Matchmaking: How a Simple System Could Revolutionize Zwift Racing

Matchmaking: How a Simple System Could Revolutionize Zwift Racing

Problems with the Current Category System

The Zwift racing category system groups racers based on their FTP – or more specifically, 95% of their 20-minute power, converted to watts per kilo (w/kg). The idea is that by joining the appropriate category based on this metric, you are racing riders of a similar ability. This leads to a number of issues which are the source of many community debates and complaints:

  • Even if the category system is strictly enforced, arbitrarily grouping riders based on any sort of power profile is open to sandbagging. This is when riders deliberately perform below their actual ability, so that they can compete at the front end of races. For example, as an A rider by FTP, I can manage my power in a race to stay below the 4 w/kg limit of the B cat, but know that I will be strong at the finish and maybe win.
  • The human desire to have the chance to win, or podium, or at least compete at the front of the race, means that you are most rewarded when you are at the top of a category. This means that once you reach the top of a category the incentive is to stay there, not move up.
  • Riders with certain physiological attributes are able to outperform other riders in their category without being upgraded. Typically this applies to the extremities of weight. Heavy riders may be able to average 350w-400w in a B cat race but be within limits. Unless the race has a significant climb, this is a difficult pace for the majority of riders to stick with. On the flip side, super light riders that average less than the category’s pure watt limit (250w for B) may average 5 w/kg. As long as they can stick in the draft they will perform well on a hilly course, and if there are big climbs they will dominate.

For Zwift racing to work, for it to really become an attractive and rewarding proposition for all, riders need to feel motivated to do the best they can in any race. For progression to be attractive, not avoided. All while meeting the human desire to have the chance to win, or podium, or at least be involved in the shakeup.

ZwiftPower Ranking System

Most popular online multiplayer games uses a matchmaking system – the idea being that you compete against those that are a similar standard as yourself according to your ranking. As you perform well relevant to your peers, you progress up the rankings to face tougher opponents.

ZwiftPower has a rankings system that works on this basis. If you would like the full details of this system and the mathematical model behind it, it is available here (click FAQs). I will try to summarize it here:

  • Your top 5 races in the last 90 days determine you rank, between 0-600. Lower is better
  • Your ranking is improved by beating riders that have a stronger ranking than you
  • 3 key calculations take place:
    • Race Quality: how strong is the field (current rankings of participants)?
    • Points Per Place: based on the size of the field and race quality
    • Rank Points: determines your individual rank score based on the above two calculations

Now that Zwift own and manage ZwiftPower, it makes sense that this ranking system is used as a starting point. Everyone on ZwiftPower already has a ranking, even if you did not realize!

Zwift Matchmaking: A Simple Example

So how could a Zwift matchmaking system work, using the rankings described above?

When a race is created by an organizer, they can specify a field size. Let’s say they choose 50 as the field size. Field size can be chosen based on course profile, race popularity, or a desire to mix up the racing dynamic.

When you join a rankings race, there is only one sign up link. You simply join the race.

240 people join the race. At a specified deadline, the pen calculation takes place and you are placed in one of 5 starting pens (240/50). The pens are split based on rankings – so the top pen has the top 5th of riders based on rankings, the 2nd pen has the 2nd 5th of riders, etc.

The End of Sandbagging

In a matchmaking system, your performance relative to the riders around you updates your rankings, with the goal to move up the rankings. As performance is based on final placing, there is no incentive whatsoever to do badly. Sandbaggers would have to perform consistently poorly to race a lower level than they should, but as soon as they win races they will be upgraded! The end of sandbagging as we know it.

Some days, you may be in a field where you are the strongest rider and have a good chance at winning the race. Other days you may be the lowest rank and get dropped early on. However, doing your best in either of these scenarios is rewarding in terms of ranking points.

Onboarding Newcomers

Managing newcomers is one aspect that needs some attention, otherwise weaker riders (current cat D) might continually face newcomers who have not yet worked their way up the rankings. The way other games manage this is to have new racers complete 3-5 races “open” races before entering the formal cat system.

A Proven System

Rankings-based matchmaking in this style is the crux of why games like Call of Duty or FIFA are so successful. Improvement becomes additive. Sprinting from the 3rd group can pay off if the field is a really strong one. It may sound quite complex, but it is really not. ZwiftPower already does half of it, it just needs a matchmaking system baked into the game.

