Eight axe throwers stand in an axe throwing arena in front of the targets, smiling for the camera.

Urban Rules

Urban Rules - Analysis

Urban Rules stats and their impact on thrower choices and match outcomes.

Urban Axes introduced Urban Rules earlier this summer with the goal of allowing throwers of all ability levels to throw together under the same ruleset at our tournaments. We’ve hosted several tournaments under the Urban Rules ruleset since its announcement and would like to thank everyone that has tried the ruleset during these events. It’s the participation and feedback of these throwers that will allow us to grow and improve the ruleset, and we want to share some of what we have learned thus far.

Urban Rules Stats

We’re releasing the stats from our Urban Rules Tiered Swiss Tournaments at the 2023 Urban Open and the Cincinnati Chili Classic Urban Rules Swiss tournament. They can be found at tournaments.urbanaxes.com. You can view the stats for each Swiss tournament and tournament bracket by clicking it and then selecting the "Stats" / “Bracket Stats” button in the upper right corner. These stats have been very useful in analyzing the impact of Urban Rules scoring on players’ decisions and match outcomes, and we’d love for anyone who is interested to dive in and examine the stats for themselves. Please send us any further thoughts or stats that you think would be useful for us to analyze or publish!

Examining Our Goals for Urban Rules

We had many goals for this ruleset when it was first announced, so let’s reflect on how Urban Rules has gone about achieving these goals thus far.

We want to bring throwers back together/encourage fun & competition among throwers of varying experience levels.

We’ve hosted Urban Rules events at the Urban Open, the Cincinnati Chili Classic and Urban Legends events. These events have seen throwers that normally play Standard Rules playing alongside Premier Rules throwers, and many have held their own. For the Urban Open, we’re now able to analyze stats across tiers, allowing us to make discoveries like 8 of the Mid tier throwers averaged a Bullseye score that would have put them in the Over tier of throwers. Six of the Under tier throwers averaged in the top 128 when thorwing for Bullseye. Statistics like this can show throwers how they stack up against their peers, and what progressing to the next level looks like, under a common ruleset.

The difference in average points per hatchet when throwing for bullseye was 4.79 pts for the Over tier, 4.48 pts for the Mid tier, and 3.71 pts for the Under tier. This suggests the combination of intermediate scoring values, touch Clutch, and Premier clutches is enough to keep throwers from different tiers losing less than a point per axe on their higher tiered opponent, increasing the likelihood the match might still be within reach on fifth axe. We believe this will allow throwers of different skill levels to play together while keeping the matches engaging and may provide a path forward for Standard Rules throwers looking to improve their no-bleed bullseye and touch/Premier Clutch abilities.

We want to reward throwers for their accuracy without punishing them for errant throws.

In the Over tier of Urban Rules Tiered Swiss tournaments, when throwing for Bullseye, on average 16.93% of the players’ throws were fours while only 0.68% were threes, meaning players were almost 17 times more likely to score a four than a true three. Mid tier throwers averaged 29.94% fours and 6.41% threes and were over 4 times more likely to score a four than a three. Under Tier throwers averaged 31.87% fours and 19.47% threes and were 1.6 times more likely to score a four than a three. All of these throws would be threes under Premier rules, so each four represents a point throwers gained on what might have been their axe bleeding by a millimeter outside the bullseye.

We also feel the rate at which players chose to attempt Clutch on fifth axe suggests throwers feel there is more value in attempting Clutch under Urban Rules, due to the inclusion of touch Clutch. Though we do not have comparable Clutch call data from the Premier Rules Urban Open (we've asked the IATF and will publish it if we get it), we were able to analyze the rate at which throwers called Clutch when up by 0, 1, 2, or 3 points on fifth axe. This data includes throwers from all Baltimore Urban Rules tiers as well as throwers at our Cincinnati Chili Classic tournament.

Urban Rules - Clutch Call Percentages Table

This data shows that across both tournaments and all ability levels, when up by 1, 2 or 3 points, players still chose to throw Clutch around 30% of the time. In the Over tier it was a whopping 69%! We estimate this rate to be much higher than in a similar Premier rules tournament, where most throwers choose to stay down on fifth axe if their opponent misses even one throw. Clutch is a big part of the excitement of IATF matches, so we’re happy to see the inclusion of touch Clutch in Urban Rules has made throwers willing to go up more often and under more fifth axe scenarios.

We want to reduce the “all or nothing” aspect of Premier Big Axe tiebreakers.

Big Axe tiebreakers have proven to be much more decisive under Urban Rules. Tiebreakers that would have remained tied under Premier rules, either through one thrower bleeding slightly into a lower point value when their opponent didn’t even touch the higher point value, or touching Clutch versus missing Clutch completely, are settled in Urban Rules, with the more accurate thrower taking the tiebreaker. This does result in shorter Big Axe tiebreakers on average, however it reduces the frustration many throwers felt over losing points on a throw that barely missed its target.  It also keeps matches and brackets running to a more predictable timeline.

We want to improve match speed by allowing all throws to be scored without measurement.

Urban Rules have allowed us to create intermediate point values and touch Clutches without bringing back calipers for measurement. Though blades that land at the extreme inner and outer edge of the painted lines now both require examination to determine the score, the judgments can usually be done quickly with a card and most throws can be judged by eye without the need for further inspection. The average match length of Urban Rules matches has been very predictable, a big benefit with the increased number of matches we run in our Swiss events which you can learn more about in our Swiss vs. Double-Elimination post.