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  • New Format for NCT Tournament?

    Has there ever been discussion of changing the format of the NCT tournament up so there is a longer bracket? One of the advantages high school and law school has over college mock, IMO, is the champions are usually decided by "win or go home" tournaments. It seems like teams need some luck, in addition to being one of the best teams in the country, to make it to the final round at the NCT. What about turning it into a 6 round tournament. 3 rounds, then top 8 teams go into a bracket where you win or get knocked out. Just move the Openings of the NCT up to Thursday night, then have two rounds a day to keep everything nicely wrapped up in a single weekend. Thoughts?

  • #2
    TBH I think Nationals is fine, but they need another round between Regionals and Nationals. Like what if anyone with 4+ wins moves on from Regionals, then another round (potentially called ORCS or something else) gets the top 7 to move on (similar to regionals) and then the current ORCS where 6 move on to nationals. IMO, ORCS is sort of a messy tournament because you have ORCS with 4 tournaments feeding in but with 5 bids, that means you could have gotten 2nd in your regionals tournament, but you aren't one of the top teams at ORCS which is a little ridiculous to me

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    • #3
      The issues with these types of ideas are generally logistical. Adding another round of tournaments would be useful, but that would mean finding x more schools to host at a time when AMTA is already stretched very thin when it comes to finding hosts. Asking college students to devote another extra weekend is also a big ask, and I think extending nationals to that Thursday would potentially cause problems for people as well. That means teams have to raise even more money to fund their hotels and travel, and students have to miss even more school. I think everyone agrees that adding another tournament and making nationals longer would make it more likely that the eventual national champ is truly the 'best' team, but I have yet to see a proposal that can solve logistical problems like the ones I mentioned.

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      • #4
        My concerns with adding more rounds would be as follows:

        1. Not all teams come by Thursday night. Some local teams opt to come later and make it in on Friday morning every year. Having a round on Friday would require everyone to be there by Thursday night which mandates people traveling earlier and missing more class.
        2. Not all hosts will be able to get the courthouse on Friday during the day. Several of the NCT hosts over the past few years have held the Friday round late (e.g. 6pm). This allows them to hold the tournament entirely outside the operating hours of the courthouse. Having two rounds on Friday would mandate that one of the rounds would have to be during operating hours, which even further restricts the number of potential hosts.
        3. This will allow case bias to seriously screw things up if there is a biased NCT Case (e.g. last year). Right now everyone is forced to play two rounds on each side to make the NCT. Its already bad enough that there's an advantage to playing the bad side of the case early and hitting your tough round 4 on the good side. But now you have three rounds. So everyone is going to play one side of the case twice and the other side once. In a biased year, it could well be the case that everyone who makes it through is someone who got the good side twice. In fact, this happens at high school nationals where they don't guarantee side swap all the time. There have been some years where the case was biased and all the teams that did well were the ones that got three rounds of the good side and one round of the bad side. And that's not even getting to what happens in the elimination rounds. In an elimination style tournament you stop being able to control the sides. I would really not be shocked if there was a biased case some year and we ended up with all four quarter final rounds going to one side of the case. Then two teams get to keep playing the good side of the case, now with the advantage that its the good side and the advantage that they have probably played it three times already (twice in the first three rounds and once in the quarter finals. The other two teams get screwed because they have to play the bad side of the case and they also may have only played it once before in competition. The same thing then happens in the transition to the final. Essentially a team could win Nationals by playing the good side of the case five times and the bad side only once. That doesn't seem fair.
        4. A three round main competition completely destroys our individual award system (IDK if we care, but its something to consider).

