Tuesday, July 26, 2005

picking teams for 2006 World Clubs

The timing (November 2006) and location (Perth, Australia, on the west coast, 11 618 miles from Boston) of World Clubs next year will undoubtedly lead to a weak field. How many of the US teams who attend Nationals will also attend Worlds in near-full force? I think the UPA might have to make some changes to the eligibility rules in order to get competitive teams.

Below are some ideas to improve the quality of the US teams that do attend.

But first, here are the simplified eligibility rules for rosters:
  1. Teams are selected in descending order of finish at Nationals, extending to Regionals somehow if not enough teams from Nationals choose to go (happened as recently as 1995, when there were about a dozen US teams at Worlds). (Oh, and if your team is a bunch of dicks, you might not get picked either.)
  2. Anyone on the team in the qualifying year or the playing year is eligible.
  3. Anyone not on another roster in the playing year is eligible.
  4. An additional 3 or 5 players can be added to the roster.

Problems:
  1. Teams that do go will probably be short-handed by a lot.
  2. There might not be enough Nationals teams that choose to go, forcing Regionals-level teams to go. (And how do you determine whether NW#5 should go over S#4?) And since WFDF uses Worlds rankings to help determine bid allocations for the next Worlds, this could affect the US in 2010 as well.
  3. The qualifying tournament is more than a year before the event.

Ideas (UPA would have to get WFDF approval on these):
  1. Significantly expand the number of ringers allowed.
  2. Allow teams in the same region to combine.
  3. Allocate, say, half of the spots to Nationals qualifiers, and hold a separate qualifying tournament for the remaining spots. Set an early deadline (May 15) for Nationals teams to commit, then hold the qualifying tournament in June. Put strict requirements on the rosters for these qualifying tournaments, e.g., all players must either play with that team in the fall series or they must attend Worlds. The situation you want to avoid is having a group of ringers qualify the team but then not attend Worlds.

17 comments:

heacox said...

Just to clarify, are bids to Worlds for UPA teams based on Nationals 2005 or Nationals 2006?

Thanks.

Marshall said...

2005. The tournaments are too close together next year to use Nationals 2006. It is a little weird.

mick said...

hey all, long time reader, first time commenter...

um, i don't want to be a dick, and i am australian so many would argue that it is second nature.... but why should the WFDF change the eligibility rules to suit the US club teams? i mean sure, i can see that it will be harder for US teams to get to Perth and all. this might affect the quality of the tourny. but, to be fair australians have been going through this for years. maybe the real solution should be that the UPA and the US clubs should get more organized and work hard to raise the funds.

i live in austria now (yes weird, the two countries do sound the same), and teams here are already getting there acts together for WUCC in perth. teams are registering and working out how to get the cash to go. they are also working out what their rosters will be over the next year or so.

still, i'd hate to see WUCC quality drop. it could be a great tournament if a lot of strong teams show.

Marshall said...

In the last World Clubs, the US dominated the competition. US teams represented 8 of the top 10 in Open, 7 of the top 10 in Women's, and 7 of the top 10 in Mixed. That's an unfair sample, since of course the competition was in the US and thus far less convenient for other teams, even for the European teams given that the tourney was in Hawaii.

In Scotland four years previous, US men were 5 of the top 10, US women were 3 of the top 10, and the three attending US Mixed teams were all in the top 5. [Now that I think about it, "top 10" is a silly way to do this, and I should go back and do it by quarterfinalists or something related to the tournament format, but I don't have the time to go back through it at the moment.] At any rate, other than the US, only Finland (Women's) and Sweden (Men's) produced more than one quarterfinalist in '99.

Ok, none of that is necessarily the way it will be for Perth or necessarily the way it should be. I'll leave to someone else to offer opinions on the growing parity between North America and the rest of the world in club ultimate (I'm not qualified - never played at any worlds). My point is this: I think Jim's raising a worthwhile question given that arguably it will cost the tournament some depth and strength that it is awkwardly timed against the North American championships, making it harder for US and Canadian teams to attend.

The timing of the qualifying tournament is awkward as well. Rosters can change significantly over the course of a year with people who move cities, change teams, and the like. The risk, of course, is creating all-ringer teams that would otherwise never be "club" teams and thus violating the spirit of a club championship.