Will we see this in the future? Is this one of the ‘Systems’ that Eric Min has previously alluded to? I certainly hope so and look forward to reading your comments.

Your Thoughts

I’ve posted a Matchmaking topic on Zwift’s Feature Requests forum – please share your thoughts there and upvote the idea if you support it. Also, feel free to share comments below!

About The Author

James Eastwood

James is a triathlete living in the North of England who works as a project manager for a technology company. He runs a small aero sock business (Socks4Watts) whose Zwift team has been dominating the female WTRL TTT and includes the likes of Cecilia Hansen, Alice Lethbridge, and Leah Thorvilson.

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Michael
Michael
9 months ago

This assumes an even distribution of abilities which is frequently not the case. If distribution of abilities is uneven but categories are of equal size, the spread of some categories will be larger than others, leading to an uncompetitive race for many participants.

Richard
Richard
9 months ago
Reply to  Michael

Uncompetitive in terms of a win – as really, most races would always be – but competitive at all levels with the riders around you, however many there are. Either way, far superior to the current system!

Mark M
Mark M
9 months ago
Reply to  Michael

A good point, though changing the algorithm to help account for this would be fairly trivial compared to the rest of the work required to get this implemented.

Jer Walker
Jer Walker (@jerwalker)
9 months ago
Reply to  Michael

I would hope this disparity would encourage those riders to train those deficiencies. I know I’ll be working on 1 and 5 minute power which will theoretically lead to more success in game.

Stefan Versick
Stefan Versick
9 months ago
Reply to  Michael

Exactly what I thought. With the cat distribution in the races I currently race (in zwift, not in zwiftpower; higher cat riders more often have a zwiftpower account) I am probably not at the end of B but at the end of current A and B. No matter how hard I work I never will beat the As, I have some hope for the Bs. I think if this happens I will end my racing career.

Matt
Matt
9 months ago
Reply to  Michael

Well, with so many people racing, wouldn’t the distribution be very narrow? Say I’m level 500 I’d be competing with 50 riders that will most likely be between level 499 and level 501. Curious to hear everyone’s thoughts!

Stuart Lynne
Stuart Lynne (@sl)
9 months ago
Reply to  Michael

You can’t accommodate everything in the ranking system. IRL rating systems that are based on results have exactly the same issues. People are better at some types of racing (short versus long versus very long, flat versus steep versus rolling, sprinting versus breakaway.) We also see the solution IRL in that people will decide what races they want to race in based on what they are good at. If you are a climber you don’t expect to do well in long flat races. Sprinters don’t expect to do well in long climbs. The point is you end up being ranked… Read more »

Wally
Wally
9 months ago
Reply to  Michael

Yeah this is probably true, in particular on the extremes of the distribution (top and bottom categories). But because ability does not correlate perfectly with ranking, because of the dynamics of the point system, this might not be the biggest issue. Say your ranking points put you in the bottom of the A cat. You will typically get awarded a relatively high number of points (ie… low ranking) when you consistently get dropped, this will reduce your ranking, and after a while, you will get allocated to the B-cat because of it. So, edge riders will be switching back and… Read more »

Mark M
Mark M
9 months ago
Reply to  Wally

Keep in mind a few things. 1) The proposal is for the categories to be allocated on a per event basis. So two different races the same day could see you racing in two different categories. 2) you won’t drop down in rankings until your oldest top-5 result hits 3 months old. 3) If you finish next to last in a race where you had the lowest ranking, you could still improve your ranking. So if improving your ranking is a goal, even sprinting to stay out of last place may be worthwhile.

James Eastwood
9 months ago
Reply to  Mark M

Yes this is correct. To avoid confusion it is useful to call them ranking pens instead cats I think.

Christopher Deane
Christopher Deane
9 months ago

Simply genius.

Tim
Tim
9 months ago

makes sense. Sounds familiar, think USA Cycling ranking system. Not perfect, but not bad.

