Trying to understand ZP

Thanks! I really enjoy looking at my race ranking for motivation and reward. I don’t gain very much fitness these days, so I have to find some things to make it meaningful apart from being healthy.

As @gloscherrybomb said, the ZP ranking is good for my motivation, but I wouldn’t like to be placed together with A(+) riders. I see that I have the same ranking points as the 573’th ranked A+ rider :slight_smile:

If I could choose, I would have both a points-based ranking for motivation/reward and a type of ZR that shows my real, stable, more accurate, overall ranking that reflects my true level.


Appreciate the answer and the insight. Thanks!

What I’m about to say is not indicative of any decisions or hints at what’s coming with Zwift Racing Score, just me engaging in conversation with you, so keep that in mind.

On the one hand, I love that ZwiftPower doesn’t give you the feeling of punishment with a points loss if you do more poorly than expected, though if you are either A) not racing frequently or B) not doing well in high quality races, then you can not see much point award or ranking shift.

When you compare that directly to, then ZwiftRacing will give you a much more obvious, motivating (at least to me) progression curve. But like James said, there’s no sense of achievement with it at the moment. So ZwiftPower fills one role and fills another, and they kind of work well with one another in that regard.

However, personally, I find that I don’t like the way the Elo system would work with Zwift racing because to me it’s unfamiliar in a cycling environment (I’m used to racing in the US where you’re only ever going up, which is what ZP is built on). I also come from a long history of online gaming where Elo makes sense. And again, because of what I know Elo seems to work well for games where I expect to lose, but I don’t want to be feeling like I’m punished on my bike for not placing well.

As I’ve said before, there’s not a single system that will magically solve everything. ZP’s system looks great because it already exists and is based on a cycling model, but it doesn’t look great for some of the reasons that have been highlight and which you point out.’s system (and Elo or Elo-MMR) work really well but can also have their own pitfalls, as we’ve seen James and Tim address with various changes to the math in the last few weeks.

It’s clear that we have to find a nice balance. How we’ll do that has yet to be defined.


I like seeing my ranking go up, but I would not feel bad about it going down if my performance declined over an extended period. I view it more as “who should I be racing against now?” and not as a seasonal GC. If it never goes down, the system can’t account for simply getting old, so some kind of periodic reset (as in ZR) or accounting for physical decline seems necessary. The alternative would be investing in an age-category system, but my preference would be to race against a group near my level of fitness at any age.


as long as people understand that then i think you can make most people happy by just providing the means for organisers to set the terms, maybe both a ZR style system as well as whatever zwift developers come up with, much like an organiser can choose to have a CE event or a ZP based event currently

i would also personally recommend not completely abandoning CE/ZP either. they still serve a purpose

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I think the key is to not seek a balance. At least, not in a singular system.

A ranking system where you can only go up is not a ranking system.

If the goal is fair racing, reward for improvement, understanding where you sit amongst your peers, having something to race for in every race regardless of how it was set up and what your expected performance was before the race, a ranking system like does the job. Of course there are lots of opportunities to refine it further, but the general feeling right now is it’s in a great place, and we’re dialling in that last few percent rather than anything major.

This, along with, most importantly, variable pen boundaries (sorted however the organiser sees fit), solves for the majority of the problems in Zwift racing.

Then you come on to gamification. Adding a global competitive structure. A reason to race more. A reason to vary race type or race length. There are many ways to do this, but a seasonal points structure seems like a good one. The amount of points available in each race could be determined by the quality of the race, defined by the ranks of the riders taking part. Then modified to account for racing variation, race length, etc. Maybe the Zwift Power points structure is already good for this, but to be honest I’ve never dived in to it, only the ZP ‘rankings’.

The worst thing is to try and achieve both with one system. They can work alongside eachother, but as soon as you try to account for both sets of needs in one ‘rank/points’ system you end up doing one or both things badly.

Example - rank. I am a Gold 1 currently (1785). In off-season and fitness has declined a lot. If I improve my fitness, and/or my skills, I can expect to beat some better riders and improve my rank, probably to Platinum. That is the sole way to improve my rank - get better at the game. Rank is about accuracy.

Example - points maybe I am not going to get fitter. Maybe I don’t train much. Maybe I like to race 10 times a week so am rarely fresh. I want to feel like I am achieving something as I race. I could try to do as well as possible in the Zwift points league this season. To do that I want to race in some good fields - maybe platinum ones so I am up again strong riders. I want to race regularly. I get points for variation, so I do a TT, a short race and long race each week as a mininum. My points are achievements - they are medals. It doesn’t make sense to ever get negative points. I want to be the best gold ranked rider this season in the points league, so I will race based on that goal.

2 very different things.


I really like the point race leagues where all riders get points, even if they place last. If we could have seasons with some reset/reduction in points, that would be kind of the same as such a league. That would encourage racing frequently even for those who place down on the list.


I mentioned that my current ZP points are not comparable to an A+ rider’s equal points. For me that is important. There has to be some correction between points and rider level.
Right now the ZP points have a dependency on the CE/ZP categories, and that will maybe continue to be the case for a while. Maybe it would make sense to give out more points in the higher categories than the lower ones. That would make sure I didn’t end up with the same points as a good A+ rider.

