Friday, February 18, 2011

Nutrilite Canadian Championship (contest) format

I need your help.

While it was hardly a national secret to begin with, the CSA confirmed today the format and schedule for the 2011 edition of the Nutrilite Canadian Championship.

The change was necessitated by the inclusion of a 4th team, FC Edmonton, in our national club competition after two years of a 3-team round robin. In its place, a pair of two-legged semi finals will produce a championship final also played over two legs in April and May. Check the link for all the details, but really, all you need is this:

SEMI-FINAL STAGE
27 April 2011

Impact Montréal (3) v Vancouver Whitecaps FC (2) at Stade Saputo

FC Edmonton (4) v Toronto FC (1) at Commonwealth Stadium

4 May 2011

Toronto FC (1) v FC Edmonton (4) at BMO Field

Vancouver Whitecaps FC (2) v Impact Montréal (3) at Empire Stadium

CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL
The highest seeded team in the final will determine whether it opens at home or away
18 May 2011

First Leg
25 May 2011

Second Leg

The merits and demerits of the new format probably deserve their own discussion, but what I am most concerned about is how this will affect this blog's Voyageurs Cup/NCC prediction league that I've run over the past two years.

You see, those contests were one of this blog's most (and only) popular features, and I want even more entries this year.

With the round robin format, the rules were relatively straightforward:
  1. Entrants would predict the number of goals scored for each team in each of the 6 matches.
  2. Your score is the difference between your predicted score and the actual result. For example if you predicted VAN 2 - MTL 0 and it ended up VAN 0 - MTL 1 you'd have a score of 3 for that match. High numbers, like golf, are bad.
  3. I think I may have had readers predict a golden boot winner as a form of tiebreaker.
With the large number of entries in 2009 and 2010 I was worried about a potential logjam for 1st place overall, and indeed in year 1 it came down to who got their entry in soonest. But last year, over the course of 6 matches a champion managed to separate himself from the pack. (No women, as far as I can tell, have yet distinguished themselves in the contest). If you want to see for yourself, check the contest wrap up posts:
  • 2009: squizz wins(29 entries)
  • 2010: Lank wins (40 entries)
Since the total number of games played will be the same (6 -- 4 in the semis and 2 for the final) there is no reason to think that the method of predicting match scorelines would be any more or less likely to produce a clear winner.

However, there are a few problems:
  • The vagaries of two-legged ties means the first result often determines to a large degree the second. It presents a greater challenge than predicting individual round-robin matches.
  • It has not yet been confirmed (though of I have put in a request for clarification via twitter) whether these aggregate draws will be decided by away goals. The spectre of what to do with any matches going to overtime/penalties looms large.
  • What to do with the final? A second round of predicting once the teams have been decided, or predicting blind?
I have my own ideas, but I'd love to hear yours. Flood the comments with your suggestions, or send me an email. I'll open the contest to entries likely by the beginning of April, so a format will be decided before then.

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