Blood & Thunder, or how to not organize an event

(Translation from the original Finnish post)

The second Roller Derby World cup was held last weekend in Dallas, Texas. The organizers were, in the DIY spirit of derby, Blood & Thunder, a company who publish a magazine. The games played are already quite well covered around the web, so let's focus more on the event itself.

There were 30 teams, which presumably made it hard to make a schedule. That's probably the reason they published it only a few weeks prior to the tournament even though they knew the participating teams months earlier. The teams were divided into 8 groups seeded based on their performance in the last World Cup. Two best teams from each group advanced to play-offs. This was quite a good system given the number of teams. It's a whole another discussion whether it was a good decision to include so many teams. What it meant that the vast majority of the games were boring blow outs. It was also unclear what would have happened if two or more teams would have ended in a tie because that was never communicated.

Group winners then played against second positioned teams and the winners would advance to quarter finals. After this things started to go wrong. Seeding to playoffs was based on the point differential in the first playoff round. Since both rounds were played on the same day, this meant that in the worst case scenario a team would have known their game minutes before it was supposed to start and they might have had two games in a row when their opponent would have had 6 hours of rest. The organizers should have known this. The audience on the other hand didn't know this until Saturday morning because B & T didn't communicate this. Here in Finland we got the info from Team Finland's bench coach (Thanks Jori!). In the end this information proved to be useless because the system was changed. Finland should have played at 03:00 but they played at 01:00. We got the info 20 minutes before the game. The teams got the info well in advance, 40 minutes before the game.

Teams placed 3 and 4 played consolidation bouts, but apparently these meant nothing because they lead nowhere. It might be that positions 16-30 are based on these games, but B & T hasn't given any info on this.

The Semifinals and Finals were played on Sunday. There were also some expo bouts, because apparently they are more important than, you know, actually playing for positions. The bronze game was also missing from the schedule, probably because the organizers forgot about that. It was announced on Sunday morning on their Facebook page though.

All in all, the majority of the games were boring blow outs and after the group stage when teams of a more equal level had been sorted out the games ended in just a little more even blow outs. But hey, we got to see some Expo bouts!

Following the tournament was a little adventure itself because B & T couldn't be bothered to actually update their bracket at any point and we had to rely on Excel sheets made by the audience. (Thanks Eeli!).

Bracket courtesy of B & T World Cup

After the tournament Finland was probably 5th. No one knows for sure, as B & T hasn't communicated how the final standings are decided.

High quality stream

The tournament was streamed and the price was $45 for a weekend pass. The reason for high price was (or so I was told) good quality and high production values. Nevertheless, the pass was expensive and if we want to bring new audience to derby, it was a completely wrong choice. But again, that's a whole different conversation. Let's stick to the stream.

High quality in group stages meant one camera that shot most of the action. This is quite normal, but at $45 I was expecting more. But I can live with that. What I cannot accept, however, is stream quality that was mediocre at best. If I pay for a stream it needs to be HD. But wait, it gets worse! On the first day the graphics were missing in some of the games which meant that we had to follow the scores via Twitter. We also couldn't find info about the length of the half time anywhere, so we didn't have any idea when to come back. Throughout the weekend it was also impossible to find if everything was on schedule or not. The worst thing was nevertheless commercials mid-jam! This shouldn't happen even in the free streams, but in paid feed it's unforgivable!

I would have also liked to see some replays during the weekend. (Roller Derby is great for replays as there's 30 seconds between jams). Directing was only mediocre. Pro-tip: Jammer skating alone in the track isn't interesting. I also found it kinda strange to mute all the microphones during half times. At some point they started to fill out emptiness with interviews, kudos to that, but why so late? I was hoping for some pre-game speculations as well, now the announcers arrived 3 minutes before the game started.

The sudden change of schedule on Saturday also meant that I missed the beginning of Finland's game. Because Team Finland was only reason for paying to begin with, I made a decision never to give any money to B & T ever again. Naturally rewinding wasn't possible.

From a technical point of view, apart from bad quality, the stream worked fine from Thursday to Saturday. No complaints about that. On Sunday, the picture quality was better, but starting from Bronze game stuttering and freezing emerged and forced reloading every 5 minutes. I shut down the computer and went to sleep. Screw you guys.