Naturally, the rest of the world may be perfectly happy to have less US participation and I have no doubt that the event will be competitive. But evaluating the best way to manage US qualifications, including possible alterations to the rules, seems reasonable and would have to be thought out before the qualifying series that starts a little over a month away.

At this point, the pre-registered teams list is interesting, showing a lot of Mixed teams and less of everyone else.

And yes, in looking for the history of the competitions, I ran across the "Non-Human" Distance Record. Alex, the Sea Lion, 9.76m. Impressive.

parinella said...

First, I agree that it's fair that once in a while, the Australians should host. But in general:
1. Most top finishers at Worlds are North American, sometimes extremely so (top 4-9 in each division in 2002 were North American).
2. US club structure is different from other countries. I've already played on four different teams this year at tournaments, which would make me ineligible according to one previous WFDF rule. Rosters are much more fluid here so the concept of a team is different.

Specifically,
3. No offense, but the Austrian Nationals are hardly the equivalent of the US National series, which takes place over 2 months and can require some teams to take 3 flights.
4. Worlds are just so close to US Nationals that it just won't be practical for a significant % of players to attend both. The US could possibly move up Nationals a week, but much more would significantly change the whole fall series. (Actually, I think that we could easily shave a week off the schedule by compressing the Sectionals/Regionals time. here is the official calendar.) No other country has its Nationals then. While the timing will be inconvenient for the Scandinavian countries, as it will be out of season, it won't affect their ability to attend.

parinella said...

Also, I'm not even sure why teams are registering on the site, since each country's federation controls the bids. And the US will not hand out bids until after 2005 Nationals. We don't know how many bids are going to be given to the US, so probably only a couple teams in each division can be confident that they will finish high enough to get a spot.

Marshall said...

It would only be small help for next year, but how much difference do you think it would make in general to re-write the rules so that those summer tournaments with the Short Fat Guys wouldn't impact eligibility for World's?

mick said...

I can see that from a pragmatists view their should be a rule change to assist the US clubs. But if the WFDF were a political body and not a sporting one you'd have a really hard argument to convince them.

I see that the arguments that Parinella is giving are based around the tourny schedule in the US, WUCC doesn't fit well into this structure. He's right, it really doesn't. Is that the fault of the WUCC and the WFDF? Is this a result of poor planning on behalf of the UPA? Do American players not value the WUCC? I'm not being rhetorical, I'd like to know.

I'm serious when I say that in a few other countries they plan their nationals and tournament schedules around the big international tournaments. Why doesn't the UPA do the same?

Is it a value thing? I mean, the US nationals are huge and arguably the hardest competition in the world to win. Do people not think it's worth the extra planning to create a strong whole-world competition?

Or is it purely because it would be hard? The North American ultimate scene is huge. It's one thing for Australia to organise the schedule of what is really about 6 - 10 competitve open division clubs, and quite another to do the same with 50 or more...

mick said...

Oh yea, and it isn't as though I'm trying to claim that the eligibility rules are awesome. In fact I think they are quite annoying. I'm just trying to say that changing them just because WUCC is in Australia and that this doesn't suit the US schedule isn't exactly an appropriate reason.

I personally think that the rules are infuriating, with the rules as they stand I am ineligible to play for my old Australian club, which is the club I feel most attached to, but as my current Austrian club isn't even planning to try to qualify I am unable to play.

I could ditch my current club and play with another for the next year or so, but that would mean I'd be playing for a club that is 600 km away. This is also a pretty lame thing to do to the friends I've made here. Though, as I understand it, this sort of thing happens every time WUCC comes along...

Anonymous said...

From my experience (Nationals calibre Open in the US) there is little to no thought given to tailoring anything to Worlds. That doesn't mean that we don't think about it, but it is entirely an afterthought. If we are fortunate enough to qualify, great. If not? Unlucky.

We're not taking Worlds into consideration when rostering, nothing. And as Jim mentioned earlier, we foresee a lot of change in our roster from 2005 to 2006. Winning the UPA Championships (whoops, I almost called it Nationals) is the only goal.

This isn't to say that we wouldn't be proud as hell to represent the US, but we assume that if we are fortunate enough to do so, we'll figure everything out after we get the word.

