Guest Column: Southwest Beater Analysis


Credit: Ali Markus

This year, the University of Missouri has set off to a breakneck pace, winning 20 of their 22 games played to date and all but locking up a pot one spot at nationals. With tournament wins at Ball Brothers Brawl, Kansas Cup, the Midwest Regional Championship and their home tournament, Spring Breakout, it’s clear that this team has certainly improved from their 2015-16 season that saw them finish with 18 wins and 9 losses. But exactly how much have they improved? From the end of last season to now, Mizzou has risen 237 points in The Eighth Man Elo Rankings, leaving them with an Elo rating of 1858, putting them as the 10th best team currently rated. That 237-point rise also falls as the 10th best season rise in Elo and lies as the largest improvement of any team this season.

Those nine teams above them, however, all had a nationals (or in the Philadelphia Honey Badgers’s case, Consolation Cup) to improve their Elo ratings while Mizzou has not. Since these tournaments are counted as playoffs, their weight in Elo is slightly heavier than normal season games, and, thus, eight of those nine teams were able to improve upon their Elo at these postseason tournaments. When you look at the pre-nationals ratings of these nine teams, only 2015’s Quidditch Club Boston, Sam Houston and New York University improved more before their postseasons than Mizzou has so far this year. Should Mizzou continue to outperform their Elo at nationals, they have a good shot of ending their season as a top five most-improved team.

Unlike many teams above them on that list though, Mizzou’s major issue is how good they are  currently. The only team above them that went into nationals with a higher Elo was 2016’s Boston, who won US Quidditch Cup 9 that year. For Mizzou to lead this list, they will have to finish the season with an Elo of 1983 or higher, which, depending on what teams they play, would likely mean at least a quarterfinals or semifinals appearance. Not impossible to reach, but a much higher bar than most other teams have needed to hit to improve as dramatically.

What is even more impressive about the Mizzou program is the fact that they have maintained this improvement over a period of years. For each of the past three years, Mizzou has increased their Elo rating, making them the fifth-most improved program over the course of three years, only behind Rutgers University (2014-17), Boise State University (2014-17), Boston (2014-17) and RPI (2013-2016). While their consecutive two-year improvement stands relatively low (19th overall), their improvements in the 2015 and 2017 seasons with a consistent 2016 put them as a rare outlier in terms of continued program improvement.

It is not surprising to see many of the teams on these lists are college teams. Frequently, college teams may gain a class or two of new athletic recruits and then see their team improve as those players learn the sport and define how they play the game. Community teams, on the other hand, tend to be founded with a core identity already intact and thus it is significantly more rare to see a new batch of players join and redefine a community team. The addition of Max Havlin, Kyle Jeon, Harry Greenhouse and a handful of former Emerson College players to Boston in 2016, then, is the exception, rather than the rule, allowing the team to jump an unprecedented 567 Elo points in just two years.

The question for Mizzou is: Are the improvements of David Becker, Jacob Parker, Vincent Woolsey, Dominic Stelzer and company enough to continue this team’s historic improvement, leaving them as a program to be remembered? Or will this trip to Kissimmee, Fla. serve as a sobering regression toward the mean for Missouri, leaving the program in roughly the same place it began the season?

Top 25 lists for one, two and three-year improvements can be found below. All lists compare teams’s Elo ratings at the end of the season to the next. All improvements listed for the 2017 season are current as of March 17. For more information on The Eighth Man’s Elo rating system, check out this article.







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