An idea for a league format that I've never seen, a ladder league


#1

So one of the players in the league I run approached me with an idea for a new league that I just received approval for from the IFPA.

It’s a challenge/ladder league, it’s an extension of the challenge matches the IFPA announced last year

How the league will work is that prior to the start of the league season players will have a chance to preregister. Those players that preregister will receive an initial ranking at the start of the league. The easiest idea I came up with is the Pinburgh method, IFPA rank, with unranked players being given a rank alphabetically. Any player who joins after the preregistration period will be placed on the bottom of the ladder on the day they join.

During the season a lower ranked player may challenge a higher ranked player. How many spots a player will be allowed to challenge up can be limited. The initial idea we came up with is in week 1 you can challenge 1 rank above you, week 2 2 ranks… Challenges cannot be refused and must be completed in a timely manner. How timely that matter is can be determined. Right now I think it should be anywhere between 3-7 days. If the players cannot come up with a mutually agreeable time to complete the challenge, then it will be considered a forfeit by the higher ranked player.

Challenges should probably be best of X games (where X>1) but we haven’t made it that far in the decision process.

In the initial discussion of the rules, we did not include a rechallenge prohibition, but the more I think about it there probably should be one. Maybe a 2-3 day waiting period would be sufficient.

At the end of the season the final ranking can be directly submitted to the IFPA without finals, if you so choose, as all games are direct play and meet the IFPA requirements. However, finals may be held, if you’d like, and can be added to the meaningful game total.

Meaningful games during the challenge period are calculated by the average number of games per player (like Flip Frenzy).


#2

I’m a little surprised that a format where you get to pick your opponent would be approved.

I’m not saying this wouldn’t work…but I have a thousand questions/comments:

  1. Ranking people alphabetically is lame. Make it random, or perhaps based on the order people register.

  2. How many people are there and how many weeks? It might be impossible to win the league if your name is Zoltar and you start at the bottom, given the “challenge only [week number] rank above you”.

  3. If you are ranked 2nd at the start of the league, and can only challenge one rank above you, then you must challenge the top player. The third ranked player then has no one to challenge, so fourth ranked player must challenge them. There is only one possible set of matches the first week, with no room for choice.

  4. What is the order of challenges? What happens if 5 challenges 4 in week one? You can’t let that happen, because someone in the top 3 would be left without a match.

  5. Won’t week 2 run into similar issues? Even though they can challenge two ahead, you’ll need to carefully restrict the matches to ensure no one gets mathematically left out by the restrictions in place. (In Week 2: If rank 2 challenges rank 1, then rank 3 can’t challenge anyone. If rank 3 challenges 1, then rank 4 must challenge rank 2…otherwise rank 2 is completely left out because 5 is too low to challenge 2. Then 5 has no one to challenge, so can only be challenged by 6 or 7. If it’s 7, then 8 must challenge 6, or else 6 has no one to play. Etc.

  6. What if you have an odd number of players?

  7. If the lower player wins, what happens to their ranking? Do they swap places with the person they beat?

  8. If the higher player wins, what happens to their ranking?

  9. A lower player can challenge a higher player, then insist on scheduling options which the higher player cannot meet. Lower player wins by default. Perhaps a default time would be better. (“Games are played at 7:30pm on Wednesdays, unless the players mutually agree to another time” during the week.)

  10. I don’t understand the waiting period. I assumed that each player plays a match each week, but the waiting period rule makes me think you had something else in mind.

  11. This sounds like a logistical nightmare for the person running the league.

  12. Again, I can’t imagine that the IFPA would endorse a format where you get to pick your opponents. Otherwise people would run leagues where the top seed gets to pick their opponent, and they choose the worst player every week. I know what you’re proposing has checks & balances, but I would think the IFPA would need to explicitly state what is and is not allowed in a format like this to prevent abuse.

  13. What positive things does the ability to choose your opponent bring to this league? Other than friends getting to challenge their friends and talk trash about it, I can only see downsides.

  14. Seems very unfriendly to new players who will get picked on and/or not know enough about the other players to make good choices about who to challenge.

