Let's talk about initial seeding in tournaments


The ideas of “open entry” and “match play to start” rarely go together. Most competitions that are “open” use some kind of qualifying stage prior to any match play portion, whether that qualifying is a regular season, round-robin play, high score in some form or whatever else. It would be an interesting experiment to run two match play events together where one is specified in advance as seeded and the other as random and see how many players and which ones sign up for each.


Seeded is unfair to the bottom third. Adjacent is unfair to the top third.

Random is potentially unfair to everyone, but it doesn’t privilege one pre-determined group over another.


Do you not know how we roll? We don’t wait for an event to become “established” before we just label it “important” :slight_smile:

FAKE IT TIL YOU MAKE IT is how we’ve always operated.


Disagree. Everyone is playing people of their skill level. It breeds competition for more experienced players and also creates a less intimidating atmosphere for newbies. Then after round one, current tournament position decides who your with. But your always with people that are of a similar rank/position.

Every tournament I run starting a few months ago does seedings and pairings this way.


This is only true for large events.

Unless I’m way out of touch, the vast majority of local monthlies are “open entry” and “match play to start”. (And if the largest monthly in my area wasn’t using IFPA Ranking for initial groupings, then I probably wouldn’t have started this thread).


Fair enough. Your format has multiple rounds of guaranteed play. Since I’m okay with your format, and I’m okay with Pinburgh, perhaps for me the line is drawn at elimination formats?


I would be hard pressed to find a single individual competitive sport that doesn’t use some method of seeding based on prior competitions … yes, even at “open” competitions that have no qualification requirement.


As mentioned above: poker.


Initial seeding should not be random if it is head to head and one and done. An example is our local scene. There are two players that are at a much higher skill level that all the rest. If those two drew each other in the first round it would be quite unfair. It would be as if the finals were taking place in the first round.


as I said in parenthesis not always rigid - and btw even FA Cup has some kind of seeding (Premier League teams have several byes f.e.). I just wanted to hear some examples (beside poker)


Elimination brackets are pretty much designed to do this though. As it says somewhere on the IFPA site, they’re designed to be interesting, to produce good matches, especially in the finals. There’s this strange idea that they’re how a ‘fair’ tournament would work that makes no sense. If you wanted a fair evaluation of skill, you’d either do highscore based, or have everyone play everyone. How often do you hear stuff like “I lost to the winner”, etc? In theory if you disregard the random factor, an elimination bracket will find the ‘best’ player, but it doesn’t say anything about players 2-16.

With the goal of being a high level, polished and televised competition being one of the primary factors behind the design of the HUC, choosing this for the format makes sense. You want a build up of play and excitement, a big final round, etc, and in that case seeding the players based on their IFPA rank also makes sense. What makes somewhat less sense is letting the ‘random’ other players play at all. The IFPA seeding wouldn’t be nearly as big a deal if only, say, the top 16 on the list (above 1500) were even in it. ‘open’ elimination events and seeding like this don’t really mix well.


Unfair to those those two players.

By the same token you could argue that if all the tournaments are seeded, how is the 16th best player supposed to earn more WPPR points if they’re continually matched up against the top seed?

This can happen regardless of whether seeding is used or not. The reigning PAPA World Champion is currently the 16th seed in Colorado.


I’m suggesting that since WPPRs can simply be brute forced by playing a lot, once you get to about a few hundred or so, you cannot determine how good a player is by WPPRs alone. There is no way to use that ranking to distinguish between an average player who plays a lot versus a very good player who plays seldom.

I agree. I could have been clearer about that, I meant top 5 for that tournament.


I’d suggest it’s probably some kind of logarithmic thing. The first 10, the next 100, the next 1000, etc. Or maybe x2 or x3 that


Part of the problem is that people are misusing the word unfair.

Def: “not based on or behaving according to the principles of equality and justice.”

During a random draw those two top players are treated equally to the rest. So it is ‘fair’ as long as you are looking at that event. Now, you might say they shouldn’t be treated equally in this event since their past performance has earned them perks. Ok, so now you are treating everybody equally but over a longer time period. This is also ‘fair’ since everyone is treated equaly.

The question becomes, who are you catering to. The new player or the person who worked over time? Having a final between top ranked players? Depending on how you answer that you’ll answer the ‘fairness’ question differently.

(I’m tired, so maybe I shouldn’t have put quotes around fair. If that offends … my bad. :slight_smile:


If Goal = final rounds have maximum probability of matching the “best” players against each other, then traditional top-vs-bottom seeding is optimal.

If Goal = have equal probability of same degree of difficulty for all entrants, then totally random seeding is optimal.

If Goal = maximize probability of winning for the greatest number of players, then #1 vs #2, #3 vs #4, etc. seeding is optimal.

There’s a feeling among many players that the current state of pinball is a lot of “the rich get richer” at many of the larger events. It would be refreshing to do version 3 and see how brave the top guns are when they would have to face each other early on. You could make it double elimination to cut them some slack in that regard.

At HUC, we’d have had round 1 of Raymond vs. Trent, Andrei vs. Karl, me vs. JohnnyPlague and Tim vs. Fred, with round 2 the Raymond/Trent winner vs. Andrei/Karl winner, and me/JP winner vs. Tim/Fred winner, then those two winners in round 3, after which only one of the top 8 would be left in the winners bracket, giving everyone else some hope. Thinking it over, this would have been more exciting in many ways than the seeded version, i.e. a greater sense or urgency for the top seeds to do well right away, and more mystery around who from “down below” would make a deep run in the event. Maybe we should give this version a shot some time in the next year to see how it goes.


What if there were a format that blended a couple of these concepts… for example, in a field of 32, 1v16, 2v17 etc for the first round, then flip to a 1v4, 2v5 after reseeding the second round, then flip back again, and so on. This might be able to create some interesting and tougher matches early on while also keeping some lower down the bracket players involved for longer. Given that the rankings get so muddy past the first 250-500 or so, I would venture a guess that there would still be some pretty good play and some pretty interesting results from a non slaughter bracketing scenario.


Well, there goes the interest/draw of Cinderella stories and big upsets.


Regardless of the seeding used, I’d like to see more tournaments do what Pinball at the Lake does. Top 250 player - $60 entry fee. 251 and up - $30 entry fee.

It may discourage a few from traveling to an event, but it gives the little guy a bit of a mental edge. No way I can lose more $ than these better players.