The Monday After: What has become of the Challenge Cup?
It has been about a week since the format of the Challenge Cup was planned for the new season and, to be honest, I do not know what happened to the competition.
In case you missed it, we had confirmation that the ten teams of the Elite League will face each other, Milton Keynes Lightning being no longer in the league.
As in previous years, there will be a group stage, quarter-finals, semi-finals and of course a final which will take place in the Cardiff Viola Arena on March 8, 2020.
The group stage consists of three groups, one of four and two of the three with the Belfast Giants, the Dundee Stars, the Fife Flyers and the Glasgow Clan, who make up group A.
Group B includes the Cardiff Devils, Coventry Blaze and Guildford Flames, while Group C includes Manchester Storm, Nottingham Panthers and Sheffield Steelers.
The four teams will face once at home and once outside – six games. The two groups of three teams face twice at home and twice. It's eight games.
Of these ten teams, eight will reach the quarterfinals, the group of four teams will see three pass while the two smaller groups will have the first two of each progression.
Then, the two teams of the down will play in a single game to designate the eighth and final runner-up. Yes, you read that correctly.
Thus, the teams in the three groups that are not good enough to automatically qualify after eight games get a ninth game to try, while the team with only six games to play does not. Hmmm.
If you do not have a third opponent, you are rewarded with two more games, but you can still win a lifeline for the knockout stage if you end up at the bottom of the list. In fact, you could lose all eight games, play the round, win and win the match. What is the meaning of this?
The three group winners will be ranked in the draw (in order of percentage of victory in the group stage) and will have the opportunity to choose their opponents in the quarter-final among the remaining five teams.
Group winners will benefit from an advantage on the return ice during the return match (subject to the availability of ice). In the fourth quarterfinal, the team with the highest winning percentage of the group stage will play a home advantage in the second leg.
This is even before arriving at the concept of "draw" "Choose your opponent", which has amazed and entertained and which is not always in line with your thinking.
The problem is knowing where to start. It has become a useless mess that the concept of playing a simple tournament has long since disappeared.
With ten teams, the idea of reducing them to eight is laughable. Of course, this extra match can help clubs make five figures by going, but is it really necessary for a final step now?
What would have gone so bad if two groups of five clashed twice at home and on the outside and the first two (or four if you really have to, really have a quarter-finals) qualified?
Then – and this is where it gets far-fetched – Group A ranks fourth in Group B, second in A against third in B, and so on. Is it so difficult?
He does not need any seed, GM or coaches to get on top and choose who they would prefer to play. You end at a certain position in the group and you see who you will get on the next turn after the group stage is over. It's already predetermined and so much easier.
In trying to make the competition more exciting and to get everyone fighting for the top seeds, the situation has actually become much more complicated than it should have been, with the use of percentages of victories. Even Rachel Riley, from the countdown, would shrug her shoulders.
Although the financial implications for teams and the group in which they operate can be discussed, there must be a better way to design it. Should the group phases be recalled every year, for example?
On the ice, we will take care of itself and of course anything will happen, but on November 9th – when the groups will finish, will we sit to try to calculate percentages higher earnings? [1945 Let the cards fall and see where we are before the end.
But keep these calculators close at hand, just in case.