This sounds like an interesting concept, but the amount of rules, foresight, and cat herding involved sound awful.


#3

Grudge formats are ifpa approved. You get to pick your opponents there.

That’s all I got because this format is very confusing. Haha


#4

1. Ranking people alphabetically is lame. Make it random, or perhaps based on the order people register.

In the initial way we discussed this alphabetically would only be a tiebreaker for those players who don’t have an IFPA rank at the time of registration. It could be random, I don’t really care that would be a decision for the TD/League Commissioner. I just chose this method because its one I’m familiar with because it’s used for Pinburgh.

2. How many people are there and how many weeks? It might be impossible to win the league if your name is Zoltar and you start at the bottom, given the “challenge only [week number] rank above you”.

This is a question I’m not sure of the answer yet obviously there’s a minimum. As far a maximum I guess it would be dependent on the length on the length of the season or logistics (something that I’m still playing around with in my head but I’ll touch on my ideas in that question).
As far as challenging up or down goes that’s optional. The idea was as a ladder match so you have to climb the ladder. The obvious weakness with this is like you point out each player have 1-2 players who can challenge them initially in a restricted format (on challenge 1 up,) more as the league moves on. This limits the number of games any single player can play in a given week, which can be both a good thing and a bad thing.

3. If you are ranked 2nd at the start of the league, and can only challenge one rank above you, then you must challenge the top player. The third ranked player then has no one to challenge, so fourth ranked player must challenge them. There is only one possible set of matches the first week, with no room for choice.
4. What is the order of challenges? What happens if 5 challenges 4 in week one? You can’t let that happen, because someone in the top 3 would be left without a match.
5. Won’t week 2 run into similar issues? Even though they can challenge two ahead, you’ll need to carefully restrict the matches to ensure no one gets mathematically left out by the restrictions in place. (In Week 2: If rank 2 challenges rank 1, then rank 3 can’t challenge anyone. If rank 3 challenges 1, then rank 4 must challenge rank 2…otherwise rank 2 is completely left out because 5 is too low to challenge 2. Then 5 has no one to challenge, so can only be challenged by 6 or 7. If it’s 7, then 8 must challenge 6, or else 6 has no one to play. Etc.
6. What if you have an odd number of players?
7. If the lower player wins, what happens to their ranking? Do they swap places with the person they beat?
8. If the higher player wins, what happens to their ranking?
10. I don’t understand the waiting period. I assumed that each player plays a match each week, but the waiting period rule makes me think you had something else in mind.

3-6 Yes this is a weakness of this format. In a restricted format in week 1 1 can only be challenged by 2, 2 can challenge 1 and can be challenged by 3… It is something that I’m still trying to work out in my head. Now one thing that isn’t clear (and touches on one of you later questions) is I’m picturing this as a casual league with a bunch of players who have different schedules if this league is one night a week say every Wednesday 6-10 this format looks a lot different.

7-8 I’m grouping this into this answer because I have to answer this in my example the
Right now I envision 3 options
1,player who wins get this higher seed that is available in that challenge and the loser will receive the lower see(so in week 3 if #7 is challenged by #10 the winner will be the #7 and the loser will be #10) and yes i know this was worded horribly,
2. The winner of the match get the rank of the higher seed in the match. If the higher seed loses they drop 1 spot, if the lower seed loses they do not suffer any penalty of ranks.
3. (This one would only apply in a non restricted format, meaning anyone can challenge anyone else) If the higher seed wins, nothing happens. If the lower seed wins,the winner will move up one rank the loser down one rank.

So, to answer this in the example of the format that I originally envisioned
The league start on the 1st ends on the 31st and there are 13 players everyone is IFPA ranked so they are ranked using that method. There are no late entries (everyone preregisters and no one else want to join) It is a restricted format, there are 3 days to schedule a match before a forfeit is declared
On day 1 there are the maximum # of challenges are issued
B(initially #2)->A (initially #1), D->C, F->E, H->G, J->I, L->K M gets left out at the beginning (the reason that an average number of games is used to calculate meaningful games)

with the K vs L match they find a time to schedule on day 2 K beats L. So K stays as #11 and L is challenged by M.
A vs B agree on a time on day 3 (weakness #2 of this format there is an incentive for the higher ranked players to drag this out as long as possible to avoid dropping quickly) B beats A so B is now #1 and A drops to #2

C vs D cannot agree on a time so D advances to #3 and challenges A, B drop to #4

I see this league as more of a semi casual league where all the member cannot play on the same night hence the need for a waiting period to allow each match to be scheduled. There has to be a waiting period of some sort so that a player can’t just sit on a rank by not accepting any challenges.


