Individual Tour Playoffs - Opponent picking

McMeghan

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Right now there is barely any advantage to qualify first than to qualify 16th for Individual Tour playoffs like Stour or Classic. I propose this change to reward better qualifying runs:

First Seed gets to pick their opponent from the 15 other people who qualified, Second Seed then picks, etc until the top16 is established

Advantages:
  1. Better qualifying runs rewarded
  2. More incentive to play better and get more points to get this advantage -> Higher quality of games even if people are already qualified
  3. Sets up games where a higher ranked player loses to a perceived "easier" win -> Entertainment on the rise
  4. You can also matchfix rivalries if you're into that -> Entertainment on the rise again
Because of Pt2, I can see why this couldn't be implemented for the current Classic Playoffs that are about to start, therefore I suggest the current Classic Top 16 get surveyed and if the majority agrees to the change, it's implemented rfn. The bottom 8 who qualified were all potentially missing Playoffs anyway with 18 pts, so it's not like any of them stopped trying as hard to qualify anyway.

EDIT: come to think of it, I think this could also be included in Team Tournaments
 

Excal

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The issue with this is that the person who's 8th seed may have it worse than any of the other players, as they are pretty much guaranteed to face the best player within seeds 9-16 due to the first 7 seeds picking their preference. I don't like other potential dynamics that can come about as a result of this proposal either, ie. top seeds coordinating with each other to rig the bracket effectively how they please. This would only benefit a small subset of players and probably make more players worse off compared to the status quo.

Potentially a way to address the concerns of this proposal for Classic would be to return to a similar format from Classics I-III where the first 4 seeds had first round byes? I'm not sure of the history regarding why this format was changed, so there was likely a good reason, but it might be a decent option to circumvent higher seed burnouts/lack of reward due to having played (and won) way more games before playoffs and give them a similar break to players who were eliminated earlier yet still qualified.
 

McMeghan

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The whole point of the suggestion is benefitting the people who achieved better campaigns than the worse one. Basically what you're saying is you prefer full randomness over rewarding the players who have been much better for weeks/months in their attempt to qualify. Not that I'm belittling you for this, it's been like that forever and I've never really complained about it, but now I do think that the people who've done better in the qualifying stage can be rewarded with an "advantage" going forward, hence the point of my proposal.

"This would only benefit a small subset of players and probably make more players worse off compared to the status quo." -> True but I believe that "small subset of players" is worth rewarding, that's the idea. They're getting better results than the rest of the field for weeks.

Regarding the second part of your post, it's not as easy as it sounds because that means going back to Top12 compared to Top16 for playoffs.
 
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peng

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I think Excal's point though is that qualifying 8th may be a worse position that qualifying 9th? If a goat-tier player decides to get just enough points to qualify for playoffs and then stops, they'll end up 9th-16th and will likely be left for the guy who finished 8th to play.

What we don't want is a situation where players can see the brackets beginning to form and then think "right i'm going to deliberately sandbag to finish in the lower half of the bracket, because if I come 8th then I auto face ABR who is in the lower half himself" or something. Unlikely this would actually happen but I think its a valid concern to bring up.

Midground could be that top 4 pick their opponents, and then 5th-8th are matched up with the remaining 4 unpicked guys based on seeding (e.g. it would be seeds 5, 6, 7, 8 and then maybe 10, 12, 13, 16 are the unpicked lower seeds - MUs would be 5vs16, 6vs13, 7vs12, 8vs11) or randomise the remaining match-ups. This still gives the advantage to the top players (albeit cut to top 4) but without auto-dooming whoever comes 8th to face an out-of-position player in the lower half.

edit:this entire post is assuming that players 1-4 aren’t going to pick eachother, as earthworm said introducing this as a hard rule makes the system tick better
 
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Hipmonlee

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It would suck to come second and get paired with the #1 cause they just dont rate you...

Also, to be fair, sandbagging is probably more likely with the current set up, since you could actually know for sure who you are going to be paired with. This is not an endorsement of this idea in any way, I dislike basically everything about it, for the record.
 

Oglemi

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What we don't want is a situation where players can see the brackets beginning to form and then think "right i'm going to deliberately sandbag to finish in the lower half of the bracket, because if I come 8th then I auto face ABR who is in the lower half himself" or something. Unlikely this would actually happen but I think its a valid concern to bring up.
This could easily be fixed with having top 8 sending a blind rank choice vote to the host, where 1st just auto gets their first pick and then from there 2nd gets their first available top pick, and so on. Removes part of the sandbag issue.

Have no opinion on the proposal tho, overall I actually feel less autonomy is better in tournaments as a whole but I can see the benefits here
 

Hipmonlee

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Mostly because it rewards big name players over people with better results.

Like, lets imagine McMeghan had not really tried this year, so instead of coming second he had only managed to limp over the line into 16th spot. And then some unknown kid had put in a crapload of work and gotten into a middling position. Which one do you think is more likely to have to face Star?
 
