(Emphasis added above.)Cody wrote:These accusations of unfairness in a round-robin to a flight cut format (eliminate teams from certain spots of contention) seem very much overstated. Is seeding important? Yes. Does PACE place a lot of emphasis on getting the seeding right? Yes. What's the problem there?
More to the point, however, why are you holding up HSNCT's system as some sort of golden standard of being able to upset teams and place higher? (note: I'm of the opinion that the HSNCT format is good and that there's no real point in comparing it to NSC). Each format has its own unique pluses and minuses.
Any format short of a full-round robin of a field will have problems in determining a complete ranking of the teams. Any other format will have both subjectively positive features, and subjective problematic features -- pointing out such features doesn't necessary mean that such a system is "unfair," but it may be sub-optimal, and might be creatively improved.
The PACE-NSC format rewards a team that finishes in the Top 2 of their prelim group with a Sunday round-robin with 7 other excellent teams. The rebracketed round-robin is standard throughout all of quiz bowl, and is rightly viewed as a strength, and the best way to measure the strength of a group of nearly evenly matched teams vs. elimination matches.
John from Barrington has one key point -- the format does create a situation where a cycle-of-death among otherwise undefeated teams WILL force exactly one one-loss prelim team to be eliminated from consideration not only from the Championship, but from any spot higher than 25th. Note this is completely independent of seeding issues -- one of those three teams was (perhaps imperfectly) seeded 25th or lower. If the seeding was perfect, that one team presumably "deserves" to finish below 24th, but that judgment does seem to ask a lot of those creating the seeds. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think most would agree that having to guarantee the 1st-24th elimination of one of three one-loss teams after just 7 rounds is less than optimal.
One other issue that the standard seeded bracket tournament creates is a small but inherent partiality -- teams perceived (almost always correctly) as stronger get a slightly easier schedule. This could be fixed by seeding brackets, but having each team in Prelim Bracket 1 play a full round-robin against all teams in Prelim Bracket 2 and vice versa - of course this cross-bracketing creates the potential of even hairier tie-breaking proceedings, but does at least provide a common Strength-of-Schedule during prelims.
Just some food for thought from a rookie coach who's never been to a national -- don't want to step on anyone's toes in my first post, but I do think that the situation John's team found itself in is tough -- though you can always console yourselves with the fact that the tournament's format led in part to your 13-3 record at a national. Very few can claim a record like that!