A Statement Regarding Online Tournaments

NOTE: this policy is no longer in effect for the 2020-21 season.

It is our belief at Groger Ranks that online tournaments are a valued part of the quizbowl circuit. Not only have many of our members played online tournaments in the past, but we have hosted three online tournaments ourselves, including the 24-team online mirror of BLAST held this past Saturday. It is fun on our end to run these tournaments, but more importantly online tournaments allow teams to play sets they would not have been able to play otherwise; for teams that love quizbowl, more quizbowl is always better. We have historically used these tournaments for our rankings, as they provide more data that help to strengthen adjustments.

However, as the past few weeks have shown us, things need to change. When even one of the greatest science players of all time at the collegiate level admits he has cheated at an online tournament, things need to change. When virtually every online tournament is followed by new allegations of cheating, things need to change. While we have not suspected anyone of cheating at our tournaments, it would certainly sadden us, but not surprise us at this point, if someone were to admit cheating on a few tossups at one of our online events.

So where does this lead us? We will continue to run online tournaments, especially given the current pandemic, as we believe strongly that teams should have the chance to play tournaments on harder sets that they would not otherwise be able to play. However, we have unanimously decided not to include results from online tournaments in our future rankings. It is not just the cheating scandals—online tournaments are different enough from in-person tournaments in everything from the playing environment to the timing rules. This decision was a long time in the making, and we had hoped we would not need to make it after the ongoing pandemic made online tournaments the only remaining option for high school teams.

To pay it forward, we have decided to use all the revenue we made from online tournaments this year, our main source of revenue, for a 2020-21 Tournament Fund. The purpose of running online tournaments was to make tournaments more accessible, so if online tournaments will forever be plagued by suspicion of cheating, then the next logical step of action is to make physical tournaments more accessible. Once normal tournaments are allowed to resume, hopefully next year, we will allow schools to apply for grants to cover the costs of running their tournaments, whether it is the payment needed for staffers or the mirroring fees. We will review every application and cover the total cost of the tournament to make sure that more pyramidal quizbowl tournaments are viable across the nation, allowing more teams to play. Any future revenue we make from online tournaments will be directly transferred into this fund, while money we earn from our Patreon subscribers will be used to cover our operational costs, with the surplus being moved here as well.

We want to thank the community for its continued support of Groger Ranks and wish everyone a happy and healthy rest of the year in these uncertain times.

—The Groger Ranks Team

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