I would like to begin this thread with a "disclaimer" of sorts.
Escher and I love ReplayFX and Pinburgh. It is our favorite show and tournament of the year. Always has been. Always will be. As such, we absolutely appreciate all the efforts of everyone involved in helping to make this event so awesome every single year. We show our appreciation by not only spending our vacation time and money to travel to the show and tournament each year, but we tell everyone else who we play pinball with in Colorado how awesome it is and help spread the Gospell (this year, I believe we had a record number of Colorado players come and play in Pinburgh (over 20) and I would like to think we had something to do with that...). Having said all that, let's get to it.
I was not a fan at all of the new seeding approach to Round 10 on Friday Night. For those that missed the "nuance" this year (and it was easy to miss because no one, and I mean no one, besides the TDs knew about this change ahead of time as far as I could tell. The website was not updated and it was not mentioned in any "new to Pinburgh this year" info, etc...)...
So in the previous six years of Pinburgh, Round 10 was the culmination of a 5 round division-only seed "convergence" with the top four players in the division up to that point played each other in the top group (1,2,3,4) and then the next four made the next group (5,6,7,8) on down the list. For those in the first group, it was a round to determine who got a double bye and/or who won the top qualifier money. Groups of (13,14,15,16) and (17,18,19,20) were all in the thick of playing for a single bye. And with the thin margin of wins between seeds 21 and 81, most of the other groups for the top 100+ players were locked in a battle for who would make the cut, and who wouldn't. Those seeded in Round 10 just north and south of the cutline (37,38,39,40) and (41,42,43,44) could almost assuredly know that the top two finishers in their group would make the cut, and the bottom two finishers would probably miss out.
And therein lies the perceived "rub". If all four players in one of those bubble groups all decide to "group collude" and come out of the round with 4, 6-6 records, then all four players might make the cut without actually having to play "for real". And that would suck.
So to avoid this potential "group collusion", @PAPA_Doug and his assistant TDs decided to back off on the full seed convergence for Round 10 this year and go instead with a 1-32-33-64, 2-31-34-63, etc. groupings with the reasonable assumption that now you would have someone leading the group who is probably already in, two players fighting for the cutline, and one player who is probably nearly out unless they pull off a miracle 11-1 or 12-0, which the other members of the group most certainly wouldn't agree to. Nowhere would you find a group where four, 6-6 finishes would be desirable.
So here is why I did not like this change at all:
Firstly, I don't believe that "Round 10 group collusion" is a problem that needs fixing because I don't believe it would ever occur for real. I was told by a TD that someone was heard "offering" his group the 6-6 "solution" in last year's Pinbrugh Round 10, and that player was DQ'ed from the round. Awesome. The current system works as intended! No need for change. Certainly not radical change! Even if that player had not been overheard, what are the chances that the other 3 players would have agreed to the terms ? I would love to think that those chances would be nearly NULL. And even if through some amazing luck, all four players are willing to "fake it", we're talking about perhaps a single group out of what, 20 groups * 4 divisions * 7 years = 560 Round 10 groups with a "chance" over the years...
So now we all have to take our shoes off in perpetuity because some asshole tried to blow up a plane with a shoe-bomb once ??! This just stinks.
Secondly, as @keefer alluded to in a different thread, when you are in the hunt, those Round 10 matches are EPIC! In an awesome way. With everyone trying their best. After two incredibly long and arduous days of playing up to that point! Your playoffs start NOW. Two in, Two out. Get it done. Not this year. There is nowhere near the gravitas of the situation when everyone around you in the seeds are all spread out all over the convention center! I've played now in 140 rounds of Pinburgh match play and I can remember a few here and there but I can ABSOLUTELY, and will ALWAYS remember my epic Round 10 battles with the likes of JOE, @multibrawlr, and @Smack847. Those were my best (and most disappointing!) rounds ever, but I worked so hard in the previous 9 rounds to get to that point. And maybe, if I knew what was coming with the Divergence this year, I could have been better prepared, but I was incredibly disappointed that I didn't face 34,35,36 with my 33 seed this year.
Thirdly, it seems pretty unfair, that the 64th seed at 64 wins has to play in a group with the #1, #32, and #33 seeds, while the 65th player at 64 wins anchors a Round 10 group with the 96th,97th, and 128th seed. oooof. Considering that seeding among ties is random, that's a pretty harsh cutoff at 64/65!! So the 64 seed gets a player in their group with a record of 86-22, and the 65th player with the same number of wins gets a player in their group with a 60-48 record. That seems terribly unfair, where before, 61,62,63,64 would all be 64-44 and 65,66,67,68 would also all be 64-44. I personally feel this seems WAY, way fairer than the new Divergence, and I would absolutely be willing to "risk" all that alleged group collusion around me, in order to play against the players who have most closely matched my own play up until that point.
Fourthly, I would humbly offer that the most obvious explanation of why historically there have been more four way 6-6 endings in Round 10 is that all four players by that point are perfectly matched in that moment and 6-6 is the likely outcome for all of them playing their best. And, you won't see the same 6-6 finishes at the bottom for groups "out of the hunt" because those players have been playing inconsistent all tournament long, which explains why they are on the bottom, and you can't expect them to suddenly play to the mean.
Patrol Round 10 extra diligently! Interview all groups that turn in a sheet where all four players have between 5 and 7 wins to make sure that it's legit. You think a random group of four players can all agree to collude in Round 10, and then be able to get all their stories straight to explain how that happened and get away with it ? Meh. Give us back our 1,2,3,4, 5,6,7,8, ... Please!
Thanks for all you do. And I'm sorry I care about this stuff TOO much. After being the first player officially eliminated in A last year in Round 7 (yikes!), I was really, really looking forward to my Round 10 battle from the 33 seed, and not at all expecting to have to play @sk8ball instead!