Going with the Flow

One of the practical considerations for a tournament director in choosing a format is how well the tournament flows. But flow is a complicated concept – ideal flow, and the steps needed to attain it, will vary from one sort of event to another.

Sometimes you want to keep the competition moving, minimizing the time that the competitors have to spend waiting around for an opponent, a playing field, a referee, or some other needful resource to become available.

Other times you want to keep the competition from moving too fast. Particularly where the competition is physically exhausting, you want to allow sufficient time for players to recover from one match before asking them to play another.

Poor flow can compromise any of the four goals in the FEPS framework.

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Recharges and B1G Baseball


The most common use of a recharge round is to allow the undefeated winner of the upper bracket a second chance if it loses the initial bracket unification match. But a recharge round can be used in other ways also.

The 2017 Big 10 baseball championship being held in Bloomington over the next five days has a bracket unlike any other I’d encountered. In it, there are two possible recharge matches, neither of which eliminates the possibility that a team will can fail to win the overall championship even when it has only one loss.

This bracket, B1G baseball 2017, has a number of interesting features, which can be appreciated by comparing it to a standard 8 bracket (A.B.|.C.X): B1GbaseballAlt.

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Fairness and Recharge Rounds

Recharge rounds are the possible immediate rematch rounds where a match is replayed if the initial pairing results in equalizing the number of losses for the two teams. The most common (but not the only) use of recharge rounds is in unifying the lower and upper brackets in a double-elimination tourney.

Yesterday the propriety of including a recharge round was considered in terms of efficiency, participation, and spectacle, and I found that none of these factors made the case for the recharge round was not particularly strong. This post will discuss the other one of the FEPS goals: fairness.

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The Recharge Round

A recharge round is a feature of many double-elimination tournaments. It is the possible second match between the winner of the upper bracket and the winner of the lower bracket. Whether or not there should be such a thing seems to generate strong feelings.

Heretofore, I’ve generally omitted a recharge round. In part, this reflected my general preference in the matter, but I also did it because my tournament simulator didn’t allow for such things. The new simulator is now up and running, and I was careful to structure it so that it could include recharge rounds. So now seems a good time to address the recharge issue.

Let’s begin by considering the desirability of a recharge round using the FEPS framework: fairness, efficiency, participation, and spectacle. I’ll tackle three of these factors in this post, deferring the discussion of fairness until the next post.

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Dividing the Pie

In the last post, I suggested that the new version of fairness (C) would make it possible to compare the fairness of different payout schedules for a given format. After a few experiments (and a bit of reflection) later, it’s clear that this will require significantly more work. The assessment of payout schedules must also be informed by the equity considerations that sound in fairness (B).

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Fairness ($), Part II

The new tournament simulator is nearing usability, and there will be some significant results very soon, I hope.

In the meantime, I have progress to report on improving on one of the chief fairness metrics. Fairness (C) is defined, qualitatively, as the degree to which a tourney design rewards superior performance. But the method heretofore used to measure this quality can be criticized as too narrowly focused on the overall winner of the tournament. In this post, I’ll propose an extension of the metric that considers not just the overall winner, but every place for which there is prize money.

The redefined fairness (C) metric will be useful not only for comparing the fairness of particular tournament designs, but also for determining the payouts themselves.

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