WFA Grand Slam Scoring: The importance of relevance

Although not the largest scoring factor in a flair bartender’s competition score, relevance is an important category – particularly if you are looking to score highly in WFA competitions, it is a category you need to understand. We sat down with WFA Grand Slam Coordinator and experienced judge @tomaszmalek, to ask a few questions about the newest scoring category in the WFA scoring system as well as how it works:

What is the relevance category in the scoring system? What does it mean?

“Relevance is the newest category in the WFA scoring system, introduced in 2018. In short, it is a score on how the moves the flair bartender performs on stage actually contribute to the drinks making process.

As we all know, WFA bartenders don’t just go on stage to show off their moves, it is about demonstrating flair bartending skill – which is made up of more than just cool and impressive moves. It is showmanship, difficulty, originality, and relevance. For a move to be relevant, the move or the objects used in the move need to be also used in the making of the drink. Of course we understand that in a 7 minute routine not every move is going to be relevant, it is too extreme to ask for this – but so long as a there a good number of relevant moves throughout your routine you will ensure a high relevance score.”

Do you have a good example of a high relevance score?

“For example, if a bartender is performing a move with 2 tins and 1 bottle and when finishing the move, or sequence of moves, they pour from each tin and the bottle into the drink – then this means the move was relevant, as each object was involved in the making of that drink. Another is if you flair with a jigger, a bar spoon, and a bottle for example. And then use each of these objects during or at the end of the move in the drink – this makes those moves relevant.

A good example of a move that would score badly for relevance would be maybe a 5 object move where at the end of the move you only end up pouring from one tin into the drink. We still want to see big, multi-object moves – the relevance category just ensures that performances aren’t dominated by this and keep the drinks making process at the heart of every show.”

How much of your score is down to relevance? Does it change Grand Slam to Grand Slam?

“Each WFA Grand Slam organiser has to use the same 4 categories for the scoring system, however they can decide which of those categories is weighted the most. This changes from competition to competition depending on what the organisers want to see more of. For example at Flairmania in Latvia, difficulty and originality carry the most weight in scoring – as they want to see more new and difficult moves. Relevance is usually a score that carries less weight, maybe half the score of the big categories like difficulty and originality”.

Why is relevance so important then?

“For the competitors it is important as when it comes to securing those top spots, it can come down to tiny, tiny margins. We have seen that with a number of the WFA Grand Slams this year, where 1st and 2nd were decided by almost nothing! You can’t afford to drop points on relevance if you want to be a challenger.

For flair bartending as a whole and us at the WFA, relevance is important as it reminds flair bartenders that their routines need to be about the cocktail making process and not just about juggling on stage. If you want to be a juggler, join the circus. It takes more than just the skill to juggle to be a great flair bartender. Working flair or craft flair are just as important as exhibition flair and a great flair bartender will include all of these elements in their performances.”