Hey there, SixPrizers. This is Scizorliscious. I found out, as many of you undoubtedly did, about the new rating system a few days ago. This is big news for the competitive Pokémon Trading Card Game community as a whole, as it completely redesigns the way points are distributed at different events.
The Old System
If you’re familiar with the old rating system, you should be fine with just skipping over this section. Basically, the old system Pokémon used for rating its players was ELO, a rating system originally designed for chess. The way it worked was that each player, at the beginning of each season, started at exactly 1600 points.
At every event, points would be gained or lost for winning or losing matches, respectively. However, losing against a lower-rated player would lose you more points than losing against a high-rated player. Similarly, a win against a high-rated player would gain you more points than a win against a low-rated player.
Once this idea’s actually implemented, it’s not hard to see why this system was abandoned. In fact, it’s a wonder it didn’t happen sooner. What ends up happening is a variety of things that aren’t healthy for the game:
- Players with high ratings can’t change their ratings positively very much at all. Going to a tournament to boost one’s rating becomes much more difficult with a high rating, which seems counter-intuitive for the purposes of the rating system.
- Because of this, players would drop from a tournament after going X-0. Losing just one game could be disastrous on a rating, so players would exit tournaments to avoid losing any games. This takes away from some of the competitiveness in the game – with the top players (the ones concerned with ratings) not at the top tables, it doesn’t give tournament results as much credibility, and hurts players’ resistances after losing to a player who would later drop.
- Pokémon is a game with luck. Chess is not. While the ELO system was fine for chess because a high-rated player was very unlikely to lose against a lower-rated player, the same isn’t necessarily true for Pokémon. A high-rated player could get a bad hand. Or he could be donked. Or just be playing a good player who hasn’t gone to many tournaments. Any number of things could happen that would mess with the accuracy of the ratings and cause tables to be flipped.
The New Rating System
Pokémon announced this system less than a week ago. The information is accurate as of September 20, but as the website says, it is subject to change. Here’s how it works:
Each player starts at 0 points and gains points for doing well at tournaments. The number of points depends on the size of the tournament, the importance of the tournament, and how well the player did.
The full description is on this page, so I’m not going to waste my time explaining the full amount of points someone will receive for each tournament, just some specific notes I think should be mentioned.
Players will most likely only get points by making Top Cut. Going X-2 or similar and not making top cut, therefore, will get someone the same amount of points as losing every game (0).
Another reason a lot of players were not in favor of a rating system change before it was announced was that it would likely have been to something similar to what we have now. The argument was that some players had the resources to go to many tournaments, and that points would end up being given out more based on time and money than should be.
However, players are limited to the amount of tournaments of each type they can get points from – for example, a player attending, say, twenty-three different Battle Roads will still only get points from his ro her eight best Battle Roads finishes. This way, so long as players invested in the game can go to at least eight Battle Roads, they have the possibility to gain no less points than players who can go to many Battle Roads.
Why It’s Good For the Game
While many players don’t like the fact that mediocre tournament placement will receive the same reward as an awful one, one has to remember that the Championship Points are for Worlds invites.
Someone that can’t make it to Top Cut at a Battle Road probably shouldn’t be going to Worlds, so this system makes sense in that respect.
While players that can go to a number of tournaments above the “Best Finish Limits” do have a slight advantage in that it is more likely to do well in just eight of those, players who are worried about points should be able to do well enough in the tournaments they do go to so that that doesn’t matter.
Players who are more worried about an invite to Worlds will also be more likely to go to more tournaments, so there will be very few problems with this being the case. It’s doubtful that anyone who does not deserve to get into Worlds will get in based on rating – in fact, it’s much more likely for the opposite to be true, what with so few spots at Worlds for the number of players there are. This Best Finish Limit is high enough such that players who are truly serious about the game will have a greater chance to have a higher rating than those who aren’t.
What we’ll also start to see in the future is that people won’t drop from tournaments to protect ratings. Now that all that matters is going as far as possible into the tournament, the Top Cut will be a better representation of the top decks at any given tournament, and also add to the competitiveness of the events. Plus, we’ll get to see the best players actually compete at Nationals, States, Provincials, and Regionals rather than drop and leave the Top Cut to players who don’t have a high enough rating to secure a Worlds spot.
In addition to these benefits, luck will also have a much lower impact on the game. Losing one game, so long as one makes Top Cut, won’t matter. That one bad hand or that one bad matchup at a tournament won’t affect a player as adversely as before. This means the points will be not only more precise than before, but also a better representation of who is fit for Worlds as a whole.
The weight this system puts on larger tournaments is also really nice. Battle Roads and Cities won’t matter as much, but you can get points from more of them, while tournaments like Nationals and Regionals will offer more points, but less opportunities to go to these tournaments.
In addition to different tournaments offering different amounts of points, larger tournaments of the same type will also give more points. For example, coming seventh at a City Championship will normally give no points. However, if the age division (Masters, Seniors, or Juniors) in the tournament has thirty-two or more players (known as a “Kicker” for reasons unbeknownst to me), it will give three points. This more accurately ascribes points than before.
This new rating system is a very positive change for the game. It should lead to a better distribution of points than before as well as a better tournament setting. I know I’ll enjoy the change immensely. This will be one of the best years Pokémon has had in a while because of this change.
All we need now is for the first-turn rule to revert to what it was and P!P will be on a roll.
Until next time…