BATTLE OF THE BOARDS PICK 'EM COMPETITIONS - potential limit on entries
Last update: 14 Jan 2010
If we ever get more than 500 entrants for one of these competitions, we will accept entries from the top 250 on the current pick 'em overall ranking list and fill the remaining places on a first come, first served basis, though we reserve the right to first cap entries from any one team and/or ignore entries with errors on them that are time-consuming to resolve as set out below.
If it ever looks likely that we will have to apply this cap, we will do our best to warn you on the entry form so that if you are entering close to the deadline, you can decide whether it is still worth taking the time to submit an entry.
At the moment, we are getting around 400 entrants for grand slam pick 'ems and over 200 entrants for Masters pick 'ems. These are big increases on the numbers we were getting in the early competitions and it is great to see on the forums how much people seem to be enjoying the competitions! However, it is hard to know how many more boards we are likely to get joining us over time and how much the number of entrants from some of the bigger boards that already have teams could increase by word of mouth as well.
Using the current semi-automated Excel-based entry and results processing system, we are effectively limited to about 500 entrants, since we believe that this is the maximum number of entries we can process in a couple of days and that this is the maximum number of entrants the results file can cope with before it starts to make our computers run so slow that it would drastically cut the number of updates we could do.
Even if I programmed a new web-based system from scratch that could cope with a lot more entrants (which might happen one day, but it won't be any time soon!), we are not sure that a huge increase in the number of entrants would be desirable. Two of the things that mark this competition out from the more commercial competitions are that we can show everyone on one results page and we have a team competition where each team member can feel that they can make a significant difference to the team results. If you want to play in a fully automated competition with thousands of entrants, there is always the ATP Bracket Challenge, and of course many of us take part in both with the same picks!
We don't really want to lose the kind of exclusive, non-commercial feel of these competitions just to chase ever higher numbers of entrants. So (in the short to medium term at least), we intend to find a fair way to limit the number of entries for each pick 'em to 500, if that ever becomes necessary.
How would the limit be applied?
In order to avoid disappointing our most loyal, regular entrants, the top 250 in the overall pick 'em rankings would get guaranteed entry (as long as the name they enter with exactly matches their name on the overall rankings list so that the fact that they are in the top 250 gets picked up!), with the remaining 250 places going to other entrants on a first-come first-served basis, subject to the provisions in the next three paragraphs.
Of course, not all of the top 250 will enter every time, so even if we do start having to impose a limit, there are likely to be more than 250 places for other entrants. Once we get close to having 250 entrants from outside the top 250, it will be made clear on the entry form that there is a chance of later entries from people outside the top 250 not being accepted, so that (perhaps using the list of entries processed so far), people outside the top 250 entering near the deadline can make an informed decision about whether it is likely to be worth taking the time to enter or not - the pick 'em equivalent of tennis players deciding whether to make the trip to sign in for qualifying for an event that they may or may not make the qualifying cut for!
Since these competitions are aimed mainly at those who want to play fairly regularly, we reserve the right to cap entries from any one team if a board/forum is generating masses of new entrants for a reason that is likely to mean that most of them will be one-offs before we start restricting other entries. If the team has appointed a captain during or just after a previous tournament, they would be given the option of team selection, though there would necessarily be a very tight time limit for this. Conversely, we may use some of the extra places created by people in the top 250 not entering to include any entries that were already in progress before the warning went on the entry form or to allow the smaller boards to recruit extra team members needed to ensure that their team is not too small to be counted as a full team.
Because of the time it takes to sort out some types of problem entries, we also reserve the right to ignore entries with errors in them if we are swamped with entries and do not have the time to resolve the errors.
Does this mean that I need to rush to get my entry in for this pick 'em?
Given the rate at which entrant numbers have been rising from slam to slam, I doubt we will reach the limit this time. Indeed, there are signs that entrant numbers have started to stabilise at what for us are just about ideal levels and we may never reach the limit. However, one-off events (such as unexpected publicity on a very popular website) could take us near the limit unexpectedly.
If you intend to leave it until close to the deadline before entering but you are not in the top 250 on the overall rankings and you want to make sure you don't miss out, it is worth checking the list of entries processed so far from time to time and getting an entry in quickly if you see that the number of entrants has climbed to 400+ and there are still a few hours to go.
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