The Scarfhunter Challenge: I Wish I Had This When I Was New   13 comments

I recently unveiled an idea that I, and several others, had bounced around for a few weeks: The Scarfhunter Challenge. Right now this is a uniquely Atlantian thing, but could easily be adapted to fit any other kingdom. The short version is that we’ve made a website to track performance. When you sign up, you’ll be able to enter your tournament results for each event into a spreadsheet that will track the data as follows:

1) Score for individual event.

2) High score for any event.

3) Total score.

4) Average score.

This will be done for the full year, and each year will archive so you’ll be able to see how you’re doing from one year to the next. Scoring works thusly: you earn between 1 and 3 points for each tournament round win, depending on your Academie rank and that of your opponent, in the following manner:

Scholar defeats scholar: 1 point.

Scholar defeats free scholar: 2 points.

Scholar defeats provost: 3 points.

Free scholar defeats scholar: 1 point.

Free scholar defeats free scholar: 1 point.

Free scholar defeats provost: 2 points.

Provost defeats scholar: 1 point.

Provost defeats free scholar: 1 point.

Provost defeats provost: 1 point.

At the end of the season, there will be a tournament seeded by total score, so the people who do better at more events will have the advantage.

As the idea came to completion, all I could think, over and over, was: “Where was this when I was starting out?”

One of the things that used to really gnaw at me was a relative inability to gauge my performance against the field as a whole. Sure, I was winning a reasonable number of tournaments, but there were still a whole bunch of guys who make it look effortless to beat me. In fact, since I happened to have a HUGE fish in the small pond of my first practice, I barely went to any events at all for almost two years because I thought I was bad. It wasn’t until I started going out more that I realized I might actually be OK at this whole thing, but it took a local event and pushy friends to drag me out.

Here, with this challenge, we have an opportunity to ameliorate some of those kinds of issues. The very competitive amongst us will have an opportunity to be competitive on a full year scale, and importantly, without necessarily having to win or place in tournaments in the process. A person can compete with their own past self, their practice partners, or people of similar rank– it might even help a few friendly rivalries develop. It is entirely possible for a well-performing scholar to be the number one seed without actually winning any tournaments because of the weighting of scores, and rightfully so: someone who is outperforming expectations and is exceptionally active deserves to hold an advantage over those who make it to only a few events a year even if they do well at them. It doesn’t reward skill alone; individual tournaments do that well enough. It rewards effort and determination in conjunction with skill.

If competition isn’t your main objective, you can also use this database as a learning tool. First, it makes you pay attention to your performance, which a surprisingly few of us really do: I’ve had too many conversations with people who had no idea who they’d fenced or how they’d done. It also gives you a means to reflect back on your best (or worst) days and think to yourself, “What happened here? How can I repeat (or avoid!) that again?” Because we’re archiving the data each year, you’ll also be able to go back and look at how you did from one year to the next at the same event: a 9 one year might be a 15 the next, which can be a good indicator of growth.

Is this perfect? Nope. You might go 0-2 in a double elimination  despite fencing the best you ever have, or you might rack up 30 points in a triple elim against a bunch of provosts who all ate the same bad fish the night before. However, at the end of the day, if you want to get better you have to become focused on your performance, and this is a way to enhance that, both in yourself and in your practice. When someone starts to pull ahead, everyone else can be drawn along after them, even leapfrogging each other from week to week. When that happens, as it happened to me, the result is a group able to fulfill their potentials.

Posted April 1, 2014 by Dante di Pietro in Announcements

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