This past week, the LPRT became the last of the major racquetball organizations to convert to standard/amateur/international scoring standards, abandoning the 3 out of 5 games to 11 structure that had been in place for years.
This is the first time a change in the scoring system for the ladies pros has occurred since 2002. But prior to that, the ladies pro tour changed scoring constantly, and its an interesting history. I’ve kept track of the scoring system changes over the years here: http://www.proracquetballstats.com/…/lprt_scoring_changes.h… . Here’s a brief review:
– 1974: In the beginning, the NRC’s standard scoring system was best 2/3 games to 21, tiebreaker also win by 1.
– 1975: some qualifying rounds were one game to 31. See Aurora 76 as an example.
– 1976 est: 3rd game not to 21 but to 11. Believe this happened in 1976 along with Men’s side, fixing the tiebreaker to not be such a grind.
– 1980: Scored in two sets of best of five games to 11, tiebreaker best of three; with rally scoring.
Example score: 3-1, 2-3, 2-1. This scoring method has wreaked havoc on the PRS results code, coincidentally.
– 1981: The third set is replaced with a single game.
Still rally scoring. Example Score: 2-3, 3-2, 15-11.
– 1983: Best of five, to 21; rally-scoring. Example score: 13, 17, (14), 18.
– 1986: Best of five, to 11, win by one. More or less Consistent with the Men’s scoring by this point.
– 1995 est: Same best of five to 11, but win by two instead of win by one. The Men’s tour had a similar change at some point in his time-frame as well.
– Aug 2000: Back to Rally scoring and games to 21, win by 2. “Ping Pong” style serving where each player would serve five times in a row. It was said at the time this change was done to try to counter-act the dominance of Michelle Gould on tour.
– Aug 2001: Scoring change again: best of five games format, with games played to 15, and scoring on every rally. But no more ping pong
– Sept 2002: Abandoned rally scoring for 2002-03 season, back to “normal” best of five to 11, win by two conventional pro scoring.
– Aug 2019: conversion to amateur/international scoring.
I may be missing some smaller variations in the scoring, but these are the major changes over the years.
We’ve updated the code in a similar fashion to what we did in Jan 2019 when the International Racquetball Tour made this same change, but we’ll have to wait until we get some data entry to ensure that the code correctly interprets the new scoring method.
My two cents on the change? Well, i’m bummed there’s no more crazy 5 game scores from a code perspective; I love watching 15-13 matches or the thrill of a 12-10 5th game super tiebreaker. But I’ve also come around on Doug Ganim‘s theories on the scoring system with respect to tiebreakers in later rounds. There’s many more of them now than there were longer matches in the old score format.
Last season on the IRT, which was the first entirely in the new scoring method, 21% of matches went to the tie-breaker (see http://rball.pro/8BD641) and 25% of matches from the Quarters on went to a tie-breaker. These stats are skewed of course by having one particular dominant player basically win every match in 2 irrespective of the round.
By way of comparison, In the last season where the IRT had 3 out of 5 games to 11 … 14% of matches from the Quarters on went to the tiebreaker 5th game. So the new scoring method is giving us more 3rd game tiebreakers than we had 5th game breakers in the previous system at the business end of tournaments.
I also feel (without much in the way of hard proof necessarily) that the 3-game format enables some players to get wins where they would have run out of gas in the 5-game format. Anecdotally we see more upsets of top players in the best-of-3 format versus best-of-5; Paola Longoria has taken losses in best-of-3 national and amateur competitions as of late, but has just two best-of-5 game losses in the last three pro seasons entirely. It is easier for a skilled but less-than-fit player to pull off a win in best-of-3 versus outlasting a fitter player in a 2 hour best-of-5 marathon.