Creating an unofficial Global Pong Rank – it’s on.

It’s taken 30,000+ matches recorded in our database to come up with an idea we want to push to the pong community in force. We’re pretty giddy about it and that’s an understatement: we’re going to publish a global rank based on all our player match history. This will continue to be updated as you play more and more matches with Smashscore leagues. Because our true goal is to maintain a rank we plan to set up super easy ways for anyone, anywhere to record their match – even ad-hoc ones in your basement.

We know there are multiple ratings systems out there and we aren’t trying to displace them; in fact, we hope to complement them by providing another data point – another frame of reference – that can help pong administrators assess pong-fu skill. In some cases we will integrate with them so you’ll have a super easy way to upload your match results.

At the end of the day, the pong community doesn’t need growing – it’s massive all by itself – all we want to do is to build a path between independent pong communities. Little less like islands and more like cities and towns united by a dirt road.

So, yah. We’re pretty damn excited about it. If you have any questions – feedback even – feel free to contact me directly. I’d be more than happy to sit down with anyone that is willing to make this initiative a thriving reality.

Pong-on and stay tuned.

PS – this also means that your league matches have a little more meaning than your season results 😉 Keep this in mind as you play. Every match counts!

Tbone’s Match History from SPiN New York’s League

After getting some nice feedback from Noah’s match history data visualization, I’ve picked a random player from @SPiN New York’s League to showcase some fun visuals. I decided to play around with this one, illustrating the complete match history that began last year in February. I combined it with a H2H match graph…

Be sure to click the graph below for a full interactive graphic (the season match history blocks are listed sequentially from left to right):

Tbones Match History
Tbone’s Match History from SPiN’s New York Sunday League.

Although I love the colour contrast, me thinks the red-green colour combo favours that of a Christmas ornament. I may think I’m a data viz junkie but truth be told I’m really a graphic designer wannabe by night (which really means I’m an arm chair critic with a ‘preschool’ hand at designing).

Noah’s Match History @SPiN Toronto

I’m a wannabe data junkie and what better data to mine than the match history we’ve accumulated over the years. After 13 seasons with SPiN and 13,000+ league matches recorded, we’re bound to have some fun data graphics to play with.

I thought I’d start by working with some of our most loyal pong duellers of all-time. From the beginning Noah’s been faithful to SPiN TO and ripping up the scene on League Sundays.

I hope to post the same data graphic for other players including match records from each of SPiN’s cities in NY, Chicago, and soon-to-be, San Fran. Hopefully folks will get a kick of the visuals.

For a high res and interactive graphic, click on the image below:

Noah Match History
Noah’s Complete Match History @SPiN Toronto

 

Ibrahim Hamato shows you that nothing is impossible

This made the news round a couple of years ago but for those that didn’t see it, it’s absolutely worth a view. Ibrahim lost his arms as a ten year-old but loved the sport of table tennis… and didn’t let that stop him.

It’s truly remarkable what happens when you put your heart and soul into something. I personally think this is more than just hard work – this guy’s got some serious talent.

Unreal.

Introducing simultaneous multi-division play

SPiN Toronto’s Season 7 introduced a small feature that impacted how Toronto ran their League.

To help optimize the space more than it ever did before, SPiN Toronto decided it would run two divisions simultaneously. We made a small tweak in the Matches Page to help League Admins manage the schedule:

Multi-Divisional Pic

To keep things simple, we colour-coded Div2 matches (grey) which was enough for Admins and MCs to identify divisional matches. By alternating match call-outs between divisions, players from both levels were able to play out their matches in sequence.

(For office leagues that run a week long event, this feature wouldn’t impact their game play)

Outside the obvious logistical benefits, we found that this improved the community experience overall, especially when friends with varying play levels wanted to hangout on a Sunday aft together.

That’s it for now league-faring competitors! More feature updates soon to come…

The Matches Page

The Matches Page is a key Smashscore page . Once the admin completes live scheduling, the Matches Page houses a global list of scheduled matches to be played.

The live Player-vs-Player scheduling feature allows match schedules to be created based on who shows up, which creates a splendid set of league mechanics unique to Smashscore. With live scheduling, player defaults and no-shows no longer occur – pre-registration deadlines are also eliminated, allowing players to join at anytime during the season. Combined with a rankings algorithm that is dependent on the number of games played, the result is a well-balanced system that gives players ultimate flexibility while providing enough incentive and competition to drive playing activity.

Once match scheduling is complete, the Matches Page displays the schedule with some additional information:

Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 8.59.45 PM

    • Green numbers represent the number of points a player stands to gain with a win (Christina will win 8 points if she beats Amy)
    • Red numbers present the number of points a player stands to lose with a loss (Christina will lose 6 points if she loses to Amy)
    • Numbers in parenthesis represent the number of matches a player has played within that league event

For details on how the scoring system works, see this blog post

Each match offers Players and Admins additional actions. Upon triggering the orange arrow button, depending on whether you are a player or admin, a few options are available:

Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 11.09.57 PM

As an Admin, you have multiple actions you can perform including recording and deleting a given match. There’s also an option to ‘Change Status to ongoing match’, which helps change the state of a match to being ‘in progress’. This allows the admin to filter those in progress versus those that are to be played:

Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 11.12.39 PM

A variation of the live match scheduling feature was seen used for pong at a local office; instead of a predefined date and time for play, an entire week’s event was created with scheduled matches assigned for play at anytime. This increased playability and was a regular water cooler discussion topic.

