Reasons Not to Use Groups & Brackets

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Expand view Topic review: Reasons Not to Use Groups & Brackets

Reasons Not to Use Groups & Brackets

Post by Tom Konantz » Mon Oct 06, 2014 4:05 am

There are a few reasons not to use Groups & Brackets:
  • We're using better software
  • It costs too much
  • Too much work
  • Too hard to use G&B
  • It may not calculate group ranks correctly.
  • Too hard to learn how to use G&B
  • It doesn't integrate with our web site
  • We don't want to lose control of tournament results.
  • We don't know if it works.
  • We don't know if it's reliable.
  • It's not tested
  • It doesn't look very good
  • It provides too much information
  • It's missing a required capability

We're using better software
There is equivalent if not better tournament software available and there's not much reason to use G&B is you're happy with the software you're using. gotsoccer.com looks good, though I don't have know what the administration interface looks like. It does cost $12.50-$15.00 per team, so it ought to be quite a bit better. What makes an alternative better? It should reduce work and make it easy to get results online quickly.

It costs too much.
G&B doesn't cost anything for high school tournaments though I will accept donations, as I have in the past. One director sent me an $75 Amazon gift card, which was very generous. He used the site for two tournaments in successive years.

Too much work
G&B will reduce your workload. I don't think there is any aspect of tournament that is more difficult using it and several areas are a lot easier. The new Tournament Builder capability can save a lot of time and can be used even if you don't use G&B.

Too hard to use G&B
The most common activity is reporting scores. There are a couple of ways to provide authorization, but the preferred method is a simple log in. Once logged in, the 'reporter' needs to click on "Game#' in the standard display, then enter the goals scored for each team. A 3-2 result can be entered with '3', <tab>, '2', <return>. Double digit scores take a little longer as do matches than are settled in Kicks from the Mark/PKS. A 10-10 tie that is settled with a 11-10 PKs result requires one click followed by 13 key presses, or a combination of 13 key presses and mouse clicks. It's common to enter a match result in 5-15 seconds. Standings are updated automatically as game results are entered.

It's possible to set up a URL with a PIN code that enables game reporting. This URL can be saved in your browser, making it possible to report a result without a login. The disadvantage is that anyone with the URL can report scores, though this hasn't been a problem in past tournaments.

Other administrative functions include modifying the schedule and overriding group ranking calculations. I won't get into details here, but there is good support for these activities.

It may not calculate group ranks correctly
In addition to the most common 10-Point and 3-point points systems, G&B will support custom systems and no system, i.e., teams are not ranked at all. It's possible to configure a tournament to award 5 points for a win and 4 for a tie. Ten different tie breakers are supported including head-to-head, goals scored, goals allowed, and goal differential, with or without limits. For example, it's typical to use "goals scored, up to 3" as a tie breaker. Red card count, yellow card count, number of wins, and number of shut outs are also supported, though they are not used very often. "Number of wins" was added as a criteria in 2015. Point deductions for red and/or yellow cards are supported.

All criteria have been extensively tested and work. In 2015, weather forced major schedule revisions for one tournament which included inter-division matches with points. I.e., a team from the Silver Division played a group match against a team in either the Gold or Bronze Division. Now this is mostly supported. Head-to-head tie breakers are not handled if inter-division games are included. This will be fixed by 2016, though its best to avoid scheduling inter-division games if possible.

Early in 2015 a ranking bug was discovered. The problem never occurred in a real tournament. If a tournament was using Wild Cards, and three or more teams were tied on points, and some but not all of these teams had played head-to-head, the head-to-head winner could be ranked ahead of other teams without head-to-head results. This has been fixed and is no longer a problem. The fact that this was detected does show the level of testing that has been used.

I can't prove that G&B will calculate group standings correctly, but you can try to break it using one of the demos. Failure to break it should result in some confidence that it will work for your tournament.

Too hard to learn how to use G&B
A little effort will be required to learn how to use the system, but I think it's fairly intuitive and "Help" is available. Let me know about any problem areas and they will be revised, possibly by adding usage information, possibly by making the function easier to use, or both. ( I have been developing software for a long time and there have been quite a few times that I improved the user interface if it was too hard to explain.)

It doesn't integrate with our web site
There are several ways to integrate with an existing site.
  • It is may be possible to run G&B software on your own site, though it would take a fair amount of effort and testing. It is PHP-based and many sites support it.
  • It is possible to include G&B content on your own web pages using iframes. I can provide details on request.
  • It is simplest to run G&B at soccer-tournament.us with a page header that resembles your own site. Typically there is a link to return to your site in the page header. It is possible to include menu buttons to navigate back to your site, such as a "Sponsors" or "Hotels" button.
It's accurate to say that G&B is not intended to replace an existing web site, but is targeted at replacing a downloadable spreadsheet or PDF file containing the tournament schedule and results.

We don't want to lose control of tournament results.
There is an administrative function that will download the schedule/results in a format suitable for import into a spreadsheet. This can be performed at any point to get a current copy. Current standings, sorted by rank, can be downloaded as well. Another administrative function provides a way to take a snap shot of the current schedule/results and to restore from previous snapshots. It is possible to restore everything or just game results. In addition it is possible to reset the database to the state that it was at a particular time. All game reports are logged independently and these logs are available. In short, you have full access to the underlying data on the web site and can maintain your own backup if you choose.

A recent upgrade sends am email each time a game is reported, which will provide an independent record even if the site were to go down completely.

