Wednesday, July 30, 2014

WBC Team Bracket

Yesterday Don sent out his 'before the con' email for the World Boardgaming Championships and the main thing that concerned me was it provided the details for how to sign up for the team tournament tournament. I found it interesting that they explicitly call out that you need to already registered for WBC to play. I blame Andrew for that since I feel like he tried to play recently despite not going to WBC. He is finally going this year so he got to submit one for reals this time! You just pick 10 teams off the list and then hope those teams finish in the top 10 of the team tournament. Pretty easy!

I've been struggling with if I should include my own team on my bracket. Part of me feels like failing to do so is showing a lack of confidence in my team and that's not the case. I think we have a pretty good shot at making the top 10 since I'm obviously going to win my team game and most of my teammates have won their team game at least once in casual play... But then I got to thinking about what I've actually liked about the team event in previous years. And the best part has always been when people come up and tell me that they chose my team as a dark horse in the team tournament. In 2011 the winner of the bracket contest (Bruno Wolff, the excellent Titan GM) won because he picked my team and we came 9th which was pretty great. Then last year when we were lazy and didn't submit a team we had a couple team complain to us because they wanted to put us on their bracket and couldn't because we weren't there. (Even worse, we would have won for them!)

I decided what this meant is I actually want to be on a good team so that other people want to pick my team. I don't need to pick my own team to have that happen. In fact, if I don't pick my own team I get to pick 10 other teams to cheer for instead of only 9. So I get to root for 4 more people and maybe if I remember (or can get over anxiety issues) to tell them about it I can share some of that around. And if it turns out I lose the bracket tournament solely because I didn't pick my own team, well, at least my team did well and might have made other people happy!

It also makes my bracket more different than Andrew's, which he posted as a comment on Facebook to my last post on this subject. I used a different method of picking teams than he did, but we still ended up picking a lot of the same teams regardless.

I went through the PDF file on the website which listed all the numbers the odds guy used to work out the odds for each team. He doesn't post the exact formula, but the inputs are the total laurels ever earned at WBC, the laurels earned last year, the laurels earned in the chosen game, and the number of wins in the chosen game. A lot of these make sense, but I think they aren't properly weighted. My big problem is actually with how it deals with newer players and newer games. I get that my 3 teammates who have never been to WBC before are worth nothing in the formula. There's no data and since most people in an event don't make the top 6 it seems pretty reasonable to assert that new people are less likely to do well than established players. My concern is more for things like my own team game, Le Havre. I only have 72 laurels in the game, and I only have 1 win. But the game has only been around for 4 years, and I am #1 on the laurel list for the game. I've earned laurels every year it's been an event. That's not as good as someone who has earned laurels every year for 15 years (13 wins, a 2nd, and a 3rd) for sure (James Pei in For The People, for reference) but how much worse is it? I don't know. But I feel like the handicapper formula they use could use to be normalized for percentage of laurels earned in the event, not total laurels earned in the event. Laurels earned all time should probably be laurels per year attended. That sort of thing.

It's also going to miss out on things like someone new showing up and starting to dominate an existing game, though. Something like what Stephane Dorais has done in Air Baron, which is a game that has been played at WBC for 18 years. Stephane first earned laurels in that event 6 years ago and has gone on to earn them in 5 of 6 years including two wins. That's a reasonably dominating performance, but he's still only 4th on the laurels list for that event.
There's also the problem that the laurel count includes laurels earned at events other than WBC, as does the event wins column. So James Pei is listed as winning 18 times in 15 years. In actuality he won an email tournament and 4 at 'WAM', one of which was an 8 player tournament. Which doesn't detract from how strong he is in the team tournament... He's a machine! But that it's included in his stats means it's included in other people's stats too and those people (whoever they might be) may end up looking stronger than they are. At least compared to people who don't play the email tournaments or go to WAM/EuroQuest/whatever.

But I guess that's why they have a bracket, right? So people can see things like that and think they're onto something and stick them in there! But I still want odds to be perfect, so I'm still going to be annoyed and you can't stop me! So there!

Anyway... I feel like getting into the top 10 mostly requires having one person on the team get a win and someone else earn points. So when I see a team like Nest of Spies which has the aforementioned James Pei on it along with teammates that are all multi-time winners in their events I feel like they have to be put on a bracket. Unfortunately it turned out there were something like 7 teams that looked to be about that good and I really wanted to pick more 'sleepers' to show I'm better than the formula. So I had to drop some of the better odds teams. Oh well!

Here's what I submitted:

1 Nest of Spies
2 Wood Bee Contenders
3 Harry B's
4 Uncivil Servants
5 Magic Men
6 Roll One Die
7 Cold Fusion
8 Now Playing
9 Lady Luck
10 Pea Soup

All the pressure is on you now, Robb! You'd better win for me!

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