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How to Argue Against a Ranking List

How to Argue Against a Ranking List

‘Chiu on This’ is a short and regular opinion blast

Ranking lists are a favorite past time of any hobbyist regardless of what it is they are interested in. After all it’s human nature to put things into a competence hierarchy because we enjoy the best things of any particular thing we’re doing.

 

As someone who has written those types of list before and seen some of the responses, I felt it was time to teach people how to articulate their position in a convincing manner. As people know, ranking lists boil down to being opinion pieces and opinions generally cannot be “right” or “wrong” in an absolute sense. So how do you argue against that?

 

The first thing you need to look at is the criteria of what the list maker has written down. If they don’t do that, then you can skip the list because I think at that point it’s a waste of time. Without a compass to understand what the author values, then it is no longer an exercise in argumentation of what makes something the best, but rather personal unvalidated opinion (which could be interesting depending on the flair of the writer, but rarely is).

 

Once the criteria is set, there are then two ways to argue against the ranking. The first and best way to do it is to judge their picks based on the criteria they give you and see if it is consistently applied to all examples. For instance, in Starcraft 2 there is a debate of what kind of tournaments you play at. The GSL is a long term prep tournament whereas the international events are fast weekenders. So even if you beat the exact same player in a weekender, it isn’t the same as beating them in the GSL. However the criteria is applied differently to different players based on popularity (Stephano and TaeJa is the one that comes to mind). I’ve seen lists where Stephano gained points and TaeJa lost points without the criticism being consistently applied to both players. In general you can ask for a finer point of clarification as there is a lot of thought that goes into a rankings lists that doesn’t make it to the final cut (in my GOAT SC2 piece, I wrote something around 30,000+ words, but only used a fraction of all my research).

 

The second way to argue against a rankings list is to arguest against the criteria itself. This is something I’ve always done if I think the criteria is worthless. I don’t care how much the prize pool is in terms of a player’s ranking because the amount of money won doesn’t reflect on the skill of the players. I have yet to see someone prove to me that Lyn was four times the player MMA was in 2011 when MMA was off at MLG winning his title while Lyn was winning some random Chinese tournament with four times the prize pool. I also don’t care about how many fans a player has as it has no impact on what being the best team. Shanghai Dragons could have all of the fans in the world, but me and 5 random buddies could have gotten that 0-40 too.

 

I’ll do follow up pieces on how to actually do this with some of the games to show concrete examples of how to think about these things.

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