Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Low-Key "SuperTeams"

When I designed the team scoring for the Low-Key Hillclimbs I decided to keep it relatively simple: the top 3 scorers from a given team on a given week contribute to the team's score.

A small dose of complexity: if a member of a team volunteers for a given week, his median score from other weeks can rank as one of the counting top 3 scores for the purposes of the important overall team ranking, although it will not qualify for the team's score for that particular week's ranking.

To get that overall score, the top half of a team's scores (rounded up) are summed. This gives teams plenty of throw-aways, for example when they aren't able to get a full complement of three to the climb.

If you're the 4th best rider for your team in a given week your score just got flushed down a big Low-Key toilet. You contributed nothing to a team result.

This was intentionally designed to be forgiving to smaller teams. They need to produce only three good scores, and to do so for only half the weeks. Encouraging smaller teams encourages diversity and competition, and that creates interest and excitement.

It's not totally fair to say the fourth-best rider didn't contribute, though: even if your score didn't count, it was available as a back-up in case one of the top 3 in some way faltered. Maybe it didn't count this week, but in some week maybe it would count. Stuff happens.

So this applies to the fourth-best rider on a team, and to a substantially lesser degree to the fifth, but by the time you dig down to the sixth-rank rider in a team, it's pretty much guaranteed that rider won't contribute at all to the team's standings. Even if team turnout is so low that the sixth-ranked rider is among the top three scorers for the team, that score will probably end up being discarded in the end since the week probably wasn't in the top half of the team's scores.

So really, the sixth best climber on a team is wasting his or her effort. Better than sticking with the super-team to whom he or she is contributing absolutely nothing is to instead join a smaller team not in contention for the overall win but very much in contention, for example, for top 10. It would be far more satisfying to have the scores go to good use then to get ground into the compost heap of super-team discards.

Yet the super-teams persist, recruiting rider after rider, crushing the loyalties of former, slower recruits into mush. But these former recruits keep showing up, week after week, perhaps thinking they are helping the cause. But they are not. They've been dismissed, ignored, left behind.

So my recommendation? Unless you're up there in the top three or maybe four of your present super team, find one of the smaller teams and make a contribution.


fulmar2 said...

I'm sure that you already thought of this... but if you haven't:

Why not change the scoring system to create an environment that fosters your original vision of the teams. If you simply averaged the scores (added up every team member's score, and divided by the number of team members), super-teams would be discouraged (with the new scoring system, 4th place and after would be bringing the score down)...

Some teams would not care; they are just doing lowkeys because lowkeys are fun, and less competitive than other bike races... but for people who care, this new system would encourage a team changeup.

You could also impose a "cap" to team size, perhaps in conjunction with the new scoring system.

djconnel said...

I could do these things but then big teams would be firing riders after getting faster recruits. I don't want that. I'm trying to encourage riders to join teams to which they can best contribute, on their own initiative, no matter what their level.