Reasons TO Use Groups & Brackets

Reasons TO Use Groups & Brackets

Postby Tom Konantz » Mon Oct 06, 2014 4:33 pm

Get Results Online Quickly
The primary reason for G&B's existence is to make it easy for HS tournaments to post results very easily, with hopes that the easier it is to report the game, the sooner it will be reported.. I have entered a couple of Southern Soccer Challenge Invitational Tournament results within seconds of the end of a game and at least one a few seconds before the end of the game.

The best overall performance for a tournament was the 2013 Over The Mountain Girls JV Tournament. While I can't say with precision the exact time between the end of the game and the time the results were posted, I can estimate pretty closely. 16 matches were reported. The quickest was just 2 minutes and 15 seconds after the length of the game + the scheduled start time. The longest was 10:30, with an average time of just over six minutes. The next year was a little slower, but the average was still under 8 minutes and the longest delay was 35 minutes. Unfortunately many tournament don't get results online for a day or two, and a few don't post results.

Get Correct Rankings Online - Quickly
Group rankings are calculated each time a game is reported. The ranking calculations are well-tested and work very well. On more than one occasion, I have been tracking a tournament, importing the schedule and reporting results when there were announced, and a discrepancy appeared. In most cases, the tournament corrected their error due to a misapplication of the tie breakers. On some cases, the errors were left in the results. For example, in one tournament , each team in a 0-0 result was given 4 points, 3 points for the draw and one point for a shutout. In another division at the same tournament, there was another 0-0 draw, but each team only received three points. One of these was wrong. (I actually prefer awarding the shutout point only to a winning team, so that a 1-1 result earns more points (4) over a 0-0 tie (3). G&B supports both options and documents which is used.)

One not very obvious feature of G&B is that a web page describing the scoring system and tie breakers is based directly on the current criteria. If the criteria are changed, the description will change and the description is guaranteed to match the defined criteria. Click on "Ranking" at the bottom of the page to see the current criteria.

Up until sometime in 2014, the group standings showed all tie breakers, with the teams sorted by group standing. While I like having access to tie breaker information and it was essential is developing and testing the ranking logic, there is a downside. If a team is over matched in a tournament and gives up a lot of goals, it's probably disheartening to look at the results and see all those goals. The current software will show or hide tiebreakers in the standard display. The "detailed" view of the standings still includes all tie breakers but they are only visible to those who click to see them.

Show Single Elimination Brackets
This software started out as an enhancement to support the SSC tournament, sponsored by Grissom Men's Soccer. This is a 8 team, 12 game single-elimination tournament. The schedule was distributed as a PDF document. I was curious to see what it would take to put the bracket online with dynamic updates. I succeeded. The same basic approach is used in the current software .

G&B will update single elimination games as games are reported. This includes a graphic showing the bracket as well as the schedule showing opponents for these games. I.e, when a group winner is determined, brackets that show that group winner are updated to show the group winner. Brackets are picked automatically depending on the number of single elimination games. A single SE game usually means a final between group winners. Three SE games is treated as semifinals and a final, while seven includes quarter finals. There are brackets for 31 and 15 SE games. Four SE games is an interesting case. The default is two semifinals, a third place game, and a final, but there is an option for specifying a wild card match, the winner of which play in one semifinal, with the other semifinal positions occupied by teams with better standings. I noticed that one 2014 tournament scheduled "3rd Place" games between the runners up in group A and B, so I added a new bracket for two SE games. Even more recently I added a bracket in which two teams play in a single Semifinal, with the winner of this game meeting the winner of a third group in the final.

Filtered Schedules
With very rare exceptions, players and spectators are most interested in specific divisions and groups. G&B can apply filters to show just a subset of the tournament schedule. Usually this is a single division of the tournament, but a specific group or a single team schedule can be generated. It's also easy to generate a schedule for a specific field or venue. It's possible to show all games at the Trione Soccer complex, or just those at 'Trione 5' . This ability to focus on a part of the tournament makes it a lot easier to read than a single comprehensive schedule that includes all the teams, game times, and fields.

