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ZooChat Cup - rebooted

Discussion in 'ZooChat Cup' started by CGSwans, 28 Jul 2019.

  1. CGSwans

    CGSwans Well-Known Member

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    Hi everyone,

    I’d like to apologise for having first fallen behind, then for all intents and purposes having abandoned the ZooChat Cup franchise. There were a couple of reasons, some life-admin related, but also some personal frustration and disappointment that my attempted innovations to solve the central problem with the original design - lopsided contests - hadn’t worked.

    I’ve been wrestling with how to fix it for months, and I think I’ve landed on a way. I’m going to give it a go, anyway.

    First - the second edition of the European Cup is going to be set aside. I think part of its problem was Cup fatigue, having come straight off the back of several other editions. Perhaps in future we can have a ‘cup season’ each year, without the relentless regularity that emerged following my rather more successful first edition. Hopefully a positive side-effect of my creative block is that the next iteration will feel fresh again.

    Instead of the European model I’m going to kick off the very first ZooChat World Cup.

    I’m going to borrow the structure of the tournament largely from FIFA: 32 zoos (down from the bloated 64 that contributed to the lopsided contests), with a group stage made up of eight groups of four, and two zoos from each group proceeding to a knockout stage.

    During the group stages, the taxonomic categories will be used: each of the six matches in the group will be on either primates, carnivores, ungulates, miscellaneous mammals, birds or ectothermic animals. Each category will be used once in each group, and will be drawn randomly for each match. For the knockout stages, I will return to the concept of ‘biomes’ that I intended to introduce for the Euro tournament, but never got that far.

    Each group stage will take one week, with both matches from each round within the group taking place at the same time. That’s to prevent gaming the votes, because to mitigate the impact of lopsided contests, I’m introducing a points system.

    Rather than two poll options - one for Bronx and one for Burgers, say - there will be four. You’ll have three points to assign. If you think one zoo is vastly superior in the given category, you can give them all three points. But if you think the match is closer than that, you can give two points to Bronx and one to Burgers, or vice versa.

    I will want you to think hard about whether to award all your points to one zoo, or to split your decision, because this isn’t only intended to produce closer matches. The overall percentage of the vote zoos receive across their three matches will be what resolves ranking ties across the group. Whether you give Bronx two or three votes could be what decides whether they - or Burgers - proceed to the next round.

    Given the smaller 32-zoo field and the global focus, inevitably that means only truly top-tier, world-leading institutions have made the cut. I will reveal in a lower post who’s in and out, but there will be 17 European zoos, 13 American ones and one each from Asia and Australia. The geographic distribution is admittedly lopsided, but the aim is to include zoos that are well-known and will generate discussion, rather than achieving true global representation.

    Now, let me finish with a note on timing. I said way back in November, I think it was, that I would pick the Cup project up after a trip I was taking to Asia with my girlfriend. That turns out to be true: I’ve got a short trip to Singapore next month to introduce two of the loves of my life - Alice and Jurong Bird Park - to each other before one is lost for good. Before that I’m finalising shifting apartments - we had a flooding issue a few days ago - and finishing off a writing project that was interrupted by having to deal with the move. Therefore, we will kick-off on Sunday, 11 August.
     
    Last edited: 28 Jul 2019
  2. aardvark250

    aardvark250 Well-Known Member

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    Only 1 for Asia? I'm going to boycott this one.
     
  3. CGSwans

    CGSwans Well-Known Member

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    I’m sorry to hear that, and hope you will reconsider.

    The intention for this game is to generate discussion. For that to work, the zoos in question need to be well-known, and for better or worse very few Asian zoos *are* well-known to the predominantly British and North American ZooChat community. Further, this Cup is limited to only 32 zoos and - again, for better or worse - there are very few Asian zoos that are of sufficient quality to compete at such a level.
     
  4. aardvark250

    aardvark250 Well-Known Member

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    Fine. I guess the only one is Singapore then.
     
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  5. CGSwans

    CGSwans Well-Known Member

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    It is, yes.

    It’s certainly not my intention to imply that Europe and North America are the only parts of the world that matter: that would be both offensive and ridiculous. But this isn’t a real ‘world cup’, it’s just a parlour game about the world’s best zoos.

    If there were more Asian (and African and South American) zoos that were both of a very high quality and were well-known on ZooChat, I’d very happily include them. In fact I considered all of Ueno, Zoorasia and Zoo Negara, but ultimately decided against them because I felt they would unbalance the competition.
     
  6. FunkyGibbon

    FunkyGibbon Moderator Staff Member

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    It's also fair to say that all three of those you have just mentioned wouldn't stand a chance against the best of Europe. Neither would Chimelong Safari, or indeed any other Asian Zoo I can think of.
     
  7. CGSwans

    CGSwans Well-Known Member

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    That’s what I meant by unbalancing the competition.
     
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  8. aardvark250

    aardvark250 Well-Known Member

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    Actually I also think of Taipei.
     
  9. FunkyGibbon

    FunkyGibbon Moderator Staff Member

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    I haven't visited, so I just checked the gallery. I suppose I would rather pose the question to you: Could it really be argued that Taipei is of comparable standard to the best of Europe and America?
     
  10. TheGerenuk

    TheGerenuk Well-Known Member

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    I'm just going to toss in some predictions on which zoos are in the tournament.

    Asia (1): Singapore was already mentioned as the only representative of the continent.

