Creating Tournament Schedules

The following are a list of various tournament schedules that can be used to arrange competitions within your classes. It is important for teachers to realize that some tournament structures, such as the single round elimination tournament do not promote or utilize participation. During these tournaments, you get one chance, when you lose you are out. However, it does have its benefits when there is not much time available for participation or if you have a large class. It is very important for students to understand the concept of fair-play and peer cooperation, inappropriate behavior and sportsmanship should not be tolerated.

I. Rotation Method

Probably the easiest arrangement for a round robin is the rotation method. In setting up a draw for an even number of participants/teams, for example 6, number 1 remains fixed and the other numbers rotate around it counterclockwise.

6 person/team schedule (5 rounds)
1-6 1-5 1-4 1-3 1-2
2-5 6-4 5-3 4-2 3-6
3-4 2-3 6-2 5-6 4-5

When setting up a draw for an odd number of participants/teams, for example 7, the B (bye) remains fixed and the other numbers rotate around it counterclockwise.

7 person/team schedule (7 rounds)
*bye (B) participants or teams do not play.
B-7 B-6 B-5 B-4 B-3 B-2 B-1
1-6 7-5 6-4 5-3 4-2 3-1 2-7
2-5 6-4 7-3 6-2 5-1 4-7 3-6
3-4 2-3 1-3 7-1 6-7 5-6 4-5

To determine the number of games for a single round robin tournament, as seen above, use the following formula, N x (N-1)/2. With a tournament of 6 teams, the calculation would be: 6 x (6-1)/2 = 6 x 5/2 = 30/2 = 15 games.

To keep track of winners I use the following record chart in class. After the match the winner’s name is recorded with a W (win) or a L (lost). For example, reading Ben’s name in the horizontal row and looking down the column until one sees Frederick’s name, you would record a win for Ben. Reading Frederick’s name in the horizontal row and looking in the column finding Ben’s name you would write in the loss to Ben. However, you can adopt your own scoring using this table procedure. I often post this table so students can see the results.

XXXXXX Ben Frederick Galvin Antonia Carly Cordelia
Ben XXXXXX          
Frederick W-Ben XXXXXX        
Galvin     XXXXXX      
Antonia       XXXXXX    
Carly         XXXXXX  
Cordelia           XXXXXX

II. Elimination Type Tournaments

These types of tournaments are based on removing half of the participants/teams after each round. Depending on whether the tournament is single or double elimination, participants /teams may drop down to the loser brackets. Participants /teams participating at regional, territorial or Arctic Winter Games will compete in these schedules, which include a loser bracket.

(A) Single Elimination Tournament

The single elimination tournament is a quick and efficient method of determining the winner, however, it does not promote participation, “you lose, you’re out.” However, if you are looking for a quick tournament in your class the single elimination would definitely work. To determine the number of matches, subtract one from the total number of participants. For example if you have 8 participants/teams taking part, simply 8-1=7, therefore there will be 7 total matches to determine a champion. But, if you want to determine third and fourth, you will need to have one more match or 8 total matches.

If you want to determine the number of rounds, determine the number of times 2 can be multiplied by itself to reach a number equal to or exceeding the total number of participants/teams. For example to determine the number of rounds for 16 participants/teams, 2 must be raised to the 4th power (2x2x2x2). Therefore, there would be 4 rounds to determine a champion and runner-up.

Once you have the number of participants/teams determined, the brackets can be made for the tournament draw. If you have a perfect power of 2, such as the example above, 16 participants/teams, the brackets are easy to make. If it is not a perfect power of 2, the brackets must be manipulated so that after the first round some participants/teams are eliminated, therefore, the second round will equal a perfect power of 2.

To determine the number of byes that must take place if there is not a perfect power of 2, subtract the number of participants/teams from the next higher perfect power of 2 than the given number of participants/teams. For example, if there are 9 participants/teams, the next higher power on 2 is 16, so 16-9=7, which is the number of byes (7) that are needed in the first round of a nine participant/team single elimination tournament. When you create this draw, you only have 2 participants/teams participating; everyone else will get a bye to round 2. Therefore, in round 2, eight participants/teams will move through which are a perfect power of 2 (2x2x2). Byes should only ¨ be placed in the first round.

(B) Double Elimination Tournament

Most participants/teams enjoy the double elimination tournament as it enables participants/teams to have an “off” game and still have a chance of winning. If a loss is recorded in the winner’s bracket, they move to the loser bracket, and eventually can emerge as the tournament winner. However, if this participant/team makes it to the finals against the winner in the “winner bracket”, they would have to beat the “winner bracket” participant/team twice in order to claim tournament champion. The double tournament requires more time than the single elimination tournament; time and class attendance should be considered if using this tournament schedule in Physical Education class or homeroom.

To determine the number of matches use the formula, N=(cx2)-2. For example 17 participants/teams times 2 equals 34 minus 2 equals 32 matches. And there is a possibility there could be 33 matches if the loser bracket participant/team makes it to the final and beats the winner bracket participant/team twice.

To download and print single and double elimination draw sheets, consisting of three to 20 participants/teams click here. I hope this would save you a lot of valuable time.

Masi Cho.