We don't know if it works.
It has been used for tournaments starting in 2011. In addition to those tournaments that have used it for their primary tournament schedule/results many other tournaments have been tracked using it. By that, I mean that I have entered the tracked tournament schedule into a G&B web page, then entered results as they became available. There have been quite a few "lessons learned" in this way. For example, earlier versions of G&B determined group winners when the group was complete. In an Island Cup a few years ago, one team had played both its group games and neither of the other teams in its group could catch it. The Island Cup schedule showed this team in the semifinal, but G&B did not. Now it does.

There have been a couple of tournament that have had massive schedule changes due to weather. Even the earliest G&B versions supporting editing of match events. one way of dealing with schedule changes, but it was not a very efficient way of handling lots of changes. Current software make it very easy.

We don't know if it's reliable
It has been used successfully in many tournaments, but that is not proof that it will work for yours. Several functional demos are available and you can try to break it. Or it's fairly simple to set up a page for your tournament and you can try to break that. The web site does use shared hosting which is cheaper than some alternatives. I think it's possible that performance will be a bit slow during business hours, but that could be due to a company firewall. I have not noticed any problems outside of weekday work hours.

It's not tested
It has been tested a lot, including some very tricky tie break scenarios. It has not been tested independently so I encourage anyone to try and break it. Test it yourself to see if you can find any problems.

In 2015 G&B was used for 12 tournaments, from Huntsville to Orange Beach, with 32 divisions, 239 teams, and 410 games. Teams from 93 different schools played in G&B tournaments. This included 81 varsity boys, 68 varsity girls, 21 JV boys, and 11 JV girls teams. Another 6 tournaments were tracked, which means public schedule, ranking criteria, and results were entered. This brought the total to 327 teams (41 divisions) playing 540 games in 18 tournaments. There were no errors in any of these tournaments though inter-division games were not supported the first day of the tournament that had to schedule them. The "most wins" criteria was added and the wild card/head to head ranking error was fixed before a tournament that was using wild cards.

One of the tracked tournaments had an unusual approach that isn't currently supported but may be added. 16 teams played three group games to determine 4 group winners, each of which played in the semifinals. Typically the other 12 teams go home after their last group game. In the tournament, all teams played one more game for points. Each fourth place team played the fourth place team in another group (A-B and C-D), Each third place team played another third place team and so forth. Points were awarded for these games and all 16 teams were ranked.

It doesn't look very good
Web site design is partly a matter of taste and I admit to putting more effort into functional capabilities over a really nice appearance. I have added some options including a Time v Location display, but I'm open to suggestions for improvements. I will be working to improve compatibility and appearance with phones and tablets, though I have successfully entered results from a phone many times. Once I entered a game result 6 seconds before the end of the game. The ball was out for a throw-in at midfield and I was certain no more goals would be coming.

The site uses Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) so many aspects of the display can be changed very easily though this capability is not yet available to the user. For example, the default font weight for the schedule is "bold". If you prefer "normal", just ask and it will be changed. The "TD Build" function does make it easy for a director to pick division and location colors.

Improving support for small screens is probably the most visible change planned for 2016.

It provides too much information
By design, the group ranking tables provide information on all tie breakers. This is partly because it's almost a requirement in order to verify that they are correct, and partly because I like to see the tie breakers. However there are times that a little less information is better. If a team gives up 20 goals in a few games, they might not want to see that shown too prominently. A fairly recent innovation fixes this. The Define Criteria page now includes a visibility option. The "Detailed" view still shows all tie breakers, but the standard view will not if that tie breaker is not marked to be visible. Visibility rules can be changed during a tournament.

It's missing a required capability
Let me know what's missing and I may add it. Various improvements are already in the pipeline.

Has it ever failed?
Yes and no. Last year an event director needed to swap some teams in consolation games. I swapped two teams, but assumed the wrong field for two of the teams. The event editor can be used to swap teams, but the new 'Swap" function makes it very easy.

There was only one incident in which G&B provided the wrong results in a real tournament. One organization used the three tournaments in 2013. There was a single point of contact between the tournament and me. That person entered most of the results without any problems for the first two tournaments. After entering results for the first day of the third, it was reported that the rankings were wrong. I asked for details on what was thought to be the correct ranking, but was unable to get that information. I reviewed the code and did not find any problems. Later I contacted another person associated with the tournament and learned that one game had been reported incorrectly. A 0-5 game result had been entered as a 5-0 result. This resulted in a 10 point swing in points for two teams. In a a single group with 10 teams, all of the positions were wrong. Once this game result was fixed, the ranking matched those of the tournament organizers.

While this error was not a site/software problem, that doesn't mean that something can't be done to avoid similar problems. A "Contact" link is now present on every results page. Anyone can report errors. I suspect that at least some of the people that viewed the page knew that the result was wrong and could have reported the problem.

Another approach that has not been used as much as I think it should be is having multiple reporters. It is fairly simple to give several people authority to report game results. That's about all they can do, so there is no way to do any damage to the web site, by accident or on purpose. Multiple reporters will improve update times for tournaments with multiple venues; a reporter at each venue can report those games. They do not need to be collected in a central location then uploaded by the web administrator. Game reports can be made even if the primary reporter is called away. One event director had his first child on the weekend of the event so he had other priorities.

Others?
If you know other reasons not to use the site/software, or if you have suggested improvements, let me know.

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