The FPA Board supported four changes to the world rankings for 2004. The philosophy behind the rankings is simple – earn points for placing well in tournaments – but the complete system can be difficult to grasp. Taking a closer look at the four changes reveals how they might affect the rankings in interesting and positive ways.
Change #1: Points For More Players
All tournaments will now award points to the top 32 places. In the past, only the big tournaments went past 16th place. Points have also been redistributed to reduce top-heaviness in the old pointscale.
Effect: More Ranked Players: At a few tournaments each year, the number of players exceeded the number of ranking points available. That is less likely to happen in 2004. As long as there are no more than 32 teams at a tournament, everyone will get points.
Effect – Ranked Players From Other Divisions
The rankings system allows points to be distributed beyond the open divisions at a tournament, so even if you play in an age-restricted category or an amateur division, you can score points. With more points up for grabs, more non-open division players may pick up points. This helps new players track their progress and rewards players who only compete in an occasional age-group competition, but not at the expense of open division players at the same competition.
Effect – More Rankings Moves
Through 2003, players really didn’t score big ranking points unless they placed in the top 3 at an event. The new point scales cut the gaps between placings and increase the points for all but the top places. Placing 5th or 6th used to have little effect on a Top 50 player’s rankings total; now, there is a real possibility that making the finals will strengthen the ranking of players ranked 30 – 200+.
Effect: More Competitive Rankings
Because the gaps in the point scales between any two placements have been narrowed, achieving a ranking position could become more competitive. Placing one spot higher at a tournament can make a big difference.
Exploiting This Rule
The best way to exploit the rankings system is to host tournaments of any kind and to invite as many people as possible. Since all tournaments are created equal, a casual gathering has the same base points as an advertised, sponsored event. Of course, if only your unranked cousins and nieces compete, you will get fewer bonus points than if you beat the top ten players in the world.
In the long-term, the best way to exploit this rule is to compete regularly with the same large group of people. Everyone gets more points with a large group. If the same people compete frequently, they will move up on the rankings and be worth more bonus points. The more people using the strategy, the smaller its effect.
Change #2: All Tournaments Are Created Equal
Well, not really. Major tournaments and national championships have always been distinguished from other tournaments. Through 2003, events labeled Tour Events received extra ranking points. Because there is no active FPA Tour, those events will be treated the same as any regular tournament. National championships, which shared the same point scale with Tour Events, will continue to receive the upgraded points.
Effect – What Tour?
Since there was no organized Tour and no quality standards for Tour events, rewarding extra points didn’t make sense. When the sport is ready to re-launch an actual tour, we can define what makes a Tour event better than other tournaments and whether that merits a rankings reward.
Effect – National Championships Encouraged
There is a real reward for hosting a national championship. First place gets 200 points versus 125 for other events.
Change #3: Paganello’s Points
Paganello used to be a Tour event. With the elimination of extra points for Tour events, the Board felt the tournament needed to be recognized as the premier European competition. Even though it’s not called the Italian National Championships, Paganello is the biggest Italian tournament (other than Worlds), so for the purposes of the rankings Paganello will be considered the Italian National Championships and receive the upgraded points that go with it.
Effect – Better European Rankings Opportunities
There is a growing trend toward low-key tournaments worldwide, but most events still take place in the US. Paganello’s extra points help European players to keep pace on the rankings with North Americans who have more choices of where to compete.
Effect – Paganello As Italian Championships
It’s up to the Italian players, but perhaps Paganello will evolve into a formal Italian championship. The top Italian player or team would be considered Italian champion.
Change #4 – Bonus Points Clarification
The definition of bonus points was originally worded so that points were awarded when another team was eliminated from the competition. With the increasing use of unconventional formats, the wording was tweaked to award bonus points when a player was eliminated from contention but not necessarily the event.
Effect – More Bonus Points
This rule change will have a microscopic effect since bonus points were awarded based on the spirit of the rule up to now anyway. In the future, players who may not have qualified for bonus points under the old definition may get them now. Their rankings have a chance to improve.
If you’re serious about your ranking, understanding the system can help you achieve your goals. Remember, rankings are only a reflection of tournament performance, not who is the best player, the most talented jammer, or any other superlative. The best way to improve your ranking is to improve your game and kick butt in competition. If that fits with your freestyle goals, great. If not, don’t let the rankings influence how to achieve happiness in the sport.