Thursday, 26 December 2013

Tournament Draw Systems Explained - Part 1 (Single Elimination)

The idea for this post came to me this morning, in that half awake / half asleep phase of waking up in the morning.  With more and more tournaments popping up, each with there own little ways of doing things I thought it would be good to do a post on the various draw systems that exist out there.

There are three main draw systems that are are used in competitions (and not just jiu jitsu, all sorts of sports and games use these systems).
  1. Single Elimination
  2. Double Elimination
  3. Round Robin
There are all sorts of variations on these three, and systems that combine them as well.  

Let's start with the simplest system:  Single Elimination.  This is what the IBJJF uses, and so does the OJA (for adults), and many other tournament organizers around the world.  The name says it all, if you lose once, you are out.  There are potentially 2 cases where there is an exception to the "single" part.  
  1. If it is a division of 3.  These are done in a weird way.
  2. Some tournaments will give 2 bronze medal, and some will have a fight to determine the third place.  This is often referred to as having a fight for "true third".

So, what does a standard single elimination bracket look like?  Let's start with the simplest case possible, an 8 person division.  Here is a sample of a standard, complete 8 person division.  As you can see, there are 7 matches in an 8 person division, with the winner of each match moving along the tree towards the final line. 

In all my sample draws, the red number will indicate the match number,  the blue is for the competitor names,  the green indicates who goes on that line, and the pink represents what that "round" is typically called.  

Sample Standard 8 complete 8 person draw sheet

So, in this case, the quarter finals are the first round, and the first fight is Mike Vs Ahmed and Mike wins.   The second fight is Adam vs Mandie, and Mandie wins. The third fight is Alasdair vs Matt and Alasdair wins, and the fourth fight is Stanlee vs Bruce and Bruce wins. The winners go to the next round and the losers are done.  Technically, if you lose in the quarter finals, you are part of a 4 way tie for 5th, while the winners move on to the semi finals.

In the first fight of the  semis(match number 5),  Mike faces Mandie, and Mandie wins again, moving on to the final.  The second fight of the semis Alasdair faces Bruce and Alasdair wins, moving on to the final.  Now, Mike and Bruce are out, tying for 3rd place.  

The final between Mandie an Alasdair is the 7th match.  Mandie wins, so is 1st, and Alasdair gets 2nd.

Here is a slightly modified case, for the tournaments that have only 1 third place.   As you can see,  there is an extra match.  The fight for 3rd usually happens before the final, so it is now match #7, and the final becomes match #8.   The losers of match #5 and Match #6 fight for third. The winner will be awarded the "true third".
I mentioned earlier that 3 person divisions were a little wacky.  There are 2 ways that a three person division can play out.   

Here is the first way:

It looks almost like a standard 4 person division, except that the fourth competitors place is filled in with the loser of the first match.  This is the way it works always.  The difference in how it plays out is determined by who wins the second match.   In this case,  Adam, who hasn't fought Ahmed yet,  won, so Adam moves on to face Ahmed in the final and Mike gets third place. Then, Adam, who wins the final,  gets first, while Ahmed, who lost the final, gets second place.

So, what happens if Mike wins the second match instead of Adam?  In this case,  the final does not happen, because Ahmed has already beat Mike (in the first match), So, Ahmed gets first, Mike gets second, and Adam gets third.
For single elimination, the more competitors you have, the more rounds there are,  so if there is between 9 and 16, there will be a round of 16 (which will have 8 or less fights in it), If there is between 17 and 32, there will be a round of 32.  For tournaments like the worlds, where there are divisions of 100+ the same system still applies, It is just broken down onto different pages, but the exact same process as a 8 person division is still followed.  There are just a lot more rounds. 

The complex part of single elimination comes when there are divisions sizes that don't end up perfect. The ideal sizes are: 2,4,8,16,32,64, 128, ect.  When a division doesn't have this number, then you end up with "byes" in the first round of matches.  A bye is when some competitors do not have to compete in the first round.  This is done so that the division can be narrowed down to a size that will work out nicely after that first round. 

Here is an example for a division of 13.  I've added a new colour, yellowish green, for Byes.  The byes fill in the blanks for fighters that don't exist.  Different tournaments / draw systems will represent this differently on their sheets, but the end result is the same.  Not everyone has a fight in the round of 16.  

The byes will be as evenly distributed as possible.  We don't put 3 byes at the top of the sheet and none at the bottom, or else the sheet will be lopsided. I do not know the exact formula for where the byes go, just that they are evenly spread out.   In this case, It kind of looks like I have 3 at the bottom, but Matt's bye is in the top half of the bracket while the other two are in the bottom half of the bracket.
Sample 13 person division to illustrate byes
As you can see, Matt, Dave, and Alex do not have to fight anyone in the first round, and automatically advanced to the Quarter Finals. Sometimes this will be represented by their name not appearing in the draw until the 2nd round,  and sometimes it is represented by the line for their first opponent just being blank.  I choose to illustrate it this way, so that you can see how the general structure o the sheet is still the same.

In this case, the people who lose in the "Quarter Finals" are a 4 way tie for 5th, and the guys who lose in the "Round of 16" are tied for 9th.

This is long enough for 1 post,   part 2 will be on double elimination and the various version of that system.  It starts off very similar to single elimination, but gets a little crazy depending on which variation is being used.  It's also my favourite base style.

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