saturday, December 28, 2013

Is Race To Really The Problem?

Since I'm about to sound like an apologist for the PSP (again) I'ma take a moment to remind all y'all that I have a lengthy track record of favoring Xball and only acquiesced to the Race To variants grudgingly because there wasn't any alternative. Nor have I changed my mind. And Race 2-9 was better than Race 2-7 and in case you've forgotten (or didn't know) part of the rationale for reducing the Pro game from Race 2-9 to Race 2-7 was that shoddy math trick that has once again been trotted out but towards a different purpose this time around. The one that claims when a team falls 3 points behind it losses the match some enormous percentage of the time. That was originally used to justify the reduction from 9 to 7--after all, once you're that far behind all those "extra" points are a waste of time, right? This time around the claim is that in a Race 2-7 match teams and players are inhibited by the arbitrary limit on points inherent to the format and are now using the same 3 points behind factoid as proof that it's the Race To format at fault. In my book any fact that "proves" two opposing points of view isn't good for much. So what's really at issue here?
The first part of the answer is time. But there's more to it than match time. There's also time measured in matches per day (per field) and days per event. Unfortunately the logistics of time management is a necessary evil--or if not actually evil an unavoidable limiting factor. The three day event comes at a price. But then so does the total number of competition fields (per event). Keep in mind the Pro Division is Champions & Challengers. 20 teams. Not just the 10 Champions teams. But there's still only one webcast field. No matter what the Champions matches remain limited whether it's called Race To or it's a timed match. So how long a timed match is even possible?
For this thought experiment let's keep it simple and say our timed match is 20 minutes. (Which is the current time allotted to a Race 2-7 match.) This time around though there's no limit on the number of points that can be scored--just a flat 20 minutes. (The reason I went with 20 minutes is because we already know it is feasible given the other limitations involved.) Will the teams suddenly begin playing differently? What happens if a team is quickly down two points? Or even if it takes half that match to end up down 2 points? If the statistic about falling behind by 3 is accurate teams will still struggle to avoid it and as matches get close to running out of time only a close match carries the odds it may be turned around.
Did you forget about point differential? It remains a critical tie-breaker--and even more important potentially in any match that allows for theoretically unlimited points to be scored.
So even when the argument is confined to time considerations alone it is less than clear that any feasible format change will alter in any way the manner in which matches are presently played. In fact logic suggests there will be more pressure to keep matches close and avoid excessive point differentials. Are we having more fun yet?

What about the ROF change to 10.2 bps? Will that have any impact at all? The closest thing to a consensus thinks the likeliest result will be fewer eliminations off the break. Will that speed up or slow down the pace of points scored? The league is hopeful it will encourage more action, more movement but do players move randomly and without purpose? Of course they don't. Every move entails a certain amount of risk of elimination and in order to make taking that risk worthwhile there must be some commensurate reward. Does a match to time alter the risk/reward ratio in a meaningful way? Does 10.2 bps do the trick? (It may alter the risk but what does it do on the reward side?)

If the goal is to produce more exciting suspenseful matches playing to time offers no guarantees. Back in the day the only scoring orgies featured terribly mismatched teams. Remember RL vs. Ultimate. Matches like those were used to validate the Race To concept because nobody wanted to see 20-2 matches, Neither does a ROF change. Of all the factors that contribute to making the game what it is at present the lynchpin  is the event layout, the field design. The day field design offers rewards in harmony with the risks taken is the day the game takes its next big step forward.

1 comment:

NewPro said...

For the love of gawd, someone enlighten me as to the diff bt race 2 and Xball, if its something more than a set point goal in a timed period vs total points in two halves and 15 bps vs 13/12/10 bps.

Ive played both and if its a close game in Race 2, it'll be a close game in xball...If its a blow-out in race 2, it'll be a blow-out in Xball...The main argument is the supposed swing point as Psp employee #71129-b....err, i mean coach alluded to,the 3 point differential, which...given more time, the other team would be able to mount a comeback

Race to-Fortune favors the prepared

Xball- In it for the long haul, its a marathon, not a sprint