The 2019 NCAA gymnastics season is less than 4 months away, and with it comes a new format for the postseason. Super Six is now a thing of the past, replaced with a 4 team format that eliminates byes.
How does the new format apply to teams?
The way teams qualify has stayed relatively the same, with the top 36 teams by Regional Qualifying score (RQS), qualifying to regionals. The only difference is that, since the number of regionals sites has dropped from 6 to 4, nine teams will be at each regional site. To avoid having to split the teams into a group of 4 and a group of 5, the first day of regionals will be a “play in.” The teams ranked from 29-36 will battle each other in 4 dual meets (one at each regional site) for a chance to advance to the next round with the remaining 7 teams. If we take the top 36 teams from the 2018 season and fit them into the new format, it would look something like this:
Since I don’t know at this point how many teams will be “seeded” (like the top 18 were last year) and how many teams will just be placed geographically, I just went ahead and arranged everyone by seed in a snake format to make things simpler.
If we take the scores that each of the play in teams got at regionals in 2018 and pretend those were the scores from the dual meets, Central Michigan, Iowa, Maryland and Pitt would advance to the next round.
On the next day of regionals, the remaining 8 teams from each site will be split into two quad meets, and the top 2 from each of those meets will advance to the next round. Again, applying the score that each team got at regionals in 2018, Oklahoma, Auburn, Cal, Ohio State, LSU, Georgia, Arkansas, Illinois, UCLA, Maryland, Alabama, Nebraska, Utah, Denver, Florida, and Kentucky would advance to the next round.
On the final day of regionals, there will be another quad meet at each site, where the top 2 teams from each meet will advance to nationals for a total of 8 teams (down from 12 in previous years). Again, applying the scores from 2018 regionals, this is what it might look like. The teams that would qualify to nationals are Oklahoma, Cal, LSU, Arkansas, UCLA, Nebraska, Utah, and Florida.
Of course, the teams will not get the same score both days, so this example isn’t perfect, but it gives you a good idea of what it might be like.
Nationals follows the same format as the last two days of regionals with two semifinals, with the top 2 teams from each semi final advancing to finals. I broke the semifinals down by pairing regional 1 with regional 4 and regional 2 with regional 3. Applying the scores from 2018 nationals, Oklahoma, LSU, Florida, and UCLA would advance to the finals.
I think this is the best argument for the new format because the top 4 teams from super 6, who were neck and neck until the end, would get to battle it out with no byes.
How does the new format apply to individuals?
I’ve taken my information from the annual report, which can be confusing to read, so here’s my attempt to break it all down. Please let me know if you see any errors.
The top 12 all arounders and the top 16 on each event in the nation not on a qualifying team will advance to regionals. This is a change from the past where it used to be determined by region. Also, the individuals on the play in teams will be included in these rankings. This is to allow those individuals whose team does not advance from the play in to still be able to advance individually.
Note: The annual report says NQS (national qualifying score) instead of RQS (regional qualifying score). I’m assuming that’s because the individuals are qualifying based on national rankings instead of regional rankings and that it’s still calculated the same. I will update this post if I learn differently.
I went through the 2018 individual rankings and listed the individuals who would have qualified to regionals with this new format. The individuals on a play in team (teams ranked 29-36) are listed in red. I also included those who had season ending injuries because in my perfect world (which is where this scenario takes place), no one gets injured.
As you may notice, most of the same people who qualified individually by region also qualified with this format, but there are some differences. No division 3 individuals are on this list, but some individuals who did not qualify in 2018 would qualify with this format (ie Kennady Schneider of Arizona).
For the regional distributions, I just placed the individuals randomly into regions (but kept teams together), but in the actual tournament, they will be distributed geographically.
Once the play in occurs (round 1), we will know which individuals on the losing team will advance to the next round. Using my hypothetical team scenario above, here’s how it would play out:
The individuals will compete in the second round, and the scores from that round will determine who advances to nationals. I made a list of the top finishers at the hypothetical regions by using their regional scores from 2018, and that list can be found here. For those who did not compete at regionals, I used their most recent score.
Once we know the teams that will advance to nationals, the top finisher on each event and in the all around (not on a qualifying team) will also advance to nationals. Here’s who would advance to nationals in our hypothetical scenario:
Note: Here are the actual ways ties will be broken for event specialists:
Ties for advancing event specialists will be broken by counting all four scores on the event. If not broken, the head judge score will be the tiebreaker. If a tie still exists, the advancing individual will be the one with the higher NQS.
Since I don’t have access to the individual judges scores from regionals, I just went right to NQS (RQS) for the tiebreaker, so the actual advancing individuals may be slightly different. This gives you an idea, though, of what nationals might look like.
I hope this helped explain the new postseason format with nice, clear examples. If you have any questions, please comment down below!