Tournament Coverage

An MKU Week to Remember and some Playoff Projections

The concept of an “MkLeo number” is a fun way for players of all kinds to monitor how close they are to the top of the competition. But for the sake of this community, we’ll have to refer to this term as a “World Friend Star” number. There’s not much disputing that the team with an almost flawless first half of the year is the current team to beat. So how do you find your number? Whether or not you count tournament matches only, it doesn’t matter to Jean-Pierre Pernaut, the only team to go 2-0 this week in Mario Kart Universal’s top division. If you’re counting just this season, their number is sitting at 3 — this is because they defeated Nferno, who beat Requiem, who defeated the defending champs. What’s crazy about this is that all of this happened in a single week.

It doesn’t stop there either. JPP also defeated High Definition this week. HD would then take down The Baltimore Basculin in primetime, a team who had just defeated Arcadia Sky, who had defeated Novae. In a single weekend, a winless, last place team has a claim of victory over every single team in Division 1.

To really put into perspective how unlikely the odds were of this all happening, a few things need to be stated. The top division tends to work differently to many of the others. As a team continues to improve, it gets exponentially harder to move up the rankings. As an estimate, I would say the effort required to get from D2 champion level up to league champion level would be comparable from a Division 10 team making the push all the way to competing in Division 5. So for a team that went into this week with an 0-6 record to accomplish what JPP did this week, not only would they have to play their best MK of the season, they would also need a lot of other matches to fall in a very specific way.

Due to the nature of the top division historically being a little more predictable than others, a week that features 6 of the teams going 1-1 is incredibly rare. If you noticed that the standings update this week didn’t feel very different, it’s because the top 6 in the current standings all went 1-1. None of the frontrunners gained or lost any games on any of the teams surrounding them on the leaderboards. When this rare feat happens, it’s also pretty rare for the single 2-0 team to be the team who was in last place going into the week. There’s also no guarantee that 6 teams going 1-1 will even lead to the chainlike phenomena that JPP experienced this week. Given this past week was one of the two that saw competition against both conference and out of conference foes, it’s safe to say this probably won’t happen again for a very long time.

Needless to say, this single week may have contributed to the single best Division 1 we’ve experienced in MKU to date. In a division that’s historically been pretty imbalanced, every team is within 4 games of each other going into the final week. So, how will this week play out? Well, I’ve decided to take a deeper look and work the numbers to really understand what’s going on in the top 3 divisions in MKU. As much as I would like to do an analysis of all 15 divisions, I must apologize and say it would’ve simply been too much work in too short of a time frame. Given this post is only going to be relevant for about six days regardless, I think it’s just better that I do a thorough job for a few and call it a day. I hope you find my playoff projections informative — try not to go too hard on me when one of the teams with <1% playoff odds somehow squeak their way in next week.

Division 1

Jean-Pierre Pernaut, despite their historic week, have been eliminated from contention officially. Six teams still have their sights on a title going into the final week of the regular season. World Friend Star once again is the clear favorite, but probably by not as wide of a margin as people may have thought before Season 11 started. Of these six teams, no other team has won a MKU League title, so the competition is surely hungry. Can they win a 4th straight title? Well, we’ll get to answer that in just under three weeks.

Before we take a look at my official projections, I’d like to set a few things straight. Remember, these are projections. Not guarantees. How do they work though? Well, as much as I would like to claim that I’ve set up an elo system that will appropriately calculate the odds of any specific team winning any specific matchup, I can’t claim that. What I can say though is that percentages of winning certain matches can be roughly estimated through factors such as records. But perhaps the most important ingredient to solving this puzzle is understanding what matches remain for a team, and how a win or loss may affect them in the standings. Some teams may have only one way to make or miss the playoffs, whereas others may have a plethora of different routes that makes them slightly harder to predict. As a rule of thumb, those near the middle of the standings will probably be slightly less accurate. The lower the division also may create less accuracy, to the point where I needed to use approximations over more exact ratios. This is because Division 2 and 3 are a bit closer and have more variance in who is likely to come out on top for the title. It’s very hard for a team to claim the title of league’s best, but there’s a handful who could surely claim to be 9th best (or 7th, if you want to go by final standings). Finally, I want to mention that I’m not considering ties here. There are a few instances where ties would influence the outcome, but given how rare they tend to be, they’re nearly negligible percentage-wise. They’ll only be seriously considered if it’s necessary to prove that a team is still not eliminated.

