The long-awaited news have arrived: after a thorough process of analysis and development, the World Freestyle Football Association has announced the re-implementation of the World Rankings for the sport of Freestyle Football after the hiatus due to the Covid pandemic between the years of 2020 and 2021.
This new iteration of the Rankings will feature an improved, fairer and more precise rating architecture. Created by the WFFA Innovation team, the new Rankings are based on the Elo system used in sports like tennis and chess. Instead of relying on tournament results, the new Rankings will only take into consideration individual battles between freestylers. This means that a freestyler’s position in the Rankings will be determined by their performance against other competitors; victories against higher-ranked freestylers will earn more points compared to wins against lower-ranked opponents.
The new World Rankings have been developed and will be implemented following the process detailed below:
- In the first stage, the mathematical system behind the World Rankings was thoroughly designed by the WFFA Innovation Team, led by Gabriel Massif, and is currently undergoing a series of rigorous tests to ensure its maximum reliability and accuracy
- In the second stage, the WFFA Sports Committee carefully generated a preliminary version of the World Rankings. Led by Gaetan Czaja, a team comprising esteemed members of the global community compiled a comprehensive roster of freestylers and assigned them positions according to their latest achievements on the competitive stage
- In the third stage, the preliminary World Rankings will be utilised to determine the positions of participants in the qualification stages of major WFFA official competitions held during summer 2023, namely Super Ball and the Pulse Series
- In the fourth stage, the outcomes of the battles in these tournaments will be input into the Rankings themselves, therefore making them the first officially ranked competitions with the new system
- In the fifth and final stage, the results from every WFFA-sanctioned event will be input into the World Rankings. This process, in turn, will continuously enhance the accuracy of the global standings as an increasing number of results are added
It is worth noting that only live battles (or, at least, those performed with both opponents responding live to each other, in a similar fashion as online live tournaments such as the Youth Championship Finals) will be taken into account for the World Rankings; non-live online battles will be left out to ensure the skills of the athletes are evaluated in the most transparent manner.
All freestylers and fans of the sport will be able to check the World Rankings on the specific page of the WFFA official website, which will be updated on a monthly basis. Freestylers registering for official competitions of the Association will be included in the Rankings automatically; competitive athletes who are not yet included in the standings will have the opportunity to submit their details and request their inclusion through a dedicated form on the same Rankings page.
Steve Elias, President of the WFFA, said: “We are really happy to bring back the World Rankings after an unfortunate yet unavoidable pause due to the pandemic, as we consider them a cornerstone of the development of the sport. We have no doubt that freestylers around the world will quickly embrace the new system!”.
Minna Marlo, Head of Development at the WFFA, said: “The community demanded the reimplementation of the World Rankings as a means of challenging themselves and finding an extra motivation to compete, and we heard them. We are positive that the new World Rankings will be instrumental in the further development of Freestyle Football.”
Gabriel Massif, Events Innovation Manager at the WFFA and a key figure in the creation of the new Ranking system, said: “We are very proud of the work we have done to develop the new World Rankings. We believe the Elo system is able to reflect the level of each freestyler with more precision than its predecessor. We are convinced that the new World Rankings will allow us to create fairer competitions, and hence we are very excited to offer them to the Freestyle Football community worldwide.”
About the Elo rating system
The Elo rating system, named after Hungarian-American physics professor Arpad Elo, is a methodology designed to calculate the relative skills of teams, athletes and players in zero-sum games. Originally created as a means to rate chess players, the system is currently in place in disciplines such as football, tennis, baseball and esports.
The Elo rating system uses the difference in the rating between two competitors to predict the outcome of their match; depending on how much difference there is between the players, the winner will take more or fewer points from the loser. If the player in a higher position in the ranking wins, they will only receive a few points; however, if it’s the lower-rated player who manages to secure the victory, many points will be transferred.
The Elo system, therefore, is not an absolute rating, but a method to calculate the level of a particular athlete (in this case, a freestyler) in relation to the rest of competitors – hence why so many disciplines have adopted it at their highest competitive level.
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