I had a great time at Pinburgh 2017… every group I played with was full of awesome people, and the tournament itself was run very well. However, there is one aspect that bothers me about it: sandbagging.
At least 3 people flat out admitted to me about doing it (no one in my groups), and my partner overheard people talking about doing it multiple times during his matches Thursday. Both of us play as hard as we can, all the time, and we both wound up in A for our efforts. I’m ranked 2157th, he’s 4985th. Both of us play in just a couple tournaments per year, and I don’t think either of us belong in A, but here we were. While we do enjoy the learning experience from playing against highly-ranked players, we’d both like to land in a division where we at least have a chance at finals. However, it appears that playing hard, combined with a bit of luck plus others’ sandbagging is a sure ticket to the meat grinder
Since we refuse to play below our level at any time, we’re not sure we want to play in Pinburgh anymore unless something changes. Playing against someone who is not trying their hardest, even if it’s just one or two opponents, kinda sucks. I don’t know what can be done to discourage it… maybe reduce A from 240 to 160 (which makes it harder to hit and more attractive since larger percentage of people qualify?) … but we do wish sandbagging would go away.
Other than that, the show rocked. Kudos to everyone who helped make it happen!
EDIT - looking at the stats, it looks like part of the issue was a massive tie that added an extra 47 players to A this year, yours truly included. Maybe just NOT advance ties next year?
There’s an easy solution to this: Next year every time you hear someone bragging about sandbagging, report them to a TD and they will be eliminated. The year after that I bet nobody is bragging. (Note that if I had been around this at all I would 100% have reported it.)
The fact is that B, C and D may as well be the same division given the quality of players that attend the event these days. Ignoring division restrictions, the entire point spread in B was three points (30, 31, 32) and C was just as bad (27, 28, 29). So basically if you were at 33 you were in A, but if you find a way to screw up and lose just 7 of those points, you’re in D. B and C are ridiculously compressed. I had a 2 one round and still made my way into B with 31, but I could have just as easy gotten another one and been in D (well I’m restricted to C but that’s beside the point for the point I’m making.)
Increasing restrictions actually just exacerbates the problem, because the more players are restricted the less room there is for normal people to actually get in, which means many very solid players who are either new or don’t play very often would end up in D with one round like I had.
Are we talking about making C and D larger to accommodate, or shrinking the number of attendees? The latter obviously isn’t going to work, and I am hard pressed to recommend the former without increasing the number of finalists which is difficult because finals are already way too long.
Reporting it to TD could just result in he-said-she-said situation, plus no one wants to be a tattle, and that would only result in silent sandbagging anyway.
What is preventing Pinburgh from simply allowing players to choose their division like PAPA does? I’d bet there were people who were unfortunate enough to have a rotten day Thursday and wound up lower than they wanted to be. I always chose B at PAPA when I was going there, and felt that matched my skill level. They could have matches cross divisons to help keep a variety of opponents… overlapping bubbles: top of B would play into lower A, etc, bottom of B into C, etc.
If the lower divisions get overloaded, they’ll actually be harder to qualify in and would make people think twice before choosing them.
Just a reshuffling…and they have made divisions larger while still keeping the same amount of finalists (Was it not 40 finalists the past two years with a smaller number of players per division?)
Assuming 1000 players next year:
150 A, 200 B, 250 C, and 400 D. I’ll admit I don’t have anything close to a real solution in mind, just throwing out an idea of maybe making it more difficult for a player in a lower division to qualify into money just from a percentage of finalists per division standpoint.
Are you overhearing actual conspiracy to not play their hardest, or people just saying the word? I was sick Thursday, running to the restroom in between every ball, and dropped to 781 in round 5 because I couldn’t get anything going. Just about every round some friend would jokingly accuse me of sandbagging. @ZenTron lovingly suggested I buy an old potato sack to dress up as a sandbag for finals.