So one last reminder, me saying that a team has higher playoff chance than another is not me saying anything about the skill level of those teams. If you’re tied in record, chances are I’d give you a 50% chance to beat a team you’re tied with. Exceptions include World Friend Star, where they have the résumé to claim no match should be a 50-50. But what it does mean is that circumstances of the final week probably mean teams with tied records do not have equal paths to the playoff. The top three divisions really all are unique in how the playoff picture resides at the moment. It’s part of the beauty of tournament organization. There’s infinite possibilities, all that are pretty unlikely to happen individually. But something has to happen, and we get all these wacky scenarios to try to make sense of. Anyways, I’ve rambled enough, so let’s finally look at D1’s picture now.

The top two seeds have taken care of business and locked up a playoff berth and likely hosting advantage in the semifinal rounds. At this point, the questions lie in which of the four middle teams will take the final two spots.

High Definition is the team that looks like almost a third lock at this point, but it’s not guaranteed yet. Despite being seeded below both Requiem and The Baltimore Basculin, they took care of both teams handily, which for a fourth overall seed should in theory lock up the playoffs by this point in time. HD’s undoing has been in losses in matches they were projected to win, so a little bit of vulnerability does emerge for them going into the final week. There’s only a single doomsday scenario for them, so let’s entertain that idea real quick.

First of all, it should be noted that HD needs only a single win to not have to worry about other matches. This may be difficult against World Friend Star, though we’ve clearly seen high potential for them to beat and lose to any team in this division. The second match vs Novae is probably the one that should be punching their playoff ticket considering they’ve been trending downward the last few weeks, but Novae has nothing to lose in this circumstance, and the pressure of a second match may be high. Novae could very much play spoiler in similar fashion that HD themselves did to Prestige last season.

So if they go 0-2, what else has to happen? Well, three other matches have to go against them, so there shouldn’t be too much pressure on them. The only situation they aren’t a top four team at the end is if The Baltimore Basculin (xı) and Nferno Blaze both pass them up, and given they have the tiebreaker vs xı, life is made a little bit easier. xı will have to beat both Requiem and Nferno this weekend, and then Nferno must take care of Arcadia Sky. Only if all 5 of these matches end up this way will HD be eliminated, so it’s probably a safe bet to assume they’ll be meeting up for a playoff series with Requiem in about 12 days, unless they win their conference or Requiem throws theirs. This is perhaps more of a longshot than missing the playoffs entirely though for them, as it would require them to go 2-0, and for World Friend Star to go 0-2. It’s probably safe to assume that World Friend will be taking Conference A.

Requiem has their conference won with another win, but if they were to go 0-2, they won’t hold on if either xı or NFO hit the clutch 2-0 week. This is because they would lose out on conference wins that the others would gain. Requiem gained most of their conference lead during the out of conference play session to begin with. Still, it’s about 90% likely to see a Re-HD matchup in the first round. NFO’s odds to win Conference B are lower than xı’s because for xı to go 2-0, it already implies that Requiem has lost a game.

Nferno fairs a little bit better if their goal is simply to get into the playoffs via wild card. Even if you argue their odds to beat xı are below 50%, you must consider that they don’t have to face Requiem on the final week, while xı does. It’s also worth noting that in the scenario where HD has a rough final week, NFO has the tiebreaker vs them — a luxury that xı don’t currently have. Now, if xı beats NFO, they’re in, no matter what happens in the Requiem match that follows. But if they lose, especially if it’s by more than 28, the building falls apart, because they would have no longer have the tiebreaker against both HD and NFO.

If you’re NFO, the xı match is the most important one of the season up to this point. The match is even more important to xı however, because they don’t have as many lifelines if they lose it. NFO can at least be happy that if they lose to xı, they could still profit off of HD losing both their matches.

