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Breaking Down the Rules: Storm and Renegade on the Trivium Judging System 08/07/2021

Storm and Renegade

The World DanceSport Federation (WDSF) recently held a successful three-day Breaking Congress aimed at disseminating knowledge to b-boys and b-girls globally on the road to the Olympic Games Paris 2024.

One of the most popular seminars was on “What judges look for in a Trivium Judging System,” which was delivered by the two main developers of the system, Niels “Storm” Robitzky and Kevin “Renegade” Gopie.

The Trivium System is an intuitive digital scoring platform that allows judges to react to Breakers in real-time according to their physical (body), artistic (mind) and interpretative (soul) qualities. It was developed to give the Breaking community a fair, transparent and modern judging system and was successfully used in qualification tournaments for the Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018 as well as the YOG itself. It will be used again -- with a few tweaks -- at upcoming WDSF World Championships and the Olympic Games.

Asked about the key takeaways the two wanted to leave with the roughly 1,000 people who joined the free-of-charge online Congress, Storm said: “DJ Renegade and I both knew that there is a knowledge deficit when it comes to judging. We presented a solution that represents the Breaking paradigm. There is an imminent fear in the Breaking community that Breaking might lose its identity if the IOC recognizes a system that is not modelled after the cultural values. We wanted to make sure they realize that the Trivium represents Breaking to the fullest.”

“We also wanted to express how complex the discipline of judging is,” Renegade said. “I don’t think it gets the respect it deserves. The level of Breaking nowadays is exceptionally high and we need to understand that judging, necessarily, must match that level.”

Complexity was about the only negative feedback the WDSF received regarding the Trivium System following the Youth Olympic Games. For those unfamiliar with Breaking, understanding how the Breakers were being scored apparently caused some head scratching. To those in the know, however, Trivium was a welcome evolution from the simple binary judging system it replaced.

“The feedback was, overall, great from the people that understood the system,” Storm said. “It is clear for us that people that never watched battles or never realized what’s of importance in a Breaking performance may have their problems reading the stats and understanding the decisions.”

“The feedback that I received was super positive,” Renegade added. “From the dancers and the viewers I spoke to. Dancers feel like they have a greater level of transparency than ever before and can employ strategies and receive a more detailed form of feedback. The viewers commented on how much sense it made, especially the transparency of the rounds system and that they ‘felt’ the pace of the battles much more.”

Nevertheless, the WDSF hired an international consulting firm to do a SWOT analysis of the Trivium System to see where improvements, if any, could be made. The results, according to Storm and Renegade, were unsurprising, with most suggestions already on the duo’s radar and being actively worked on.

What all parties agreed on was the need for further simplification of the system, especially with regard to the way it was being presented to the audience.

“I already reflected to Storm that we need to make it simpler for the average audience member,” Renegade said. “Hide the abstractions yet provide them with enough to follow what’s happening. People still ask about the offside rule in soccer, yet still enjoy the game regardless. Sometimes it’s enough to know there IS an answer even if you don’t know what the answer is.”

All of this and more was discussed in detail during the WDSF Breaking Congress, which was held virtually on the 15th, 17th and 19th of June.

Joining Storm and Renegade as lecturers were Nemesis (USA), Focus (Finland), Kareem (USA), and Roxy (UK). Nemesis presented on “The Historic Context of Moves and Order of Progression,” while Focus delivered a presentation on “Qualifying at High Level Events.” Roxy spoke about “Battling at a High Level as a B-girl” and Kareem detailed “How to Structure High Level Rounds.”

The WDSF received many requests following the Congress for the seminars to be shared online so those who were unable to attend live could also have the opportunity to benefit from them. Future Congresses are now planned, with specific dates to be announced in due course.

Both Storm and Renegade, who were recently named to the WDSF’s Breaking Division as Judging System Specialists, acknowledged the importance of educational opportunities like the Congress.

“They are of imperative importance,” said Storm. “Especially during these times when we cannot really all meet each other. The information needs to get out there. If not, people get uncertain, start speculating and that’s always the first step for doubts and finally rumours.”

“We are moving to the future,” Renegade added. “These platforms will continue to have importance. It’s impossible to get everywhere and they provide access to many areas that can’t afford to fall behind in the information race.”