"This system should give fair results, allow players to understand their goals in each game, and be simple enough for tournament directors ."
|Tournament Equality for All
The Netrunner mailing list has been busy with discussions on how to run a fair tournament. This week I'll try to explode some myths and offer some opinions on the best Netrunner tournament methods.
I began playing Magic almost 8 years ago. At that time, a Magic tournament was usually run using a single-elimination bracket. Store owners (the only people running tournaments) would sometimes include a "loser's" bracket so that half the players wouldn't be done after one round. Each round consisted of a best two-out-of-three games. Sideboards were important for the second and third games (sideboards are cool in Magic but haven't found a place in Netrunner).
Soon, the level of Magic competition rose and players began requesting a more fair tournament structure. The Duelist's Convocation International (DCI) fumbled temporarily and then borrowed the tournament format of the United States Chess Federation. It's called the Swiss system. The DCI didn't fully understand it at first, and I played in a couple regional tournaments which had several Swiss rounds, then the top players were funneled into an elimination bracket. Go figure.
Another problem with using the Swiss system for Magic was the three-game match. The Swiss system works well when each match produces 1 point for the winner, and no points for the loser. With three games of Magic, a simple solution would have been to award the first player who won two games a point. The DCI was committed to playing all three games, however. In addtion, a player who finished 3-0 received an extra point for sweeping the opponent. Soon the pairings were mixed and mangled.
A factor that helped these Magic tournaments run smoothly was the large number of participants. The more players, the more forgiving their system was, and in general, players were happy. I have no idea what system is used now, I haven't played Magic for at least a year.
Anyone want to buy a Black Lotus or some Mox? How about a complete set of English language Legends?
When Netrunner first burst on the scene, WotC was careful to announce the Swiss system as the tournament format of choice. Unfortunately, Netrunner doesn't fit conveniently into a Swiss system, and the draft of the rules from WotC was contradictory and difficult to understand. Basic problems became apparent. Myths sprang up as central arguments for ranking a Netrunner tournament.
I've run some simulations and thought about this problem a lot, and here are the general rules I believe the Netrunner tournament system should include:
The Games/Matches point (GMP) system suggested by Scott Dickie is a nice compromise between ranking by games and ranking by matches. Using this system, each round pairs two players who play two games, one on each side. Each player receives one point for each game, and the match winner recieves an addtional point. A match tie is worth half a point for both players. This is very similar to the system used for Magic tournaments above.
The pairings are difficult, though. With enough participants, the Game/Match points make nice pairings. Most Netrunner tournaments are small, however. A compromise is to divide the GMPs of each player by 3 after each round, and round this quotient to the nearest whole number. This whole number can be used to pair the next round. This system preserves most of the Swiss system pairing advantages without favoring either games or matches in the scoring.
Some might protest that doing this division complicates the system. Here is a chart:
This system should give fair results, allow players to understand their goals in each game, and be simple enough for tournament directors (copy the chart if you need to). I think the system should be called the "Dickie-Game/Match point, Neal-rounded-pairing tournament System." Or if you prefer, "Netrunner Tournament System" (NTS).
Mail me if you want to talk about tournament scoring or any other Netrunner ideas.
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