Rankings System FAQ #1 - Sept. 23, 2016 Edition

September 26th 2016

Some fast answers to immediate questions on the newly rolled-out WAL Ranking System are below. To get started, please also see our videos on the new ranking system here and here, and check out the "How it Works" page.

Q: Why am I ranked below this guy? I just beat him at Regionals or Finals! What is going on with this system?
A: The first thing to remember is the scope of what you're looking at - this is a HISTORICAL ranking in WAL based on six high-level tournaments dating back to 2014, NOT a snapshot how people did this year or just at 2016 Regionals/Championships. It considers ALL of your wins and losses in those tournaments to deliver an overall rating - which creates the current "Rankings." 

A perfect example is Tony Kitowski, double-hammer-winner in 2016. When most people think "Rank" they think "Who is best right now? Who is the current title-holder?" and that's fair. And in other systems or in a subjective look, he wold be #1. But what you are seeing is his HISTORICAL rating in the league over time, and as he has said himself, his 2015 wasn't that great, so his average puts him at #2 overall.

Or, you could look at Nick Zinna. Is Nick the #3 arm wrestler in his class RIGHT NOW, given his injury at Regionals and inability to compete at Championships? Not subjectively. But is he the #3 WAL arm wrestler in all of WAL high-level history? Yes, and his record shows that. And with this system you can go look at all his wins/losses (and those of the people below him) to see why.

Q: Why did you do it this way? Why not have a system that tells me who is best right now? 
A: There are many reasons to have a depth of data, not least of which is Nick Zinna example above. The ELO system is very good at numerically comparing competitors across geographic ranges who may only compete with one another a few times a year or less, and we felt it was right (and field-tested) for arm wrestling. Note that the ratings do get more accurate over time. The more people compete, the more their ratings nautrally reflect their true ability against competitors in their weight class. 

Along those lines, understand that this is meant to be a starting point, not an ending point. This is a launchpad for the use of the system, not a definitive list to define who is best for the coming year. As people compete more, we will gauge its usefulness in determining progression through the WAL levels. 

Finally, know that we ARE working on a refinment that we hope will display what is asked for above. Something like a "current" and "historical" ranking. This is still in early development, and we hope to have a solution in the coming months, so please stay tuned.

Q: Are you guys picking who is "Ranked" where?
 No, the system uses the ELO equation to give everyone a rating number based on their wins/losses. The person with the highest rating is then "Ranked" number one per class, and on down the list in descending order.

Q: How can I improve my rating if I can't go up against guys ahead of me, or the top guys in my class?
While it IS always good for your rating to find someone significantly better than you and beat them, you can also improve over time by arm wrestling people marginally better than you - or even rated below you - and beating them consistently. That will also build your rating number. 

Keep in mind that is why we retained a progression-by-tournament-placement element in 2017. If you simply can not advance ot a top Ranking position due to lack of local talent, you can advance by placing high enough at the Great 8 tournament (as long as you qualify at a local event and meet minimum requirements), much as we have done for the past two years. 

Q: Can't a guy just sit on his points and never be threatened by not arm wrestling? 
To a degree, yes. We recognize this and are planning to discourage it by instituting a minimum participation requirement for each weight class in 2017. Fail to meet that requirement, and you will fall out of the Rankings (but you will retain your historical rating). We are still working out exactly what it will be, so stay tuned for news on this point. 

Q: Can't you add "bonus points" for winning bigger tournaments?
A: This is a common question, but not a simple answer. While in concept this could be desirable, introducing variables and asterisks into the core equation gets tricky quickly. We ARE exploring ways to add bonuses for participation in bigger tournaments, and will keep you updated as this develops.

Q: I still think this is just a bunch of numbers and I'm wary. Where can I learn more?
A: Please see our videos on the subject here and here
Also read the "How it Works" page on the ranking system site itself.