Tournament Structures!


Now we have the names of the WRC participants, we need a way to put them in their seats. Cue more controversy! has already posted a report on the organizer’s current motivations, and this has started some discussion.


The concept so far is that at some point, the better players will be streamed off to play each other. This is fairly typical in tournaments of this type in Japan (with pros and amateurs mixed together), and elimination tournaments are common. However, just because it’s what they do in Japan, doesn’t mean we should be doing it. Why then is this the method that is most likely to be adopted by the WRC 2014 organizers?


–          Having the same level of risk for each player at the table


I’ve complained enough about this problem at EMA tournaments. As you reach the end of the tournament, some people are just not going to win. It’s harsh and probably unfair. But life sucks. However, when you’ve got that shot at top 3 and you’re dumped on a table with someone lagging a few places from bottom, it tilts the game and your chances a lot. That lesser-ranked player has less motivation to defend and more motivation to play like a lunatic. Secondly, I’m not actually given a chance to face off against my rivals and take their points to ensure my glorious victory. Having a few rounds of final tables solves this problem.


–          Exhibition


Part of participating in a tournament like this is to have the opportunity to see the top players play. Final tables achieve that. They also create the chance for tables to be televised. Watching a 9th dan at the peak of their game destroy some poor player who is just starting to find their mahjong feet would be a blood sport. However, watching the best European player battle against the best Japanese player, that I would like to see. It’s going to be exciting to watch the last few players battle it out.


–          Legend!


The truth is, very few of us probably have a chance of making it to the final table. Perhaps that is why some people are complaining. They know they can’t do that. But we should be encouraging achievement and letting people boast about those final two tables. We should be creating legendary moments that we can share as a community.


What are the cons?


–          Luck


Inevitably, some people are going to lose to Lady Luck. There’s not much that can be done to fix this. Even the best players get an unlucky streak. In Japan where there are more opportunities to play, this isn’t the end of the world. You just wait for the next time. We aren’t so fortunate in Europe. Tournaments are expensive to get to and few and far. We want to play as much as possible.


–          People are jerks


One thing the World Series of Mahjong struggled with was people dropping out when it was evident they couldn’t win. I’m hoping that won’t be the case here. You’ll still be playing against some of the best players in the world, isn’t it worth staying for that? I hope that there will be some terrible penalties for people who refuse to stay the distance.


Anyway, hopefully the final format for the tournament will win over the hearts and minds of most of the players. In the end, not everyone can be made to be happy. No system will be perfect. We can only choose the system that fits our needs best.

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