The DUPR Waterfall is billed as a “new and innovative format – a revolutionary, amateur-only event like none other.” Needless to say, expectations were high – from both a player (participant) perspective and a tournament director (facilitator) perspective. The following review is for a DUPR Waterfall held in Cincinnati, OH in January, 2023.
What is a DUPR Waterfall?
First things first. DUPR, developed in 2021, stands for “Dynamic Universal Pickleball Ratings.” Their goal is to bring a more-accurate, unbiased, global rating system to the sport of pickleball. Simply put, DUPR is the organization responsible for bringing these local or regional Waterfall events to a venue near you.
While it is billed as “new and innovative,” a DUPR Waterfall is essentially just another name for a Compass Draw Tournament. If you have a tennis background, chances are, you have, at one time or another, competed in (or at least, heard of) a Compass Draw Tournament. The concept has been around for a while.
The winning team of each 16-team bracket in a local or regional DUPR Waterfall will receive one Platinum Ticket to the 2023 DUPR Waterfall Nationals held at the Oasis Pickleball Club in Rockwall, Texas October 12-15-2023.
Movement Along the Compass
In a DUPR Waterfall – or a Compass Draw Tournament – there are eight different brackets that are designated by points on a compass (East, West, North, South, NE, NW, SE, and SW). When a team loses they are moved to a different bracket. Winners simply advance in their current bracket.
Round 1 – The first round of the tournament has the competing teams populated down the middle column of the draw and seeded from #1 to #16 based on their team DUPR ratings. The winners of the first round move to the right (East Bracket) while the losers move to the left (West Bracket).
Round 2 – At the end of the 2nd round, the winners simply move over in their current bracket. The losers in the 2nd round from the East Bracket move up to the North Bracket. The losers of the West Bracket drop down to the South Bracket.
Round 3 – At the end of the 3rd round, the losers in the West Bracket drop down to the Southwest Bracket. The losers in the South Bracket drop down to the Southeast Bracket. The losers from the East will move up to the Northeast Bracket. The losers from the North drop to the Northwest Bracket. The winners simply move over in their current bracket.
Round 4 – At the end of the 4th and final round, the winner of each match is the winner of that particular bracket.
At the end of all four rounds, final standings are as follows:
- The winner from the East Bracket will have finished the event with a 4-0 record. They are the “gold medal” winners and the winners of the DUPR Platinum Ticket.
- The team who was defeated in the East Bracket final match will be the “silver medalists” finishing with a record of 3-1 with their only loss coming in that final match of undefeated teams.
- Winning bronze will be the winner of the Northeast bracket. They will have also finished with a 3-1 record, with their only loss coming in Round 3.
DUPR Waterfall Review from a Player Perspective
Players enjoyed their experience with the DUPR Waterfall. Here is a sampling of feedback:
Advantages of DUPR Waterfall
- 4 Match Guarantee – Every player was able to play a minimum of 4 matches (8 games). Obviously, that’s much better than being bounced in a double-elimination tournament where 25% of the teams would be bounced after just 2 matches (3 games).
- Minimal Wait Time – Four matches in four hours. This meant minimal time waiting for the next match.
- 4 Hours – It’s always a bonus knowing the start time and end time for a tournament. This format allowed for 4 hours. No sitting around all day waiting for matches to finish before you play.
- Different is Fun – Players enjoyed a different format. It’s not double-elimination. It’s not round-robin. It was enjoyed by most.
Disadvantages of DUPR Waterfall
- Registration fee was locked at $80 and was set by DUPR. The $80 price tag to register seemed a bit high. However, and to DUPR’s credit, they are now allowing the club/tournament director to set pricing. For our DUPR waterfall events in Cincinnati/Dayton going forward, registration fee has been dropped to $60.
- When registering, players were unable to register for their specific DUPR skill-level bracket. As such, although they knew which day they would play, they didn’t know which time they were scheduled to play. That also has been fixed. For our DUPR waterfall events in Cincinnati/Dayton going forward, players will now be able to register for one of three specific DUPR rated brackets: (1) 3.74 & below, (2) 3.75-4.49 and (3) 4.5+. This will allow players a better understanding of which 4-hour window (assuming there are multiple brackets being played) they will be playing.
