Tournament Round Mechanics
In a tournament, each time a player is assigned an opponent to play against (or multiple opponents in multiplayer formats), they play a round. Each game will define what gameplay constitutes a tournament round in its Tournament Regulations. Different types of rounds, and methods of reaching them, are detailed below:
A Swiss round is one in which an opponent is paired randomly against another player with the same number of tournament points in the current event (or a similar record, if there are no remaining unpaired players with the same record). The results of every Swiss round are reported to the scorekeeping area. Players can participate in all Swiss rounds of a tournament that occur before a progression cut.
An elimination round can result in the end of the event for the defeated player. Elimination rounds are intended to be a way to create exciting gameplay as part of the conclusion of an event. They are most frequently used following a progression cut after a number of Swiss rounds. Each game defines a method for determining the winner of an elimination round. Elimination rounds can be single-elimination or double-elimination. The number of players at the start of the elimination rounds will most commonly be 2, 4, 8, 16, or 32. Players can be randomly placed into a bracket or seeded according to their current tournament standing.
A progression cut is a process used to capture the players who have met a certain threshold for performance or standing and allow them to continue competing in the tournament. The majority of tournaments that feature a progression cut only utilize one: a progression cut to single-elimination rounds after Swiss rounds.
There are different methods to conduct a progression cut:
- Standings-Based: After a number of tournament rounds, standings for all players in the tournament are generated, using tiebreakers to assign each player a specific placement. A standings-based progression cut removes all players below a certain placement from the tournament. The tournament then continues with the remaining players, usually with elimination rounds.
- Record-Based: After a number of tournament rounds, the Tournament Organizer calculates each player's tournament points. A record-based progression cut removes all players who have not accumulated a predeclared number of tournament points from the tournament. The tournament then continues with the remaining players, usually with additional Swiss rounds.
- Graduated: A graduated cut is a special type of progression cut which combines the standings-based and record-based methods. FFG does not recommend the use of a graduated cut by anyone except experienced Tournament Organizers of very high-profile events.
- To utilize a graduated cut, the Tournament Organizer will announce two values for the cut prior to the start of the event: the standings-based value and the bonus record-based value. Example: for a standings-based value of 24 and bonus record based value of 8, the Tournament Organizer would express this as “Graduated 24 + 8”.
- After a number of rounds, standings for all players in the tournament are generated, using tiebreakers to assign each player a specific placement. The Tournament Organizer finds the current tournament points of the player whose placement in the standings is equal to the standings-based value. The Tournament Organizer then counts the number of players at a lower placement in the standings with the same number of tournament points as the aforementioned player, stopping when they reach the bonus record-based value or run out of players with the same number of tournament points. All of those players, and those above them in the standings, remain in the event. All other players are removed from the event.
- Example: for “Graduated 24 + 8,” at least 24 players remain, but no more than 32. Any player ranked 25th through 32nd with the same number of tournament points as the 24th-place player make the cut. The tournament then continues with the remaining players, usually with additional Swiss rounds.
A bye is an automatic win granted to a player for one tournament round. That player is not assigned an opponent for that round. Byes are most frequently awarded when the number of players is not divisible by two and one player is therefore unable to play for the round. Some events offer—as a prize—a bye redeemable at a specific future event. An award bye grants that player a bye for the first round in that future event, no matter the number of players in the event.