The interesting scenario is the one where HD, NFO, and xı all tie at 5-5 records. In this event, it’ll come down to +/- differential. Due to HD’s massive primetime win this weekend however, this is simply a scenario that xı would like to avoid.

There’s one other team we still must mention though: Arcadia Sky. They likely saw their season end on the final races against xı on a Cloudtop Cruise race that reportedly could’ve spelled disaster for xı due to miscommunication, but they survived. Now Arcadia has an uphill climb to make it back to the postseason for the first time since Season 8, but a road still does exist. The problem is that they need a specific outcome for every single match of the remaining Conference B matches. So if you’re an Arcadia fan, buckle up, let’s take a look at the map.

  1. Arcadia win over Requiem
  2. Arcadia win over Nferno (by at least 18)
  3. Nferno win over xı
  4. Requiem win over xı

To start, since Nferno and xı still face off, one of them should end up with 5 wins. Arcadia wants this to be NFO, because they can still win the tiebreaker with them as long as they take the match by at least 18. Bringing xı into the picture is only going to hurt them, and in the case where there was a 3 team tie between HD, NFO, and ARC, it doesn’t look good for them unless they really beat NFO badly. So there’s one realistic path, which is the one mentioned above. You should probably prefer HD win a war if you want ARC in the playoffs.

The playoff picture isn’t super entertaining, because like I mentioned, Re-HD looks almost like a lock. If there is a surprise where HD doesn’t make the postseason though, we’ll see a Round of wf-xi and Re-NFO. This would be the most unexpected first round, but if HD were to win the conference somehow, you could also see wf-Re facing off in Round 1. I would simply expect to see wf-xı/NFO, Re-HD at the current time right now. xı-NFO is your must watch matchup for D1 this next week.

So who will win Division 1 this season? It’s really up for grabs compared to many seasons in MKU history. In a league that went through a dominant reign of Severance for many seasons back on the Wii U game, it’ll always look pretty wide open, but the defending champs certainly won in about as dominant fashion as you can realistically obtain. If anything though, it’s truly been proven that “Any Given Sunday” is a very real factor in the top division this season.

Division 2

D2 really did it again, creating another impossible looking table where a team is currently tied for first in their conference with a better differential than the first place team, yet if the season ended today that team wouldn’t be in the playoffs. How does that happen? Well, I don’t want to do the research, but just know it did. The good news for Star Clan Nebula, the team I was talking about earlier, is that we still have a week of play remaining.

The top 3 records in this division all belong in Conference B, which really is making the Conference A teams see winning the conference as a necessity. Of course it is still possible to get a 2-2 playoff bracket, but it’s definitely a bit unlikely. It wouldn’t be the craziest thing that’s ever happened though.

I think perhaps my favorite fact for D2 is that while Inkling Feet appear to be in the Wild Card race at 1.5 Games Back, they actually aren’t in the Wild Card Race at all. But fear not ıF fans, your season not only still has hope — the team actually controls it’s destiny.

But how? Well, it’s simple. The only way it can pass the current Wild Card teams (sitting at 5-3) is by going 2-0 this weekend, to finish at 5-1-4. But here’s the thing: if this happens, ıF is actually just guaranteed to win their conference instead. No wild card needed. This is because the two teams ahead of them are both 4-4 right now, and they play both. So if they go 2-0, both of those teams will finish 5-5 at best; ıF will be 5-1-4, so despite being 0.5 GB now, they do control their destiny. Gotta love ties.

What this all means is that ıF’s playoff odds are identical to their odds of winning their conference, as you can see below.

Despite the positivity and hype, it won’t be a free ride for ıF. Remember that World Friend Moon and Star Clan Nebula were both in D1 consideration before the season. These wins will have to be earned. But if they can overcome it, what a story that would be.

What’s unfortunate for Star Clan right now is that despite having a better record than Inkling Feet, they aren’t guaranteed to make the playoffs if they go 2-0 like ıF. Reread this sentence again and try to make sense of it. This is what is so cool about tournaments and tiebreakers. It sounds like it doesn’t make any sense, but it just works. This is because if S¢ goes 2-0, there’s nothing stopping World Friend Moon from going 2-0 also. Because the teams split matches against each other, World Friend’s second squad wins the conference tiebreaker via Conference Wins.