You are not alone :rofl:

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TBH, until I read the threads on ZP and ZR, I didn’t pay much attention (or understand) the Zwift points ranking system. Now though, I do admit to getting some satisfaction if I see a points increase.

It would be nice if all people entering a Zwift race were registered on Zwift Power. Did the Wahoo Le Col race on Saturday and was quite pleased with my performance, (given the course didn’t really suit), and thought I might pick up a few points. I finished 44th of 64 on the Companion results (76 starters), but a disappointing 37th of 43 on ZP with zero ranking points. To add insult to injury, my ZR points went down :rofl:

I tend to choose races that are convenient for me (prefer to race during the day) rather than based on field quality, so I no longer do ZRL, TFC etc. and my points tally seems to have suffered as a result.


Yes. I feel punished when I do races that don’t suit me and get the ZR ranking reduction. Since it is an overall ranking that incorporates both races that suit you and races that don’t, there will be much up and down. For me, it ends up in a pretty flat ranking curve over time. If I raced more to my abilities, I would maybe be able to increase my ranking, but I want to do a mix of races. Some variety is good.


The issue with the current ZP ranking, they can be gamed quite easily.

I entered 1 set of Tiny Race series and improved my ranking by over 100 points & moved up to a place where I probably shouldn’t sit in reality.

If one (four) races can alter the ranking that much in a 1 hour period, then I question actually how good of a job is it doing - As those series of races have significantly distorted my position and we see plenty of people using those races just to get ranking upgrades/points.

Any system needs to be able to deal with all of the types of races on zwift and these popular races seem to break that system.

Edit (The fix might be, these types of races are considered one race - And you get 1 set of ranking points based on the final position - Stops sniping aswell).

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I think using the US cycling model is very bad, it doesn’t even work IRL. I have to race the lower Cat IRL because I don’t race often so when I race it is against people that does not race often and we a stronger by a lot, so it will be a few of us way of the front. If Zwift use ZP or US cycling points system to determine the correct pen then I will be in D or C where I will race off the front with some others that does not race often. That won’t be fun for me and it won’t be fun for those that are true C or D racers.

The ZwiftRacing app already has me in the correct pen even with only 2 races. :ride_on:

Personally I don’t care about points, I just want a system where if I enter a race it will be challenging and I have confidence that I am racing my piers.


Others might argue that if everybody entered enough high-quality ranking races everyone would get to the correct level. I think James (Gloscherrybomb) made a point about the weakness in ZP rankings being that most people don’t race enough to have an accurate ranking. (If you race once a week, even if you gain every time, your best 5 race average will take 5 weeks to be completely overwritten).

Certainly, it’s hard to find bigger “bang for your buck” in terms of ZP ranking points than the Tiny races. But they are extremely well populated by highly-ranked riders.

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I race 2 or 3 times a week, that would probably put me above average in the case of number of races per week (at a guess?). So my ranking should be fairly accurate.

So in a 1 hour period, It was actually closer to 150 points I think. That shouldn’t be possible in a well defined & balanced system.

In ZR App in comparison I think I gained points in 2 of the races and lost points or was neutral in the other 2 - Which resulted in about +30 points for the the hour, which is a bit more realistic IIRC.

Edit - Having now gone & checked, I scored +60(ish) points in ZR App across the hour for the 4 races… But atleast my score has been evened out with subsequent performances \ scoring over the next 3 weeks


If your previous ZP rank was egregiously inaccurate, I think it SHOULD be possible to correct it quickly like that. Perhaps your previous ZR rank was closer to reality than your ZP rank, which only changed that quickly because you did four races at once?

Regardless. I also have had fun in the Tinies and don’t think I’d have the ZP rank I have without them. The other point is, I have fairly high anaerobic capacity, so short races suit me quite well.

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It could be that an initial points value could be set by using e.g. the Compound Score (CS) value converted to points. It does not tell how successful you are, but it can give an OK start value. Starting at the bottom is not a good idea.


To be honest, whatever game they like the most. ZP is extremely consistent imo and if they’re a big fan of a certain game and wanna see some British dude tear into it, that’s usually a good starting point

I have the exact same issue - did tiny races over 2 weeks and dropped 75 points - in my age group (50+) I’m 18th C but that would put me level with B’s in the 180s and As in the 130s - I’m yet to win a C race but if I had to race against pretty high As and Bs it would NOT improve my zwift experience.

This is where James’ comments about ranking not being the same as categorisation are important. I’m also in a very similar position (in fact 4 places below you on the >50 C ranking) and would hate to have to race only with people ~200 on ZP. I’d get my backside handed to me rather too often

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I feel this statement gives an insight into the self imposed challenges of this - I read that as, you dont want to give the end user a negative experience - you want to either win or be neutral?
Its racing, someone has to win, someone has to lose, if people do worse than expected it is ok for their rank to decrease - Its certainly not a punishment.

Someone said else where on the forum, Zwift are to soft to implement racing well, there might be alot of truth in that statement.


Yeah, have looked you up and on ZR your pretty close to me and I’m pretty sure we’d have a good race against each other. If a look up an A with he same ZP score as us on ZR they are platimum II and we are Gold II it’s very clear that they are in another league with numbers I could only dream off. Yet if Zwift use the US/ZP ranking it’ll be a ■■■■ show for ranking fields with all sorts of riders lumped together