In hindsight it becomes clearer what really happened, what really happens right now and what will really happen next.
The assignment given to/the ambition of this team of consultants, you know the ones with the vaaast experience of medical research and whatnot, the ones that were supposed to do what Zwift themselves could not, was just to create and test a model for categorization before races. And only that.
Categorization is never complete without promotion/demotion, but that was apparently not the scope. Early on we wondered whether we would see quick upgrades during season. To some it seemed there were some since some people moved up and down in categories a little. But there never was. It was just them tweaking the knobs of their model a little from week to week, resulting in different starting pens for one and the same rider sometimes.
We have been used to potentially very fast upgrades, for better and for worse. In the ZP system you can theoretically go from e.g. a solid B to A in a single day looking at the mechanics of upgrading. That’s one way of doing things. But it wouldn’t be unreasonable to keep people in their categories over a very short (half) season of 4 weeks, 4 races. Hence you wouldn’t necessarily see upgrades during this season anyway. Only then you’re stuck with seasonal upgrading, which I doubt they want because it is ill-suited to the wide spread of zwifting patterns among subscribers. But that was never the focus anyway.
The focus, the assignment, was just the initial placing of riders in suitable pens in the best possible way, using moronic performance measures. And they failed of course. Like we predicted (knew rather) they would. Because you can never do it right, it is doing things the wrong way for the wrong reasons. That is bound to fail.
I think they have realized that too now. I doubt they are even tweaking any knobs this week. Well, maybe a little, just for show, so they can report hours and get paid. But I think they have given up and I think Zwift has too (they must have or they are even dumber that we thought).
So what happens now? What is the next step? Well, even if they had got it right, or right enough, there would still have to be testing of upgrading in the system, which requires another season. And since they don’t take control over their own product, it would be thrown to WTRL again. Maybe test that later. In a coming season. In coop with WTRL. Some time.
But they didn’t get it right. So what now? Now they have no idea what to do. Complete failure. Arguably worse performance than ZP itself, apart from the cat enforcement. Can’t go ahead with that. Where to go next? Well, you can’t give in to the pressure from an aggressive little possee on the forum, can you? Where would that take you, if you handed over business strategy to the whims of a loud minority among subscribers. So openly experimenting with results based categorization next is out of the question. And there really aren’t any more leads to follow in performance categorization at this point.
Hence they most likely default to what Zwift does best, a tried and reliable concept that I described back in March:
Welcome to Zwift. Fun is Unfair.