Here’s the four remaining wars in Conference A. A “1” indicates that the match went the way the top row claims. As you can see, World Friend takes most outcomes, but Inkling Feet takes the conference whenever they win both. What this leaves us is a Star Clan team that needs a little help if it wants hosting advantage in round 1 of the playoffs.

It’s not all bad news for Star Clan though, because they have a bit more flexibility when it comes to the Wild Card standings compared to World Friend Moon. Because Mushroom Team Mind and Inkling Feet tied earlier in the season, it’s almost certain that tiebreakers involving them with the other contending teams won’t matter. Though they could tie in record also, it doesn’t matter because as mentioned before, Inkling Feet is already in via their conference if they finish 5-1-4, the only possible way they could tie MT.

So when it comes to tiebreakers, four teams want to have an advantage over each other: Soul, Dynamite Alpha, Star Clan Nebula, and Inkling Feet.

Soul, if you want to complain that I didn’t spell your entire name out, I’m sorry, but I’m not going out of my way. You can ask Nato how it feels to get his team names ignored. Sometimes the teams need to be convenient for us for a change also!

But back on topic, here’s where the good news comes in for Star Clan: they have the tiebreaker over Dynamite and World Friend in the wild card standings. This is a little crazy because they don’t have the tiebreak over World Friend in the conference standings, but they do here. So these are the teams they’d prefer to tie with.

World Friend Moon only has the tiebreak on Soul. Soul and Dynamite are currently 1-1 in series vs these teams with a match pending between the two this final week, but given the differential, it’s likely that Soul has the advantage to win this matchup.

What this means is that in the event of a tie between these teams, Soul is likely the benefactor (2-1, heavy +/-), followed by Star Clan (2-1, -28 +/-), Dynamite (1-2, positive +/-), then World Friend Moon (1-2, -150). So World Friend is in the most danger in a tied scenario. It’s very likely that the top 3 of these 4 teams will make the dance, so they’re going to want to try to avoid any ties they possibly can.

The good news for World Friend Moon is they do control their destiny and can avoid any unfortunate rolls by just winning. They seriously need to win though, because losing could make their hosting advantage in round 1 and playoff berth evaporate in just two hours. Practice up this week.

Needless to say, the scenarios are complex here, and the teams all just need to win if they want to improve their odds. Though Star Clan is currently sitting slightly below 50% odds of making the playoffs, if they win both wars, their odds are going to skyrocket. They may not directly control their destiny at this point, but winning will still make a playoff campaign quite likely.

Moving on, let’s take a look at the Conference currently with the advantage in the playoff race.

The interesting observation here to me is that because of Conference Wins, 1 of the 16 timelines has Soul losing to Dynamite, and still winning the conference despite it. Even though Soul has a harder remaining schedule than Dynamite, they have a higher chance to win the conference. This is likely because they get their own chance to take down Mushroom Team themselves, while Dynamite doesn’t.

There’s really not much to say here though, because the top three teams all appear to be pretty likely to make it. Their combined playoff odds are less than 300% however, so don’t just assume it’ll stay at 3-1. The conferences look imbalanced now, but one weird final weekend could change that notion entirely. Mushroom Team Mind controls their destiny and looks to right some wrongs from last season. Really, these teams just need to avoid going 0-2 this weekend.

One last interesting note is that Banana Legion is not down and out yet. They’re capable of winning their last 2 wars and going 5-5. Had the earlier primetime match vs Soul gone the other way (or I guess more realistically, the one that was decided by 2 points), they’d be right in the hunt at 4-4. That one match was the difference between being tied for a wild card spot right now and being 2 entire games out. But like Arcadia in D1, let’s take a look at what would be the reasonable path for BL. Let’s start (there’s still more) with the following:

  1. Banana Legion defeats Mushroom Team Mind
  2. Banana Legion defeats Dynamite Alpha
  3. Soul defeats Dynamite Alpha

It’s obvious BL needs to go 5-5 since they’re 2 GB already in the wild card standings. What’s incredible is that despite being 2 GB with 2 games left, there is a path just because of the matchups that are happening. Soul and Dynamite play each other, so one has to win. Banana Legion wants to cheer for Soul, because they have no way to beat them in a tiebreaker right now. They can show up vs Dynamite and beat them this week however, because if they split, they’ll have the advantage in conference wins if both teams are 5-5.

