FPA Board Supports Rankings System Changes

Each year, I look at the rankings system to figure out what’s working and what might need improvement. Each year, I share proposed changes to the FPA Board along with suggestions others have made. Sometimes those changes are small; sometimes they are systemic.

Last year, we made some small changes in classifying which tournaments would offer larger point values. This year, there will be some broader changes designed to address the evolution of the freestyle tournament scene and to create some standardization toward future upgrades.

I will update the rankings section of the site soon with detailed descriptions of all the changes, but in the meantime let me outline the main changes. None of the changes affected the year-end lists (open | women) for 2006. All of the changes begin with the February 2007 lists (open | women).

Taken separately, the changes might seem strange or scary, but read through them as a package of changes that work together to keep the rankings in balance, with the goal of creating a useful reflection of current tournament performance.

FPA Worlds Points

In the past, the points for Pairs and Co-op were added together for one monster point score and counted as one tournament. This served the purpose of offering the most points for the most important tournament of the year and also reflected the FPA Worlds as one tournament.

The FPA Worlds is now so big that Open Pairs and Open Co-op are like two separate, huge tournaments. The other dynamic was that the FPA Worlds point total was so huge for the top finishers that it negated the importance of other tournaments. The FPA Worlds should be rewarded the most in the rankings, but things seemed a little imbalanced.

Starting with the February 2007 rankings list, the Open Pairs and Open Co-op points will count as separate events toward a player’s FPA ranking. For this list, the points for FPAW2005 and FPAW2006 have been segregated out into two separate scores for each Worlds.

Number Of Events Counted

In the past, a player’s best five point totals over two years were counted toward the rankings. As of February 2007, a player’s best eight point totals will count.

The main reason for this is the separation of the FPA Worlds divisions into two scores each. If we only counted five events, the FPA Worlds would dominate the rankings even more, potentially counting for 4 of a players’s best 5 scores. By expanding to eight events, we limit the FPA Worlds to half a player’s total and leave the rest for other tournaments.

A secondary reason for counting more events is that so many events are being organized in Europe. While five tournaments over two years used to be a reasonable expectation of an active player, many Europeans can compete in five tournaments each year without even trying. For Americans, that means stepping up and organizing more local, regional and national events.

Point Scales

With the emergence of so many national championships throughout the world and the creation of continent-wide events like EFC, the current set of point scales were not doing the trick. We had Regular tournaments, Pro events, World events (WFDF/US Open) and FPA Worlds, each with scales that gradually increased in points but weren’t really related to one another.

In the revised system, we have the same point categories, but the points are all related to one another by percentages. Using Regular tournaments as a base, Pro events (national championships, Paganello, etc) will be worth an extra 20%. WFDF and US Open level events will be worth an extra 40%. FPA Worlds will be worth an extra 60% of a Regular event.

The purpose of this, beyond acting in support of the other two changes, is simplification and standardization. It will now be easier to calculate points for any given event. In the future, should the rankings system be automated, this simplification will be helpful in developing that application.

Pending Decisions

Not all the decisions have been finalized. The Board is considering whether events with restricted entries – like EFC – should be eligible for additional points – or whether additional points should be reserved for tournaments open to everyone.

The Effects Of The Changes

In general, the changes benefit those who play and do well in more events. There is more reward for winning regular size tournaments now. At the same time, those who play very well at the Worlds will also benefit, as their strong single-event total can outscore another player who has two mediocre results.

We see this effect on the Open list. Fabio Sanna moves from #7 to #3, and Piccio Cusmá, Andrea Meola, Lorenzo Apriani and Flo Hess all have big upward moves within the top 20. All are active European players with top results. The depth of their results is now propelling them upward on the list.

On the Women’s list, we actually have a new Number One player: Eleonora Imazio. Eleonora is by far the most active female freestyle competitor. The deeper results list means more of her tournaments now count toward the rankings. The victims, if you will, of the changes are Mary Lowry and Lisa Hunrichs, who have competed less often over the past two years and therefore don’t have the extra results that keep a player in the rankings race. They drop from #1 and #2, respectively, down to #4 and #5.

What Do You Think?

Feedback is what keeps the rankings healthy. Constructive feedback, that is. If you hate the rankings in principle, there’s probably not much you can say that adds to the conversation. But if you have a perspective on where the rankings could go and/or suggestions for taking them there, let’s talk about it. If you see something cool in the new lists, or if you want to brag about how much the new system helps you out, or if you see a way to game the system (hint: host more tournaments and play more tournaments – then win them all), fill us in.