Mark Larson
Mark Larson
9 months ago

Awesome idea! I like it other than the fact people like to be categorized and in the lower levels you get lots of casual racers who don’t really pay any attention to Zwift when they’re not using it. I feel like sandbagging is starting to fade although Zwift has yet to start pulling obvious sandbaggers from races (last Monday a guy soloed off the front from the gun, averaged 4.1 W/kg in a D race without even a cone of shame.) When you finish a C or D race over half aren’t on Zwift Power so my first recommendation is… Read more »

Andrew
Andrew
9 months ago
Reply to  Mark Larson

Also apparently only a small proportion of Zwifters are signed up to ZwiftPower, so Zwift would need to properly integrate that as part of the app so sign-up occurs as part of joining Zwift.

Mark Eelnurme
Mark Eelnurme
9 months ago

Absolutely agree with this system and support it 100%

Chris
Chris
9 months ago

This works well for individual races. But race series also solve the problem using the existing A, B, C, D system, provided the series includes races that cover the gamut of individual abilities. Imagine a race series that includes flat courses, rolling courses, long climbs (e.g. Epic KOM or longer), and short climbs, spread over multiple days. This levels the playing field according to the W/KG measurement. Sure, the heavier riders will often dominate the flats; and lighter riders will dominate the long climbs. But good all-arounders should do well on rolling courses and courses with shorter climbs. Then, if… Read more »

James Eastwood
9 months ago
Reply to  Chris

Yeah agreed. Race series and team events can be organized in other ways.

Chris
Chris
9 months ago
Reply to  James Eastwood

The good thing about race series is you don’t have to wait on Zwift to do something. They’ve not done much recently. Waiting for them to implement a desired feature seems like wishful thinking.

Martial Pottier (Foudre)
Martial Pottier (Foudre)
9 months ago

I would love to see that happening, but based on previous Zwift releases, it might be not before 2025.

Rich R
Rich R (@rich-rivers)
9 months ago

I started doing the math and based on weight and what I think will be an increased FTP when I re-test at the months end I could test out as a class B rider. That would be comical for me to be in a class B race I would be dropped before getting out of the start area. I enjoy racing and typically finish in the bottom 3rd of class C I have the most fun when I am have others to compete against but often times find myself in no mans land 40 seconds behind some riders and 40+seconds… Read more »

Barry C
Barry C
9 months ago
Reply to  Rich R

Same boat – I’ve been bumped to B, but I’ve pretty rarely been able to cling to the front group even on the C races I’ve done. The prospect of immediately being dropped in the B races, despite putting out 100-200 wats over FTP for several minutes at the start, doesn’t encourage me to race very much.

Colin C Ferguson
Colin C Ferguson
9 months ago
Reply to  Barry C

200 watts over FTP for several minutes?!?!?! If you can do that you need to re-test!

Tristan
Tristan
9 months ago
Reply to  Barry C

I totally feel your pain. This happened to me too in real life. Then I got a coach and read a lot. Thankfully there’s a cure. The likely reason you’re getting dropped is that you have not targeted your 3-5 min power with appropriate interval training. What’s going on is this: When you are asked to ride above FTP (like at the start of a Zwift race) you’re entering VO2Max land. This is the zone above FTP but below anaerobic. It’s the most challenging area for most of us because it relies solely on how much power you can make… Read more »

Kevin Day
Kevin Day
9 months ago

Really good idea… And I think with the ZP data if you go over your Cat Threshold you should be popped into the next category up… I’ve had a few Cat C races where I’ve killed myself for 20 minutes to try and stay on the lead and been DQ’d for being over the w/kg threshold. Even though on the overall races I’ve averaged less than my http://FTP...

Dave Hicks
Dave Hicks (@drhmm1)
9 months ago

This makes perfectly good sense. Hope Zwift is listening!

Benjamin
Benjamin (@benjamin_pitt)
9 months ago

I like it and have been saying this for over a year since I’ve been on zwift – race to the rankings, not the performance metrics…. so many riders do their 20 min power for over an hour, because they know not push too hard.

Mattias
9 months ago

End of team racing. But good with automatic leveling

jordan fowler
jordan fowler (@jfowler)
9 months ago
Reply to  Mattias

Couldn’t Team Racing be some kind of average of the team’s individuals with this system? (realizing getting into some complexity, but not too bad).

