What’s a bracket? – JBJ’s quick guide to tournament vocabulary


Ok. So is this image confusing to you? Have you heard the words “seed” and “bye” and think people are bidding farewell to a plant baby?

It’s cool if you say ‘yes’. A lot of folks come to derby world without having followed other sports before. If that is the case for you, just know you are not alone. Brackets might look like a bizarre flow chart, but really they are super easy to read.

So what we have here is called a Seeded Single Elimination Tournament Bracket. Let’s break that apart.

  • Single Elimination Tournament: In this tournament style, the loser of each bracket is immediately eliminated from winning the championship or first prize in the event. So you lose one game, you are out of the running for #1. There might be a consolation round, in our case that is only Game 11, where the losers of Games 9 and 10 fight for 3rd place.
  • Seeded: A seed is a pre-rank, in our case coming from Play-offs. There were 3 tops teams that came out of the play-offs (placed first, second and third). These are now the seeds in the Championship tournament (1, 2, and 3 respectively). If you look at the bracket image above, you will see numbers next to all the teams names. That is their seed.
  • Bye: This is the special privilege given to a top team, exempting it from the initial rounds of the tournament. In our case, all top (#1) seeded teams, have a bye, entering the tournament at the second round. So for example, Rose City was the top seed out of the Columbia playoffs. We do not play until Saturday at 4pm. We play the winner of a first round game (so either Texas or Rat and the loser of that game is then out of the tournament)

Make sense? All of this is done to make the tournament as competitive as possible. If it was not seeded it would be random, like some sports tournaments are, and you could end up with the two top teams playing each other in the first round. This would make the rest of the tournament way less competitive and way less fun to watch.

So print this out and carry it around with you. Mark off who won and who is moving forward. It can help you keep track of all the games being played. Brackets are your friend. And your friend wants to hang out next weekend.