Monday 14 January 2019

Duzza does it again and more Q-School thoughts

Congrats to Glen for claiming a third straight Lakeside title, which will surely be his last given his Q-School entry, I cannot possibly see how he doesn't go on to win a card, so it'll be interesting to see what happens in relation to the Grand Slam - when Bunting switched, they gave Bunting a spot, but when Ratajski switched, they didn't give Ratajski a spot, I'm thinking that Glen will put himself in the picture to win a spot someway or another. We'll see, for all we know he might somehow not win a card. But I doubt it.

I had a quick convo with DartsElo1 on Twitter last week in relation to Q-School the other week, and how the draw in the Euro variant had put two highly ranked players in his rankings up against each other at an early stage (Koltsov against Jeff Smith in the last 128 lol), and how there's got to be a better way than a straight knockout and then whatever questionable method of countback they're using this year. Of course there is, and while it's all theorycrafting given I've mentioned Swiss to Barry previously and he's not interested, there's a few things to think about.

Firstly, with them having 400+ entrants in the UK qualifier this year and probably about the same last year, they really should think about holding two separate UK qualifiers. If you retain one at Wigan and hold one in, say, the Milton Keynes venue where they hold the Pro Tour, it allows for more natural expansion in the future (they're already questioning whether they need to limit the number of guests they might allow into the Wigan venue for health and safety), and by having less players in any one venue, then assuming they can have the same number of boards (I think it was 32 in Hildesheim, one would assume the same in Wigan), then you can have a deeper event whichever way you look at it. Having a second venue somewhere in the south has got to be preferable for many players as well who might be able to save on hotel bills.

So let's say that they do that, and let's say for the sake of argument that Q-School continues to grow and they have around 300 entrants per venue. How do we make it a fairer system, yet still one that's easy to administer?

If we have 32 boards, then you have 64 players in play at any given time. You've got to work out how to give them play, given they're paying a monkey plus expenses each, but at the same time allow yourselves to work down to find who the best players are. They say that play is due to start at 10:30am at the latest - so let's use that as a starting point. Split the field in half at random for most of day one, so that while one pool is playing the other is on break - allows for natural meal/drinks breaks throughout the day and means you don't have quite so crowded a venue all the time. Let's call them group A and group B. Have each player play six legs against another at random. This should take no more than 15-20 minutes (especially as, if you have a straight six legs, you don't need to faff about with bulling up), so one of the two pools will take about an hour tops. Repeat the process, so after two hours, group A has played two games and twelve legs. Probably possible for the most simplicity to keep players on the same board for each game.

Now bring group B in to play in the same manner, and while they're playing you draw the third match for group A players - there's plenty of time to do this and let everyone know who's playing who, as group A has a couple of hour's break while group B is playing. Here you can start a Swiss process - players with the same number of legs won play each other, as far as is practical.

Once group B is done, if we allow a bit of extra time than what we're already saying, which seems conservative anyway, it's 3pm - give it an hour for group A to play their third match, then an hour to have group B do the same. It's 5pm, now pool everyone together for one final round of games, again matched up Swiss-style with players paired according to legs won. After this final game, you then trim down to the top 192 players - tiebreaking by strength of schedule, then sudden death legs, whatever. Those 192 return on day 2. Note how everyone's played 24 legs - which is more than the bare minimum that anyone who goes in and loses on all four days gets.

On day two, you've got three times as many players as you have board slots, so if we're saying that a six leg game takes 15-20 minutes, it'll take about an hour for everyone to play a match. So let's work to playing six games - six hours for the actual games, give it fifteen minutes between each round for administering draws, you're done by six in the evening. Trim down to 128 players after day two. Day 3's similar, except with each board only being used for two games per round, you can easily increase to eight matches in a day, then trim to 64 for the final day. On the final day, everyone's playing at the same time - so you could easily get twelve rounds of games in. Hence by the end everyone has played 30 opponents, and has an easily sortable metric - the number of legs they've won. Sort by legs, hand out tour cards, job done.

Have had a few responses to the Reddit post re: the year end awards, which is always appreciated, I'll look to get something posted up in relation to that in a couple of days before Q-School is properly up and running.

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