Tellin' it like it is...
This is what I have a problem with. You dont play for 8 years. You come join a BCA league to go play singles. You are given a rating that puts pretty much smack in the middle of Gold division. You rating stays the same thru league. You enter with a 545. Then one day you look and you are 618. Now you are are more then likely platinum. This will be your vacation time. You have a chance at doing well in Gold. Not much chance and Platinum. Is it fair they changed it after you enter based on 30 or so league games?
Players aren't considered to to be rated (Fargo uses the term "established") until they have 200 games in the system. Two hundered games was chosen because this is the point when you can have confidence that your rating is reasonably accurate and pretty close to your true skill level. Incidentally, even after 200 games, the more games you have in the system, the more fine tuned and accurate your rating continues to become, and this always remains true as your number of games increases, but by 200 games it is almost always already pretty darn accurate/close.
So why then does Fargo allow you to see any preliminary rating at all prior to you being established with 200 games in the system? In a word, convenience. That way you don't have to wait until you have 200 games in the system before your rating can even be seen at all, and as a result, used. While this is a nice convenience for users, FargoRate has been clear that this absolutely has to come with the understanding that this ball park preliminary rating can move significantly as new games are added to the system, and that prior to 200 games it can be anywhere from reasonably accurate to fairly inaccurate.
What is the purpose of the starter rating that is assigned to new players? The starter rating is simply intended, during the first 200 games, primarily to keep a player's rating at least be in the same universe as their true skill, and to a lesser extent to also somewhat minimize how large the rating swings will be as new games are played and added to the system. The starter rating is averaged in with the rating from the actual games played.
If SVB only had 6 games in the system, and it turns out these 6 games came from a race against a decent league player where SVB had a really bad match and lost 5-1, then if no starter rating was used SVB's preliminary rating at that point might end up showing as say a 347 (because he actually performed like a 347 that match, and that match is the only info FargoRate has on him up to that point). Well as you can see 347 wouldn't even be in the same universe as his true skill level of 820ish. But if he was assigned a starter rating of say 800 based on an educated guess, when his 347 performance from those five games is averaged in with his 800 starter rating then his preliminary rating after those first 6 games might show as something like a 788 instead. Now neither of those ratings would be super accurate yet because they are still just a preliminary non-established rating with only 6 games in the system, but at least 788 is in the same universe as his true skill level as is certainly much closer to it than 347 would be and so it allows for the system to be used even with a preliminary rated as long as you keep in mind that the preliminary rating, especially with only a few games in the system, just has them in the same ball park universe and is not yet real accurate.
To elaborate further on how the starter rating affects the preliminary FargoRate rating, to simplify, essentially what happens is that at first the starter rating is given a lot of weight and the actual games played carry less weight, but the closer you get to 200 games the less weight the starter rating carries towards your preliminary rating, and at 200 games the starter rating no longer carries any weight and is not factored in at all.
For example, lets say you have a starter rating of 600, and 20 games in the system where you performed like a 500. Because you only have a few games in the system, the starter rating carries more weight when the two are averaged together and your preliminary rating would probably be something like a 590. If you had that same 600 starter rating, and 100 games in the system performing as a 500, then your preliminary rating would probably be something like a 550. Since you were exactly half way to being established, your starter rating and the ratings from your actual games are carrying a similar amount of weight. If you had that same 600 starter rating, and had 180 games in the system performing like a 500, then your preliminary rating would probably be around a 510 because by this time the rating from your actual games is carrying the most weight and the starter rating is carrying very little weight. And of course, if you had that same starter rating of 600, and 200 games in the system performing as a 500, then your rating would be 500 because your starter rating now carries zero weight and is no longer factored in at all.
Obviously the more accurate your starter rating is, the more accurate your preliminary rating will be prior to you having 200 games in the system and having a fully established rating. I wouldn't get too caught up on how accurate somebody's starter rating is though because again, it is only intended to get you in the same universe as your true rating. The starter rating is almost never going to be exactly what your real skill level is, and frankly, if there was a way of being able to precisely guess and give a perfectly accurate starter rating then FargoRate wouldn't be needed. That is precisely the whole need for and purpose of FargoRate though, to provide that accurate rating, but it is going to take 200 games in the system to get you there and you have to understand that until then your rating may be off to some extent. Be patient though, because once established your rating will be pretty accurate and miles better than any other rating system out there.
All that said, your friend is actually performing at a level ABOVE a 618 level and if it were not for the starter rating his rating, based on actual games played, would be even higher than 618. Again, the starter rating is there primarily to keep you in the same ball park universe as your true skill level. When it was seen by CSI or whoever that he was performing significantly over a 600 speed with 30 games in the system, they raised his starter rating from 500 to 600 to get his preliminary rating in the same universe as his actual skill. With the 500 starter rating his preliminary rating was not in the same universe as his actual skill but it is now. Again, your friend, to date, is performing ABOVE a 618 level and in his case his new 600 starter rating is still having the effect of actually lowering his preliminary rating from what it would be if his starter rating was not being factored in at all and they were only going by how he has so far performed in the actual games he has played.
If, after some more games, it turns out your friend was just on a hot streak and was performing way over his head, and/or his opponents were playing way under their norm, FargoRate will "see" it and it will be reflected in his rating. That's why it takes 200 games to be fully established, because you need a big enough sample size for those under and over performances of both you and your opponents to wash out.
As for what division you are supposed to be in at Nationals, we always tend to look at it from the perspective of which division we can be really strong in, or even have a chance or be favored to place high in or even win. This isn't the right or fair way to look at it though. Unless divisions were made to be incredibly small and with lots and lots of them (which means really tiny payouts which nobody wants), there is always going to be somebody at the bottom of any division, and they may have little or perhaps even no chance for winning that division or perhaps for even getting in the money. That doesn't mean they are in the wrong division though. There is always going to be somebody at the bottom of any division. The appropriate way to consider the question of if you are in the correct division or not is is to ask if you are about equal to or better than the worst guy in the division, and if you are about equal to or worse than the best guy in the division. If the answer to both those questions is yes, then you are without a doubt in the appropriate division.