I’ve been getting a lot of (mostly) private comments on my ‘Strength of Schedule’ hate these last few days. They seems almost evenly distributed, with about half you people agreeing and the other half… well here’s one I’ve translated from the danish forums.
I keep wondering why a person who cares so much about sportsmanship, relaxed games, and the hobby aspect of the game, keeps hating on SoS.
Well I guess it’s time to specify why, because then I can simply refer back to this whenever I get asked that question in the future. I don’t expect this to change anyones views on the issue, but let me explain why I want Control Points over Strength of Schedule as the first tie-breaker.
Morton’s Fork: a choice between two equally unpleasant alternatives (in other words, a dilemma), or two lines of reasoning that lead to the same unpleasant conclusion. It is analogous to the expressions “between the devil and the deep blue sea,” “between a rock and a hard place,” or, as those in the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking world say, “Between a cross and a sword.”
The problem with SoS is, that the first round draws can mean everything. You can draw a poorly skilled opponent and be behind on SoS, even if you’re the best player in the tournament, simply because there’s no way to catch up if another player wins all his games with a better SoS.
This problem can be solved for the first place by enforcing the correct number of players/rounds in the tournament, but most of us care about the rest of the placements as well. You can also do what I did this weekend and simply fail the first game against a solid player, and then get matched against two rookies in a row, thus eliminating you from any shot at participating for the top placements.
I don’t really care that my games were easier as I don’t really want easy games (I want to win really bloody close games!), and Strength of Schedule also means that if you lose the first game you’ve got very little to play for, which I personally think is bullocks.
Control Points have the opposite problem though, where you either have to win all your games, or hope for bad opponents you can farm. If you play four extremely hard games and then lose, you’ll probably end up below the players who lost their first game and farmed some rookies, which is also complete bullshit.
Strength of Schedule punishes you for facing bad players, while Control Points punish you for meeting good players. This means that in theory SoS makes more sense, but the number of games in the average tournament simply isn’t high enough to make SoS a fair system either, and so far it’s proven impossible to add any meaningful weights or modifications. There is however one good reason to pick Control Points instead of Strength of Schedule.
This will probably turn some heads, because usually it’s ‘team SoS’ claiming that their choice of tie-breaker gives rookies better games, simply because they’re not farmed for Control Points, but let me ask you how much fun these rookies are having when some veteran stomps them in 10 minutes flat?
In a Control Point tournament the veterans will most likely try and keep their games going until they can win on control points, so instead of having their caster electrocuted by Nemo3 eight minutes after they deployed, the rookies will have longer and more educational games, as well as more opportunities to pull a surprise win.
If their opponent is being an ass to them, they can always just concede the game, flip him off, and get a drink. They always have the ability to end a game when they like, but they rarely have the ability to keep one going, which is exactly the one thing Control Points do better than SoS.
If it were up to me we would redesign the entire process and figure out something smarter, but while we’re stuck with these two silly choices I’ll go with the one I can influence myself, and the one that gives rookies control over their own games.