One 2014 tournament had 7 divisions and 96 games, spread across 15 fields. The schedule was a 15 by 15 grid. The cells were color coded by division with both opponent names in each cell. All the required information is present but it's present for all 7 divisions and it difficult to see a single division's schedule or results. (Group standings were available on a different sheet, one per division, but I think only points are shown and I don't know how often they were updated.) The schedule was very dense and used a small font. Updating matches with scores entails editing the cell that represents the match. This is time consuming and tends to get postponed by more pressing issues.

Ease of Scheduling
In early versions of G&B, I received a schedule from the tournament director, which I then extracted the information into a form usable by the web site. This was uploaded. This was not a difficult process and usually took less than 30 minutes, but it did require full access to the website and the director could not upload a revised schedule without me in the loop. This process evolved to use a schedule file, which could usually be constructed by copying from a spread sheet and pasting into a text document, and uploading the document, which was then parsed and the website updated based on the uploaded schedule. This reduced the work that I had to do to get the schedule online, but it still required some knowledge about the syntax of the schedule file.There were other files, such as the CSS that contains the color codes, that I just edited by hand. Again, this wasn't hard but I was still in the loop, so the tournament director could not change these parameters directly. The schedule file was expanded to include locations and divisions, with support for CSS updates. This made it a lot easier for me and did allow the director to upload directly, but it was still necessary to schedule the tournament matches and insert them into the schedule file.

Most parts of the schedule file, now named the "Tournament Definition", are very simple and can be edited by hand. The schedule was the exception. i was looking for a way to make it easy for the tournament director to generate the schedule so that it is easy to use G&B. The "TD Build" process is described elsewhere, so I won't go into great detail, but the heart of the process is the gen_matches page/function. Given the number of teams in each group in a division, it generates all the group matches. After these matches are generated it's easy to make adjustments. Some single elimination games can be scheduled here. For example, it's very common to have 8 teams divided into groups A and B, with the winners of each group meeting in a final single elimination game. All of these matches can be generated on this page. Following match generation, game slots, i.e. times that fields are available for matches, are defined, then each match is associated with a game slot. The resulting "Tournament Definition" can be copied into a document or spreadsheet for external use or can be loaded directly into a G&B page.

The net result of this new capability is that it is very easy to configure and schedule a G&B tournament. It's probably easier than what directors are using now, unless they are using automated scheduler. (I think gotsoccer.com supports this, but I believe it costs at least $12.50 per team to use it.) I scheduled a 2 division, 15 team, 5 group ( A3 B3 C3 and A3 B3 ), 21 game tournament in ~ 7 minutes. This is starting with a list of the teams in each division and the days and times that fields were available, and ending with a fully functional web page for the tournament. I have scheduled a 8 team, 2 group tournament with a final, in under 3 minutes if I don't talk about what I'm doing as I'm doing it. In the previous 21 game example, I was documenting the process in a video.

Any comments or questions? http:soccer-tournament.us/tourn/build/gen_tourn.php can be used to build and test your own tournament. Access controls are relaxed in this area, so you can load any tournament that you build, modify the group ranking criteria, and enter results. Setting up a user account is needed.

History:
This software was initially developed to support grissomsoccer.com which I have maintained since 2011. I no longer travel to most Grissom away games, but I am still interested in their results. I also like to get team results online as soon as possible. More often than not, high school team web sites are not set up to support tournaments and results are often not posted until the end of the day, the next day, or longer. Rather than complain about the delays, which would probably not have much effect, as event organizers have plenty to keep them busy during the event, I decided to make the software available for other tournaments. Although it originally ran on grissomsoccer.com, I thought that other schools might not be comfortable using the Grissom site for results so I moved it to another URL, soccer-tournament.us

Many tournament publish their schedules using a spreadsheet. Date and times are on the left with match locations at the top of the columns. The opponents are shown at the intersection of time and location. This approach works fairly well if there aren't too many matches or locations. The schedule is fairly hard to read if there are a lot of teams playing or many locations. In those cases, it gets very crowded. One major tournament used a table which associates a team with a team ID, then shows the schedule as a series of pairings of the numbers. For example, '7v9' was John Carroll v Sparkman.

More importantly, getting the results online required an update of the spreadsheet, which usually mean getting results to a single person who may be busy with other things, followed by uploading the spreadsheet, or possibly a PDF copy of the spreadsheet, which requires someone with general access to the website. The net result of relying on a multi-person, multi-step process was considerable delays in getting results online.
Tom Konantz
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