As far as I can tell, the timing for Worlds has changed for 2006. The schedule for UPA Championships doesn't change from year to year and can be planned around in advance as all teams start at the same place and most teams have a strong idea of how far they will advance. With WUCC in 2006, we can't plan until we know who qualifies. Those teams that do qualify will be the exception. It will and should be up to them to make accomodations. The UPA shouldn't alter the schedule of 600 teams/10000 players (info from UPA site) due to the potential for a small percentage of teams/players to compete at WUCC.

Poorly worded, but I think I made my point. Gotta get back to work...

parinella said...

In 2005, the UPA fall series lasts for 8 weeks, from September 10 to October 30. There are something like 30 Sections in three divisions, so they are given a three-week period to hold their event. The UPA also requires at least a week off between tournaments in order for qualifiers to purchase not-last-minute plane tickets, for those teams that aren't practically guaranteed to qualify. This is a long way of saying that it might be possible to compress the season to 7 weeks, but not less than that. The UPA also thinks it's important to have Sectionals be late enough so that college teams can play, and they generally don't start school until about September 1. But even if that wasn't important, it still isn't practical to start the UPA series in August.

On the other hand, for those who can spend the time to go, it might work out better. With an August Worlds date, the all-out intense season lasts from about June 1-October 30, and it's very difficult to maintain yourself continuously for that long and peak twice.

On another note, it's hard to tell what the true purpose of Club Worlds is. Every year, but perhaps less true now, there are Americans who essentially pick up with a scrub team from another country (maybe they vacationed there two years ago and became friends with the local club scene). And there are teams at the _World Championships_ who would be hard pressed to make it to the second day of Sectionals. And at Worlds in 2002, no non-UPA team in any division made it to the semis (and not even the quarters in the Open). So, it's a bit strange playing in a 7-day tournament where roughly half of the games are not competitive, and most of the other half are games against your fellow countrymen.

I would like to hear from other Champies-caliber teams in the US how many of their team would go to Worlds.

parinella said...

Mick,

Regarding rostering rules, WFDF tried to put in a one-size-fits-all rule, based largely on the European experience, as far as I can tell. They make exceptions for struggling countries, which are formally allowed to take ringers from other countries.

How about if they made the following rules:
1. It is up to each country to determine roster eligibility rules for its teams.
2. Common sense and the spirit of the game should prevail. "All-Star" teams are strictly prohibited.
3. WFDF may reject any rules regarded as antithetical to #2.

That's it.

Actually, what they have now (here is a link for 1999: http://www.ultilinks.com/wucc99/eligibility.html) isn't too bad. But this part "A team comprised of players who have not, for the last four months prior to the WUCC played, competed or entered into competitive tournaments with any other team as determined by their National Association and within the Spirit of the Game. " is the kicker, as teams are picked based on 2005, and the tournament is after the 2006 season.

I wouldn't mind if all the other teams were given an exception, too. In just about every Northern Hemisphere country, it won't be practical to have the qualifying tournament in 2006, so there will have been a full year in between the qualifying tournament and the event. Preliminary rosters are due 4 months before Worlds, so that would be July 13. You'd probably need to have the qualifying tournament no later than June 15 then. Is that what other countries are doing, or will they too be using 2005 results?

mick said...

I think I agree with you. The part of the eligibility rules that you point out really makes things a bit tricky. I mean, just thinking about it here in Austria there is a lot of team-swapping and picking up of players for single tournaments. This isn't done with a view to strengthen teams or something, it's more about convenience. People moving around because of work/family and the like.

The way it is now people have to basically change to the club team they want to play WUCC a year in advance and are excluded from playing with any other. I think this is a pretty severe consequence of what is basically a rule to stop the formation of super teams.

As for your comments on the qualifying tournaments, it seems to me that using the 2005 UPA results is pretty dumb. A year is a long time at the sharp-end of any sport. If you follow rugby you'd know that England were crowned world champs at the end of 2003 and by mid-2004 were arguably ranked about 5th in the world. Anyway, in Oz they are controlling team selection by basing it on 2006 results. I think they are going to use some combination of the rankings from the "National Ultimate League" and the actual "Nationals" tournament. Here in Austria I they normally have their "nationals" around May/June and selection for WUCC is based on those results. I think this is the case mind you, I should check with a German speaker... I think that the UPA should think a little more about how they do the rankings.

Again, I could throw in a rugby analogy. They update the world rankings every two weeks or so. They have some formula that takes into account past performances in major tournaments, like hte world cup, and also factor in the results from all the individual one-off games. Tennis does a similar thing. Maybe the UPA should think about doing something like this. Winning the UPA would give a team mega-points but maybe they could count the results of all official games for a year preceeding WUCC?

