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5 & 6 person teams--never mind the MPs; a different issue

The brouhaha over MP awards to 5 and 6 person teams reminded me of something I've been mulling over for awhile.

 

I played in a bracketed round robin teams event last year sometime where the team that won our bracket had a very strange (to me) record...in 7 rounds, I believe this team either won or lost 6 of those rounds by blitzes.  This struck me as odd, until I noticed that it was a 5 person team.  Based on the team's performance, I'd hazard a guess that one player had far fewer points than the other four, and that the rounds in which that player participated were the massive losses, while the ones in which that player sat out were the massive wins.  (I should add that the other 4 players averaged well above the level for our bracket).

 

Now, there are a number of different ways of interpreting this, some of them more charitable than others.

 

1.  A group of good players decided to try to help their weaker friend win.

2.  A group of good players gamed the system, using their friend's low masterpoints to reduce their average.

3.  A group of people of whom one was a significantly weaker player just decided to play in the event without worrying about bracketing.

 

I have no way of knowing which it was.

But I am confident that if I can think up these scenarios, so can other people.  And it seems to me that scenario #2 (gaming the system) is something that if it can be prevented, ought to be.

In addition, I got to wondering--what, if any, consequence would there be to a team that signed up with 5 players and then largely didn't play the 5th player?  Presumably that person would be ineligible for OA awards, but if they are truly trying to game the system, so what?  If the weak player's options are "don't play" and "sign up and don't play," given that the entry fee is the same, why not help out his or her friends, sign up, but don't play?

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It seems to me that some of the issue might be mitigated by bracketing based on the top 4 players on each team, rather than on all of them.  This would (somewhat unfortunately) eliminate the possibility of scenario #1, but would also protect against scenario #2.  And presumably players in scenario #3 wouldn't care.

 

Thoughts?

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