Now if you schedule this league so that all challenges must occur on a single day of the week between certain times the movement happens a lot faster. In this case a rechallenge restriction is more necessary so that you don’t have the same 2 players playing all night just swapping ranks. An example of a restriction I would use would be a losing player must complete at least 1 other challenge before they can rechallenge another player. So, what happens to the bottom seed and the top seed in this case? I’m assuming that there are other challenges going on and once they are completed there are going to be position changes. So if the 13 ranked player challenges the 12th ranked player and loses. At some point evening 12 is going to challenge 11 and then 13 can then challenge 12 again. Because of how long games can take each player is probably going to play in 1-2 challenges per night (assuming they are there) If the player cannot attend their going to lose a lot of seeds as they can be challenged by lower seeds repeatedly which is a weakness of having this on 1 night a week. If I was going to use this format I would limit the number of spots a player can drop in 1 week.

9. A lower player can challenge a higher player, then insist on scheduling options which the higher player cannot meet. Lower player wins by default. Perhaps a default time would be better. (“Games are played at 7:30pm on Wednesdays, unless the players mutually agree to another time” during the week.)

The lower seed should not be able to just insist on a time. I’m assuming a fairly friendly league (which looking at Pinside is questionable sometimes) and that 2 players can find a mutually agreeable time. Yes there are going to be times when 2 players schedules are so out of whack that a time can’t be worked out and this is going to happen (I can envision this happening to me during certain times of the year) I’m having trouble coming up with a better solution. Both an open schedule league and a defined challenge period league have their upsides and downsides. I’m hoping someone else can come up with a better answer then I can but I’m drawing a blank

11. This sounds like a logistical nightmare for the person running the league.

Right now I have to agree. The best idea I have in my head right now is a league website with a dedicated page that looks like this, The lower ranked player issues a notification of a challenge and then is responsible for contacting the other player to schedule a time. I am working up the assumption that at every sign up each player gives a contact method (that isn’t facebook) and the it is distributed to the rest of the league. Now I don’t have a solution for the case that a player issues a challenge without trying to schedule a match, beyond trusting both players to do so. To make this work this would require a lot of time by the league commissioner to make sure that all challenges are valid, there are not multiple challenges at one time, and that the standings are updated in a timely manner.

On a single night it probably would be a little easier to keep track of challenges. I would think a spreadsheet that all players have the ability to make changes to would suffice.

12. Again, I can’t imagine that the IFPA would endorse a format where you get to pick your opponents. Otherwise people would run leagues where the top seed gets to pick their opponent, and they choose the worst player every week. I know what you’re proposing has checks & balances, but I would think the IFPA would need to explicitly state what is and is not allowed in a format like this to prevent abuse.

I think because everything is head to head it’s allowed.

13. What positive things does the ability to choose your opponent bring to this league? Other than friends getting to challenge their friends and talk trash about it, I can only see downsides.

It allows players with different schedule to participate in a direct play league. Right now the only formats I know of that allows a player to when they are able is a selfie or HERB/PAPA style league, (Verified by picture vs verified by a TD, another player)

14. Seems very unfriendly to new players who will get picked on and/or not know enough about the other players to make good choices about who to challenge.