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        • #5
          Originally posted by The Real Mock Prodigy View Post
          The issues with these types of ideas are generally logistical. Adding another round of tournaments would be useful, but that would mean finding x more schools to host at a time when AMTA is already stretched very thin when it comes to finding hosts. Asking college students to devote another extra weekend is also a big ask, and I think extending nationals to that Thursday would potentially cause problems for people as well. That means teams have to raise even more money to fund their hotels and travel, and students have to miss even more school. I think everyone agrees that adding another tournament and making nationals longer would make it more likely that the eventual national champ is truly the 'best' team, but I have yet to see a proposal that can solve logistical problems like the ones I mentioned.
          As far as the "extra round of tournaments between regionals and NCT" idea goes--even setting aside issues of having enough hosts and the financial implications to teams--I just don't know when you'd have the extra round. You really can't start earlier than the first weekend of February because a fair number of schools don't get back from break until the third week of January (after Dr. MLK, Jr. Day.) You need to have at least 2 weeks between each "round" and 3 weeks before NCT for open bids/case changes/new NCT case/time for teams to plan travel/etc. And NCT can't go any later than the 3rd weekend in April or else you start running into schools who do finals at the very end of April/beginning of May.
          I post in my personal capacity, not on behalf of AMTA.

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          • #6
            MizzouMock Controversial idea, but what if "regionals" was in Fall? Yes, teams would be eliminated earlier, but as it stands now, you build up so much to one tournament that is getting progressively harder to break from (more teams/teams getting better) so like a qualifying round in the fall isn't the worst idea

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            • #7
              Originally posted by adamsel View Post
              MizzouMock Controversial idea, but what if "regionals" was in Fall? Yes, teams would be eliminated earlier, but as it stands now, you build up so much to one tournament that is getting progressively harder to break from (more teams/teams getting better) so like a qualifying round in the fall isn't the worst idea
              IMO the negatives of this would wayyyyyyy outweigh any benefit of an additional round of tournaments. First, it would inequitably benefit teams who start their academic year in mid-to-late August vs those who start further into September. Northwestern, for example, doesn't start until the final week of September (that's the latest one I can think of off the top of my head, although I imagine there are others.) A six week head start isn't as big a deal when elimination doesn't happen until February. It's a HUGE difference if you have an elimination tournament at the beginning of November. Plus, I think you'd have to cram these tournaments into two weekends (the first two weekends of November.) Not only would that be logistically very difficult, but even that would be a pretty significantly accelerated timeline in terms of recruiting/forming a team to competing in a win-or-be-done tournament. Overall it seems like the sort of thing that would unfairly benefit not just teams that happen to start earlier in the year, but would also benefit coached or more developed programs that are better equipped to get ready in a shorter period of time.

              Of course, mock trial is a competitive activity, but it's an educational one, too. I don't think the educational mission is furthered by shortening the season to ~2 months for a majority of teams.
              I post in my personal capacity, not on behalf of AMTA.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by adamsel View Post
                MizzouMock Controversial idea, but what if "regionals" was in Fall? Yes, teams would be eliminated earlier, but as it stands now, you build up so much to one tournament that is getting progressively harder to break from (more teams/teams getting better) so like a qualifying round in the fall isn't the worst idea
                I think having an elimination tournament that early would make it REALLY hard for anything to shake up the balance between historically strong teams and newer ones. At early invitationals most tournaments look like a few strong teams stomping everyone else (maybe less so by november but still). These are the teams that have built the infrastructure to train new people to a high level, that coincidentally are the teams that are already good. So much development happens in those late fall early winter invitationals and that what makes the AMTA season high level and fun to watch. For so many new programs or teams, most of the growth happens during that period, and I think it would be doing them a disservice to count them out that soon. This also goes for top teams, where a lot of boiling down to the core of the case occurs during the early winter when teams start stacking. I think there are more benefits than drawbacks to our long invitational season, even if we miss out at a chance to differentiate between the bad and the medium teams before regionals it makes the mock trial so much better come AMTA Season.

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                • #9
                  I am still very for the concept of having a limit on the teams that go to regionals and have a relegation process for teams that are new or in the "out" bracket of regionals (or maybe less than 3 wins? I am not sure). It would just be an extra set of tournaments either in late January or in early December. I am not sure on how many rounds would be necessary, I could hear an argument for a single day 2 round tournament to decide assuming some of these tournaments are only 8 teams. What you would then have is a structure that looks like this:

                  EG. West Coast:
                  Relegation Tournament - Early December - 4 bids out from 8-12 teams
                  Feeds into Claremont Regionals - February - 7 bids out from a total of 24 teams (20 automatic return, 4 from relegation tournament)
                  Feeds into Santa Monica ORCS - March - 6 bids out from a total of 24 teams (same as currently - note this returns to 7 bids from ORCS - we would be able to return to 7 since there would be fewer people qualifying to ORCS).

