European Ranking System
Players generally obtain a linear rating for participating in an accredited tournament, according to this equation:
* Player rating = 1000 * (#players - rank)/(#players - 1)
If someone places 3rd in a 16 player tournament, the rating given for that tournament would be 867 (or 866.66) points. Tournaments played have two other variables attached to them: a weight (usually 1 or 2, some tournaments have weights of 5) and a decay (full weight for 12 months, two-thirds from the next 12, one-third for the next 12 months, no weight after 3 years). A corrective factor is applied, by which the player's rating becomes half "the sum of all tournaments divided by the sum of the decay-weighted products" and half "the sum of the best 3 tournaments divided by the sum of those decay-weighted products".
Currently, players in the top decile have at least 750-800 points, after which gaining additional points usually increases in difficulty. Five tournaments are almost necessary, due to a penalty applied to players who have not played in enough tournaments, scored as 0 points, with a weight and decay of 1. Players with only one active tournament played are not listed in the ranking.
EMA tournaments with a quota restriction reward member countries with at least one player above 700 power points a bonus seat (Portion A3) as well as a bonus portion of the remaining seats (Portion B2) for all players above 700 points.
Countries are ranked by selecting the top 3 players (or zero scores) and averaging out their ratings. Generally, the countries with higher ratings are those, who do one or both of the following: travel to maximize their tournament exposure (getting more tournaments under the belt often leads to racking up a few podiums) and/or participate in tournaments with limited mixity. Some tournaments, while nominally open, may end up consisting of only players from one or two nationalities, leading to pools of players dominating the rankings.
EMA tournaments with a quota restriction reward member countries ranking 1st, 2nd and 3rd with a bonus seat (Portion A2) each.
Events with high-visibility or high value in the MERS ranking (European Championship, World Championship), whether they contribute to future rankings or not, are managed by EMA regulations. Each member country gets a minimum of one seat (Portion A1), the top 3 countries get a bonus seat (Portion A2) plus one per country with a player above 700 power points (Portion A3). The remaining seats are divided equally (Portion B3 = (B1 + B2)/2) between the ratio of active players a country has (Portion B1) and the ratio of players with over 700 power points a country has (Portion B2).
For a tournament with P players reserved for the European quota, each country is assigned A1 + A2 + A3 + B3 * (P - ΣA) seats. Values are rounded to the nearest integer. A country with 3.56 would get 4 seats; likewise, a country like Sweden with 2.47 in the 2014 WRC quota calculation would get 2 seats. Should a country obtain a number that is larger than the number of players it has in the top half of the ranking, this upper bound would override the calculated quota. Since a corrective coefficient is not used, if the number of seats is over the value of P, the country with the lowest ranking loses a seat (and not the closest to rounding down), and the next countries if the difference is greater than 1. Countries are still guaranteed 1 seat. If the value of P is greater than the formula's calculation, the top country gets an extra seat (not the closest to rounding up), and downward from there.
Accreditation of tournaments
Tournaments must communicate with the EMA presidium at least 3 months before the planned tournament. Countries are limited to two MERS 1 and one MERS 2 tournaments a year (a total of 3 tournaments), although a country organizing a high-level event may get to organize a fourth tournament.
France has also applied for an exemption to the three-tournament rule, and has obtained the right to organize three tournaments in metropolitan France and three on Réunion island. At this moment, the exemption only affects MCR mahjong but there was no rule stating this could not also apply to riichi tournaments. In 2014, there are effectively 7 MCR tournaments occuring in French territory.
Various criticisms are directed to this scoring system, which may diverge from expected neutral points of view:
- A country that organizes three tournaments a year gets rewarded in the rankings, and can effortlessly possess an army of players that can rise to the top of the rankings without ever leaving the country.
- The quota heavily compensates incumbents at the expense of newer members, and will not restore scores of players from member countries joining the EMA.
- Joining EMA will keep new countries out of contention for quota events for at least 2 to 4 years.
- Some member countries in the EMA have mobility issues regarding travel restrictions, and cannot easily travel to play in foreign countries.
- For both large and small quotas, player quality is not a factor in seat allocation. For small events, there is no significant B portion of the quota. For large events, players occupying the top half are prioritized (not top 10, or top 10%).
- Only the winner (or "European Champion") of the previous high-stakes event may ever get a free seat from the EMA. As of July 2014, the best European at the WRC2014 has no claim to a seat at either the next European championship or the next WRC.
- The quotas are then managed by member countries that may apply any redistribution method they feel is in the interest of their organization, leading to transparency issues. Some reserve seats for event winners, some follow the EMA ranking, some make their own internal ranking and weighting, some take résumés to decide who they feel is suitable.
- A country may determine at will who may qualify as a member, and may determine that a player of a different nationality "may or may not" be qualified to join.
- The rating at various tournaments can be affected by various practices, causing a score divergence that may be reproduced differently at another tournament. A tournament with 17 people had 3 substitutes, padding everyone's score upward as if there were 20 participants. Tied rankings led to awarding players with the best possible rating, as opposed to an average rating of that place and the next one.
- The "3 events fits all" rule is outdated. Iniquities in the rule systems are only going to become worse over time. A country with 5 million inhabitants is being treated the same as a country with 50 million, except if you are France.