The BAM Jam staff will frequently update the blog with important news and developments as the event approaches. So make sure to check back!


How to bracket a tournament

"Trust is built with consistency." --Lincoln Chafee

When brackets are released each summer and spring, we often get the questions, “How were teams seeded?”, “Why does this team get a first round bye?”, “Why is there so much time between games?” and more. 

After running 15+ large scale tournaments, we’ve learned a few things about logistics, game mapping and more. At this point in BAM Jam’s history, the teams have played before and keep coming back have learned to trust our judgement and believe we are doing the best we can for their experience.

If this is your first time at BAM Jam, we are so glad you are joining us! Our goal is that when the tournament is completed you will have had a great time and be looking forward to the next tourney!

Find out how and why the BAM Jam brackets look the way that they do.

The Bracketing Basics

Let's begin with the basics. All teams are placed in a bracket or, in some cases, in a pool that will eventually lead to a bracket. Those brackets (and pools) are posted here before the tournament when they are completed. 

Bracketing starts with the information we are provided by teams. Information like age, grade, gender, experience and for some brackets whether they want to be in the recreational, competitive or elite. At the end of the day, bracketing is based on the honor system and enforced by the teams playing.

For more details, click here and scroll down the page to the "Brackets". It breaks down further how teams are separated in to their brackets.

How are teams seeded in their bracket, why do some teams get a first round bye and why do some divisions start with pool play?

Unless there are a perfect 8 or 16 teams in a bracket, there will be some teams that have a first round bye and it may appear that the teams were seeded.

Who is seeded and who isn't?

The only divisions that are actually seeded are the elite divisions. All other divisions, including youth, recreational and competitive are not ranked. 

Random draws for bracket position

For most divisions where teams are not ranked, teams are randomly placed in the available slots. So a bracket that has 7 teams will have 1 team that gets a first round bye. This is simply randomly selected so that there is no bias in the process.

What about pool play

For divisions that only have 4 teams, we will generally start out with pool play so that teams get a chance to play all of their guaranteed games while not having to play the same team over and over. Even though you will occasionally see this with larger elite divisions, this is typically reserved for the 4 team non-elite divisions.

Determining the time between games

In an ideal bracket world, there would be no back to back games and teams would be able to play their games about 2 hours apart; enough to get rested but not enough to get bored. However, there are a lot of other factors that contribute to the time between games.

Winners bracket vs. losers bracket

The first thing to consider is did you win or did you lose your last game. If you won your last game then you are probably waiting on another team to win a game. Or you may be waiting for them to get through the losers bracket to play you. The more teams there are, the longer the wait could be.

On the other hand, if you end up in the losers bracket, to win the championship there is a very good chance that you will have to play some games back to back. We avoid that where ever possible but in the losers bracket you are going to have to battle hard if you want the championship.

Multiple brackets on the same court

Another factor is that for some brackets where there aren't as many teams, the brackets may be sharing a court. This one probably isn't as obvious since you won't see it on your own bracket. But a quick check at the master scoreboard can show you whether your bracket is alone or sharing time. With limited baskets and limited court monitors, there isn't much that can be done about that.

And speaking of court monitors...

The court monitor on your court is a volunteer and is giving up their entire weekend to make the event better and help you out. But we want to make sure they aren't overwhelmed. So we are careful to build in breaks for all the courts so that they can get off their feet, get something to eat, get something to drink and even check out parts of the tournament. It's a pretty thankless job and we respect them too much to not give them the breaks they need. 

There's the story behind the brackets

As most players can see, there are multiple variables that play in to how brackets are created each tournament. We hope that you know we always do the best that we can to make sure the experience you have is the best possible.

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