                  By doing this format, it hard caps Regional tournaments at 24 teams - we had 27 regionals this year, if each had exactly 7 bids, that would be 189 bids - this can return to only 8 ORCS (192 total bids) - I would also argue that we should try to get regionals back down to 26 or 25.

                  I like this because I think it rewards teams that are consistently doing well at regionals but not quite well enough to break out. It would also do a nice job of power balancing in that every regional can only have 4 teams that are from the relegation tournament.

                  I think the most common response to this is that regionals is meant to be a tournament everyone can go to, I basically think we should push back against this, I don't mind the idea that not everyone can go to regionals, I think it should be a privilege to go. If you aren't able to get out of the relegation tournament then you need to practice more, it is as simple as that. It least instead of going up against the UVAs of the world and getting a -100 PD, they can go up against similarly struggling programs where the rounds will be a bit closer.

                  This also addresses the issue of growth since new teams go through this process as well. As the size of AMTA grows, it should just grow through the relegation tournaments not through Regionals/ORCS. If we keep a hard cap on regional size the way we do with ORCS, I think this could work.


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                  • #10
                    I also like that for new programs this gives them an almost required invitational that they get to attend before regionals. The issue that Ben and I addressed on the podcast is a real problem. New teams and teams that struggle often have a hard time finding invitationals to attend, and by attending this tournament if they are able to prove themselves here, it shows that they not only deserve to be at regionals, but that they are going to be better practiced.

                    I also think that this will reduce the incentive for programs to create C, D, E, F teams (unless those teams are all really good and deserve to be at regionals). But if you have your A and B get through, but your C and D teams get relegated, maybe you decide to go down to just an A, B, and C so you can focus on getting that C to regionals and to stay there. This now rewards C+ teams for having a strong showing at regionals even if they can't move on to ORCS.

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                    • #11
                      Adevans I don't think your idea really helps new teams the way it says it does -- instead, it actively hurts them. Many of them now would not get to go to regionals, and instead would have to go to this new competition where they only get to hit other new teams. The best way to get better at mock trial as a new program is to see good competition. Going to regionals often means new programs struggle (or not -- look at Juniata), but it lets them see what good mock looks like. I also think a lot of the reason new programs don't go to invitationals is funding-related. It can't be easy to get lots of funding for a brand new team.

                      I also have no idea why we want to reduce the incentive for programs to create good C, D, E, and F teams. If programs have people who are interested, why not let them compete?

                      Overall I guess I just don't really see why there is this pressing need for a new pre-regionals tournament. I don't understand why you think regionals should be a privilege. It seems totally reasonable to me that everyone should get to go to at least least one AMTA tournament. Quite frankly, to say otherwise strikes me as elitist. We understandably spend most of our time talking about ORCS and Nationals and all the best teams, but it's worth keeping in mind that the people on those teams are in the minority in the AMTA community.

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                      • #12
                        To address each of these points:
                        I believe a team like Juniata would have no problem advancing through this relegation bracket, they clearly are a talented team so they should have no problem. I also think that this tournament is still an AMTA sanctioned tournament (so everyone still has one AMTA tournament), the only difference being that they don't play some of the top, really good teams if they aren't ready yet. It isn't that they never make it, only that the really bottom teams have an extra round to prove themselves. This actually does incentivize programs to have GOOD C-F teams, just not Bad or mediocre ones. Rhodes, UGA, Florida, programs that are getting 4+ teams through regionals still get those teams automatically back to regionals, what this hopefully disincenvitizes is for teams to add a C or D team that proceeds to do poorly at regionals when the A-B teams are quite strong. I don't think this is a pervasive problem, but I just wanted to point out that this hopefully reduces the overall number of teams, if even slightly, to hep the growing problem.

