Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Inspired by www.bandmadness.net, which in turn was inspired by that college basketball tournament thingy, I present Wood Coaster Madness. 128 wood coasters will compete for bragging rights for best in their region and best on earth!

Coasters are seeded predominantly based upon how they placed in the 2006 Internet Wood Roller Coaster Poll conducted by Mitch Hawker. Some mild "nudging" of the seeding was subjectively provided by me in order to reflect some of my own opinions as well as to make for (potentially) more dramatic match-ups. Coasters that had less than 10 riders in Mitch's poll were eliminated from consideration in this "tournament." Also, rides like Gwazi and Twisted Twins are one ride for the purposes of this tournament. If you believe there's a significant difference between tracks on rides like these, pick your favorite side and evaluate it against whichever ride it's up against.

I know some are asking, "Why bother with this tournament if we already have Mitch's poll?" Well, the difference is that Mitch's poll is scientific and relatively mathematically sound. Here, the seeding methodology was guessed "on a wing and a prayer." This is just for fun to get us through the tail end of the off-season and the start of the "weekend-only" season. Additionally, in Mitch's poll, for a coaster to be number one, it has to beat every other coaster out there. In this tournament, the winning coaster will have beaten just seven other coasters to claim the title of champion . . . the catch -- one loss and a ride is done. Will the top seeds earn their position or will there be some major upsets? Only your votes can determine that.

I think this venture may, in the end, serve as a tool to enhance the accuracy of Mitch's poll in the future. I mean, let's face it . . . those of us who have ridden a lot of coasters know the top 20 or 30 that we really like and the bottom 10 or so that we really dislike, but how much thought do we put into the middle of the pack? Having to actually look at some of these match-ups and vote on them may help to crystallize our thoughts for future polls. For those of us who don't participate in Mitch's poll, this format may be especially appealing. You don't have to fill out a long ballot and try to sort out where dozens of different coasters fit in relation to each other . . . it's all one match-up at a time, with no more than 16 match-ups to consider in any one sitting. Mitch's poll takes minutes, if not hours to fill out. This silly little tournament can be voted on when you have two or three spare minutes at work when the boss isn't looking at your computer. :)

Here's how to vote: When you get to the ballot page, you'll see a list of seeded match-ups with the name, seed, and location of each coaster as well as an option that says "I'm not qualified to vote in this match-up." For each match-up in which you've ridden BOTH coasters, pick the one you like better. This is not necessarily the one that's seeded higher or that you're "supposed to" like better, but the one you'd actually prefer to ride on any given day. If you've not ridden both coasters in a match-up you should choose the "I'm not qualified to vote in this match-up" option. If you've ridden one but not the other, you should probably also pass on casting a vote. The exception to this might be if you're extremely fond of the one you've ridden and it's in a high-seed position. A 3 vs. 30 seed where you love the 3-seeded ride and have never ridden the 30-seeded ride, for example, is probably safe to cast a vote on. When in doubt, though, always choose the "I'm not qualified to vote in this match-up" option. That option would also apply in cases where you genuinely have no opinion as well as in cases where's it's just too tough for you to choose between them (whether they be two really beloved or two genuinely hated rides). Choose one of the three options for all the match-ups on the ballot page, hit submit, and you're done (until voting opens on the next bracket). Quick and simple, no fuss no muss.

In the event of a tied vote in a match-up at the close of any given voting session prior to "the sweet 16," the higher-seeded ride will advance. Once into the sweet 16 (and beyond), voting will remain open FOR THE MATCH-UP(S) IN QUESTION ONLY for at least an additional 24 hours (any votes cast in other match-ups will not be counted, as the votes will have already been recorded in match-ups that had a clear winner at the regular close of voting) in the hope of finding a winner. If at the end of 24 hours there is still a tie, I will determine who advances. I may do this by my choice of personal preference, automatic advancement of the higher-seeded ride, coin flip, or best two out of three of the aforementioned methods.

There are four brackets of 32 coasters, divided into regions. The four brackets are Northeast (U.S. states in New England plus NJ, NY, PA, MD, and WV), Midwest / South (which is actually the remainder of the eastern third or so of the U.S.), West (the rest of the U.S.), and International (the world outside the U.S.). Round one in the Midwest / South bracket is open for voting immediately! Click here to go directly to the Midwest / South ballot page (link deactivated as voting is now closed in this bracket). So as to allow time to get the word out, voting will remain open in this bracket until AT LEAST 11:59pm EDT on Monday, April 9 (after that, you're voting at the risk that I may have already recorded the results, rendering your vote meaningless).

Voting will open in the West bracket sometime on Thursday or Friday and remain open until AT LEAST 11:59 EDT on Tuesday, April 10 (same deal . . . after that time, your vote may be for naught).

These first two brackets are the test for this venture. If enough people participate, voting will open in the Northeast bracket and then, finally, the International bracket (last to open to allow for greater lead-time in spreading the word to all your well-traveled and/or foreign friends) at a time and date to be announced. I'd say if at least 200 people cast votes (even if they can only vote in a couple of match-ups), we'll continue. If we're between 50 and 200, I'll think about continuing. Less than 50, and I'll probably shut 'er down since, even just for fun, it'll be difficult to get any meaningful results.

I think that pretty much explains the concept and how to participate, so there's nothing left for you to do but to vote. Updates, announcements, and results will be posted here. Check back regularly!

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