Mark M
Mark M
9 months ago
Reply to  jordan fowler

It’d be more work, but you could potentially identify a person you’d like to race with and you’ll move up to their category automatically.

Eric Schlange
Top Member
Eric Schlange (@eschlange)
9 months ago
Reply to  Mattias

Nah, it wouldn’t be the end of team racing. You’d just have to account for that in the system, or have races that are organized differently than the ZP system (which already happens.)

Victor
Victor
9 months ago

I’m a good example. Top of cat B, 4w/kg, and I enjoy every race. I can deliver a constant 360 watts, but I can’t go above 430w for more than 90 sec, if I move to cat A, it’s simply frustrating, at the first cut I’ll stay behind and not being able to catch the front, no matter what, I simply can’t stay with the peloton… frustrating…I’m a diesel engine…and yes I’m 65.

Martin
Martin
9 months ago
Reply to  Victor

Same for me. Did some nice top 10 results in B. Now I’m upgraded to A with average 4.01 w/kg and are at the end of the field. Not much fun anymore. If I order the start list in Zwiftpower by ranking I can almost predict perfectly where I would end the race. I support Eric’s suggestion 100%! Futhermore, races aren’t won with FTP but with 30s to 2min power. With only good FTP you are either outsprinted at the finish or dropped at the short climbs.

Martin
Martin
9 months ago
Reply to  Martin

I think it has to be “… arrange the start list …”

B cat racing A cat
B cat racing A cat
9 months ago
Reply to  Martin

Yes, let’s change the rules and divide classes so finely everyone gets their participation trophy against minimal opponents

Martin
Martin
9 months ago

The intention is to find a system where you are rewarded for doing better. This is not the case at the moment. In some events they divide it into age groups of 5 year steps. At big events that could be OK if there are enough participants. If only 5 guys start in your group it it’s boring, too that’s right. With the current system it’s better for me to hold back and downgrade to B to have more fun. And that’s why we all do it, to have fun, don’t we?

ZoomZoom
ZoomZoom
9 months ago

No, No. Change the format so there are only 3 riders in a race. And everyone gets a real trophy. Problem solved.

Martin
Martin
9 months ago
Reply to  ZoomZoom

Why do you reply if you are not interested in a real discussion, only telling people between the lines they are stupid? A discussion whether or not a existing system can be improved should always be done. If you have a different opinion you are welcome to explain it.

Phillip Miles
Phillip Miles
9 months ago

Can’t wait. I think the cat system is broken. I feel unmotivated to race unless it’s with people I know. My idea was to split the cats further. But this ranking version will be better. I look forward to being able to race against strangers and feel like I have a chance.

Tomas Katrnak
Tomas Katrnak
9 months ago

Categories A, B, C and D are absolute, and this is relative or positional approach. If I understand well, my position in ranking should be defined by percents of people above or below me. Before race the virtual ranking of all registered people in race would be created, and this continuous scale would be divided for instance in the same 5 groups (quintiles). I will compete with people only in my group, then. Yes? The start would be only one, but with different jerseys for individual groups, or each quintile group will have different start time?

Jon Stacks
Jon Stacks
9 months ago

James, I think this is a step forward with your proposed system. Let me explain a bit more. I competed as a Category 1 cyclist in the 90’s and early 2000’s in the Intermountain region of Colorado…and due to Covid, joined Zwift initially back in late 2019. I have aggressively raced on the platform rather than ride and race outside and I have seen the issues mentioned here first hand. I was rapidly going through the categories with nothing more than the ZwiftPower guidance..to which they recommended I join the A’s after respectfully competing in the C’s and B’s…yes, I… Read more »

Michal Wozniak
Michal Wozniak (@michwoz)
9 months ago

Ranking based matchmaking is surely better than current extremely faulty system but I’d still very much prefer power curve / route type categorization. It allows to group people properly even if they didn’t race previously at all.

Richard Gate
Richard Gate
9 months ago

The “knowledge is power” pop up is really annoying.