Like, lets imagine McMeghan had not really tried this year, so instead of coming second he had only managed to limp over the line into 16th spot. And then some unknown kid had put in a crapload of work and gotten into a middling position. Which one do you think is more likely to have to face Star?

Well, this doesn't apply to everyone, but if I was that unknown kid (not my case, right now I am closer to the Roro example since I am not even close to qualifying ) if Star choosed me, this would motivate me a lot to BEAT THE CRAP OUT OF HIM for considering me the easiest prey.

Again, I know this does not work for everyone, but I am just saying that what you are worried about is not necessarily a bad thing.
 

Earthworm

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Mostly because it rewards big name players over people with better results.

Like, lets imagine McMeghan had not really tried this year, so instead of coming second he had only managed to limp over the line into 16th spot. And then some unknown kid had put in a crapload of work and gotten into a middling position. Which one do you think is more likely to have to face Star?
Is it more fair to Star if he now has to play McMeghan after putting in a lot of work and coming 1st in the hypothetical scenario with the current setup?

edit: So that my post is more than just a one line question, I think this suggestion should work reasonably well and would arguably help towards making the results of the cups more important to the outcome of the tournament, which the seeding system seems to do a fairly average job of. I think this is because the cups are elimination tournaments (rather than something like Swiss) and therefore it is much more difficult to accurately rank players. I am not suggesting the cups should be swiss, I think that would be impractical due to burdening players. So something like this suggestion is warranted. The reasons in the OP other than #1 make it sound a bit more memey than it actually is.
 
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Excal

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Roro and I discussed a bit and he and I said we'd both be fine with 12 qualifying players > 16 with top 4 getting round 1 byes. Speaking for myself only, I have a preference for this over top 16 with top 4 getting to choose their opponents within 5-16 (although I would be fine with this > status quo). I don't really like the aspect of player choice influencing the bracket, which could still screw over someone who's a relatively high seed and come with unintended consequences. The top 4 getting a r1 bye should significantly reduce the number of scenarios that the OP alluded to. I don't think the slightly reduced inclusiveness that comes with decreasing the number of qualifying players is that big of a loss, and we have used this system in the past which proves that it's at least adequate. I also think that the reward for top 4 seeds is slightly better and the potential high seed burnout issue being alleviated more by this system is really nice.
 
Round 1 byes are way too huge an advantage for a not so huge performance difference.

The way the seeds face each other currently works in every tournament and still does here. You get enough points to qualify and if you sweat it out beyond that without a further advantage then that's on you. This is coming from someone who lost with the first seed in Smogon Tour like 3 times. I didn't need to get 60 points there and you didn't need to get 30 points here.

The suggestion in the OP is less abhorrent than top 12 but still a downgrade so nah.

Classic is idealized as is. Please don't fix what isn't broken.
 

tlenit

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First Seed gets to pick their opponent from the 15 other people who qualified, Second Seed then picks, etc until the top16 is established
This is actually something I have planned to bring up as well since I come from sports and this is what "im used to use".

Altho, it should be top 8 picking from lower bracket (9-16) who to face and naturally first seeded picks first. This would give higher seeds the benefit of their good preseason run and does not put second/third etc seeded in risk to not be rewarded. I personally find this way more competitive system than seeding 1v16, 2v15 etc. automatically, bcs it kills the competition during regular season.

With current system whenever you're confirmed in, it means you can stop giving a flying F about ur games pretty much. Not the biggest fan of given midground solution where top4 picks only, but its definitely better than current imo. If the change happens, I would aim for the top 8 picks and thats it. Giving a mention to the r1 byes as well and this is waaaay way too powerful benefit to be healthy addition to the competition.

Sure, lot of this comes from sports, but its been proven to work there and keeping things alive and interesting.

e: and yes, the matchups usually gets more hyped up when ppl gets to see who chose whom with this system, which can only be positive thing.
 
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I aim to dispel the notion that the current seeding-pairing system is acceptable.

The highest priority for any pairing system based off of seeding is that the format should not, in any scenario, ever incentivize losing over winning. To satisfy this condition, (a) getting a higher seed must not be worse than a lower one, regardless of the true strengths of each seed. Furthermore, (b) getting a higher seed should ideally be better than a lower one, regardless of the true strengths of each seed. Meeting condition (a) means that the format is at least indifferent to winning and meeting condition (b) means that it incentivizes winning.

Therefore, the current format is in fact unacceptably broken because it incentivizes throwing in certain scenarios.

For example, suppose that the seeding is set aside from two players who are facing off in RBY Cup final for the 7th and 8th seeds. Suppose also that the 10th seed, who will play the 7th seed, is significantly stronger than the 9th seed, who will play the 8th seed. In this case, both players are incentivized to throw to get paired with the weaker 9th seed as opposed to the stronger 10th seed.

To construct a format which satisfies condition (a), we can simply pair completely randomly with no regard for seeding. The only incentive with respect to playoffs is to qualify, and therefore it never incentivizes losing. However, this format may not be ideal considering how it fares with respect to condition (b): under this format there is never any benefit to getting a higher seed beyond qualifying.