                        If you want to call me elitist fine, but I am coming from a small program that nobody knew before and I always have the best interest of such teams at heart. I just acknowledge that there are growing pains and we need to solve this problem. I don't view this as an elitist solution whatsoever, I view it as a way to give teams that need to improve extra practice, and to control the growth of AMTA without losing the integrity of our current ORCS - Nationals qualifications.

                        On the note of funding, since this is a required tournament hopefully it would help teams to get their schools to support them to go to this tournament as well.

                        Also I just want to re-address the C-F teams thing. If people want to compete, yes we have means for them to do so, but that doesn't mean that we need to encourage programs to all expand their programs limitlessly. I think that again, if they are really good and are in the "in" bracket or whatever other means we use to measure this, then they should compete and be there, but if they aren't, then this relegation process should be in place to make those programs earn their spot back at regionals.

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                        • #13
                          Adding an entire extra tournament does seem like a massive undertaking and would take substantial revisions to how the year is normally run.

                          Expanding the NCT by a day or two and a few rounds is a much more practical solution. I do agree with the comments about 3 rounds becoming an issue with case bias. You could use my original suggestion and keep 4 rounds before breaking down to Semis and a Final round. Still better than the current system I think. I don't think students missing Wed-Friday of a week for the NCT is asking all that much either. Mockers put in just as much time as student athletes and student athletes frequently miss more time than that to travel for games etc.

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                          • #14
                            Adevans what is the problem you are actually addressing though? I think that's where my disconnect is. What problem is solved by putting new programs off in their own tournament?

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                            • #15
                              The Real Mock Prodigy: The reason that we added regionals and an ORCS (and subsequently moved from 6 ORCS bids to 5) was due to the number of teams attending regionals and then subsequently ORCS. By reducing that number and in fact making it a set number: (24 x #of regionals [probably 28 or 29]) controls the growth problem we are having. It is also not meant to be just new programs, it is more focussed on teams that are being relegated due to their performance at regionals.

                              I believe that we all agree 5 bids from ORCS is a problem (if we don't then we should just agree to disagree). I am hoping to address this problem by changing pre-regionals rather than changing nationals.

                              I also like the idea of having open bids from these relegation tournaments, so at the regional level we noticed that a lot of teams dropped out, so basically we can then have an open bid list the same way we do for ORCS that way all the regionals are equal and at exactly 24 teams each.

                              To Gronksmash's point about an additional tournament. I believe that these tournaments would be so small that they wouldn't be a tremendous undertaking to find hosts (I hope). Ideally it can be a farm system for future regional hosts as well. The biggest problem is AMTA reps at each of these tournaments. I think possibly going to only one rep per relegation tournament could work. But I certainly concede the point that it is an undertaking, but in my opinion as the number of teams in AMTA grow, so should AMTA. We may need to recruit more AMTA reps or something but I think this growth is apparent and going to continue being a problem if we don't do something.

                              Also, this is definitely me pointing the finger away from Nationals and towards other problems i feel that the growth has caused in AMTA. To the initial point you made about changing the design of the National tournament, I think it would be cool to do a seeded, top 8 final 3 rounds, but as it has been pointed out there is a side preference issue, additionally. I don't really thing that the current Nationals format has been that problematic. I don't think many people had issues with who the teams in the final rounds are. Miami and Yale were both excellent, so were UVA and Yale in 2017 and 2016, and Harvard and Yale in 2015. While it would be cool, I don't think it is necessary in order to determine who the top teams in AMTA are. Those that would argue the top teams didn't make the final round are mostly complaining about judging disagreements over actual structural issues.

                              To go against my own point though, with UC Irvine being so close to Yale last year, and UVA always being strong. It would have been fun to do a top 4 and have them do Miami vs. Irvine and UVA vs. Yale then do a final round based on the results of those two. -- You would have side bais issues but I don't contend it would be exciting to watch!
                              Last edited by Adevans; March 5th, 2019, 12:45 PM.

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