What this means is that BL will be behind both MT and Soul, and one other team is guaranteed to take the Conference A title, so that means whoever doesn’t win the title, they must finish ahead of. There’s no one way to do this. It’s possible that Inkling Feet and Euphorya Osiris sweep and they get in that way on top of the three earlier conditions, but that’s probably a big ask. Realistically they’re going to likely have to win another tiebreaker with another 5-5 team. The most likely hope for BL is that Star Clan wins the conference, because BL has the tiebreak against Dynamite and World Friend Moon if they’re all 5-5. There is a way for BL to win no matter who the Conference A champion is, but there best bet is probably Star Clan.

Unfortunately, Euphorya Osiris won’t be headed to the postseason in Season 11. There’s a little bit of an optical illusion in the Conference A standings. Though they are only 2 GB on first place, it does not matter unfortunately. This is because if both teams in first place go 0-2, Inkling Feet will be taking the conference as mentioned from the start. Still, with everything going on at the beginning of the season, it was nice to see EU competing in D2 regardless. We’ll hope to see another good showing from the S10 finalists in the near future.

Division 3

This division is almost the inverse of Division 2. We talked a lot about conference wins as a tiebreaker method earlier, but as far as D3 this season goes, you might as well throw that knowledge out the window. The top 2 teams of the division, Resemblance & Nasty Raid Jin, rescheduled their Week 4 match, but despite having 1 less game played than the rest of the division, they’ve both already secured their conference titles and have hosting advantage for the D3 semifinals. At this point there’s not much to play for rather than bragging rights, or perhaps a perfect season in Resemblance’s case. While we’re happy for their success this season, unfortunately we’re done talking about them because for the sake of this article, we’re more interested in the opposite of perfection. We’re interested in the mess.

Despite the giant two team lead, no teams are eliminated yet. The one in the best shape however is Midnight Wasps. In the wild card race, they’re tied for the best record, and have the best tiebreaker scenario. They’re quite literally the guy in the lobby who is pulling bullet bills and goldens in 3rd place just because the frontrunners are that far ahead. Winning even one more game at this point practically puts them in the playoffs, with the only worry being if Valyria goes 2-0 in the last weekend in this scenario, and even then Drift Riders need to take care of business and go 2-0 also. The toughest break for the wasps is that due to conference alignment, they’re looking to be the team that is going to have to deal with the undefeated Resemblance squad in the first round. But given that the other option is Nasty Raid, it doesn’t really matter much. This is a team known to make upsets, going all the way back to early 8U, and regardless of the competition, the top dogs of the division are going to have to deal with the MK8 murder hornets.

Perhaps the best alternative for Resemblance would be if Valyria made it to the playoffs. They’re currently the 6th most likely to make it, so it’s a bit of a long shot, but they have the tiebreaker over мω if they can get there. It’ll be tough though, considering they have a game remaining with Nasty Raid.

The team who has a kind of rough tiebreaker scenario is Drift Riders, but the good news for them is that they’re currently sitting in a wild card slot, and they’re one of the few teams that don’t have to play one of the conference winners this weekend. Their biggest worry this weekend is going to be HDolino, whose entire season relies on beating them in the final match. The good news for the Drift Riders is that HD has to take on Resemblance first. The bad news is if they can find a way to somehow beat a Resemblance team that may be resting starters, their confidence could be through the roof. DЯ handled HD by 18 in the first leg of the season. In a tiebreaker scenario, they’ll want to make sure that if they drop to HD they’ll want to do it by 16 or less. While they have more advantages than HD right now, if they were to lose by 18 or more, the differential and tiebreakers favor HD. This is a scenario they just want to avoid to begin with.

