Tie-breakers

In any Swiss-system tournaments, it is inevitable for players to end up with the same score. The only resolution to decide who gets to enter the Top 8 is through Tie-breaker.

In this article, we’ll explore the various types of Tie-breakers commonly employed and the strength and weakness of each system. At the end of the article, I will suggest a new form of Tie-breaker that can be employed easily on pen and paper.

2-1-0-(-1)

2-1-0-(-1) (pronounced as Two-One-Zero-Negative One) is a simple system where players are awarded points based on their performance for each match.

W:L = Amount of points
2:0 = 2 points
2:1 = 1 point
1:2 = 0 point
0:2 = -1 point

This system is simple and can be easily employed on pen and paper. However, the biggest flaw is the fact that a player with a 2:0 win is essentially gaining two times more points than a player with a 2:1 win. To illustrate this scenario:
Player A has won 4 games with a 2:1 win each. His total score is 4 points.
Player B has won 2 games with a 2:0 win each. His current total score is 4 points as well.

Although Player A has won more games, he is awarded the same amount of points as Player B who has only completed 2 games. The only way for Player B to lose out to Player A is to lose at least one match with a 0:2 record. Player A is obviously at a disadvantage even though he has won all his matches.

Additionally, this system heavily favors meta decks due to the simple fact that meta decks have a higher chance of winning the first game (before side-decking), hence largely increasing the chances of getting a 2:0 win.

3-2-1-0

Similar to the 2-1-0-(-1) system, the players are awarded points according to their performance for each match.

W:L = Amount of points
2:0 = 3 points
2:1 = 2 point
1:2 = 1 point
0:2 = 0 point

The main difference for the 3-2-1-0 system is that a 2:0 win does not give such a big advantage anymore. In the same scenario:
Player A has won 4 games with a 2:1 win each. His total score is 8 points.
Player B has won 2 games with a 2:0 win each. His current total score is 6 points.

Player A still retains his advantage of winning more games compared to Player B. However, this system has its flaws as well: conspiracy by players at the last round to rig the scores. Often by the last round of the Swiss, players would often play for 3 points by giving the winner of the match a 2:0 win. This would break the system and result in multiple tied scores at the end.

Magic: The Gathering employs a similar system (3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw, and 0 point for a loss). The top players of the last round would settle for a draw to ensure that both would be able to enter the Top 8, often depriving the rest of a chance to squeeze into the Top 8.

Mantis 3.0

This is system employed by Upper Deck Entertainment for their Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG (now replaced by Konami Digital Entertainment’s Cossy), VS System (discontinued) and World of Warcraft TCG.

Instead of awarding points according to the performance of each match, the players are first ranked according to their number of wins. If the number of wins are tied, the following tie-breaker bonus will be employed:

Tie-breaker Bonus 1 – Win/Loss Sum
This score is determined by the performance of your opponents. For each game your opponent has won, you will be awarded 1 point, and for each game that they loss, you will receive -1 point.

For example:
Player A has played against 4 players –
Opponent 1: 0 win 4 loss = -4 points
Opponent 2: 1 win 3 loss = -2 points
Opponent 3: 2 win 2 loss = 0 points
Opponent 4: 3 win 1 loss = 2 points
The tie-breaker 1 for Player A would be -4.

Tie-breaker Bonus 2 – First Tie-breaker Sum
This is determined by the performance of the players that your opponents played against. The Tie-breaker Bonus 1 of all your opponent is added together and equate to your Tie-breaker Bonus 2.

Tie-breaker Bonus 3 – Timing
This is determined by your personal performance; the later you lose in the tournament, the higher your Tie-breaker Bonus 3 will be. The formula to calculate this number is the sum of the squares of the rounds that you lost in.

Source: UD Official Tournament Policy Jan 12

This a good system that has served UDE well for many tournaments. The only problem is the requirement of a computer to run the program, which is largely restricted by the tournament venue.

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