D C
D C
9 months ago

I would like to see this implemented as it seems that leaders in the C race often put out numbers that would upgrade them into the Bs. I agree with the article that there also needs to be some better tweaking for weight. I was beaten in a TT by someone who’s avg watts was 94 W with a 3.8 w/kg avg in the race. This means they weighed 25 kg or 55 lb. or lighter than my 8-year-old son whom I’m quite sure would not beat me in a flat course 20 km TT. Perhaps it was overlooked by… Read more »

Andrew
Andrew
9 months ago

As a stand-alone “ranking system” I think it has inherent flaws just as the W/Kg system does currently, I’d imagine a system that combines the existing Cat A-D, and W/Kg, and also the Matchmaking approach but which also ‘hides’ the ZP Ranking from view would work best. In terms of flaws of a ‘just matchmaking’ approach I can see the following: 1) Even assuming Zwift could update the app to have unlimited numbers of Start Pens for races, whether with or without the existing Cat A-D splits, it would significantly limit the size of the groups you race with and… Read more »

James Eastwood
9 months ago
Reply to  Andrew

Thanks for some interesting discussion points. The number of pens would have to be limited to Zwift’s capabilities of course. Races would not have smaller fields, it would be easy enough to set the number of pens to 4 as today or carve up the field in another way (e.g. variable field sizes, but the same ranking bandwidth). This just gives race organisers another tool to mix up the race dynamic It would be very rare that you are not competing against stronger riders. If you do happen to be the strongest, why not try a breakaway? In most races… Read more »

Simon Lockwood
Simon Lockwood
9 months ago

Brilliant article.

James Eastwood
9 months ago
Reply to  Simon Lockwood

Thanks Simon! Could go down a never ending rabbit hole discussing the finer points, but hopefully this is an overview of how simply this could be implemented, and the huge benefits it would bring to the platform.

pmprego
pmprego
9 months ago

All nice and pretty, ok but I get that Zwift is not going after 100% realism but some would be nice. For that it has to implement some type of lane system. The blob cannot work as a huge TTT effort. It is SOOOO!! unrealistic. It has to be harder to overcome other riders so one can stay in the draft. In zwift one gets pulled to the front even without wanting. It cannot happen.

Mark Mahoney
Mark Mahoney
9 months ago

I think it’s a great idea! Crossresults.com uses this formula. It creates a good competitive atmosphere at races and identifies who your “Nemeses” and “Victims” are. You get to know folks that are near your ability faster because you tend to keep and eye out for them.

josh
josh
9 months ago
Reply to  Mark Mahoney

yes crossresults.com is incredibly accurate, to the point that race predictor tool is almost the same as results in my experience. from what i’ve heard from the creator of the site, usacycling “borrowed without asking” the algorithm because it was so good. i would like to see this implemented in zwift. as the article states, trying to improve your ranking is good enough motivation in many cases, rather than sandbagging a lower cat and going for hollow podiums.

Funkster
Funkster
9 months ago
Reply to  josh

I can and do break the algorithm frequently IRL. The issue is that race results age. And I don’t race often. So I come into a cat 4/5 race IRL with points in the middle 500s. Completely overlooked. Because I’ve raced once in the last year and my other averaged (non-races) are 600’s. And I steal a podium. It’s not deliberate. It’s what my schedule and life allows. Sorry. And IRL it doesn’t matter because I’m racing my category and haven’t downgraded (and am still just short of what I need for upgrade). Zwift points can be gamed exactly the… Read more »

James Eastwood
9 months ago
Reply to  Funkster

I agree with these issues, but they are very easy to solve. I’ll cover them in a follow up post.

Mark M
Mark M
9 months ago
Reply to  James Eastwood

I do think this is the weakest part of the current zwiftpower ranking system and the proposal as is (to be clear I’m a huge fan of the proposal James!). I’m interested to hear what the solutions may be. Zwift racing is a little different from IRL because the time/money commitment for a race is so low. The real life and probably not uncommon example that Funkster gives may be rare in zwift.

josh
josh
9 months ago
Reply to  Funkster

i think most folks aren’t as concerned about people like you describe, because by definition they are racing relatively infrequently. it’s the known salty sandbaggers with 100+ races that won’t have anywhere to hide.

Michael
Michael
9 months ago

I live at 5,400 ft above sea level so I am at a 5-10% disadvantage to riders at sea level every time I line up to race. These changes are great but not sure why Zwift refuses to make a very easy normalization change to those at altitude. No, I won’t shut up about this.

