Urban Swiss Tournaments

Explaining the Swiss tournament format and player strategy

We’ve been running Swiss-style tournaments at Urban Axes for a few years now, but not everyone has had the experience of playing in one yet! We’ve put together this blog post to help explain what Swiss is, what strategy you should employ when competing in Swiss, and to answer any of the frequently asked questions we get about our Swiss tournaments! If you have more questions, send them in and we’ll update this post with answers 😊

What is a Swiss tournament?

A Swiss tournament is broken down into two stages:

  1. Swiss Round Robin Matches

  2. Single Elimination Bracket

The first elimination of a Swiss tournament occurs at the completion of the Swiss Round Robin Matches, where a portion of the field is eliminated.

The second elimination of a Swiss tournament occurs during the Single Elimination Bracket, as throwers that advanced from Swiss Round Robin play one another in head-to-head matches.

Swiss Round Robin Matches

For a field of 32 throwers, running a full Swiss Round Robin means every thrower is guaranteed to play 5 matches. We’ve found capping Swiss fields at 32, and, if needed, having multiple fields of 32 to be the best compromise between length of event and providing a minimum number of matches to all throwers before anyone is eliminated. Urban Madness and Urban Open Tiered Swiss have multiple fields of 32 throwers.

In the first round of matches, matchups are generated at random. We use best 3-of-5 round matches with Big Axe tiebreakers used to decide every tied round.

At the end of the first round, there will be 16 throwers who have won their first match, and 16 throwers who have lost their first match.

The second round of matches can only be generated after the first round of matches have all been played. The second round matches up throwers with the same or similar win/loss records: players who won their first round matches play others who won and players who lost their first round matches play others who lost.

After the second round of matches is completed, in our 32-thrower example, we will have 8 throwers who have won both matches (i.e. will have a record of 2-0), we will have 16 throwers who have won one and lost one match (a record of 1-1), and 8 throwers who have lost both matches (a record of 0-2).

For the third round of matches, throwers will be matched against throwers who have the same record as them. That means the 2-0 throwers will be matched against another 2-0 thrower, 1-1 throwers will face off against each other, and 0-2 throwers will be matched against each other.

This is another benefit of Swiss tournaments – they are self-leveling as you progress. You should have closer matches the further we get into the event, which hopefully should increase your enjoyment!

After the final round of Swiss Round Robin matches, we’ll have one thrower who finished 5-0, five throwers who finished 4-1, ten throwers who finished 3-2, ten throwers who finished 2-3, five throwers who finished 1-4, and one unlucky thrower who finishes 0-5.

The first elimination of throwers occurs after the final round of Swiss Round Robin matches.

Single Elimination Bracket

Throwers advancing out of the Swiss Round Robin matches are seeded into a Single Elimination Bracket, based on their performance in the Swiss Round Robin portion. There’s a couple FAQs here:

  • How do you seed people with the same record?

    • After Win/Loss Record (e.g. 4-1), throwers are seeded based on Rounds Won (rW), then by Tiebreaker (TB), then by Rounds Lost (rL). We’ll break these down further below.

  • Why doesn’t everyone progress?

    • We’ve run Swiss tournaments where everyone progressed and Swiss was used to seed a bracket for everyone, and honestly, it just wasn’t that satisfying from a competitive standpoint. Some throwers REALLY didn’t enjoy it (“What’s the point if Swiss is just for seeding?”), and others liked it because if they struggled during Swiss, they still had a chance in Single Elimination because everyone made it. By eliminating a large portion of the field, it gives Swiss matches higher stakes – you have to win to avoid elimination and advance to the Bracket.

For 32 throwers, we like to have the top 8 advance to the Single Elimination Bracket. This means that anyone who is undefeated in Swiss Round Robin, or anyone that has only lost once thus far, is guaranteed to reach the Bracket (the top 6 throwers). Also, the top two 3-2 throwers from Swiss Round Robin, who have already lost twice, still make the bracket as seeds 7 and 8, giving the top two 3-2 throwers a further shot at redemption.

If we’re combining multiple 32 thrower Swiss Round Robins into one Single Elimination Bracket, we alternate seeds between the two tournaments when creating the bracket, so the first round of Single Elimination Bracket matches are guaranteed to be against someone from the other Swiss Round Robin field.

What else can you tell me about Swiss tournaments?

In Swiss Round Robin you will not be rematched against someone you have already played. You may be matched up against them again if you both advance out of Swiss Round Robin to the Single Elimination Bracket, depending on how bracket shakes out.

If we don’t have a multiple of 4 in the field of throwers, for example, if we have 30 throwers instead of 32, after Round 1 we’ll have 15 winners and 15 losers – that means that one 1-0 record thrower will have to play a 0-1 record thrower. This matchup is done at random. This is also why we strive to have complete fields for Swiss tournaments, though it makes it hard to squeeze in a couple extra throwers to make a field 34 instead of 32.

How do I win a Swiss tournament?

First of all, you have to make it out of the Swiss Round Robin! That means you have to decide how charitable you feel against your opponent, whether you go up for Clutch if you’re in the lead, or whether you stay down and make them go for Clutch after hitting your Bull. If you’re up by 4, do you go for Clutch just to give them a sporting chance if you miss? Rounds matter, and if you lose a round, that may come back to haunt you if tiebreakers come in to play. Play to win each round, with the goal of winning your best of five matches in three rounds. If you lose the match, try to ensure you’ve won two of the five rounds as it will improve your ranking when compared to another player with the same win/loss record.

Second of all – try to get those high seeds! The seeded Single Elimination Bracket rewards throwers who performed best in Swiss Round Robin with a matchup against a lower seed, and hopefully a more straightforward path to the final matches.

What other strategies / tips can you provide me?

If you are losing, if you’re down two rounds to zero in a best of five round match – do not give up. Rounds Won is our first tiebreaker, even if you lose two of your five Swiss Round Robin matches, you can still make the bracket as one of our two best 3-2 record throwers. This means fight tooth and nail to try to win as many rounds as you can, even if it ends up with you losing a best of five round match 3-2.

How do you decide who ranks above who in the standings if we don’t play against each other?

As mentioned earlier, we use Rounds Won (rW), Tiebreaker (TB) and Rounds Lost (rL) to differentiate throwers who have the same overall match record, in that order. Rounds Won and Rounds Lost are pretty straightforward, the total 5-throw rounds you have won or lost in all of your matches. When two players have the same win/loss record, the player who has won the most rounds in their matches is ranked higher.

Tiebreaker (TB) is a Strength of Schedule tiebreaker, and a higher number means you played harder opponents and will be seeded higher because of that. Tiebreaker is calculated as the total number of rounds won by your opponents in all of their matches during Swiss Round Robin.

Rounds Lost is the final ranking and it only comes into play if throwers are tied in Matches Won, Rounds Won, and TB. At that point, the thrower who lost the least rounds in their matches is ranked higher.

I hate this, I only want to throw in Double Elimination tournaments.

Great! We still continue to offer Double Elimination tournaments, and we’ll see you at those 😊