In a ladder format, unless there are a lot of unranked or low ranked players, and you are using IFPA ranks to determine initial rankings there’s not a lot of opportunities for a higher ranked player to pick on a newbie. The exception to this is if a player joins late, then this could happen. As for the advantages of having knowledge of who to challenge or not. I’m not confident in using my knowledge of other players’ tendencies with most of the players I play with in Pittsburgh and I’ve been playing there for 3 years. Is there going to be a disincentive for new players to join, probably. Though I have my doubts as to whether there were any more or less disincentives from when I first joined the Pittsburgh Pinball League, and the match play format is fairly open for new players. Now, I will not deny that this format is more likely to turn off new players then a match play league or a selfie/best game league. But then I also haven’t tried this yet so I could be wrong either way (this format might be horrible for new players or it might work well)


#5

So I was just looking around the web and here are some other examples
Tennis:
http://www.tennisplayandstay.com/competition/challenge/ladder-formats.aspx

Racquetball
https://atmos.washington.edu/~ovens/rball/html/tourney-rules.html (has a reporting system)

Fencing:
https://www.piedmonthfl.org/challengerules/

Chess:

And here’s software:
http://www.challengeladders.com/challenge-software.asp


#6

I’ll have to believe you guys, but I don’t understand how that’s possible. You could run a tournament with 30 players and have two people keep picking each other. One goes 10-0 and wins the tournament because they beat one other player 10 times and didn’t have to play anyone else. Insane.

Wow, thanks for the thorough response @jpways

You can do this with indirect play…and then have a direct play finals.

I haven’t run through all the scenarios, but this will (probably) be terrible. Since they cannot move up, the higher seeds have no incentive to play anyone ranked below them. Ever. The #2 seed is basically screwed. All they can do is keep challenging #1 over and over and over. If they win, they become #1 and keep getting challenged by #2 over and over and over1. If they lose, nothing happens.

There will likely be players who are continually challenged by those below them, and thus basically never get the opportunity to move up.

Another scenario, the #6 challenges #3 and #4 challenges #5.

#6 wins and #4 wins. #6 moves into third. #3 drops to fourth. #4 drops to fifth, even though they won because the fourth spot was occupied by #3’s drop. #5 drops sixth.

If I were playing this league, I would: challenge the highest ranked player I could…and do so at the soonest instant possible, so as to avoid being challenged by someone lower than me. After submitting results, I would instantly challenge someone else, again to avoid being challenged.

If I were challenged, I would probably forfeit the match immediately (since there is no incentive to winning)…and then challenge the highest ranked player I could.

If I were #1 and was challenged, I would drag out the scheduling as long as possible and then play the match because I’d want to play some pinball. Hopefully I’d win, but if I lost, I’d then have to sit around waiting to be challenged. Once I was challenged…I would drag out the scheduling until I saw that the #1 player was available, then forfeit my current challenge, and immediately challenge #1. (The only way to get to #1 is to challenge #1…so it doesn’t matter what other wins and losses happen…all that matters is coordinating scheduling for a rematch). Hopefully this would happen within the last week of the league, because then I would drag out the rematch with #1 until the last possible day so that I would be guaranteed to keep the spot.

I’ve run tons of tournaments: casual, competitive, multi-day, small, large, leagues, and team leagues. This sounds awful to administer, frustrating to play in, and easily exploitable. :frowning:

Not trying to be discouraging! I do like the ladder concept, but I don’t see how this will work at all.

If you want people to be able to schedule matches against (nearly) anyone, at anytime, then I think it would be much better to do rankings by wins/losses. You could keep the idea that you can only challenge players within a certain ranking of you. If it’s best of 5, and you win the match 3-2…you now have 3 wins and 2 losses. If you win 5-0, then you now have 5 wins and 0 losses. Something like that. I guess this would encourage you to play the weakest players possible…but at least it encourages everyone to play as often as possible.

The ladder is going to be nothing but headaches.


#7

Well it’s possible with grudge because it doesn’t operate the way your hypothetical situation operates. Haha.

Imagine a head to head bracket and the top seed gets first pick of opponent on down until the bracket is filled. After that round, run it back again and again until one player remains. Pretty straight forward.


#8

I took me a few times reading this to have this make sense in my mind. Reading some of the articles on how different systems are run this would be more fun if I increase the incentive to play (and hopefully win). Basically create a local IFPA rating system if I wanted to run this as a ladder. So that if the third ranked player wins 5 matches against lower ranked players in the time it takes the top 2 seeds to play 1 match, both of the top seeds can drop based on the change in the rating.