Carl J
Carl J
9 months ago
Reply to  Michael

Ya, and then for some strange reason, most riders are all from Mt Everest?

josh
josh
9 months ago
Reply to  Michael

i don’t know, no one seems to have any sympathy for us flatlanders when we try and race at altitude…now the tables are turned!

Kris Jonckheere
Kris Jonckheere
9 months ago

All interesting thoughts but when will Zwift finally DO something about this? Anti-sandbagging testing was done quite some time ago…. hope they start implementing spon.

Todd Gallaher
Todd Gallaher
9 months ago

Please please please start this system of ranking immediately. As racing Zwift for the last year has defined what it is to “game the system” That is to start extremely hard and then soft pedal after the attacks are over as to lower your watts per kilogram over the duration of the race. As long as you can game the system successfully you will have Riders at a disadvantage due to their either lack of knowledge of gaming the system or unwillingness to game the system. Longer more difficult races eliminate gaming the system but those are few and far… Read more »

Jerry Weiss
Jerry Weiss (@jerrylweiss)
9 months ago

I’ve been waiting for this feature for YEARS ! I don’t race anymore because I’m light and near the lower to middle of Cat C. I always get dropped and end up either alone or in a small autobus. Plus you can never tell at the start of the race which group will be DQ’ed and which will have the winner, so knowing who to try to stay with is impossible. If I knew I could be competitive with the other racers in my group I would definitely start racing again. MAKE IT SO !

mike w
mike w
9 months ago
Reply to  Jerry Weiss

I think you might be waiting for years to come. I don’t believe Zwift will even do this much.

James Annan
James Annan
9 months ago
Reply to  Jerry Weiss

An alternative (which can still be fun) is to find events with all riders visible and a wide range of abilities. You can still be racing people of similar speed, maybe they will be strong Ds but who cares, it’s still a good challenge so long as there are enough people around you to make it interesting. Of course the solution proposed is better still 🙂

Philip Lee
Philip Lee
9 months ago

Before you can solve a problem you have to understand why the problem exists and this solution misses the point. IMO riders sandbag not to win the race but to be competitive and stay as long as possible in the front group. This is currently simply not possible for a low end B competing in a B race – the category width is just too wide, 3.2w/kg – 4.0w/kg (+ sandbagging A’s). 0.8+ W/kg is too big a gap to close even with clever drafting. The B rider is quickly dropped and consigned to riding in the B grupetto. The… Read more »

Mark M
Mark M
9 months ago
Reply to  Philip Lee

There is nothing stopping the above approach from having tightly banded categories. Bike racing is certainly about winning. But with a rankings approach you’d also be rewarded for finishing higher than you should. So there should be a competitive reason to sprint for 15th place.

Jeff Winkler
Jeff Winkler
9 months ago

And while we’re at it we might as well tune the ranking algorithm to account for time gaps. Riders who finish together in a group should get ranking scores with smaller gaps than the last person in that group and the 1st rider in the next group 1 minute further back. The USAC system can’t do this because not all races have times for each rider, Zwift does.

Rick Wenger
Rick Wenger (@rwenger)
9 months ago

James – I have been trying to come up with a better system, and this is great. Thank you for taking the time to think about this and write this up. I love it. In theory this also gives you a better chance to improve your race ranking since you wouldn’t be racing a bunch of people with no rank.

2Piston Life
2Piston Life
9 months ago

Great idea!

Adrian Amos
Adrian Amos (@ahamos)
9 months ago

Love the idea, and perhaps it could be augmented by quintile calculations based on course-type? I.e., weight being more important than points for the Alpe or Ventoux, or watts being more important on Tempus Fugit. Basically points + watts + w/kg (or whatever math, IDK: it’s late in the afternoon). I also find it interesting that while so many commenters like the idea, there’s still a fundamental problem with the 1st mile of any Zwift race. I’d love to see some form of neutralization, maybe for an unpredictable percentage of the first kilometer so that a peloton can coalesce out… Read more »

Barry Stewart
Barry Stewart
9 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Amos

