Thursday, December 31, 2015

Double Elimination Finals

As I mentioned in my previous post, the Finals for the Standard Pauper Double League ended up going to three matches, which is something that I believed was possible in a Double Elimination format. However, it has come to my attention that my understanding of how this played out is not typical. So I thought I would take some time to post about how this particular variation works, and then use it to get some feedback from the players in Phase Two to make sure everyone is on the same page.

So, most of you are familiar with how Double Elimination tournaments work. Quite simply, you play until you've lost two matches, and then you're eliminated. At your first loss, you move to the so-called "loser's bracket," where you only play against other people who have lost a game. Meanwhile, those without a loss continue to play in the "winner's bracket," until both brackets have played out. Then, the two surviving players are paired against one another in the finals.

Typically, since the remaining player in the winner's bracket has not lost a match, he or she is not immediately eliminated if they lose the finals match, since that is their first loss. Instead, in that case, both players must play out a second match to determine who is the winner. And here is where the confusion or discrepancy came from.

The final match can play out in three different scenarios. First, the player from the winner's bracket (henceforth abbreviated W) wins the match; in that case, the finals is over, and W is the winner. Second, the player from the loser's bracket (abbreviated L) wins the match; in that case, since that is W's first loss, W and L play out a second match. If L wins that second match, then the finals is over, and L is the winner. So far, nothing controversial here. This is exactly how I understand the rules to work.

But it is in the third scenario where the confusion arises. In this case, L wins the first match, and thus W and L play in a second match. This time, W is the winner of that match. So what happens next? On the one hand, L now has two losses, and thus some would argue that the finals is over and W is the winner. On the other hand, both W and L have won a match during the finals, resulting in somewhat of a tie.

This third scenario is exactly what happened in the match between ZombieNeko and tikimunkee. Once both players had won a match in the finals (with tikimunkee winning the first and ZombieNeko winning the second), I asked them to play out a third match to determine the winner. For whatever it is worth, this is the way that Double Elimination tournaments have worked in the past for MPDC, even before I was the host. I believed at the time that this was normal practice.

Also, for whatever it is worth, this does NOT take away the advantage that the player in the winner's bracket should have. Remember, if W wins the initial match, then the finals is over. L still has to win two matches in order to be the winner. The only difference is that if W drops the first game, then W has to win the next two matches to become the champion.

So here's the question: in the third scenario (W loses the first match but wins the second), with both players having won a match during the finals, is the finals over with W getting the win. Or should the players have to play one final match to determine the winner? While I think this variant is better, I recognize now that it is not as widely used as I thought.

While you're welcome to voice your opinion below, I will be asking all of the players in Phase Two of the Double League to E-mail me back and let me know which way they would prefer. Thanks so much, and sorry for the lengthy post.


  1. The Vintage Super League did a double elimination bracket recently. I believe they did it such that the tournament was over when a player has 2 match losses. Therefore, ZombieNeko should have been declared winner after he won match #2 as I understand it. Definitely double check the twitch replays, though.

  2. Chris, your correct.
    It should be run as a total 2 losses.
    If there is a variation on this im ok with it, just needs to be known before hand.
    Keep up the good work George. Awesome event.