Inconsequential ties and finals seedings

So I was told by a very reputable source that it was standard to flip a coin to break inconsequential ties in finals seedings.

Example: Top 8 make the finals in a Herb format. Scores are 194, 189, 185, 185, 185, 183, 183, 183.

So, is it correct to randomly assign seeds for 3rd, 4th, 5th amongst those tied with 185 and then again for the 6th, 7th, 8th seeds tied at 183?

It seemed like a logical thing to do at the time…but then when down to the final 4, there was a 3 way tie for first (who happened to be the three players who tied with 183 points)…and so the final game got to be selected by the player who had been randomly assigned 6th instead of 8th. :frowning:

I think tournaments should just be sure to make their own rule about what breaks ties (the defacto way has been who got more #1 scores, more #2 scores, more #3, etc.)


How could the three lowest possible seeds be tied for first in a group of 4?

I think someone just didn’t think their example all the way through. Probably involved another lower seed (obviously).

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I’m guessing that after the round was finished those three people were tied and he’s talking about choice for the tiebreaker game. There was likely a higher ranked player that wasn’t tied with those three that played in the round.

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I would’ve had a one ball playoff for all the ties. So, the 3 185s would be one group, and the three 183s would be another. Random game, start a three player game, everyone gets to play their first ball. The decision for position is decided on what those players’ best game was during qualifying on that particular game that was randomly chosen for the tiebreaker.

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“I choose to slam tilt”

Link to rgp2 thread on reasons you don’t play out inconsequential tiebreakers :slight_smile:

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sorry I don’t follow. Do you have a link to that thread? Not sure what to search.

The TL;DR version is . . .

There are times when winning the tiebreaker isn’t in the best interest of the players competing.

For example, tied for 6th/7th place.

Group A - Elwin, Zach, Jorian, 6th place seed
Group B - My Mom, My Son, My Daughter, 7th place seed

You run into a situation where both players want 7th place, so they intentionally try to lose the tiebreaker. This happened to me at Free Play Florida a couple of years where I verbally forfeited the tiebreaker match . . . only to have Brian Dominy also try to forfeit the tiebreaker match.

So that naturally pushes the discussion into:

“Let’s give the tiebreaker winner CHOICE of what position they want”

That becomes a bad idea, because now you are giving ‘value’ to being tied, so a player that was in 6th place without a tie is worse off than a player who is tied for 6th place and has a choice over not actually being the 6th seed should it benefit them.

Hence why you’ll often see the PAPA/IFPA rules mention the playing out of bubble tiebreakers, and not playing out anything not ‘elimination/bye’ worthy.


Someone can use the tiebreaker to set themselves up for a preferred finals group. I feel it is better to declare the tiebreak in advance, rather than coinflip, and the preferred tiebreak is “best qualifying game” (what Raymond said). At Pinburgh we go back in time to break ties: Round 9 record … Round 8 record … etc. Only if the records are completely tied all the way is there a coin flip, and it hasn’t happened yet.


Sorry, my example was confusing. And it wasn’t an example.

Top 8 in a Herb made the finals. Three players were tied in 6th…all had the same number of points. I used a random number generator to assign them seeding…6th,7th,8th.

Grouping was 1,4,5,8 seeds and 2,3,6,7 seeds. 6,7,8 (and 5) advanced to the finals.

After the three finals games had been played, the 5th seed ended with 3 points. 6,7,8 all tied for first with 6 points.

So a final game was played, chosen by the high seed…the 6th seed (who happened to earn that seeding by random draw).

Nothing had been said ahead of time about what breaks the ties. In retrospect it would have felt better if there had been something in place.

I believe the random assignment was used at the RMPS because it didn’t come up until bracket creation time, so no other tie breaker method had been officially declared or published, which meant no one knew what that method might be, so even if you chose to go with best game on machine X, or lowest scores on the resume, etc, at that point it would have been essentially “random” anyway.

Yeah, exactly.

Seems like the “who got more #1 scores, more #2 scores, more #3, etc.)” is probably the best way to go. As the tournament director, could I have decided that on the spot given that nothing had been declared?

Your situation does call for something other than random, which some folks here were missing until you restated it. Best course is something specific like most #1’s, most hole-in-ones for pingolf, etc. Score on a specific game has been used but is fairest when the game is specified in advance.

Pretty much every tournament and league ruleset includes (or should include!) verbiage along the lines of: if a ruling needs to be made that isn’t covered by the existing event rules, the senior uninvolved official will make a ruling in the spirit of the overall rules, which then becomes binding should the same situation arise again in the same event. (You don’t want to have contradictory solutions to the same situation during the same event.)

Remember that deciding “we’ll break these ties randomly” is a decision, not inherently better or worse than deciding “player with the most #1 (etc) scores is the higher seed”, so you as an event official are certainly entitled to make either of those decisions.


Thanks josh. That makes total sense. My suggestion has been very popular at our monthly tournament, but now that I think of it, it’s only been used to break ties for the final finals spot, and for ties at the end of the final round. Not between people already in finals to determine their groupings.

Thanks for the help.

I absolutely disagree. The rules in the OPs example were enforced well and properly imo.

Flipping a coin imo, is just as good as “best score on game X” and so on methods. They are all arbitrary when they dont take into account the full qualifying experience - and the only thing that does is the score or number that has them tied int he first place.

In the tiebreaker for the final, the higher seeded player from qualifying chose a game.

That player happened to be higher seeded because of a coin-flip-tiebreaker coming out of qualifying.

That is great, for all the reasons Josh stated about why you should flip a coin.

If the other players in the finals don’t like that player getting game choice, they should have qualified higher to earn the right to choose.

This thread reminds me of an annoying trend I see here in Europe a lot.

Bubble qualifying tiebreakers, or ties to move on in finals, are often decided by your win-loss record against the other player(s) you are tied with in the tournament.

For example, you are tied with another player to take the last spot in the final 4 (2 players for 1 spot)? Well lets see… you happened to lose a game to the other player in qualifying, so, welp, tough luck you’re out and they move on to finals…

Ugh… Bubble ties should always be played. /rant


I actually want to hear more of this rant…

In my small local monthlies, I often do round robin formats. My rule is always: head-to-head result is the first tiebreaker.

For the person who loses the tiebreaker, it seems unfair: “but we had the same record”. If I have them play a tiebreaker match, and then the other person wins…do they advance? That doesn’t seem fair to the original winner…who now gets to complain: “but we’re 1-1 against each other, why do they get to advance?”

I’ve started doing round robin for mine as well. From the start of my monthly tournaments the tie breaker has always been the one ball playoff. Everyone likes it, and it’s just understood. I think whatever you use to break that tie is the right choice, just make sure everyone is aware of it.

I’ve never had a tie breaker situation to determine finals seeding though. Just to tell who wins the ship, or who gets the final spot in the finals after qualifying. If I wanted to break ties for finals seeding, I would flip a coin.

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