One of the things I love, being a bit of a football stats freak, is how the world is full of completely different leagues. Growing up surrounded by coverage of the English and Scottish leagues, it would be very easy for me to have fallen into the trap of believing everyone out there uses the same system. Play each other twice, count up the points, go on holiday for a bit in the rain. Lovely.
No, it's all different, and I've gone into it before. I've looked around the world and thought I'd pretty much got it sussed. Leagues with playoff systems to determine the winner, leagues split into lots of little groups, leagues that split in two (the SPL obviously being a recent example). These weird and wonderfully different competitions became a driving force in making this game. I could easily have taken the easy way out and copied England for everything, changing the number of teams and not much else. Certainly I'd have had far fewer headaches. Maybe even something playable right now. But no. That's not fair. After all, what's the point in having the Filipino Open Championship if it's just the same as playing at home?
So I grabbed all these leagues, totalled them all up and devised a competition and league engine that could simulate them all, and all the other tournaments in existence. Then I found out about Ecuador.
On the surface, the Ecuadoran league looks like any other league in South America. It's played in two distinct halves, the Apertura and Clausura, thus creating two champions each year. Unlike a lot of leagues, it actually relegates and promotes clubs at the end of the Apertura, effectively making each "season" about four or five months in length and getting two in each calendar year, and the teams in the Serie A Apertura differ from the ones in the Clausura as a result. A bit of a niggle.
This only happens at the top level of the system. In Serie B, teams are only relegated at the end of the Clausura, based on the total points gained over the Apertura and Clausura sections. The former Serie A side playing in the Clausura gets all his Clausura points counting double, as if it wasn't bad enough to try and get the game to collect points from another competition entirely.
As a result, it is entirely possible for an Ecuadoran side to start in Serie A in January, get relegated by May, and by the following January be playing in the Segunda Categoría, Ecuador's third level, proving that if they don't follow the simplistic English league system, at least the world's leagues like to give their competitions completely misleading names.
Just when I thought I was finished tweaking those damn league systems.