Am I following your criticism of my original system in the correct way?


#9

I really like the idea of a ladder league and might even try to do one if someone irons out the format. I hope you are able to make it work! But I share ryanwanger’s concerns and the one that particularly struck me as I read your initial post was ryan’s #9 (“A lower player can challenge a higher player, then insist on scheduling options which the higher player cannot meet”). Assuming good faith by all parties, you could still have two people with opposite availability. It doesn’t seem fair to me that one player will lose by default just because they were challenged by someone with different free hours. And if you don’t assume good faith, obviously the lower ranked player has an incentive to reject every meeting time offered by the higher ranked player. I think the suggestion of having an official “league night” every week but allowing players to meet at other times by mutual agreement is perhaps the best compromise. I understand that you want to run a league that is not bound to any specific meeting time, but I think this way at least provides a final resolution to two players who both claim they can’t work out a time with each other. The one who is able to make the “official meeting time” would be the winner in that situation. (If neither could, you could declare the challenge void.) However, in most cases you would still hopefully have two people who were acting in good faith and actually trying to find a time both could meet, and this would only resolve the unusual case where they did have an irresolvable conflict. You could include in the rules of the league that making a good faith effort to find an agreeable time is required. Even if it would be unenforceable, most would probably respect the spirit of the rule. Then you could let people know that if they can’t make your official league time they can (and should) still join, but warn them that it does mean there’s a bit of a risk involved. I think this is how I would handle it if I ran such a league.


#10

It seems like a big part of this format is flexible meeting times.

Remember that if a league official is not onsite for a match, the results cannot be counted towards TGP. This applies to match play just as it does high score selfie leagues.


#11

The way I think about it is that everyone would play one match per X amount of time…which might be where we differ.

If someone with more availability is allowed to schedule and play more matches than other players, then I have no idea how to make the scoring or rankings fair.


#12

Okay, that makes sense. It can be grudge if you are continually advancing players and narrowing their choice of opponent. But it couldn’t be a situation where all competitors are fair game in all rounds throughout the event.


#13

What determines your standings for the league at the end? Number of matches won? Or just your final position on the ladder when it is over? If you lose a challenge match as a higher player, where do you go on the ladder? Everyone just shift down while that person warps up?


#14

I say just leave the Ladder Format to the Circuit Final. To me, that’s the only situation it makes sense.


#15

Good point. In that case you would have to hold a direct play final.


#16

I just read through some of the links you provided. I’m really surprised that this format works, but I guess if it’s good enough for other sports, it should be good enough for pinball. The only difference is that there is more randomness in pinball than in the other sports that use something like this.

I do like the “cool down” period where you can’t challenge within a certain time period after a match, which allows others to challenge you.

If you go forward with it, I’d vote that you simply copy an existing and mature format/ruleset from another sport. No need to reinvent the wheel.


#17

Ok, so after reading through the links I provided (and honestly I was surprised at many different ladders there were) and going over the feedback I have written an actual rulesheet. How does this look


Definitions:

Senior League Officials (SLO): (redacted)
League Week: Wednesday-Tuesday during the league season
Challenge: Best of 3 games on 3 unique machines
Active Player: Complete at least 1 challenge during a league week
Challenger: The player issuing the challenge
Defending Player: The player receiving the challenge
Challenge interval: 25% of players in the ladder

Rules:

All rulings will be made using IFPA rules

All players will register with a SLO and provide contact information, that includes something other than Facebook, that will be provided with all other league member to allow challenges to be scheduled.

Initial Rankings will based off of IFPA ranking of preregistered players at the start of the league. Players may join at any time during the league but must start at the bottom of the ladder

A SLO must be present for every challenge.

For each challenge the defending player shall have first choice of game or order with the loser of the previous game having choice for the remaining game(s)

Players can challenge higher ranked players within the challenge interval

Higher ranked players can challenge down a maximum of 2 seeds

Once a challenge is complete:

  1. If the higher ranked player wins the challenge there will be no changes to the ladder
  2. If the lower ranked player wins the challenge they will assume the rank of the defending player and the defending player and all players between the challenger and defending players will drop 1 rank

Each player will be able to issue a maximum of 1 challenge at any given time and may have a maximum of 2 challenges active at any given time.

