Founders Cup Bracketology Uncovered

Monday, July 11, 2011 - 13:06

Founders Cup Bracketology Uncovered

Ever since the Founders Cup World Kickball Championship settled into the Pool Play/Elimination Bracket format, we've received questions about the bracket structure and why we do things the way we do. Why, for instance, we have brackets with fixed tracks for the various Pool Winners and Runners Up, instead of reseeding from scratch after Pool Play.


It's a great question and one we're happy to discuss: In addition to being vastly simpler than the alternative, it upholds what we believe is a vitally important objective in all pool/bracket hybrid formats: making sure that two teams advancing from the same Pool cannot meet again until the final Championship game.


For an easy-to-follow example, consider the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup currently in progress. 4 Groups of 4 advance 2 teams each into a "knockout stage" bracket of 8. The bracket is built around the top-seeded teams, presuming (as any logical bracket does) that they will advance as Winners of their Group. When an upset occurs, the victor takes the spoils of the better bracket path.


Case in point: USA and Sweden lead Group C, and while already knowing both will advance, they play to determine which is the Group Winner and will face the Runner-Up of Group D (Australia), and which is the Group Runner Up and will face the Winner of Group D (Brazil). Sweden upsets USA, advances as the Group C Winner, and usurps the easier bracket path built presumptively for the top-seeded USA. 


Significantly, each Group's Winner and Runner Up are separated into opposite ends of the bracket - so if USA and Sweden win all their elimination games, they will meet again in the Final Round and no sooner.


Another example can be found in the World Baseball Classic, which in 2009 was structured in three phases: a round-robin Pool Round, a double-elimination 2nd Round, and a single elimination Final Four bracket. Even with the added complexity, the brackets were structured to allow 2 teams from the same starting Pool to meet in the Finals if they survived - and that's precisely what happened with Japan and Korea.


After extensive research of our options, we believe our bracket philosophy and structure is supported by ample precedent, maintains an appropriate and manageable level of complexity for a continuous tournament with instant scorekeeping requirements, and represents the ideal balance of rewarding Pool Play performance while avoiding premature rematches. 


Or as I like to say, we overthink it so you don't have to!


-- OW!


Orion Walker (@theorionwalker) is the WAKA Founders Cup World Kickball Championship Scorekeeper & lead Bracketologist.