With a design point focused on player convenience without sacrificing the competitive mechanics to encourage play, we believe we’ve found the secret sauce that makes Smashscore’s next-gen leagues, work.

Now all we have to do is work on making it even better. And we absolutely plan to with tourneys, teams, and additional scoring options on the horizon.

Why Motivation posts will become a recurring Smashscore theme

I’m a huge fan of motivational media and people. I get really stirred up by a motivational video, a really good speech, and a really good song. I’m not sure why I get this way but it works like a charm. Here’s an earlier post I wrote after Stan Wawrinka, a professional tennis player I love watching, won his first Australian – first Grand Slam title – of his career. He did it after losing consecutively to a couple of arch-enemies that had his number prior to (0-14 versus Djokovic, 0-12 versus Nadal). Read that post here:

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

In some ways it reminds me to push past my perceivable limits. Most of all – and this is the most important for me – it reminds me to pay it forward. Helping someone when they’re down. Encouraging them when they need a lift. Finding positive things to say instead of the negative.

Negative thinking can crush a thought but positive thinking can inspire a thousand souls. Here’s a post I read that neatly collects a bunch of motivational feeds. Whatever you’re doing in your life, I’m sure you can use it to help get you back on track:

Motivational Video Collection

Some of you may be thinking how next-gen Smashscore leagues have anything to do with this post 🙂 From a technical level, little. But from how it has impacted how I see things, everything.

The first league we ever ran was a pretty cool experience. We saw a bunch of strangers come together and by the end of the season, friends, roommates, and players were working with each other to improve their game. From a technical level, equipment support, or just overall encouragement, people were motivating each other just to get a little better. In the end, their craft improved all because people took the time to motivate.

So that’s all it was: a positive, cool vibe that became a small by-product of an indie league. Although this seems bigger than it really was, sometimes the starting rhythm of a butterfly’s wings can be the beginning beat that eventually moves mountains…

From here on in you can expect motivation to be a recurring theme of what we do. This isn’t a one-and-done type post. If anything, we hope a little push for our readers will inspire bigger and better things. Whether it’s possible or not remains unknown but the very thought that there’s even a small, remote chance it could help is enough for us to keep-er going.

And so it begins… flap, flap, flap.

 

Smashscore’s League Schedule Maker (and why it works)

Leagues are like long-term relationships; they require cultivation, and a steady dose of nurturing love. Unlike their sexy cousin, tournaments, also known as the one-night stand version of organized play, leagues tend to breed communities a wee bit better.

But managing them is tough – and sustaining them over time is even tougher. We live in an age of distraction and time is increasingly fleeting. With the right balance and dynamics however, a community will form with enough stick that can have people coming back for years.

theLeague

Traditional league setups are great for team sports (volleyball, baseball, soccer). You have a pre-registration deadline and once you pay, you get a pre-defined schedule. But individual sports and game leagues (pong, tennis, darts, gaming, chess) have a problem: what happens if your opponent doesn’t show up that week? Playing short a person or two is manageable in a team; after all, you still get a game so as long as you meet the minimum squad requirements.

Today, 9-5 schedules are less the norm, and convenience and services on-demand are (e-commerce, pay-as-use plans)

P-vs-P leagues however, don’t have such luxury; if a player doesn’t show, the person that does show also doesn’t get to play. And it sucks. A lot.

The other problem? Pre-registration deadlines just aren’t cool anymore. Not only do you miss the deadline, you have to wait months for the next season. Today, 9-5 schedules are less the norm, and convenience and services on-demand are (e-commerce, pay-as-use plans).

Smashscore’s league format attempts to solve these  problems with its open league format managed by a feature called ‘live match scheduling’:

Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 8.59.45 PM

Live match scheduling schedules matches based on who shows up that day. It’s an open league system whereby anyone can join the league at anytime. In many ways it’s a glorified league ladder but in every way, it’s the best of both worlds: league mechanics to keep the competition relevant, but flexible to maintain regular and recurring league play.

League B&W pic general

Over the last couple of years we’ve helped SPiN run their leagues. We’ve had over 4000 players checking into our ‘pay-as-you-play’ League Ladder with a total match count of over 13,000 (and counting).

I call our league schedule maker the league format of 2016. It follows the tech trend lines of cloud services (on-demand IT, pay as you go) and the growing movement of open computing. Why not open, non-restricting, super flexible, pay-as-you-go leagues?

(ok, a stretch, but just a bit).

The League Weekly – @SPiNToronto Wk3, @SPiNNewyork Wk5

An interesting trend is happening in New York. For those that don’t know, the League at SPiN NY just set a record – a record for the greatest number of player check-ins, ever.

