HOW THE RANKINGS WORK
RECENT RANKING CONTESTS
OTHER RECENT CONTESTS

HOW THE RANKINGS WORK

The Brassstats.com rankings were first published in Brass Band World magazine in October 1991.

As Colin Archibald said in his article, the inspiration for the rankings was the method used at that time to rank professional golfers!  In fact, a few of the 'tweaks' to the methodology that were introduced to the golf rankings over the next few years were present in the band rankings from day 1 so the BBW rankings were truly innovative and ahead of their time!

In essence, bands are awarded points for competing in so-called 'ranking events' and the points are accumulated over a 4-year period, weighted in favour of the most recent events, and averaged by a factor related to the number of contests that the band has played in during the 4-year 'rankings period' (see worked example below).

The technical bits

In the early days of the BBW Rankings, a 'ranking event' was a contest that featured at least one top 20 band but the system soon evolved and a ranking event was defined as one including at least one top 50 band in the field.  Following the expansion of the rankings in 2012 to include 'international' bands, a ranking event is now defined as one that includes at least one band ranked in the top 150.

The number of ‘top 150’ bands taking part in a particular contest determines the 'strength of field' for that contest and hence determines the number of ranking points available for each placing in the final result (the ranking of the bands present also has an effect, for example a contest featuring the top 10 will be a lot 'stronger' than one that has 10 more lowly ranked bands in the line-up).  Certain contests, e.g. the European Championship, British Open, and all national championships, are assessed to have a minimum ‘strength of field’ and hence ranking points awarded, irrespective of the bands taking part.

The ranking points earned by each band are then 'weighted' to give most prominence to the most recent month, with the weighting eroding slowly over a 4-year period.  On average, the weighting in each 12-month period is twice that of the preceding 12-month period.

The total weighted ranking points earned are then divided by a factor related to the number of contests played during the 4-year period, subject to a minimum divisor of 12.  The divisor is similarly weighted to give more prominence to the most recent contests.

Fundamental to the success of the rankings is that bands compete against each other often enough so that an accurate picture of their relative merits can be established. If we think of three bands - A, B and C- then it doesn't matter if Band A and Band C never meet during the 4-year ranking period provided that there are enough contests featuring bands A and B and also contests featuring bands B and C.  Considering all the various results permits a reasonable idea of how bands A and C relate to each other despite them not having met on the contest stage!

There is a limit to how well the rankings work though and the relative rankings of bands will be most 'accurate' for those bands that compete often and, especially, across a variety of geographical areas.  In particular, it is problematic to assess the relative merits of bands in Australia, New Zealand and USA against those in Europe when these bands so rarely meet.


A worked example

As a means of illustrating the 'mumbo jumbo' of the description above, let's look at the points average for the Cory band as at 1 June 2020.  Cory’s points average was 78.92, placing them top of the rankings at that time.

Clicking on Cory’s name in the June ranking reveals their 4-year contesting record to that date and the ranking points awarded.  How do we arrive at the 78.92 average though?

Here is a table showing the month-by-month breakdown of all 48 months in the 4-year rankings period.  You can see the weights (column a) applied to the ranking points awarded so that the 10.70 points earned for Cory’s 2nd place at the 2020 Welsh Area (column b) becomes 58.85 in the rankings formula (a times b).  Cory played in 20 contests over the 4 years to 1 June and from this a weighted divisor of 14 is obtained.  Dividing 58.85 by 14 gives 4.204, the contribution to the overall points average made by the Welsh Area.

The averaged (and weighted) ranking points earned for a particular contest recede in importance month-by-month until they disappear from the rankings completely after 48 months.  In the table below, you can see how much less significant (in rankings terms) the 2016 National Championship win has become relative to the band's most recent National win.

 

month

weight

 

contest

result

weighted
divisor

raw
ranking
points

weighted
ranking
points

averaged
ranking
points

 

a

 

 

 

 

b

a x b

(a x b) / c

May-20

6.0000

Year 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apr-20

5.7500

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mar-20

5.5000

Welsh Area

2nd

1.0

10.70

58.8500

4.204

Feb-20

5.2500

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jan-20

5.0000

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dec-19

4.7500

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nov-19

4.5000

Brass in Concert

1st

1.0

23.00

103.5000

7.393

Oct-19

4.2500

National Championship

1st

1.0

40.00

170.0000

12.143

Sep-19

4.0000

British Open

1st

1.0

40.00

160.0000

11.429

Aug-19

3.7500

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jul-19

3.5000

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jun-19

3.2500

BrassPass Band of the Year

1st

1.0

23.00

74.7500

5.339

May-19

3.0000

Year 3
average weighting = 50% of Year 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apr-19

2.8750

European Championship

1st

0.8

40.00

115.0000

8.214

Mar-19

2.7500

Welsh Area

2nd

0.8

8.10

22.2750

1.591

Feb-19

2.6250

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jan-19

2.5000

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dec-18

2.3750

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nov-18

2.2500

Brass in Concert

1st

0.8

23.00

51.7500

3.696

Oct-18

2.1250

National Championship

2nd

0.8

32.90

69.9125

4.994

Sep-18

2.0000

British Open

1st

0.8

40.00

80.0000

5.714

Aug-18

1.8750

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jul-18

1.7500

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jun-18

1.6250

 

 

 

 

 

 

May-18

1.5000

Year 2
average weighting = 50% of Year 3

European Championship

2nd

0.6

32.90

49.3500

3.525

Apr-18

1.4375

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mar-18

1.3750

Welsh Area

1st

0.6

14.00

19.2500

1.375

Feb-18

1.3125

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jan-18

1.2500

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dec-17

1.1875

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nov-17

1.1250

Brass in Concert

4th

0.6

14.10

15.8625

1.133

Oct-17

1.0625

National Championship

3rd

0.6

27.10

28.7938

2.057

Sep-17

1.0000

British Open

3rd

0.6

27.10

27.1000

1.936

Aug-17

0.9375

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jul-17

0.8750

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jun-17

0.8125

 

 

 

 

 

 

May-17

0.7500

Year 1
weighting eroding linearly to zero

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apr-17

0.6875

European Championship

3rd

0.4

27.10

18.6313

1.331

Mar-17

0.6250

Welsh Area

1st

0.4

14.00

8.7500

0.625

Feb-17

0.5625

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jan-17

0.5000

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dec-16

0.4375

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nov-16

0.3750

Brass in Concert

1st

0.4

23.00

8.6250

0.616

Oct-16

0.3125

National Championship

1st

0.4

40.00

12.5000

0.893

Sep-16

0.2500

British Open

1st

0.4

40.00

10.0000

0.714

Aug-16

0.1875

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jul-16

0.1250

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jun-16

0.0625

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

total divisor (c)

14.0 

points average

78.921

 

Don't take it too seriously!

For nearly 30 years now, the rankings have attempted to portray the relative merits of the leading bands in mainland Britain and (from January 2012) those from overseas. Remember though that no rankings system is perfect and after all, all systems can only ever be based on contest results, which are themselves a result of a largely subjective 'art' - the adjudicators' opinions!

The rankings will always (I hope) lead to some healthy debate in band rooms across the country and if you don't agree, just blame the adjudicators as we've always done!