JFitz19

Evolution in Guard Judging?

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I was lucky enough to attend all three nights in Indy, and was blown away by the performances of both Boston’s and BD’s guards.  In the past I had not particularly been a fan of BD’s guard writing, being part of the group that felt that their equipment work lacked sufficient difficulty in comparison to others, particularly Crown in the last few years before the departure of staff to Boston.  Things were different this year, as BD really stepped it up regarding equipment work.   At the end of Finals before the score reveal, I stated to my friends that despite my love for Boston’s performances, I would give the Zingali to BD.  I felt that that BD had demonstrated a greater variety of skills, particularly with regard to dancing and overall body movement.  Both guards had been flawless on Friday to my wandering eyes, and each had a couple of minor errors on Saturday, so it seemed to me that performance was pretty even.  However, Boston won on Saturday by 0.15, a clear margin at that level.  Judging really seems to have changed since 2015 when that amazing Crown guard lost handily to BD.  So has the Crown/Boston approach, which seems to me to have emphasized multiple and unison throws, particularly by the weapons, changed the emphasis for judges?  I am by no means knowledgeable regarding guard evaluation standards and am wondering what others think about this.

 

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I cant say for certain what happened to the judging criteria but IMO, yes the years of BD just doing a pop toss and drop spins on flag, a standing 6 from 10 rifles and SA levels of Sabre work are over.. The old adage seems to have been; Are your crystal clear perfect? I dont care if you are doing the hardest work, Are you perfect? was the only criteria for winning guard. But Crown's  elevated level of difficulty along with perfection really pushed the activity into new levels.

I also think some of the judging criteria from WGI spilled over, and in WGI you are compared for the level of difficulty of your book as well as how well it is achieved.

In the critique room you'd often hear "well X group is doing ensemble 7's and double turn-around so that is why I have them up and have you down.."

So it is very common in WGI and (now in DCI), for the same tricks to appear in the equipment books from the top groups. Because you want no room for a judge to say that X group has more difficulty in their program.. You want to be like for like.. 

In DCI this year the entire Guard Ensemble doing unison Rifle work seems to have been the thing, along with double turn-around from the main weapon line. A Leaping 5/6 from the rifle line was also in both BD and Boston's show.

BD had more exposure in softer more delicate moments but ultimately I think Boston had a larger main weapon line, Along with a slightly harder book and that is what gave them that 10 in Substance and on finals where judged to have a better run with a 9.9 in Achievement.. Only thing I saw (on FLO) in all of boston's run was a slight loss of Center on the Double Turnaround Rifle toss that caused the member to have to adjust for the catch.. Didnt get a good look at BD's run that night because of how bad FLO was but I would imagine they also didnt drop and had a minor flub or flag timing issue...

Slim margins at the top now, I just wish that Scott was still doing WGI,

Because this could be a year-round fight between Townsend (Pride, now Inspire) and Chandler for supremacy..

I would imagine the bulk of BD's guard splits between Imbue, Diamante and Fantasia now..

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Diamanté has a connection to Mandarins now too.  You could see a lot of WGI influence in their guard book as well. 

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My big concern - and its the same concern I have with WGI - is that guards now are all about the number of tosses that get incorporated into a show.  It's gotten to a point where I sometimes question the musicality because all it is is a series of tosses.  I miss the the more nuanced approach you could have where you could actually see an entire sequence done without a toss (or 16 tosses!!!).  

Boston (and previously Crown) has now pushed DCI guards to new levels of difficulty - BD had to up their game their year (Never saw them attempt a 720 before this year) and it showed.  And let's not forget what SCV, Bluecoats and Cavies are bringing to the field in terms of guard work - simply astounding.

But I also love how BD can program intricate nuances that are so musical and beautiful to watch - and I hope they (and other guards don't lose this).  I also feel that BD has a much more evolved dance / movement program - and felt that they might have won guard this year because of that extra element.

I just hope it doesn't become an arms race as to who can toss the most in a 16 count phrase (I'm looking at you WGI guards !!!!)

 

Later,

      Mike

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6 minutes ago, KVG_DC said:

Diamanté has a connection to Mandarins now too.  You could see a lot of WGI influence in their guard book as well. 