On a side note, is the US thinking of ever sending a super team to worlds rather than sending whoever won the UPA in the previous year?

parinella said...

There are no "official" tournaments except the UPA series. The UPA exerts no roster control except in those three fall tournaments (Sectionals/Regionals/Nationals).

The UPA tried to establish a Grand Prix back in 1998 or 1999, but it failed partly due to a lack of publicity. The really cool ranking system accomplishes some of the same goals now, but again, it's unofficial since the UPA has no idea whether Team X really was Team X or if they picked up 6 guys for the tournament.

It would be far more difficult for the US to send an all-star team than for any other country, but it has been done the last two World Games. I wouldn't be shocked if the UPA did that for the next (non-club) Worlds in 2008. The UPA wanted to have tryout camps for this year's team but it was just too much to do in a short time. When I was on the Board, it was something that we might have liked to do, but it wasn't anywhere close to being a high priority.

Maybe WFDF needs to reconsider their eligibility rules.

vanallen said...

As the TD for WUCC'06 I just wanted to explain why we are taking pre-registrations. The main reason is to guage interest in the event. We are acutely aware that Perth is a long way for many teams to travel. Having an understading of the level of interest will help with planning. We are already at over 100 teams and I would hope that this encourages other teams to serioulsy consider the trip.

We are aware that team bids will be allocated by WFDF but seeing so much interest this early is encouraging and helping with our planning, and 'selling' the event locally.

The date we chose was not done without lengthy discussion. Whatever date we chose for a 'down under' tourney was going to impact teams. We finaly decided on a date that would all but guarantee a fantastic Perth experience i.e. great weather, and that had the least impact on the majority of teams/countries.

Yes USA is a problem, but in some ways not more so than Scandanavian countries.

If the event had been moved earlier, say August (where weather in Perth is not flash) then the UPA would have made the call on teams for WUCC based on the 2005 UPA Natioanls. So I just wonder why the same cannot happen now. That way teams would have plenty of time to plan and fund raise. Sure the teams may be different following the 2006 UPA series, but I'm not sure how big a problem that is.
If the issue is the closeness of WUCC to UPA Nats then just make the call on the USA reps early.

Anyway, whatever happens, I can assure you that WUCC'06 will be an event not to be missed. Those teams that attend will experience the best that Australia and Perth, Western Australia has to offer, and have the opportunity to be crowned World Champ! Those that don't ..well I hope they enjoy the live internet feeds!

See you 'down under' in 06
Brian Vanallen
TD - WUCC'06

parinella said...

Brian,

Thanks so much for taking the time to post here. I'll just comment in order.

[pre-registrations]
I don't think that a lot of the teams that pre-registered will be high enough on the priority list to get picked. I suppose it depends on what the process is here. It's been 10 years since the UPA sent teams that did not qualify for Nationals. But it's good to see that it helps you sell it.

[the date]
I know that you all discussed it for a long time, and even consulted with the UPA to get an idea of what the effect would be, and you chose the best date all things considered.

[why is August different from November]
Because there is a whole new season in between. There can be a lot of roster turnover between seasons, people moving or retiring. It's possible for someone who qualified with the team (but is no longer there) to play with that team in August, but it would be a lot less cohesive to play with them in November. It's not _great_ when it's in August, either, but it's workable. Oh, and if they enforce the rule "can't play with any other team in the previous 4 months" (which might not even be a rule anymore), that makes it impossible for someone to play in the fall series with any other team.

Money is only part of the problem. It's also time, especially that close to the fall series. But maybe it will be easier for those who go, as they won't have to train for a separate season.

[back to rosters]
I guess what I would like to see happen is for WFDF to take another look at its rostering rules. While I understand that they need to promote ultimate in countries where it's not that popular, it seems BS to me to have different rostering rules for them. I also think that the rostering rules are not particularly appropriate for the US, which I think has more people moving between cities and teams and which has looser definitions of clubs than does Europe.

Thanks again for posting, Brian. I'm sure it will be awesome in Australia, so long as you keep the bestiality to a minimum.

vanallen said...

..we are considering a whole competition around bestiality! ;-)

..good point on the possible roster changes in the US. And yes, I'd like to see one set of rules, but may be (will be) difficult to please all.