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!

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’:

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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).

Uberflip’s 2015 Tournament Bracket – #startupong2015 retrospect

Uberflip’s #startupong2015 event was the 2nd annual tournament run at SPiN’s ping pong bar Toronto. Tournament participation clocked at 200+ players, a 64-team single elimination tournament that ran in a skinny 2.5hr window. The overall general attendance grew from last year’s 300-ish basement capacity, as the crowd spilled ceremoniously onto the 2ndFloor event space that housed another 300+ of standing room.

Hats off to Uberflip for running the event again. Exhibiting their reach and influence with big-time sponsors, attendees were offered free admission with a drink ticket in tow… clearly more than generous. Teams paid $20 for tournament entry but all proceeds – $2500-ish – were donated to Sick Kids Hospital.

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Uberflip’s #startupong 2015

Over the last couple of years startup-themed tournaments have thrived with the growth of startup companies and culture. SPiN’s ping pong bar offers the perfect venue for a single elimination tournament and (unofficially) began in earnest back in November 2012. Wattpad, the original sponsor of the first startup tournament, ran a single elimination tournament bracket of 20+ single players and attracted heavyweight Toronto startups Wattpad, Freshbooks, and Kobo to name a few. Overall attendance clocked in at roughly 150 people – not bad for a private-run event.

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Singles bracket from Wattpad’s startup tournament back in 2012.

The growing and ever-changing landscape of Toronto’s startup scene continues to sustain a thirst for ping-pong dominance. There is more than enough desire for more and if anything, this is but a snippet of the aggregate interest level. Last year #startupong winners GataLabs for example, couldn’t participate to defend their title; meanwhile, 2012 heavy contenders Kobo and Wattpad were nowhere to be seen… not to mention the obvious absence of tech behemoths such as Facebook, Amazon, LinkedIn and Google.

Just imagine a 128-person and team bracket that featured the best of Toronto’s startup/tech companies: One pong competition to rule them all.

For years we’ve dreamed of a full, 128-person company bracket tournament. Using some polka-roo imagination, it’s not far-fetched to envision one ridiculous, off-the-chart, mind-blowing experience. The hype would be insane: just imagine a 128-person and team bracket that featured the best of Toronto’s startup/tech companies. One pong competition to rule them all. Taking a step further, leveraging SPiN’s North American reach, this could be a multi-city affair. With SPiN’s expansion into San Francisco and Chicago in the very near future, not to mention their current presence in NYC and LA, the stakes and pieces to take this a step further may be closer than you think.

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Wattpad’s startup tourney in 2012 reserved SPiN Toronto’s backroom. The tournament has since grown from one room, to the full facility last year, to two floors this year.

The challenge of course is time and logistics. 2.5hrs is barely enough time to run a 64-person bracket and even then, a single-elimination tournament isn’t enough to sustain continued interest. There has to be more.

Why not take a page from soccer’s FA / Champions League series and run a year-long tourney with a grand finale of 16 teams and players at the end of the year?

The other hurdle foiling this grand vision is player time. This is the reality of today’s workforce – we ain’t 9-5 anymore and trying to ram a strict schedule down a startup’s throat is like trying to feed a crocodile without losing a finger.

So the real question is: Why run the tournament simultaneously? Why not take a page from soccer’s FA / Champions League series and run a year-long tourney with a grand finale of 16 teams and players at the end of the year? If executed correctly, this could circumvent the time issue.

This kind of format orchestration would require  qualification rounds, general rules to be governed and ruled, a venue (at least for the finale), and a basic system to help manage results and progress. Perhaps a ranking system at the company level to help manage seeding. And most of all… someone would need to organize the monster.

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Therein lies the rub. This needs a committee or council body at best. Someone to oversee it. Someone to set rules and regulations. Someone to market the messaging and spread the word.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s take a quick poll of the floor: tweet/share/like this post and let’s see where this goes. This might be just a dream but hey, worst case, startupong 2016 will run. That’s more than just good enough for me.

But imagine – even if it is that bloody male actor changing into a costume –  it could be so much damn more.

Fall League Seasons have begun!

What a start to the Season. Who says drama doesn’t exist outside pro leagues? There is so much to say in so little time. I’ll try to summarize in 5 fat points:

  1. NYC has started off with a bang. We got – check it – 50 players that have played a match in Season 3. It’s official, the thing down in New York is catching on.
  2. I’m giving the best name and avatar between both cities to the hands down winner…. the ‘Knee of Justice’ (NYC). See what I mean?Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 11.08.28 PM
  3. And just like that the Denier Streak (from Toronto) is over. I made a BIG DEAL about his streak in a previous post. After going 60-0 in Season 4 and 72-0 in Season 5, his win streak was snapped by newcomer GeorgeBor in his 2nd match. It’s no surprise that GeorgeBor leads the division after Day1.Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 11.14.29 PM
  4. Like the beginning of S5, we had Div2 graduates begin S6 in Div1 and boy was it fun watching their progress. Ivan took no time producing the first upset of the day with a scorcher over League vet and S1 winner, Craig M. He sits in 11th tied with that guy from Northern Ireland. Just so everyone knows: Ivan barely beat me in 3 last year. Just saying.Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 11.20.39 PM
  5. We had some old crew back and THAT was nice to see. Steph by Steph. The Eye of Soren. The Thunderbolt (ponytail or short this year?). It’s also REAL nice to see Broxterman in top spot. He had it last year. I don’t think he’ll let it slip like John Elway. Right.

And finally one sad observation: It was hard not seeing Queen Talbot among active players. Have we lost her to career-ending wrist ailments? Tell me it ain’t so. Juan Del Potro you’ve got company.

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

For tennis lovers the 2014 Australian finals was a special treat watching Stanislas Wawrinka win his first grand slam. Over the course of 7 years, Stan lost 14 straight times to his nemesis Novak Djokovic and 12 straight losses to his arch-nemesis Rafa Nadal.

Road to Success

Wawrinka had a goal: he worked harder and trained harder. As a permanent reminder, he tattooed Sam Beckett’s infamous quote on his forearm:

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better. 
– Samuel Beckett

 

Not only did he finally beat Djokovic, he beat Nadal too, winning the 2014 Australian Open Championship. And to prove it wasn’t luck, Wawrinka did it again in the recent 2015 French Open final, beating Djokovic and this time Federer on his way to winning.

Failure is a tough beast. The smell of defeat can sting for a long, long time. But as we all know, perseverance is the key to success. The flash and dash of winning abstracts the hard work and sweat behind the scenes. The long hours of practice. The long road to improvement. If Wawrinka can thwart the odds of two nemeses in a single tourney, that’s motivation enough for anyone to apply it to their own daily challenges.