Kaizen – it’s a Japanese word generally recognized as meaning “continuous improvement.” When Brandon Mccaghren and Conscious Keelan first envisioned the Professional Grappling Federation(PGF), they looked for ways to make the action exciting for fans. In true Kaizen fashion, the PGF leads have continuously improved the experience culminating this year in a Quintet-styled format, with some tweaks that we’ll discuss in this post.
For any neophytes, the first innovations Brandon and Keelan made with the inaugural season of the PGF were the camera angles and the scoring system. Keelan was a pioneer in the use of a gimbal for jiu jitsu coverage. With his skills and knowledge as a jiu jitsu practitioner and a videographer, Keelan was able to give the audience at home the best views in the house. Gone were the days of the single stable cam where you would lose the action for more than half the time – no, in the PGF, Keelan brought the fans directly into the action. Fans were able to absorb the techniques and tactics of competitors, seeing the real action.
The second and just as important innovation was the revamping of the scoring system. The fans want action; the fans want dunks. Before we get into the scoring system, it’s worth a quick aside that the PGF has always chosen their competitors with a bias towards the finish – meaning sometimes exciting white or blue belts would be admitted if they would push the action. Many times it’s been said someone is right for the PGF because he’s either scoring a submission or getting submitted – just like the Spartans said: “come home with your shield or on it.” Besides picking the right competitors, the PGF scoring system gave them all the right incentives for exciting matches. In the regular season of the PGF, a competitor seeks to make the post-season tournament by amassing the most points. Points are only awarded to those competitors who score a submission against their opponent. Each match in the PGF is six minutes (as compared to many competitions with 10 minute matches), squeezing down the time to get a submission. Competitors who score a break (any joint break/lock) earn 3 points; competitors earning a kill earn 6 points (it was originally 7 but later reduced to 6). To be clear, if a match ends in a draw, both competitors have lost because they failed to gain any points. Six minutes to secure a submission means competitors have to be constantly working which provides more action for the fans to watch.
An honorable mention for innovations of PGF Season 1 was the chat. In Season 1, when we had live matches every Friday during the height of COVID, the PGF and the chat was a place where fans could congregate (virtually) and appreciate jiu jitsu. We had a mix of friends, teammates, family members, and random fans – all who contributed to the community of the chat. I’ve described it previously as the methadone for us poor schleps who were not able to train during the pandemic. Whether you were still training, never had trained, or anywhere in between, the chat built a community of fans. The fantasy jiu jitsu league warrants a quick mention as well. There, fans could build their own lineups and compete each week against others to see who was the prognosticator supreme (Egghead Warrior was the runner up for the first two seasons). Just like the chat, it gave fans a way to get involved personally.
Over the next two seasons, the PGF innovated by condensing the schedule down to one intense week. Competitors could now come from much further away (e.g. Texas, California, Oklahoma, Florida, etc.). The PGF also now included true coaches who drafted their teams. Team members could also earn team points for the team who “won” the round. The PGF eventually reverted back to a live broadcast (after one pre-production season) – ensuring fans were right there with the action and able to interact with the commentators and help drive the direction of the PGF. For example, in Season 3, there were four “replacement” or bench players for teams whose purpose was to step in for injured teammates. Well, the fans in the chat wanted to find a way to recognize those players, so they put up a bunch of money in the chat (via Super Chat) and inspired Jason from Such N Such (an awesome local Decatur eatery) to supplement the Super Chat and sponsor the first ever Such N Such BATTLERAMA! It was a single elimination tournament for the four replacement competitors, eventually earning Joshua “FULL TIME” Gibbs $2k.
For Season 4, Brandon Mccaghren and Conscious Keelan have once again upped their innovation game. First, they included a proof of concept season for the bantamweight ladies. Eight 135 pound and under ladies are now competing and will be divided two to a team. They will compete in a round robin format against the ladies of opposing teams, facing ladies on opposing teams twice each.
For the gentlemen, Brandon and Keelan have ratcheted up the importance of the coaches by making their teams compete in a Quintet format. The Quintet format (although there will be six on each side so maybe a hextet?) is essentially a king of the hill situation. Each team puts out their first competitor on the mat. If someone secures a submission, they remain on the mat and the team of the submitted competitor must put up their next competitor. If the match is a draw, both competitors must leave the mat (a loss for both) and both teams must put up new competitors. This play will continue until one team has no competitors left. Also to note, when a winning team faces their next opponents, the competitors who had not played must hit the mat before anyone who had previously competed.
This innovation of the quintet format has multiple second and third-order effects. For fantasy fans and the coaches drafting their teams, the ladies’ value on rosters skyrocketed. The ladies are guaranteed four matches a night whereas a gentlemen could conceivably not compete once in a night if their team dominates their opponents. Second this availability of matches could cause friction between competitors, their coaches, and their teammates. While coaches want to beat the other teams, competitors are still vying for the post-season. One can foresee a top competitor possibly put later on a team’s lineup as the “anchor.” What happens when the anchor gets fewer matches than other competitors and ends up low in the rankings and possibly missing the playoffs? Even though all members of the team who amasses the most points in a night gets an extra team point, competitors would likely prefer to be on the mats as much as possible. Losing on the mats doesn’t cost any points to a competitor, so being on the mat is at worst just a chance at earning more points. This interplay between individual competitor, teammates, and coaches could become very interesting.
So to recap, the regular season action will all be in one week (actually even shorter this season). The regular season will be from 26-28 October with the post-season Finale on 29 October. All the action will start at NOON Central time live on Brandon Mccaghren’s YouTube Channel or live and in-person at BComing Church, 607 14th St SE, Decatur, AL 35601. Each team will have face two other teams each day, meaning four quintet showdowns each day for fans to enjoy. The lineups will be dynamic, so we could see some “strategery” to quote a past president where a team’s bench may try to fake out the opposing team by warming up, etc. Besides the theatrics, these dynamic lineups will allow coaches to tailor their lineups based on who they think their opponents will send out to the mats.
With every one of these innovations, Brandon Mccaghren and Conscioius Keelan have had the fans in mind. As sports fans, they wanted to bring the best of other sports into submission grappling, e.g. a live draft, dunks, etc. In less than one week, fans will be able to watch and join in on the fun from wherever they are in the world. Buckle up folks, PGF Season 4 is about to start and it’s going to be EXCITING!