One of the most exciting things to come from the NCA Tour are the rankings. Before 2009 many were looking for a way to rank players against each other, but the problem that always existed was players would not attend enough of the same tournaments to really get a feeling for who the best players were. The only true tournament that could be used was the World Championships.
Joe Fulop has made several attempts at ranking players, but as he outlined in his book "It's Only Crokinole but I Like It" the only fair way was to use the historical results from the WCC. He even developed a small point system for those finishing in the top 4 of any doubles or singles event. He has mentioned that he would have liked to expand these rankings by including those who made the top 16, and even those who competed at all, but since those results are not available to the general public he was unable to do so.
And that's what has made the NCA Tour so interesting. Ranking players tournament by tournament, ultimately makes competing in tournaments about more than winning, but improving your ranking among other players. However, being a tennis fan and a big follower of the ATP and WTA tours (the professional men's and women's tennis tours) I've had further ideas about ranking systems in crokinole.
The ATP tour uses two ranking systems. One they call the ATP Points Race, which only accumulates points for players from January 1st to the Tour Finals in December. This is similar to how the NCA Tour operates, in that a brand new season erases all of the previous points.
However, they also offer a more traditional model which they use to seed and rank players in tournaments throughout the year. That system keeps track of points for players results in the past 52 weeks. This way each player always has a year's worth of tournaments to contribute to their rankings.
This idea of applying this to crokinole intrigues me, and may offer a consistent way to rank the calibre of player's throughout the entire year, rather than just the accurate standings that exist at the end of the season.
As stated, tennis uses this type of point system, with similar point systems being used in golf and by the IIHF to rank hockey nations for the Olympics.
So with this type of logic and precedence in other sports, I present the CrokinoleCentre Rankings format.
- Points are awarded in the same way as the NCA Tour, with one exception. The St. Jacob's tournament will award bonus points being that it is one of the most elite tournaments on the Tour with almost every top ranked player in attendance. The WCC Doubles and Singles will award 55 points for the top prize, just like the NCA.
- Just like the NCA, only the top 4 tournament scores, from each year, will count towards a player's ranking. However, ranking points from 2 years ago will only count for half the points to put a greater emphasis on a player's current level of skill.
- The rankings will be updated after each tournament, making it a perpetual point system. For example, once the 2012 Stratford tournament is complete, the points from the 2010 Stratford tournament will be removed, and the 2011 Stratford points will be cut in half, as the next 2012 points are placed in to reach the current ranking points.
So after some frustrating computer programming, and going through the results of the past 2 years, I have the most accurate rankings I can get based on the given results. As it was a difficult task to get it all set up, and will be much easier to maintain now that the most difficult work is out of the way, I was only able to track about 50 players, to which I will only release the top 30. Beyond that, the chance for a miscalculation is much greater.
I'm quite satisfied with how the rankings turned out. The fact that Brian Cook still sits in the top spot shows that these rankings reward consistency. While Jon Conrad's accomplishments on the 2012 World Championships rightfully boost his ranking, I think it is fitting that they do not yet surpass Cook's strong play of the last two years. I think that each ranking beyond that is quite consistent with where it should be with only a few exceptions.
I did not find a way to give Justin Slater an appropriate ranking, as he sits 13th while only playing 3 tournaments in each of the past two years. His playing in his last 6 tournaments probably puts him in the top 3. Similarly, I am not satisfied with where some of the players from BC and PEI turned out. After going to PEI, I believe that if they played regularly in our Ontario tournaments, players like Wilfred Smith, Lawson Lea and George Doughart could crack our top 10. And although I cannot be completely certain in saying this, I trust the word of those who have been to BC, and believe that Quinn Erzinger, Julian Chalmers and Adrian Conradi could also challenge for our top spots. Yet without more tournaments for them to play in, and more competition with Ontario, it is impossible to give them a fair ranking. Even if they could attend Tavistock to get a full slate of ranking points, it would not be fair due to the highly competitive nature of the World Championships and the provincial championships.
However, for now I will stick with this and bring updates throughout the season as we now have the CrokinoleCentre Rankings.