Had they not had Blue Flags in the opposite side of the field doing the Ballad Hit I think they would have placed 7th or 6th instead of 8th, which is still very good for a 10th placed corp. But that moment and color choice was questionable.. 

I hope their Connection to diamante continues and this becomes another solid top 6 guard.

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10 minutes ago, Guardguy89 said:

My big concern - and its the same concern I have with WGI - is that guards now are all about the number of tosses that get incorporated into a show.  It's gotten to a point where I sometimes question the musicality because all it is is a series of tosses.  I miss the the more nuanced approach you could have where you could actually see an entire sequence done without a toss (or 16 tosses!!!).  

Boston (and previously Crown) has now pushed DCI guards to new levels of difficulty - BD had to up their game their year (Never saw them attempt a 720 before this year) and it showed.  And let's not forget what SCV, Bluecoats and Cavies are bringing to the field in terms of guard work - simply astounding.

But I also love how BD can program intricate nuances that are so musical and beautiful to watch - and I hope they (and other guards don't lose this).  I also feel that BD has a much more evolved dance / movement program - and felt that they might have won guard this year because of that extra element.

I just hope it doesn't become an arms race as to who can toss the most in a 16 count phrase (I'm looking at you WGI guards !!!!)

 

Later,

      Mike

My wife echoed this sentiment.. but as long as the Guard judge is in the box and not judging at ground level, the bang for buck value that you get from your tossing and its quality will always beat quality intricate spinning or higher level of body because it is so hard to see and value that from the box.. 

The Visual Proficiency judge should be looking at the guard as well as the rest of the corps, and the intricacies that are not apparent from the box should credited here.

But really nothing will change until the top groups make a stink about it.. Perhaps putting a greater emphasis on movement where the criteria for substance takes a hit if not enough movement elements are incorporated into the overall equipment book.

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10 minutes ago, Glenn426 said:

My wife echoed this sentiment.. but as long as the Guard judge is in the box and not judging at ground level, the bang for buck value that you get from your tossing and its quality will always beat quality intricate spinning or higher level of body because it is so hard to see and value that from the box.. 

The Visual Proficiency judge should be looking at the guard as well as the rest of the corps, and the intricacies that are not apparent from the box should credited here.

But really nothing will change until the top groups make a stink about it.. Perhaps putting a greater emphasis on movement where the criteria for substance takes a hit if not enough movement elements are incorporated into the overall equipment book.

Totally agree about the judge int the box and "big effects" getting more credit  - but I would think that at some point even the judges would realize that having a toss every 4 counts actually becomes less effective as it becomes expected.  Not every music hit, or phrase, or solo or small ensemble needs to have a toss 😜

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1 hour ago, Guardguy89 said:

Totally agree about the judge int the box and "big effects" getting more credit  - but I would think that at some point even the judges would realize that having a toss every 4 counts actually becomes less effective as it becomes expected.  Not every music hit, or phrase, or solo or small ensemble needs to have a toss 😜

Unfortunately it's all about who is dominating top spots.just a few years ago guards tossing just for the sake of tossing were critsized. in the guard world which I'm sure you know , it was more about creating effect and Not just by tossing. Bob Thomas (judge) crucified a guard if your main effect was just tossing. Also after your 100th toss is it really effect anymore one should ask.

This is and has been a topic among those in the judging community. Top guards and corps are supposed to be about setting new standards. Doing 7s.  Especially just for the sake of tossing is a basic skill now in the guard world.( Top guards) Now with all that said,a good coordinated toss musically can be effective.

 

Edited by GUARDLING
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As someone who was instrumental at both the ground floor beginnings of DCI and then WGI and as someone who has a long history with several gold ring champions of each, it's been my opinion that the DCI guard sheets and judging is woefully lacking since it's beginning. As guard now comprises almost as much as one third of all mms of any finalist corps, having only one judge for a guard score seems not right.  As the equipment demands, movement demands, dance and other non-traditional personalities of what makes modern drum corps guard usual, one opinion does not seem fair to the mms, the ultimate scores and placements, and to approaches which a unit may vary from what is done in WGI competition. In fact, the current structure is quite limiting to what a guard could do apart from WGI competition.

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