I’ve always wondered why there were no player rankings in Shuffleboard?
Activities such as Chess, Bridge and Scrabble all rank their tournament players. Rankings represent an indication as to the consistency of a player where their ranking goes up when they win and down when they lose – the degree of which is based upon the difference in rankings of theirs and their opponents. It wouldn’t be too hard to bring such a system to Shuffleboard.
The key advantage is that it significantly helps in pairing competitors together of comparable ability. I’d argue that every tournament player is more important now than ever before, especially those amateurs venturing into their first taste of tournament play. Bluntly, we simply can’t afford to keep hemorrhaging players. How many players have we lost forever who stopped attending tournaments because they found their weekly beats no longer enjoyable?
I’ve attended tournaments where I’ve looked around at my competitors and thought that anyone of us could win. At the time it felt great knowing that each match was going to be tough and if I were to win; then it would be thoroughly deserved. On reflection it shows that this group of players had been passive-aggressive in convincing other players that their attendance was futile. A player ranking system could recreate that feeling of drawing tough but beatable opponents every match. Not just for me, but for every player at every level of ability.
Imagine a situation where 80 players turn up for a tournament. We could split them into 5 groups of 16 players. The first group made up of the top 16 ranked players from the 80. The second of those from 17 to 32 and so on. Paired with a random player from your 16, you then play 3 matches with the players from that pool. After the first match you have 4 winning teams and 4 losing teams. The second round pairs up the winners and the losers separately. Finally the third round allows the two unbeaten teams to play each other, four teams on a win and a loss play, and the final pairing is of the two teams with two losses each. Of those 80 players, 70 will have tasted victory at least once that day.
Alternatively we could just drop the tournament structure. I’d still travel to host clubs for an opportunity to play other players and gain ranking points. Player rankings could be adjusted after each match and as players move up and down, the dynamics of those within each group would change. We could still play three matches a day, but each round would be independent of the other. This brings additional value in that players who physically can no longer play a whole day of tournaments could just play one match and those sharing lifts to travel longer distances would find it easier as there is a predetermined length to their day.
Moving on, clubs could start to organize weekly ranked sessions. It would build the competitive spirit within clubs and encourage more players to enter competitive shuffleboard. It would be a focal point for the week and encourage consistent attendance, whilst also boosting numbers throughout the week as players suddenly realize the importance of practice and improvement.