The proposed matchmaking sounds like a good idea. I’m sure it would be possible for Zwift to run a Futureworks trial with a Comissaires car, Scott the squirrel o could even wave the flag out the sunroof. Itd basically roll out and ramp up the pace to 5% over the category (old) or mediated (proposed system) FTP, which would be survivable in the draft but temper the sting that breaks Zwift races up early for many riders. Not sute how the ranking works with WTRL TTTs as rider placings are not captured in Zwiftpower, being dominated more-so by the roll-out… Read more »

Darth Vader
Darth Vader
9 months ago

Your top 5 races in the last 90 days determine you rank, between 0-600. Lower is better

  • why not use the races as group rides and purposely underperform. Then win a race here and there 🙂
James Annan
James Annan
9 months ago
Reply to  Darth Vader

If you only win a race here and there, it’s not a problem. Currently, the same group of riders can win every race, every day, without ever getting upgraded. That’s a problem.

Carl J
Carl J
9 months ago

Would be great if you only see those that are in your group. I don’t want to be distracted by other riders that are above me, and not sure if they are in the same group as me.

What happens if it’s a smaller event where there is a large points range between riders?

As long as points are only earned for race events (yes, I realize, get more than two cyclists together, and it becomes a “race”). Other “social” events that Zwift and other groups put on, shouldn’t necessarily count towards your ranking

Jon Stacks
Jon Stacks
9 months ago

Great commentary here and I appreciate the continued mindshare. One final tidbit, in a recent conversation I had with Scott Barger, one of the co-founders of Zwift, he mentioned it was never the intention originally, nor the goal overall to have the Zwift platform mirror or correlate/translate to the outside riding environment…in other words, Zwift is a virtual platform made to encourage riding and fitness…with racing, group rides and many challenging courses that “simulate” riding dynamics outside…fast forward and yes, we have many subscribers that advocate and race on the platform and many that “game” or garner virtual racing achievements.… Read more »

Pete
Pete
9 months ago

Brilliant. This seems to make so much sense. Zwift to implement in 2030?

Douglas
Douglas
9 months ago

Great idea, is the Zwifpower ranking system still in use though? It says rankings are based on last 90 days, but then the last race it says I did was in February, so a lot longer than 90 days!

James Eastwood
9 months ago
Reply to  Douglas

It doesn’t count group rides, only races. Link to your ZP profile and I can check it out.

Didr
Didr
9 months ago
Reply to  Douglas

Good point. I hardly do races within a 90 days period. Maybe one every 2 months. But I race in the A cat. Would such a system push me back to a lower category when I don’t race for a certain time? That would force me to sandbag when I race only now and then, or am I wrong?

tuonp
tuonp
9 months ago

Depends if we measure future in years or decades. But in the end there can only be a single winner and the person should be the strongest one which usually happens to be the person with high w/kg. It’s not that black and white because some just are great in sprints and short distances and others perform better in long rides especially beginners who are otherwise strong. Also even same person can become weaker after a while. But there are even bigger problems in the platform like zpower riders in A races closing gaps after shortlived breakaways and power or… Read more »

tuonp
tuonp
9 months ago
Reply to  tuonp

Sometimes even more important than avg w/kg in races is to know when to push those watts because staying in the group’s draft is a must. Many might give up yoo easily during a hard start but it often lasts a few minutes before things calm down so knowing that and being strong mentally is almost as important. Also knowing your 1, 3, 5 min max power helps to keep nice avg power in hill efforts and to keep confidence high as well.

Chris Donnelly
Chris Donnelly
9 months ago

It’s interesting to watch Zwift racing to evolve from casual towards USA Cycling type classifications in order to make racing fair and competitive. In the future when they complain about the rating system being too confining, I hope they reach back to 2020. It’s just a natural evolution of any racing or competitive environment. No right or wrong here, just putting a system in place to make it the best possible experience for everyone.

Cade
Cade (@caderiver)
9 months ago

This totally sounds like it would be better than Zwift’s current system. I’m sure there would still be some hitches but a similar system (that has proven itself worthy) is used in IRL racing all the time to determine a racers category. I definitely think that this would be something worth looking into for Zwift

Jon Stacks
Jon Stacks
9 months ago

This is great conversation and thanks for the brainstorming ideas. I want to reiterate my experience with Zwift thus far…there is no other platform from my experience which enables this amount of precise structure for working out the different physiological systems required to pedal with efficiency and power! If used properly, Zwift can provide training that the outside world with all it’s unstructured components (Stop signs/lights, down hills with coasting, safety issues with cars etc) cannot duplicate and we can do it anytime day/night. On top of that, you have the motivating elements of group rides and races to really… Read more »

Clive Norton
Clive Norton
9 months ago

The best matchmaking system I’ve seen is on iRacing.com, for which many pages have been written.