Definitely aiming for a particular division. In some regards I can’t blame them… achieving too high a placement can seem more a punishment than a reward. I think shifting a little more prize money upward, then allowing folks to choose their division might be a better way of doing things… it seems to work for PAPA at least.
I wholeheartedly concur with this. I know of at least two people who have no business playing in C, much less D, and ended up there. I have no reason to suspect sandbagging, but these players were clearly not appropriate for D.
I have heard stories of people deliberately tanking in the 5th set in order to stay out of A (not this year, but last year). I also spoke with people that were disappointed to make A after the division cut-lines were posted and the line was revealed to be 33. I told them to believe in themselves and play their way into the finals. In 2015 and 2016 I missed the cut by 1 point and I was disappointed. I wanted to be in A more than anything.
I don’t agree with keeping silent if someone is trying to purposely subvert the competition by dumping points. People should be willing to deal with the consequences of their decisions. Their actions are affecting the other players in their round 5 group (presumably) by artificially raising their scores. It is some comfort to think that a lot of the sandbagging backfired this year when the cut-line was revealed to be 33 for A.
This is the solution I think is the most viable. It could be just like PAPA where people generally know what division they want to play, and they do it.
The only thing this would interfere with would be WPPR points, where only A division would get them. But to be fair I don’t agree with the way WPPRS work for Pinburgh to begin with. The other thing is now you’ll get a lot less cross-pollination of players but that might be okay too, judging by a lot of the moans I’ve heard from people having to play A players first round or whatnot. I think it’s an idea worth looking at.
Except then the tournament isn’t PInburgh anymore. It’s 4 separate smaller tournaments.
Maybe a fun solution would be that the B, C, and D prizepools are determined by lottery at the start of round 6. One is randomly assigned the 4k top prize, one the 2k top prize and one the 1k top prize, but nobody knows which will be which until day 2.
Another issue is: Do we even know how big of a problem sandbagging is? Is there any evidence that it is widespread and worth addressing in a universal fashion rather than telling a person to play their best?
A shifting of money does need to occur but not to A division as they already get the lions share of the pot as it is. Put more into B and C from A, keep D the same. Pay PlayOff Bubble spots in B-C from the decreased A money to entice more people to compete in rounds 9-10.
Allowing folks to choose a division would be a great idea. Those that wish to compete for the high $'s and Wppr’s just put them into a Wizards / A division. All the rest just play for money in B-C-D as it is now.
Why should non A restricted players contribute to the WPPR cause anyhow as they have no chance of winning the tourney? The IFPA has been taking steps in that direction with recent changes, why not Pinburgh as well.
Someone I know very well was in the final four of D. I know that he would never sandbag and I believe his views on sandbagging are the same as mine (very dim). He just had a sorry day on Thursday, but managed to rally his spirits for better play on the following days. Similarly, to my chagrin, I played two divisions lower this year than last, and not for lack of trying. Some of us don’t count consistency among our greatest assets.
I don’t think sandbagging allegations are provable. But I would never do it.
I believe it’s very arrogant to think you’ll be able to competently drop into the top of B and then everything will go smoothly on Friday.
I qualified for A with 33 and felt like I didn’t belong there. I had friends that i consider at my skill level or higher that qualified for B, C, and D. None of them were sandbagging, it’s just how the breaks go sometimes. In fact I think sandbagging is very rare because of how close all the lower divisions are. Going into the last round I could’ve ended up in ANY division depending on how I did. With this many people and 5 rounds, it’s just the way it is.
I think the only way you could keep the essence of what Pinburgh is today while at the same time making it so that no one ends up in A when they don’t ‘belong’ there would be to have more rounds of qualifying.
Nothing need proven; people admitted to doing it. Never claimed B would be rainbows and unicorns, just that I feel I’d at least have a chance at finishing in top 40, unlike A where I simply cannot match the skill level of the best players in the world.
It’s not a huge deal; the tournament is still a great time, and most of the outlier placements were likely more due to hot/cold streaks combined with only one day of qualifying.