Therefore, we look to construct a format which still satisfies condition (a) while also meeting condition (b) as often as possible. To this end, McMeghan's original proposal is excellent (the highest remaining seed picks their opponent from all other remaining seeds iteratively until all players are paired); a player either prefers or is indifferent to being a higher seed in every scenario with this rule: Essentially, if a player gets picked by a higher seed, then their seed doesn't matter; and if a player doesn't get picked by a higher seed, then they get to pick before the seeds below them.

To clarify, the concern raised by Excal and Peng in posts #2 and #4 in this thread are not true: seed 9 is never preferable to seed 8. Suppose, for example, the seeds have strengths as follows:

1: 100
2-7: 90
8-9: 85
10-15: 80
16: 100

Then, as Excal suggested in this scenario, the seeds will pick players as follows:

1 picks 15
2 picks 14
3 picks 13
4 picks 12
5 picks 11
6 picks 10
7 picks 8, 9, or 16 based off perceived skill, not seeding (so really between 8 and 9 since 16 is so strong)
8 or 9 is left to fact 16 based off which is perceived stronger by the 7 seed, not which is the higher seed

To extend this, note that dropping seeds would never result in the originally 8th seeded player not being paired with the strong 16 seed when they otherwise would have been. For example, if they sandbag to the 15th seed:

1: 100
2-7: 90
8: 85
9-14: 80
15: 85
16: 100

Then, the players will pick the same way:

1 picks 14
2 picks 13
3 picks 12
4 picks 11
5 picks 10
6 picks 9
7 picks 8, 15, or 16 based off perceived skill, not seeding (so really between 8 and 15 since 16 is so strong)
8 or 15 is left to face 16 based off which is perceived stronger by 7 seed, not which is the higher seed

You will find that any perceived counterexample fails similarly. This is because of the underlying logic I mentioned earlier: if a player gets picked by a higher seed, then their seed doesn't matter; and if a player doesn't get picked by a higher seed, then they get to pick before the seeds below them. The only way to avoid being picked by a player is to achieve a better seed than them. Higher seeding is often rewarded and never punished with this system.

As for alternative proposals:

Any system that does not have all pairings picked (like only the top 4 seeds pick for example) must pair the remaining players randomly as opposed to by seeding; else this regresses to the original problematic bracket in certain scenarios and can therefore also result in players being incentivized to lose.

As an example, take the following player strengths and seeding with a top 4 pick system:

1-4: 100
5-9: 70
10: 100
11-12: 70
13-16: 50

This obviously results in 1-4 pairing with 13-16 and leaves the 5-12 seeds with the same messed up incentives as the status quo has. Suppose two players are facing off in RBY Cup final for the 7th and 8th seeds; both players are incentivized to throw to get paired with the weaker 9 seed as opposed to the stronger 10 seed.

Note that the seeding does not have to work out so nicely to result in the above scenario. I just chose it for the purposes of clear illustration.

However, if the limited number of pairings picked does pair the remaining players randomly, then it still meets condition (a), which makes sense because it is a combination of two systems that each individually satisfy condition (a). However, I currently believe that McMeghan's original proposal is preferable because it meets condition (b) more often than partially random formats.

As for immunity from being picked for top seeds, this can also incentivize throwing. For an example, suppose the top 4 players are immune from getting picked and each pick themselves with player strengths and seeding as follows:

1-3: 50
4-5: 70
6-16: 100

Suppose two players are facing off in RBY Cup final for the 4th and 5th seeds. The player who loses will be the 5th seed and get picked by the relatively weak 1st seed; whereas the player who wins will be the 4th seed and, on account of being immune from getting picked by the other weak high seeds, will have to play a strong low seed. Thus, both players are incentivized to lose.

The first-round bye system also has these loss-incentivizing scenarios because of locked seeding, not to mention concerns regarding the size of advantage that a bye confers and the fact that it changes the number of players who reach playoffs.

What is left to discuss regarding McMeghan's original proposal is to establish what the format would be for pairings after round 1 (I haven't thought about this yet, so there may be an objectively best solution that I propose later) and to address concerns regarding 1) collusion, 2) bullying of highly seeded newcomers, 3) players coasting off prestige rather than earning the ability to avoid tough pairings based off of continued achievement, and 4) others concerns that have yet to be raised (these are all of the unique concerns that I found in the thread in the order that I found them; this is not intended to suggest what the absolute or relative merit of these concerns is or dismiss any concerns that I may have overlooked).

I may address these myself in a follow up post once I have had more time to think about them, but for now I will reiterate that whatever system we proceed with must not ever incentivize losing. I would advocate to default to purely random seeding until and unless a system that also satisfies condition (a) while being as good as possible with respect to condition (b) and not having significant, insurmountable flaws with respect to other concerns is agreed.

Thanks for reading.
 

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