[eDebate] ESU Challenge Matching Rationale

Samuel Maurer chairman.maurer
Mon Aug 10 20:58:24 CDT 2009

1-- If it aint' broken, why fix it?

This is the questions I had the most trouble with.  It seems like every
other innovation in debate (alt use time, the 6-round wake, the 100 'RKS'
scale) were all borne of some flaw.  Speaker points became inflated, some
cross-ex's just weren't as valuable as others and people just prepped
anyway, finals of wake was starting at 3am, etc.  So what is wrong with
out-rounds as they are now?  Honestly, nothing is wrong with out-rounds
across the board.  I just feel as though our tournament has a particular
competitive character that challenge matching makes a lot of sense for
(detailed below).  To answer the question directly...Why fix it?  Because
its more fun and competitive for the competitors at the Pflaum that way.

2-- If I am a member of the #7seeded team and get challenged by the #1 seed
and win, may I "talk smack" on and/or to and/or at the #1 seed?

HELL YES!!!  This format is very conducive to "clowning fools", "chump
thumping", "talking sh*t", "kicking A$$", and "taking names".

Take this example: the #2 seed spends all night prepping for the #13 seed
that they believe they will be able to challenge in the morning.  Knowing
that they stayed up until 5:00am getting ready (for some reason).  The #1
seed decides to challenge the 7:45am zombie-looking #2 seed and knocks them
out in the octos.  The #1 seed may enjoy showering the (former) #2 seed with
some comments like "you can go back to bed now!" or "if you can't get real
sleep, I guess the next best thing is a dirt-nap in the octos!".

Another example: the #6 seed is very confident in their ability to debate in
the morning and, hence, decide to compete in something else the night before
and win.  That #6 seed will have a bullseye on their back in the morning and
will be VERY lucky if none of the top 5 seeds decide to call them out (cause
why wait until later in the day when they might be feeling better).  Serious
point is that this out-round structure discourages students from getting
their priorities mixed-up.

One last example: lets say that the #16 seed gets called-out by the #1
seed.  The #16 seed, knowing that they were a big underdog that most didn't
expect to compete in out-rounds, gets ready the 2 weeks prior to the
tournament for the #1 seed -- since they are the most likely challengee --
and beats them in the octos.  Not only have they earned the right to talk A
LOT of smack for upsetting the #1 seed, they also get the first challenge in

Overall, I believe that the Pflaum has become a very competitive midwest***
throw-down with great competition and greater comradery.  I think challenge
matching is very conducive to amplifying the benefit and enjoyment that we
get from both.

*** = ask me about free shuttle service for folks who have to fly into KCI.

3-- Does this apply to all out-rounds or does the first set of challenges
determine the bracket?

It applies to all out-rounds.  In quarters, the current #1 seed (original or
the team that took it over), gets first challenge of the #2-#8, etc.  Seed
order = order of challenge.

If a seed above you gets taken out by a seed above them, you are bumped-up
one in the the bracket.  (e.g. #1 challenges #2 and win in octos; #3 [you]
challenges #16 and win in octos; You become the #2 seed in quarters).

4-- Why are all out-rounds flip for sides?

All challenge matched out-rounds are flip for sides to mitigate the
advantage of the higher seed.  If side constraints mattered for out-rounds,
the higher seed would functionally be able to call their opponent AND side.
Moreover, since challenges don't happen until the morning, over-night prep
would massively favor the higher seed since they would know who they were
going to debate, the side, and the challengee would have no way of knowing
either until the morning.  Conversely, if it is flip for sides the higher
seed must be confident that they can beat the challengee on either side.

5-- How does this affect prep the night before outrounds?

It definitely makes it more complicated, but prep is still possible.  Prep
the night before is complicated because of (a) no side constraints and (b)
bracket chaos vis a vis challenges.


*You have to prep two sides per debate = double labor per round b/c flip for

*That effect is multiplied in anticipating later debates.  In other words,
if you assume that you are going to win octofinal and can anticipate which
team will challenge you, you still have to prep for both sides in quarters.
Or maybe the bracket is so crazy by quarters that you have no idea what the
seed-order will be.

*'Surprise Attacks' -- In theory, you could be the #2 seed and prepare all
night for seeds #3-#16 and find out you're debating the #1 seed in the

*Taken together, does all this mean that if you are a coach who wants to win
at our tournament, there isn't a lot for you to do the night before

...not necessarily.


*We have to speculate about out-round seeding anyway (if the bracket isn't
released the night before).  Anticipating 2nd and 3rd outrounds is typically
dependant upon lucky guesses about speaker points.

*...So instead of speculating about speaker points, if a coach wants to take
a guess, they can speculate about teams' tendancies, argumentative
comfort-zones, etc. and speculate what the bracket might end-up looking
like.  Guessing about speaker points is playing the lotto; guessing about
coaching/debater tendancies is closer to poker.

*The 1 seed is the only seed that can predict the entire bracket
accurately.  Assuming that they win, the 1 seed -- while they cannot predict
the side -- can simply choose the bracket as they go.  Being the #1 seed is
especially nice.

*This puts a high premium on prelim debates.

*'Surprise Attacks' -- Maybe your team is the 3rd seed and you predict that
the top 2 seeds will go in bracket order.  Then you challenge the 4 seed and
nullify night prep at the expense of challenging a team with a 3-3 prelim

6-- How does challenge matching affect pre-tournament prep?

*Execution is key -- prelim premium + out-round chaos = you better just be
able to execute better than them.

*If you know that you are bringing a team to the Pflaum that has only an
outside chance of breaking in open that -- in order to break -- you will
have to beat a team that...

either (a) you'll be looking-up at in the prelims

or (b) will likely target you in outrounds.

*...hence, prepping the top 5 seeds before the tournament is worth your

*And if you are one of the top 5 seeds and you were expected to be before
the tournament, be careful what you wish for.  That seemingly meek #14 seed
that you have never seen before might have been studying your over-confident
ass for the last two weeks...

7-- What criteria might determine who one challenges in outrounds?

*Who is getting ready/has gotten ready for you and how much you think that

*Who you may need head-to-head rounds against when 1st/2nd round bids come

*Who slept.

*Which district teams you have great strategies against.

*Who you think you are most likely to beat.

*Which fools have been runnin' their mouths too much and need to be

8-- One more thing...

Although there is a lot of ambiguity about outrounds and sides, we will be
keeping an extensive caselist on the wiki in as close to real time as we can
get it.  By outround day, we'll have a lot of intel up.

Look forward to hosting many of you in October!


Samuel A. Maurer
Director of Debate
Emporia State University
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