Head to Head matchplay - points question

Forgive me if this has already been discussed, but the few search terms I used didn’t result in any hits.

In a head-to-head matchplay event where points are awarded in each round based on games won, what is to prevent friends who are matched up against each other from colluding to maximize points. In other words… if you are playing best 3 of 5 or best 2 of 3 and each win is worth a point, what is to stop players from colluding to making sure that each of them gets at least a point (in 2 of 3) or 2 points (in 3 of 5) and letting the final game decide the match. Of course, honor and pride would be the answer, but I’m wondering if others think this is a good format?

This can’t be a thing can it?

Never in my whole life have I played a tournament format where players receive different points if a match goes 2-0, or 2-1.

Surely in the format you describe you only give 1 point to the winner of the match, and 0 points to the loser?

Also, there is a million ways people can collude in almost any format. What prevents it? Usually rules.

I’ve never heard of such a format. Tell whomever is running this that it’s a bad idea.

The only way I’ve ever seen best-of-X formats used is in elimination brackets. If you want to have people play each other multiple times, without getting eliminated, then I would recommend Round Robin, playing each other player a fixed number of times…and each win is a point.

Cayle… I can assure you it happened at the event I played in. Every win (individual game) was a point. So in a 3 game round if the outcome was win-loss-win for you, 2 points were awarded to you and 1 point to your opponent. My tournament experience is quite limited (< 2 yrs), so I thought nothing of it when it first started even though I had never seen it before. But about halfway through the tourney, when I noticed the matchups and who was winning points, I was starting to think it was a really bad way to hand out points because of the potential for collusion to give an extra point to a friend if you happened to be better than them and were matched up. Or even if you were equal, you might have an agreement to not worry about the first two games and let the third game decide who got the extra point. I am 100% NOT saying any collusion occurred… I want to make that clear. I am just of the mindset that the system should be setup so that people don’t have to worry about things like that.

And Ryan… I wasn’t comfortable criticizing the TD and still wouldn’t do that. I have been to events where everyone tries to TD by committee and it is never fun.

Before this, the only collusion theory I had heard of was the points layout for pinburgh (forgive me, as I forget the details) of how the matchups used to promote in round 10 (or maybe earlier) for people to have a spread of points to insure everyone got to finals if points were already there.

That is really interesting - but yeah I think its a weird scoring system for that format.

I can only imagine that system working and feeling fair to me if all 3 games are played no matter what. As described where its a race to 2 wins with points awarded for every win, it seems really random/arbitrary on the award of points to the loser of the match.

But I’ve also seen weirder systems at tournaments -

  • “You qualified first, so you get to be player 1 on every game in the finals!”
  • “You win the tie breaker by default because your ifpa rank is higher”
  • “You’re top qualifier, you have to pick the first game used in the finals!”
  • “You lose the tie-breaker and are out of the tournament because the person you tied with won a match against you 2 days ago in an early qualifying match-up that was immaterial to this decision”
  • “you don’t have to qualify because you have a high ifpa rank - free pass to finals”
  • “We’re putting a luck-box em game in the finals of the world championships game line-up even though we already have a specific classics division.”



Old Expo Flip-Out tournament was the best:

  • “You qualified first, so you get to call the coin toss against the 8th seed for who gets choice”
1 Like

This is something that I didn’t think of and I might suggest it if this format does come up again. At least, this would mean that every player would be striving for a win in every game (assuming they are out to finish their best). It was a small mid-week format with only a few hours to decide the outcome, so I get that people wanted things to move quickly. As it stood, the top qualifier had zero losses, but several of the other “A” qualifiers had rounds with one win where their opponent got two wins. But nearer the bottom of the bracket there were a lot of 0-2 scorecards. I couldn’t help but think that if those cards had played all 3 games (by luck of the wins or something else) that the extra point would have boosted those players up into contention for the “B” group instead of being out of it completely.

I really think if this format is run again, you should politely notify the TD of the possibility of collusion with this format.

Imagine going 2-0, 2-0, 0-2 (4-2 overall)…and being tied with someone who went 1-2, 1-2, 2-1 (who went 4-5 overall and had a losing record)?

In most (all?) sports, the “best of x” format is used to determine a binary result: you win, or you lose. There are no negative impacts to winning 4-3, just as there are no extra benefits for winning 4-0.

If you only have a few hours to decide the outcome, even more reason to not do “best of x”, which makes the timing of each match more variable.

Like Cayle said, make everyone play all matches. But then it’s not “best of X” anymore…it’s Round Robin, playing each opponent X times.

I don’t know the TD involved, but as a TD myself, who sometimes likes to make stuff up based on the number of players, I would really prefer that players bring stuff like this to my attention. Much better than having them realize there is an exploit in my rules and try to…exploit…them.


Perhaps not tied, depending on the intricacies of tiebreakers, which we don’t know for this format. I’m reminded of things like the 24 Hours at the Sanctum tournament, where if two players have the same number of points, they are in fact NOT tied, and standings are determined based on number of first:second place finishes (https://matchplay.events/live/finalbattle2018/standings, for context). In other words, it would be reasonable for the 4-2 player to be ahead of the 4-5 player because the quality of their play was better.

The weirdness of giving points for each game instead of the entire match result, while definitely weird, does have some parallels in other sports. In rugby union for example, if you lose a match by less than a certain number of points (7, I think), you get a “losing bonus point” in the standings. Essentially, you get a point for keeping the match close. 2-1 vs. 2-0 in a best-of-3 feels similar to this - you didn’t get blown out, you kept it close, so you are somewhat rewarded for that. Would need some tweaking in best-of-5 or more, but the idea could be the same.

Surely in virtually every team sport that plays head to head in a league the margin of victory is used to decide if pts are tied - that’s what goal difference is.

Not only does it ensure that teams continue to go for more pts/goals/trys to ensure a better GD, it makes it more entertaining for the viewing public.

I can certainly see a league format where head to head is played over a fixed number of head to head games, with pts difference being valuable - but not one where it is a best of number of games format