So, we are nearing the end of the fourth IsoDom tournament, which should be completed by the end of May or thereabouts. It's probably time to take a look at the future of the tournaments, as that future is... murky at best.
Let's start with a few things about this past round. Pooled play exists for two reasons: (1) To allow players to be "in" for more than just one or two rounds; (2) To allow for more games for spectators. This last one only matters for things like the World Cup but, let's face it, that's the main reason pooled play exists there. I'm going to go out on what I think is a pretty sturdy limb and suggest that the structured pool play we had here has been interesting but not good for the tournament as a whole.
First, despite the longer play, it encourages dropouts. After losing the first three matches, your chances of placing at all in your pool is slim to none; even if we took the top three or four players from each pool, this would be the case. And when someone drops out at that point, you have to reconsider all the standings. Is it truly fair to the winners of those matches? Let's say one player is particularly good an Intrigue. S/he now loses the points from that round.
Second, the flip side of the first, it makes substitution hard. Sure, if someone drops out in Week 1 or even 2, it's not a big deal. After that, though... well, a sub has to catch up several matches, and some players have to replay matches.
Third... and I hate to mention this, but in some pools the result is already decided.
And last... wow is this a lot of games! If every game match had been played with no drops or subs, this was over 3000 games of Dominion. Despite part of the idea being that there would be a lot to "watch," no one was going to read all those game logs.
So... round robin pooled play is probably not all that great. If the idea is to make sure that more than half the players see a second round, I'm going to recommend going to a double- or triple-elimination tournament. This way, everyone gets two (or three) matches, but if someone loses their first two/three, there's no longer a problem of that person's dropping causing tons of chaos later on. And, with triple-elimination, hey, you can lose your first two matches and still have the chance of coming out on top!
The main problem with triple elimination is a lack of support on Challonge, but the third bracket can be tracked elsewhere relatively easily.
This leaves two other problems. First, we technically have lost our original organizer. I'm willing to step up so long as someone else is willing to help with data entry, especially if we continue having 60+ people interested.
Second, well... it's only going to be IsoDom for so long. Supposedly there will be demos of the new system at Origins, which suggests it's likely to be up and running by GenCon if not earlier. This means starting a multi-week tournament at the beginning of June is, perhaps, not the greatest idea.
Thoughts appreciated on both of these.