    Oceania (1): I can only realistically see Taronga as a part of the tournament.

    Europe (17): Both Berlin Zoo and Berlin Tierpark are almost certainly in. Prague, Burgers, Chester, Zurich, Leipzig, Plzen, Rotterdam, Stuttgart, Vienna and Wroclaw should be very likely. Pairi Daiza has a good chance, as well as Beauval and Antwerp. London and Magdeburg would be the only ones I'm unsure about. Possible surprise inclusions might be Munich, Frankfurt, maybe another UK collection, Planckendael, Hamburg and Basel.

    North America (13): Bronx, San Diego and Omaha are probably the only certain additions. Los Angeles, St. Louis and Houston are also likely picks. At least one of the Ohio Cs (Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati), most likely Columbus, should be likely. The San Diego Zoo Safari Park and Dallas, along with Atlanta, Brookfield and Tampa, are slightly less likely. A surprise addition may be the inclusion of a Canadian zoo, most likely Toronto.
     
  11. Hvedekorn

    Hvedekorn Well-Known Member

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    Among German zoos, I think Cologne is more likely than Magdeburg (which does seem to be a really nice zoo, but is probably a bit too small in scope to be up there in the global top tier). I also have my doubts about London due the decline people unanimously agree that it has gone through during the last 10-20 years. Maybe Artis instead? (Another influential city zoo that contrary to London has seen a lot of improvements)

    Otherwise, I pretty much agree with your guesses.
     
  12. TheGerenuk

    TheGerenuk Well-Known Member

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    I completely forgot about Cologne. It'd definitely be likely. I was also considering Artis as well, but forgot to put it in the "possible" area.
     
  13. lintworm

    lintworm Well-Known Member

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    Cologne and Doue instead of Magdeburg and London would be my guess by this count Though Budapest, Basel and others are close behind...
     
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  14. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    This is going to be a fascinating thread. Narrowing down the field to 17 European zoos, 13 North American zoos, 1 Asian zoo and 1 Australian zoo is an exciting event all by itself. For example, I know North American zoos really well and I could personally come up with my own choice of 13 zoos...but that list would differ from the lists of others. There will be a whole bunch of great zoos across the globe that do NOT make the cut. Let the games begin!
     
  15. CGSwans

    CGSwans Well-Known Member

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    Pretty good. So good, in fact, that I might as well reveal the European list now.

    Your Europe certainties and ‘very likely’’s are all on the money except that I did indeed include Cologne, Beauval, Pairi Daiza, Munich and Frankfurt. Stuttgart is the unlucky loser from your list. So, to summarise, here ‘tis:

    Antwerp
    Beauval
    Berlin Tierpark
    Berlin Zoo
    Burgers
    Chester
    Cologne
    Frankfurt
    Leipzig
    Munich
    Pairi Daiza
    Plzen
    Prague
    Rotterdam
    Wroclaw
    Vienna
    Zurich

    The US zoos will be the subject of a subsequent post.

    The American zoos are a much harder beast to settle upon, because they are generally less well-visited than equivalently well-regraded counterparts in Europe. That could have a distorting effect on the vote, because people will naturally have an inclination towards what they know over what they don’t. As such, I am still weighing one or two factors that might provoke a last-minute alteration or two.

    I do expect that my US selections will be much more controversial than Europe, as some zoos commonly regarded as at the very top of the tree might miss out purely because I’m not confident they get enough ZooChat visitors to make it work.
     
  16. TheGerenuk

    TheGerenuk Well-Known Member

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    I actually forgot about Cologne (which is ironic considering I visited within the last few years). Out of the zoos within the list of probable inclusions, I correctly predicted 16/17 (Cologne missing, Stuttgart was incorrect).

    I get the reasons against the other institutions' cuts. Stuttgart seemed good, but compare it to Berlin and it really isn't. Madgeburg, as @Hvedekorn said, is too small for a competition involving the world. London wasn't as good as it once was and is definitely overshadowed by the city zoos of Antwerp, Cologne and Vienna. Planckendael would only be advantageous in a few categories, but has a smaller collection than most. Hamburg seems to be less of a world-class zoo as many others are creating newer, more innovative areas of today. Some of the other UK collections (Bristol, Whipsnade, Colchester, etc.) are good in each of their own ways, but compared to the giants of the mainland, they just can't beat them. Basel is good, but with a less impressive foothold compared to Zurich, it just can't reach the ranks of the legends.

    Can't wait for the American list (hoping for a surprise Canadian addition). I'm also wondering: is Taronga the Oceanian admission, or could it be another zoo from the area (the other ideas in mind are Perth, Melbourne, Australia Zoo and Auckland).
     
  17. CGSwans

    CGSwans Well-Known Member

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    There are only three things Sydney has that are better than Melbourne: better harbour, better AFL team (they put the ‘Swans’ in ‘CGSwans’) and... better zoo.
     
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  18. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    Auckland is not in Australia... :p
     
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  19. CGSwans

    CGSwans Well-Known Member

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    ...yet.
     
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  20. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

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    I've visited 13/17 of these - with a 14th coming relatively soon - so I'm looking forward to hopefully having a decent run at some of the forthcoming debates :)

    You say that, but it's more than half again as large as Antwerp and more-or-less equal in size to Vienna.... and unlike either of these is both able to expand and planning to do so ;)
     
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