I’m probably in the minority here, but I really don’t enjoy the default of seeding tournaments based on IFPA ranking.
Perhaps I’m wrong, but the reason IFPA ranking is used to see is so that you don’t have top players randomly facing each other early in the event. I get that it would be “unfair” for say Raymond and Keith to face each other in the first round. Sucks for them to fly out to [some town far away] and get a bad draw like that. And presumably we want the finals to be made up of the best players possible.
This is “more fair” for those top players…one person doesn’t have a substantially more or less difficult path to the finals. But I don’t think that makes pinball better.
Exhibit A: Heads Up Pinball Championship. (The Challonge bracket seems to be gone so I can’t verify this). The list of players still alive when I tuned in was almost entirely what one would expect. Of course, this is to be expected…if you’re a top player, your first match or two is a cakewalk. Why would a lessor ranked player bother to show up for this if they know they’re being fed to the sharks right from the beginning? The path to victory for a bottom seed is literally almost as hard as it could possibly be. (In a seeded 16 player pinball tournament, the 16 seed would face: #1, #8/9, #4/5, #2/3. Yes, it could be slightly harder, but not much.
Exhibit B: local monthly tournament at 1up Colfax in Denver. This tournament starts out in six groups of 5 or 6, but it seeded using IFPA ranking (so the top seed has the bottom seed in their group, etc). The groups are evenly distributed so that there aren’t hard groups and easy groups. Each should have about the same level of difficultly. Great news if you’re one of the six best players in the tournament…you’re guaranteed not to face any of the other six best players during your first 8 to 10 matches (you play each person in your group twice). If you’re one of the worst 6 players, you’re guaranteed not to face any of the 6 worst players in the tournament.
Easy path for the good players, hard path for the bad players. Even though the top two players advance out of this group, the number of times a lessor ranked player has advanced is very, very small.
I’m all for making a qualifying/seeding portion of the tournament, and using that to determine groupings or matches later in the tournament.
But (even as someone who benefits from this system at the aforementioned monthly) I think that using IFPA ranking for initial seedings/pairings is really unfair for the players that need the most encouragement.
Edit: To be clear, I only think this is an issue with open events, meaning anyone can join. I don’t think you should be seeded at the start in any open event. I have no problem with initial seedings in a closed event…one where there was a qualification process that has already been completed (SCS, IFPA Worlds, Circuit Finals, etc).