Numbers Games

A week or so ago, someone who didn’t know how USA Fencing Summer Nationals entries work might have been hopeful that the tournament would be—if not actually a reasonable size—somewhat less daunting than expected. At some point during that Friday, there were 6,221 individual and only 87 team entries.

I knew better.

Typically, around 40% of USFA tournament entries come in during the last week before the deadline, with a large final onslaught in the last few hours. (Despite explicit warnings, Railstation was insufficiently prepared for the rush, and crashed under the load Monday evening, so the deadline was extended to Thursday noon.) Uncharacteristically (I’m usually content to wait for the final numbers), I spent much of the weekend—and the following extra days—watching the numbers creep up in fits and starts. I wasn’t surprised that most of the Veteran numbers stayed where they were, as did most of the Youth numbers. The categories with the biggest increases toward the end? Junior, Cadet, Division I, and both Junior and Senior teams.

As of Thursday’s revised regular deadline, we had 8,984 individual entries and 310 team entries from 4299 people. That’s a bit of a jump from previous years:

SN 052214

(Downloadable pdf: SN 052214)

These numbers will change a little by the time we get to Columbus. A few entries haven’t been cleared because their eligibility hasn’t yet been confirmed. (Another good reason never to wait to the last possible moment to enter.) A few more will come in before the triple-fee late deadline this coming Monday. And there are always withdraws and no-shows at check-in. The final numbers will be somewhat smaller than we have now, but not by all that much— perhaps 200-400 fewer.

In the meantime, let’s break this current total down into a few interesting—if useless—factoids:

  • Smallest individual event: 5, Vet 70 Women’s Epee
  • Smallest team event: 9, Sr Women’s Saber
  • Largest individual event: 383, Jr Men’s Epee (followed by Jr Men’s Foil and Division I Men’s Epee, at 357 and 356, respectively)
  • Largest team event: 67, Jr Men’s Epee
  • Smallest category: 49, Vet 70
  • Largest category: 1627, Junior (more than any NAC of the 03-04 season)
  • Potential DE tables of 512: 3, (though no-shows could drop the Division I ME back to a nearly complete 256)
  • Y12 MF in 1999: 90; Y12 MF in 2014: 188
  • Y14 WS in 1999: 22; Y14 WS in 2014: 143

While I obsessed over the entry growth last weekend, I began to think that several categories of events were trending toward parity across all six weapons, that while men’s epee may still be an outlier for years to come, we may well have roughly even numbers among the other five weapons within the next quad. So one afternoon this week, I sat down, pulled up some statistics from past years, and created a whole raft of pie charts. What I expected to see was a progression something like this:

expected spread

(Blue=ME, Green=MF, Yellow=MS, Orange=WE, Red=WF, Purple=WS)

Turns out, not so much.

Vet 70 still looks a lot like the leftmost pie, but everything else seems to look randomly like any of the other three. Some years and some categories are more equal than others, but within that range, there’s not any obvious trend.  If you’re interested, you can take a look at the pdf I put together:

weapon spread

Ah, well. That’s enough avoidance behavior. Time to focus on making all these numbers work in Columbus next month.

Any bets on 10,000 for 2015?