Please refer to the UFS Facebook page for example results referred to in the below.

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Some preamble:

Hello everyone, I’ve played this game for a long time and have seen it have its ups and downs as it relates to what 8-16 teams or players actually make a cut and where they place in that top cut. Players diversified from as high as second place, exact strength of schedule (sos) leaving one player above and the other below the cut line, and more.

Coming from this weekend it is clear in my mind that change is definitely needed, especially as our numbers swell, new favorite and arguably stronger characters accessible to all levels of skill continue to be introduced to the game (Liu Kang recently, Zoey formerly, etc.). Using US nats as an example - There were 6 teams tied for 4th place with 10 points, 3-1-1 outcomes, one of which didn’t make the top 8 cut because of 1 strength of schedule point – that was my team, and perhaps that personal experience, not the first time I’ve been bubbled by sos, is what drives me to make this pledge or, better yet, for the controllers of the game to enact some positive change to the way our tournament structure works. If you look at the singles results, there were 6 players (again) all tied for 4th place (3rd place post diversity). The ranking of them was done by sos, however I had the exact sos as William Howard, for whatever random reason he ended up ahead of me which, while mattering little in the long run, does matter for seeding and other reasons in the immediate sense.

It is commonly known the Swiss format is not without its flaws… to understand our personal ones we need to understand it originated as a format for games with fair/consistent play structures: Chess (Zurich 1895 and hence the name), and was commonly used for other games where players use the same pieces/cards like bridge, Scrabble, etc. In UFS we have this thing called Diversity, I believe it to be a great thing, but it doesn’t interact with the Swiss format well at all. In fact, it leads to players who are already diversified to not care about their final few rounds, often not playing their best or, worse, scooping or giving wins to opponent/friends that are still in the running to make a cut. There is also the issue with intentional draws that a Swiss format with a cut presents - simply speaking, if the goal is to only make the cut (which it is in UFS because there is no additional/meaningful prizing for Swiss Champ) players who are nearly assured a spot post-cut and that are assured it with a tie in the final round, will take the tie instead of playing the round.

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The meat of the matter:

What I’m having trouble coming to grips with is what our tournament structure has done to the integrity and seriousness with which players treat rounds, especially the final 2-3 rounds in an environment with diversity. To add some example to this, in the recent US national tournament I was seated at table 6 against Scott Sundman, myself playing Spike1 and him playing Liu Kang. He had no chance at making the cut, despite having a very real chance of finishing as high as 3rd place. On two tables below me Cory Aguilard was playing as Spike1 against Barry Everson playing as Cassie. While I can’t speak to the table 8 match, I can positively say Scott did not attempt to beat me and I won 2-1. I have a hunch Cory, whether after knowing our table 6 result or not, felt helpless in his attempt to make a cut despite a win because I’d diversify him and either didn’t beat Barry purposefully or otherwise.

More importantly, I continue to have trouble with the way larger playgroups benefit from the tournament structure. They have more friends, it is much easier for them to get themselves into situations where they are playing a friendly opponent in a final round who will take an ID with them if asked or give them the win if already out of the running because of diversity based reasons. I saw this when I started playing UFS as an individual, and I have faced it myself coming from a small or relatively non-existent travelling playgroup in the 2008-2012 period. Even after I started getting my ‘friends’ to travel with me to play UFS, we were still small in comparison to the 10+ from Atlanta, or the 8+ from Michigan, 12+ with Orange Shirts, or now 20+ from Omaha. I am not meaning to place shade on any accomplishments, or make my own seem more relevant by comparison, with this – but posit it as an example that keeps new players from having a ‘fair’ chance at top cutting vs. players from large playgroups or those that are more well-liked. If we want to grow the game we need to improve in all areas, this is but one of them.

On a tangent, with diversity in place I have been able to purposefully play to a loss in more situations than I am comfortable admitting. For example, when swiss champing in worlds 2015 I was able to lose to a Skull Man or tie it to ensure that one made the top cut, while beating a different one with more difficulty knowing I then won’t have to again. This too, I struggle with daily. I should not be able to play a system, the system should be improved upon

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What I want:

Needless to say, it is my opinion that if UFS continues to use a Swiss tournament structure it should be ‘modified’ Swiss to attempt to eliminate the issues alluded to above. Furthermore, we should really look at a tie breaker more consistent with the goals we have for players at an event… strength of schedule is but one of many ways, and arguably an unfair (or certainly incomplete) one, to rank players with the same record.

I have spoken with some people about my concerns and it is possible it will fall on deaf ears, or steps as simple as ‘better diversity prizing’ may result. While that is appreciated, it isn’t enough for me personally so I asked myself – ‘what can I do?’

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From this point forward, assuming changes are not made that satiate my desire for improvements:

1) I pledge that if I am in a place to diversify someone and I have yet to play them personally (or if I played them with a tie as a result) I will play off with them to determine which of us gets to play in the top cut. If the judges do not allow this, for time or other reasons, I pledge that after the tournament is over I will play the mirror against them and forfeit whatever prizing I received from my experience in top cuts to them if I lose, all the way up to the grand prize of the event. This only applies to my first diversity opponent, if there are three of us, I apologize but you should have been closer.

2) As far as sos goes, for teams (and singles – in addition to diversity above), if a situation occurs where my team (or I) is (am) tied with another team (player) for points, but for strength of schedule reasons we (I) make the cut and they do not, I offer the same playoff – time willing – or after-event head to head match to ensure what I believe is the fair distribution of prizes and/or opportunity to play post-cut UFS: I’ve had enough with strength of schedule ruining players experiences on the bubble.

3) As far as final rounds go without diversity in play, I will not ID. I didn’t for the longest time, thinking I was a rock, and not part of any of these larger playgroups that looked out for one another exclusively. Then I did because I felt helpless against the wave of others doing it and, after all, I did make friends with many other individuals and some groups. I should have never fell down this rabbit hole, taking an intentional draw hurts the last round of play for those near the bubble and I apologize profusely for the few times I have done it in the past.

I recognize other players may not see the rationale in these pledges, and I ask them to understand my sole goal is to play top-level UFS and ensure players enjoy all events I interact with them at. As far as other players taking similar steps to the above, I would encourage it, and obviously if you intend to team with me going forward you will be doing so with tacit approval.

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What I ask of you:

Please hold me to my pledges above. Remind me of and comment on them. Ask yourself, are you okay with the way things work as it relates to our Swiss + diversity round format?

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Pledge and player date the 23rd day of October 2018. - Garett Brett