Challenges cannot be repeated for a minimum of 7 days (The same 2 players cannot repeat a challenge match regardless of who issued the initial challenge)

Players cannot refuse challenge. The defending player must accept a challenge within 3 days or it will be considered a forfeit.

Once a challenge is accepted players must make a good faith effort to schedule a match.

A challenge may be cancelled. without penalty, at the discretion of a SLO under the following conditions:

  1. The defending player is active
  2. The defending player can show negotiations to a SLO

Exception to this rule. A player will be allowed to state that they will only accept challenges before or after a regularly scheduled pinball event at Retro Arcade at Vaporosity. Such as: Retro Arcade Pinball League, Retro Arcade Weekly Wednesday Tournament, and Sundays at Retro Arcade. Once a player informs a senior league official of this restriction, it will be disseminated to the rest of the members of the league. Those players will be allowed to cancel challenges that cannot be scheduled within the stated times

A player will be dropped 1 rank for each 7 consecutive days without completing a challenge, either through forfeit or by failing to schedule an challenge. If a player does not play at least 1 challenge during at least 50% of the league season (i.e. during a 4 week season you must complete at least 1 challenge during 2 unique league weeks) you will be dropped from the rankings for that season.


Now for my comments on certain decisions I made
First the challenge interval, this is taken from 2 other ladder systems I read. I can’t do the progressive system because it is not supported by the software I found, but I’m also not sure if this should be a hard number. But the more I think about it 25% does seem like a good compromise. I don’t want to limit the maximum number of people in the ladder because it limits WPPRs, but I also still want to allow for enough mobility in the rankings for a large number of participants.

Allowing players to challenge down: Ok this is a hard one I only saw this as an exception on ladders where there was a cooling off period. It is generally the top 5 or 10% of the ladder and only during the cooling off period. However, the software I found doesn’t allow for the exception it only all or none (unless I was reading it wrong). But since I have to induce activity because of the 50% IFPA rule I figured it was easier to make it permanent.


#18

I’m always interested in, and am actively looking for, different formats so that competitions don’t all start to morph in to a similar style.

However this to me seems over complicated, open for abuse, very random (unless ran for a very long time period) and the games played nearer the end of the season take much more significance than those early on, as well as having more questions unanswered - how many games/challenges can you make in a season, who chooses which game is played, player order…

If you want to run a ladder/challenge style tournament I’d like to suggest some changes/options.

‘League night’ is set as a specific day where a number of rounds/challenges are played.

On the night the lowest person on the ladder (Initial ladder ranking can be by whatever means you decide but is not that important) issues the first challenge (any body above them in the ladder, BUT they cannot challenge the same person twice on a night).
The next lowest ranked person, who hasn’t been challenged yet in this round, issues the next.
This continues until everyone has a match-up (or one person sits out the round if an odd no. of players).
Player challenged has choice of game or position.

Those games are then played and the ladder recalculated, based on number of wins, ties revert back to initial ranking

Another round of challenges is then worked out, and ladder recalculated.

This continues for as long as you want, or venue is available.

This has the advantage of every player playing a similar no. of games (in the event of and odd no. of players, it will be the highest ranked player who misses out each round, but that would change each round.

It will also mean that all games are played with a TD present, meaning they count towards TGP.

There would never be a benefit to losing a game.

As players want to win as many games, they will likely (or certainly should) be challenging players as close to them as possible. This will mean that players of similar ranks will be playing themselves throughout.

Whatever you decide, good luck, and it’ll be interesting to hear how it works out.


#19

These are head to head matches. I hope they’ll count regardless. It’s not a selfie league. Plus he states “A SLO must be present for every challenge.” An SLO being a Senior League Official. In PPL, that is all we have ‘present’ at every league night.

Also - it seems pretty clear the number of wins idea isn’t going to be the way this is done. It’s a ladder league. I have played in ladder leagues before (chess not pinball). They work. They aren’t based on number of wins.


#20

But winning is how you move up the ladder