The PTO World Ranking is beloved among triathletes – after all, these rankings ultimately provide them with quite a lot of prize money – but at the same time, in recent years there has been increasing criticism of the system behind the ranking. The PTO has taken that criticism to heart and is introducing a new – otherwise still quite complex – system effective immediately. Below we reproduce in full the press release of the PTO. There you will also find exactly how the new ranking works.
“The Professional Triathletes Organisation (PTO) is pleased to announce a new, updated version of the PTO World Rankings System (PTO WRS) following the hard work of a committee of professional athletes to make the rankings more transparent, objective and reflective of professional triathletes’ race performances over a season.
The original PTO WRS was designed to award performance regardless of where athletes chose to race and who they raced against. While ideal during the fragmented world of a COVID-affected professional sport, the PTO has listened to feedback from athletes, fans and the media to make improvements that bring greater clarity, credibility and unity to the sport’s rankings.
The Athlete Rankings Committee, which included professional athletes Ruth Astle (GBR), Antony Costes (FRA), Renee Kiley (AUS), Jackson Laundry (USA) and Danielle Lewis (USA), worked tirelessly to develop a system that met the four core principles they believed were most important – transparency, objectivity, simplicity and fairness. The new PTO WRS incorporates:
- A tiering system for races
- Rewarding race positions directly
- Consideration of the strength of field at each event; and
- Ensuring exceptional performances are rewarded based on finishing times compared to other athletes in the same race.
“As an organisation co-owned by its athletes, it was important they took the lead in developing the new PTO World Ranking System, following unanimous feedback that the system needed to change,” said PTO CEO Sam Renouf. “We would like to especially thank the PTO Athlete Rankings Committee for all their ideas, energy and hard work over the last year, which I believe has got us to a much better place. An effective PTO World Ranking System is crucial to help us spotlight the sport’s superstars and create a season-long narrative for fans to follow.”
Reflecting on the process, the Athlete Committee members were quick to voice their thanks, passion and belief that the new system was headed in the right direction.
PTO World #22 Ruth Astle: “Over the past 13 months the rankings committee have been working hard to come up with a system that met the core principles we felt were fundamental to the system – simple, transparent, objective and fair. We explored a whole range of different systems to try and meet these criteria and I believe that the system we have ended up with will make it easier for athletes to know what points they can expect from a race, and for fans to understand how those points were awarded. It also rewards good racing at the most competitive events, which I think is fundamental in progressing our sport.”
PTO World #93 Renee Kiley: “As a lower ranked athlete, in the past it has been frustrating as I have felt it has been almost impossible to achieve good PTO World Ranking points either by racing in the bigger events with deep fields or by being a stronger athlete in the lower tier races. I am very passionate about providing upcoming and developing athletes with a clear path for progression and the ability to earn money, while also rewarding the top athletes in the sport as they so rightly should be. I also believe it is very important that the fans of our sport understand how points are calculated. I am confident, after almost 12 months of work and constant revision, our new system achieves all of this. Most importantly, it is completely transparent – which not only allows athletes the ability to plan their schedule far in advance but it also provides race organizers with a framework of requirements should they want to host an event for professionals with a prize purse. This will greatly benefit our sport and all professional athletes over both the short and long term.”
New Tiering System Introduced
Under the new PTO WRS, there are five race tiers: Diamond, Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze. Whilst they have been primarily based on prize money, the PTO has also factored in other criteria such as prestige, media exposure and broadcast coverage.
Each tier has base points, with the first finisher being awarded the full base points and further positions dropping off in points from there. This helps professional athletes to plan their season and judge potential scores ahead of time whilst also offering developing athletes a clearer pathway to increase their ranking at lower-tier competitions. Different tiers also have different point drop-offs between finishing positions – reflective of each tier’s relative weightings of prestige and competitiveness. These tier position points make up 40% of the overall PTO WRS scoring calculation.
How Strength Of Field Will Count
Strength of field (SOF), calculated by the average PTO World Ranking Points of the top five starters at a race, means that the stronger a field of race starters, the more points will be on offer. This reflects both the top athletes’ desires to race their peers in truly competitive events and the PTO’s belief that seeing the best in the world doing battle more regularly creates more compelling stories to lift the entire sport. SOF accounts for 30% of the overall PTO WRS scoring calculation.
PTO Athlete Rankings Committee comment: “Long course triathlon at the moment is still in a place of inconsistency in terms of who turns up to race, accuracy of courses and competitiveness of the racing. We started with a rankings model based on Tiered events and position achieved in races, and one of the elements it didn’t really resolve was the ability to reward athletes for doing well in a good strength of field. With the number of different brands of races and geographical spread, there isn’t consistency in the strength of field depth at all the top tier races. Therefore we wanted to be able to reward athletes for doing well in a deep field, even if it wasn’t necessarily at a top tier event.”
Athletes Finishing Times In Races Judged Against Each Other
Athletes’ finishing times still play a key role in the new PTO WRS, but instead of comparing times to a theoretical best time, athletes will be judged against each other within each race itself. Combining SOF with the average finishing times at the front of the race (number included dependent on the number of finishers) creates a baseline time. A ‘dojo domination’ by the winner will gain more points while an athlete lagging behind will receive fewer points. Race Time Score makes up the final 30% of the overall PTO WRS scoring calculation.
PTO Athlete Rankings Committee comment: “Time is the element we discussed at great length as a committee and whether it should or shouldn’t be included. However, when we modelled the different systems, using an element of time meant that athletes could be rewarded either for very close racing or for winning in a deep field by a big margin; both of which the majority felt was important.”
Bonuses are also handled differently than in previous years. Long-distance specialists will benefit from a 5% increase on their single best full-distance score up to and including Gold tier events. This takes into account the fact that athletes focused on middle-distance races typically race more times each season, giving more opportunities to score points or better an existing score and that there are also many more middle-distance events across the Diamond and Platinum tiers, which offer more points.
The new PTO World Ranking System retains a 52-week rolling period with the same rules for race eligibility (over Olympic-distance, over $10k prize money). Athletes’ PTO World Rankings scores will continue to be based on the average of their best-three race results. The new PTO WRS is also completely open, with all the maths available for all to see. To dive deeper into the calculations behind the scenes, please visit our PTO World Rankings Explainer page here: http://www.protriathletes.org/pto-world-ranking-system/ To see the new PTO World Ranking visit https://stats.protriathletes.org/rankings/women and https://stats.protriathletes.org/rankings/men