- An early loss in round 1 or round 2 takes you out of medal contention. There is no way to work your way back up. Perhaps you are a slow starter. I know some of them. Perhaps you ran up against a top seed. Too bad. Tough luck.
- Brackets (draw) not viewable until at least one match in the first round is complete. Part of the fun of playing a tournament is analyzing the draw, checking it, and checking it again – all while dreaming of what could be if you play your best. The DUPR software, unfortunately, does not make the draw viewable until at least one match result in the first round has been populated and verified.
DUPR Waterfall Summary from a Player Perspective
Overall, the participants had an enjoyable experience and a fun time. The main concern was losing early and not being able to work your way back up into the draw. For example, if a team loses in round 1, the best they can finish is 9th place (out of 16) – even with a 3-1 overall record.
However, that’s just the way a Compass Draw Tournament – like a DUPR Waterfall – works. It’s just a different format.
Review from a Tournament Director (Facilitator) Perspective
From a tournament director’s perspective, different tournament software functionalities factor into a review. I have managed many a tournament-desk over the years. Some tournaments have been managed manually (years ago) – most, however, have utilized tournament management software to make the day run smoothly.
Perhaps I have been spoiled with more robust tournament management software over the years – software that automates many of the processes and frees up time for the tournament director / facilitator to address more complex issues. Unfortunately, the DUPR tournament management software was not robust from a tournament management perspective as it had extensive shortcomings.
Here is a sampling of some of the shortcomings of the DUPR Waterfall Tournament Software:
- The player check-in process was manual with pen and paper. Ouch.
- Viewing a list of all seeded teams was not possible. DUPR automatically seeded teams based on each team’s DUPR ratings, yet viewing a listing of teams seeded #1 thru 16 was not possible. How is that possible?
- Neither the tournament director nor the players could view the bracket for their 16-team POD until at least one match result from the first round was populated and verified.
- There was no option to print scorecards – much less to have scorecards automatically print as matches entered the queue.
- There was no option to assign matches to specific courts. That made it impossible to know who was currently playing on which court.
- Because QR codes are not utilized (which, when scanned would take you to the correct match), it was a very tedious process to find the match that had just completed and enter the scores.
- When entering scores, unnecessary and extraneous information was needed – such as the date and the need to verify an already confirmed score.
- The “In queue” tab was not an “in queue” tab. Instead, it combined matches that were already on the court with those that were truly “in queue.” As such, that tab was not helpful.
- When sending “announcements,” the communique is sent globally to everyone who has registered. I’m sure we can all think of ways to filter announcements to certain sub-groups of players.
While there were many shortcomings, there were a couple of positives from a tournament director perspective:
- The “look-and-feel” of the back-end seemed modern. While it didn’t have robust functionality, it looked good. I know, kind of a back-handed compliment.
- The summary Standings report provided information you would come to expect – including each team’s standing (from #1 thru 16), their match win/loss record, their games win/loss record, point differential, and point differential %.
How Well did DUPR Predict the Final Results?
After the dust settled and I had a day or two to process the results, I was curious to see how well DUPR predicted the final standings. Here’s a sampling of actual data for our DUPR Waterfall tournament in Cincinnati:
- The #1 seeded team finished just outside the podium at #4.
- The #2 seeded team finished third.
- The #3 seeded team finished first and claimed the DUPR Platinum Ticket.
- The #5 seeded team finished runner-up in second place.
It’s a beginning. It’s a different format. Pricing was addressed and fixed. DUPR says they are working on the software shortcomings. And there were a lot of software shortcomings. It’s definitely not user-friendly for the tournament director. If you have previously managed a tournament using robust software, you will, likely, be disappointed.
Most importantly, however, the DUPR Waterfall format was fun, different and players did, enjoy the event.
I’m curious about your feedback with respect to the DUPR Waterfall event. Let me know in the comments if you have played in one – or better yet, if you have helped facilitate one.
See you on the courts!