There are three tournaments run during the month of January.
Seeding Tournament: The seeding tournament uses a standard single-elimination tree in which teams are paired up in each round, and the winning teams move on to the next round, continuing until a single team remains. The tournament results are used to determine seeding ranks that approximate level of ability for the players.
The ranking algorithm is as follows. First, the players in the final match are given ranks of 1 and 2. Looking at the previous round, the players who lost to players 1 and 2 are given ranks 3 and 4, respectively. The players who lost to 1, 2, 3, and 4 in the previous round are then given ranks 5, 6, 7, and 8, and so on.
Preliminary Tournament: The preliminary tournament uses a double-elimination system. The idea is that no player is taken out of the running until they have lost two matches. The way this is achieved is to have a "Winners Bracket" for undefeated players and a "Losers Bracket" for players that have lost one match; losing a Winners Bracket match drops a player down to the Losers Bracket, and losing a Losers Bracket match drops a player out of the tournament. The tournament proceeds until eight teams remain, four in each bracket.
The seeding ranks of the players determine how the teams are paired up initially and how the tournament matches are arranged. The goal is to spread out the best players so that they do not face each other and eliminate each other early on in the tournament. Instead, higher-ranked teams are paired with lower-ranked teams to the extent possible.
The preliminary tournament results are used to create a ranking of all the teams that entered. The top-ranked eight teams advance to the final tournament. For teams ranked below these eight, their preliminary ranking becomes their final ranking.
This ranking takes more factors into account than the seeding tournament ranking does, consisting of a series of comparisons to determine an ordering. When a comparison does not favor one team over another, subsequent comparisons are used. The quantities to be compared, in order, are as follows:
- highest round reached in the tournament
- percentage of matches won
- percentage of matches won by bringing flags together
- percentage of matches in which enemy flag is picked up
- average match length in rounds (shorter is better)
Final Tournament: The final tournament is between the top eight teams, who all begin on equal footing. The style is double-elimination, just like the preliminary tournament. A ranking of the eight teams is produced from the results using the same algorithm as in the preliminary tournament.
This tournament is open to the public and will be quite a spectacle. All of the top eight teams will be awarded cash prizes and congratulated for their success. Representatives from sponsor companies will be present to see the fruits of their support and will speak to the audience and award special prizes.
See the note about tournament attendance under Requirements.