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).

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.

Set Winning Percentage. Does it matter?

During SPiN’s Season 3 League session, questions were asked about the ‘Set Win Percentage’ (# Sets Won / # Sets Played). Here’s the ranking of the Div1 players at the time by set win %:

Rank by Set Win % Div1 Player List Set Win %
1 The Denier 93.8%
2 Vivian 79.5%
3 Danilo 76.5%
4 Roman 75.0%
5 Klaus 73.3%
6 William 71.3%
7 Craig M 71.1%

Vivian was officially ranked 8th, Roman 10th, and Klaus 9th on SPiN’s League ladder. Roman has beaten The Denier before and Vivian, Gideon and the Aussie has taken him deep into matches. What gives?

A similar story can be seen with Div2:

Rank Div2 Player List Set Win %
1 Gord 85.2%
2 Kyle Robinson 81.6%
3 John B 79.5%
4 Adam B 75.5%
5 The Thunderbolt 74.4%
6 Emily Talbot 73.4%
7 Irmina 72.7%

At the time Gord ranked 6th, The ThunderBolt 13th, and Irmina 9th.

So how is it they lag in ranking points? 

In all cases, each of these players played a handful of weeks, ‘robbing’ them of precious points in the leaderboard race:

Player Number of wks played (of 8)
Gord 4 wks (50%)
Irmina 4 wks (50%)
The Thunderbolt 4 wks (50%)
Roman 3 wks (38%)
Vivian 3 wks (38%)
Craig M 3 wks (38%)
Klaus 2 wks (25%)

(it is worth mentioning that set win % does become the tie-breaker when players have an equal number of ranking points)

So what does this all mean? 

In some leagues, the Set Win % defines a player’s ranking. In some circles this is the best way to determine a higher ranked player –  there’s no question that set win % is a serious indicator of pong power.

But our goal was never to find the best player in the city. They have pro leagues for that. This format was designed for Joes… Joes that have busy schedules, things that come up, and other activities to conquer. That’s the beauty of a ‘pay-as-you-play’ League.

Traditional leagues punish everyday Joes but this format allows them to still participate, and if played enough, can still have a shot at winning (not to mention the opportunity to fill their trash bucket to dish some serious insults, brags, and boasting techniques)

For more info on the scoring system, read a previous post, ‘The Scoring system – the format that cares‘. I assure you that you’ll feel more loved after reading it.

A salute to the League Sheriffs

I can’t tell you how lucky I’ve been to be given the opportunity to work with the people behind the League.

The original League Sheriffs, Mark Buck, Lindsey and Mike Young, and most recently, Kate Demay in NY and Emma Greig for TO, are simply amazing to work with.

It’s never easy to run a league. You have to remember names. You gotta think on your feet when things go wrong (internet? music?  ah, dude, app? 🙂 And most of all, you need to add just a little spice to keep it fun and engaging.

The smoothest run events are a reflection of the staff behind it that put the hard work, thought, and commitment to make it look easy.

I am truly thankful for the organizers of the League. Without them – app or no app – we would be no where near the level of success we are today.