They're really very different but if you order players by their level you will get a ranking and you can compare that with the latest tournament based rankings and usually see the two lists looking a similar but not the same. This can cause confusion and lead to the question; 'Why do we have two different rankings?'. It's a fair question!
Level based rankings - which is what SquashLevels generates - are based on a player's current playing level and that's entirely based on their actual results against their actual opponents. It doesn't matter who the opponent is (it's just their level that counts) or what tournament it is and not which round they are playing in.
Tournament based rankings are based on points accumulated from progressing through the rounds of tournaments over a number of tournaments. Each round is worth more points (usually double) and the whole event is usually scaled so that the more prestigious events (with the better players) are worth a lot more points. Usually, the rankings are based on a points based algorithm such as the average of your best 10 tournaments over the last 12 months. In this case progression through tournaments is everything - in fact not progressing is often worth nothing!
It's interesting to compare the two methods:
- The points gained at tournaments are exponentially geared to the players that win and progress through the rounds. The winners of the tournaments end up with large numbers of points, whereas those that get knocked out early get very little - or nothing. So when the points are added up over a number of tournaments it's very clear who the winners are as they have masses of points. This is a very good method for finding out who the very best players are - and so will always remain the official ranking method for the top players.
- A lot of squash players don't even play tournaments. Or, if they do, it's the odd tournament run at their club once a year. If you need to play in 10 or more tournaments in a 12 month period and progress through at least one round to score any ranking points then that immediately reserves the tournament based rankings for the best players - just the top few in any pool. It's not inclusive. What you typically find is that the tournament based rankings are spot on for the top few players and then go a bit random after that. Those next few players are the ones able to/prepared to travel around and put the time and effort in. Fair play to them but that doesn't necessarily make them better players than those who don't.
- Also, as SquashLevel's levels are based on current performance and it takes a little while for the best players to emerge at the top of the tournament rankings (because they are averaged over 12 months), the levels based rankings are a bit of a look into the future and more likely what the tournament rankings will look like in about 6 months. Very interesting...
So in summary:
- Tournament based rankings are focused on the top few, averaged over a long period of time.
- Level based rankings are inclusive, current, dynamic and a predictor of future tournament rankings.