Yoshi Family Galaxy is a long shot to make the playoffs, but there’s a moderately feasible route for them. They simply need to win out, and fall into a scenario where mw is 4-6 with them, and HD is either 3-7 or 4-6. In this scenario Yoshi Family and Drift Riders would make it out, with Valyria and Arcadia Terra also sitting at 3-7.

Arcadia Terra has the lowest odds of making the postseason due to poor tiebreakers. They need to win out to start, Yoshi Family Galaxy must win out, and Drift Riders must also lose to HDolino, because the only way they’re going to win a tiebreaker scenario is if YF and DЯ are both involved. The larger problem at hand here is that they’re going to likely want Midnight Wasps to be 5-5, because if they were also 4-6, it would make winning a tiebreaker nearly impossible for them. Valyria also holds a tiebreaker against them, so they ideally need them to be 3-7 as well. Considering they need HD to contain DЯ to a 4-6 record, the unfortunate reality is that this creates a new problem. HD themselves hold the tiebreaker over ARC, and in the likely scenario where +/- between tied opponents is involved, they have a massive advantage over ARC. What this creates is a technically possible scenario for Terra to make the playoffs, but it’s a bit unrealistic. They’re probably going to have to start with beating Drift Riders by over 100, and then hope everything else takes place. The good news is that they’ve already done that this season. Hooray?

Before I finish this all up, I think the fun thing about this division is that a 6-way tie at 4-6 is on the table. 2 teams having a winning record isn’t so far-fetched when the 2 teams may go 9-1 and 8-2 (the only way to make this scenario happen requires no 10-0, sorry Resemblance). Here’s what it would take though. Every single match has to go a certain way, with a few big upsets, so we’re looking at a 1-in-500 scenario. Given what happened in D1 this weekend though, those odds don’t seem so bad anymore.

  1. Resemblance defeats HDolino
  2. HDolino defeats Drift Riders
  3. Arcadia Terra defeats Drift Riders
  4. Arcadia Terra defeats Resemblance
  5. Valyria defeats Nasty Raid Jin
  6. Nasty Raid Jin defeats Midnight Wasps
  7. Yoshi Family Galaxy defeats Midnight Wasps
  8. Yoshi Family Galaxy defeats Valyria

So who makes the playoffs in this scenario? Well, probably Midnight Wasps. They’re the only team guaranteed to have 3 TB points. But depending on how the last week goes and how close some matches are, all other teams except Arcadia Terra (with 2) may end up with 2 or 3.

Given HDolino defeats Drift Riders in this scenario, it’s pretty likely that margin would be above the 18 mentioned before. Most wins in this division have been larger. So in this scenario it’s likely Midnight Wasps and HDolino make the playoffs, due to the size of some of the wins. But if the HD-DЯ match was very close, then it’s likely going to be Drift Riders or Valyria that takes it. Both have one awful loss, but a pretty good track record outside of that.

So that probably isn’t happening, but it’s fun to speculate regardless. This’ll wrap it up, but for everyone who hasn’t been focused on the all the divisions, there are a few other undefeated seasons still going outside of Resemblance to keep watch of. This includes:

  • Fatal Anchors (D8)
  • Apex Racing (D10)
  • Royal Stars (D14)
  • StarBits (D15)

Technically, StarBits are undefeated, but they did have a draw vs Arcanum Polaris. Shoutouts to them. Good luck to these teams on completing these seasons, and perhaps we’ll get a few spoilers next week or in the playoffs!

One last message, thanks everyone for making this season special. We were surprised to even surpass 90 teams in Season 10. It could’ve very well been a peak, but then we had 30% growth on top of that for Season 11. 120 teams is really spectacular, given we’re 3 years into the newest game now. Only about 2 years ago we were at 50, which was the first time since 2012 we had numbers that high. So the activity is special, to say the least. Hopefully it can continue to grow. If you have any friends who would be interested in playing, let them know about MKU and the other competitions on MKC! The more the merrier, after all.

Will I do another one of these articles in the future? I’m not sure. It was fun to study the numbers and go more in-depth, but it was a bit time consuming. But if you like the content, feel free to ask for more, and maybe we’ll try to make something like this more frequent. Have a great week everyone, and good luck in the final week!

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