James Eastwood
9 months ago
Reply to  Clive Norton

Is there system documented anywhere? I can’t seem to find it on the website.

James Eastwood
9 months ago
Reply to  James Eastwood

*Their 🤓

Scott
Scott
9 months ago

The cat system is completely broken. I’ve won 11 out of the last 12 B races I’ve done. I have been racing A’s mostly but my w/kg is 3.9ish ( I’m very short and heavy ish) so no need to be forced to A but when you look at results I should be forced to A. Sometime I just don’t feel like racing A because it’s really hard, so I’ll do a hard but but as hard B race and sandbag it. Racing skill has so much to do with winning races. Zwift should be upgrading people just like real… Read more »

ichigo
ichigo
9 months ago

The point isn’t to give everyone a chance to win. You’re either good enough or you aren’t regardless of your weight, height, and the course profile. Trying to artificially level the playing field so that “everyone has a chance to win” is not real competition. Your heavy guy w/massive watts on the flat or little guy w/high w/kg on a hilly course is no different than real life. It is what it is! To try and alter that is wrong! Like real life, only some people realistically have a shot at winning.

James Eastwood
9 months ago
Reply to  ichigo

The purpose of this system isn’t to give everyone the chance to win. Lightweight riders will still do well on hilly courses and heavy riders on the flat. The purpose is to group riders roughly by ability for races, but in a manner that gets rid of the ‘gaming’ of the system – notably sandbagging, and adds a level of dynamism that encourages riders to continuously improve. Potentially you could end up in a weak field and have the chance to win that you wouldn’t have with the cat system, but that is a benefit of the system rather than… Read more »

Robert Barrett
9 months ago

It would encourage me to enter races other than the team events. You can always count on a Brit for a good idea that will be implemented and capitalised on by the Americans 😉

Lewis Rawlinson
Lewis Rawlinson
9 months ago

I’d love to see someone take up this system and implement it similarly to what WTRL have done with the ZRL. They have refused to wait for Zwift to do something about it and they’ve taken it on them selves and created an incredible team racing series! Similar could be achieved with this I think. Ask riders to sign up in advance, scrape their rank and sort them 2 days before then send them a unique link to their category race.

James Eastwood
9 months ago

Good idea in the interim. It would take a bit of manual work and still need Zwift buy-in, but it could definitely work.

Jeppe
Jeppe
9 months ago

In theory it sounds great, however we could see some fear of loosing rankingposition and thereby fewer starts in races, so maybe choose a system, where ranking was based on e.g. a riders top10 performance (if that could work). I love cycling and races, but the main issue about motivating leisure riders to compete is that, compared to other sports, VERY few actually experience winning. So maybe Zwift could start to think about other ways of competing during the classic races, fx matching you with 5 other riders in a field of 50, that you are evenly matched with (e.g.… Read more »

James Eastwood
9 months ago
Reply to  Jeppe

You don’t lose ranking by performing badly in races. The ranking is determined by your best 5 performances in a 90 day period.

dirk
dirk
9 months ago

Let’s break this up in MVP’s, first make a mandatory or automatic selection of the A, B, C or D category for races. This will, even with the current 95% of 20 min power rule, solve a lot of sandbagging. FTP is already available in Zwift itself, so this should be really strait forward. Especially in combination with the roll out of the anti sandbagging functionality already developed (I think it was based upon 5 min power in race?) this would already be a giant leap forward. You can combine this with splitting up the A, B groups for bigger… Read more »

Richard
Richard
9 months ago

👏🏼

Paul Lubbers
Paul Lubbers
9 months ago

I also think there should be more cats. I’m a C rider. Between the lowest (2,5) and highest (3,2) w/kg that is gap of about 60 watts(at 85kg) That’s huge..
But how simple would it be for zwift to just filter everyone above the set limit out of the rankings.. Very very simple first step. But more steps would be very welcome indeed

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