Friday, August 10, 2012

Scoring Breakdown: Caio Terra vs Bruno Malfacine At the 2012 Mundials

It's time for another scoring breakdown.  This time I want to look at the rooster weight finals from the 2012 Mundials featuring Caio Terra and Bruno Malfacine.  I picked this match because it makes a great case study for learning how advantages are scored, especially for sweeps.

I've linked to the specific times I want to discuss in my breakdown below, but the entire match is available here:

0:27 - The match starts with a double guard pull, but Bruno quickly stands and works a guard pass.  The pass attempt forces Caio to turtle, exposing his back.  Bruno scores two advantages.  The first is for getting to the top from the double guard pull.  The second is for forcing Caio to go to his knees with the guard pass.

0:36 - Bruno starts to get Caio's back but only manages a single hook.  This isn't worth an advantage despite being "halfway" to taking the back.  Positional advantages are awarded when a competitor reaches a scoring position but is unable to stabilize it for the 3 seconds required to earn full points.  Since both hooks are required to score from the back, a single hook is worth nothing.

0:45 - Caio attempts a kneebar, but Bruno defends and they end up in a neutral position.  The submission attempt isn't close enough to earn an advantage for Caio, so Bruno still leads.

1:30 - Caio manages to get Bruno off balance, but doesn't quite do enough to score.  To earn an advantage for a sweep two things must happen:
  • you must put your opponent in a downed position from your guard
  • you must attempt to achieve top position
Caio briefly takes Bruno down to his butt and fulfills the first criteria. However when he can't come to the top, he misses out on the advantage.

8:40 - Caio hits an impressive sweep.  He briefly makes it on top, but Bruno quickly puts him down again before the position is solidified.  This time Caio satisfies both of the requirements for an advantage but still trails Bruno two advantages to one.

9:53 - This is the critical sequence of the match and the most controversial.  Caio works a sweep that takes both competitors out of bounds.  At first, the referees decline to award an advantage, despite the rule specifically for this scenario.  According to the IBJJF rulebook:
[An advantage will be awarded] When, upon clearly causing the opponent to lose his/her balance, an athlete attempts to complete the sweep movement and forces the opponent out of the match area.
Caio deserves to score here because it's difficult to argue that Bruno was balanced as he and Caio tumbled out of bounds.

Even though the competitors' last position wasn't stabilized, the referee insists on recreating it before restarting the match.  Nobody can agrees on the grips and confusion sets in.  During the chaos each competitor is penalized for arguing with the referee.  Then out of nowhere Caio is awarded an advantage, presumably for the original sweep that started this mess.

I'm stunned by how this scene played out.  Situations like this make our sport look bad.  This is the finals of a world championship and the officials look like amateurs.  Watching this transpire makes it clear how far away BJJ is from the Olympics.  This is even more embarrassing because the rule book clearly says:
When 2/3 of the athletes’ bodies are outside the match area on foot or in a non-stabilized position on the ground, the referee should stop the match and restart the two athletes on their feet at the center of the match area.
Reason finally prevails and the match restarts standing with the score tied.

12:24 - Caio again puts Bruno in a unstable position but can't capitalize.  Even though Bruno loses his balance and is forced to catch himself, Caio is never able to threaten coming on top.

The match ends tied at two advantages apiece.  In the event of a tie, the referee is required to choose a winner.  There is no overtime.  The criteria that referees use to make a decision aren't strictly defined, but in my experience the most important factors are:
  • Spending more time on top.  It's much easier to appear aggressive from the top position.  Regardless of the success of the guard in sport BJJ, playing from the bottom is usually too passive to win the decision.
  • Attempting more moves.  Even if the moves don't score, just appearing busier than your opponent can be a big influence on the referee's choice
  • Attempting more submissions.  Since a submission instantly ends the match, if either competitor had any solid submission attempts, it'll look good to the referee.
In the end, the officials select Bruno as the winner likely due to his work from the top position.

I'm a bit disappointed that both men played such a conservative game in this match.  Bruno tried to ride out two early advantages and Caio locked down his closed guard for almost six minutes.  By not opening up their games, they rolled the dice for the gold medal.  Bruno won this time, but it could have just as easily been Caio to get the nod.