It occurred on the 5th week of the 3rd season, and it is, for data scientists everywhere to note, a notable uptick – an uptrend – in player pong circle duel-offs. It makes Luke Skywalker shake his boots, Darth Vader roll in his grave, and Yoda say a proper sentence.

 

Total Checkins

Pessimists will regard this as an outlier – a blip – a sample space far too small to conclude that this is a front-end indicator of the new norm. I laugh at those that impose their logic wills; who are you to challenge the Pong gods of League play?

[For those wondering, the single day record for player checkins is 72 @SPiNToronto back in March 2014]

Basking in the light of all this positivity was Junichi Seki, pulling off a perfect record in wk5, a perfect remedy to last week’s string of 3-set losses, including some payback for Mr. Reiss himself. Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 9.37.09 PM

In intermediate news, T-Bone kicked off his week with a key win down the stretch against newcomer, Choiju. Before that Choiju was on a roll and is one to watch with just a few weeks left. After a long absence, Clay returns with a perfect week himself. This will be an interesting run for the finish.

@SPiNToronto, Brox88 brought along a clan member (father? my spies have been slacking…) and continued his dominance with some hard-fought 3-setters against Steven, Cdnchef, and Andrzej. He needed it with Niramaydesai in perfect, week form. A slip anywhere at this stage and it’s back into the jaws of the pack. It’s anyone’s game now.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 9.51.24 PM

Craig and Roman took advantage of some idle-ness from Div1 leaders with a perfect string of wins. And less not forget… our friends in Div3.

I got some pretty harsh feedback for failing to mention Div3 in previous posts. I have to admit, it was a total abomination for me to exclude, arguably, the most fun division the League as ever seen. As evidence of my blatant disregard for the beginner squad that march out on Sundays at 5p, the brilliant avatar icon from Razorblade himself has been largely ignored.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 9.54.29 PM

Yeah. I know. How could you miss this when calling out best avatar icons the League has yet to offer?

Trust me when I tell thee, I shall not forget. Never again.

The League Weekly – @SPiNToronto Wk2, @SPiNNewyork Wk4

Great week of League Pong.

It was an eventful week of pong in the city of New York and Toronto. I would love for the Blue Jays to pull of an epic Game7 come back; not only would it be fitting vengeance for KC’s great escape in ’85, I think we can totally create a rivalry between both SPiN clubs:

  1. GeorgeBor, clearly a favourite in Div1 after his titanic defeat of the ‘immortal’ Denier, was idle in Week2. As a consequence, he drops to 8th. (Gotta play to keep up). His point spread with Denier is now 48 points; another win against the Denier in say Wk3 would bring the defending champ tumbling back into the mix. Love it. Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 2.43.36 PMSome would view this as unfair – however, our goal all along was to create a format that yes, remains competitive, but more importantly, creates a few play dynamics that keeps things interesting. Denier isn’t a runaway winner – and GeorgeBor although ‘punished’ for not showing in Wk2, is absolutely still in the running to be the winner. I’ve said this before: this isn’t a league for the best of the best; we’re here to build communities and in order to do that, players got to feel they’re still within spitting distance. The FA cup format in soccer is another example of where anyone could take the title. That’s exciting stuff.
  2. I’ve officially past the torch to the best icon avatar to ksh9. The Knee of Justice’s avatar was an early favourite and to best honest, I didn’t think we’d see another that would be better so quickly. KSH9’s avatar absolutely rocks. It’s simple, works well for an icon size, but the detail remains relevant and pops.Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 2.20.54 PMThe immediate thing that comes to mind when I see this is Kill Bill’s Oren Ishii’s character from that epic duel scene in the snow. Great stuff.
  3. It’s anyone’s game in both Expert and Intermediate divisions @SpinNewYork. Nice to see T-bone take top spot after Wk4 – he’s been a loyal contender from past seasons too. It appears that both Clay and Alfred are, percentage wise, the most talented, but like GeorgeBor, haven’t played enough weeks to sustain top spot. The leaderboard could change dramatically if they play more regularly.
  4. In the Expert division @SpinNewYork,  Suryasahithyan has created some space in top spot. Looks like Suryasahithyan -eeked a win against Junichi Seki… a tough loss man. Juni lost another tough 3-setter against against Reiss which effectively caused the tumble from top spot after Wk4. Don’t worry Junichi: vengeance is a dish best served cold. 
  5. In the parallel Div1 session @SPiNToronto, Denier regained top spot with some big-time wins against familiar foe. An interesting matchup between Kyle – the man from Northern Ireland – and Ivan was dueled-off in a 3-set grinder… the wily slicing vet comes through this time.                    Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 3.08.32 PM
  6. In Div2 @SPiNToronto Brox88 is starting to string a small win streak together as he went undefeated… but Niramaydesai is not a step too far behind. Familiar contenders Steven and tricky Mirek lurk dangerously below with some nice upside coming from Pallettown and Pikaboo.

I know I’m biased but having an on-demand, automated league scheduler that adapts to ‘whoever shows up’ really works. In a future post I’ll talk about how the format came to be… and how I think it can help other communities.

Looking forward to the results this coming Sunday.