The Queue System: An Alternative Method of Running Bracket

Cagt - February 16, 2020

For years now, the same question has plagued the Smash community's mind, from players to TOs alike:

How can we make bracket run faster?

There's many ways to do this obviously, and TOs around the world are working hard at perfecting their craft and making sure they run the best brackets out there. But unfortunately, there are a lot of factors that slow down a tournament, such as not enough setups, downtime between sets, Game 3/5s, etc. Some of these are human error, some of these are due to the nature of Smash. While we've come very far in the way tournaments are ran, there're still a lot of events that are slowed down due to these factors, and I've taken it upon myself to find a way to fix those issues. After a lot of theory crafting and months of testing at my events, I want to present a new method of running brackets that, while may not seem very innovative at first, actually goes a lot more in-depth and can be the difference between ending a tournament on time and getting kicked out of the venue due to it closing down for the night. I call it The Queue System.

Before I proceed, I want to preface that I am in no way shape or form criticizing anyone's current method of running brackets, nor am I suggesting that the entire community should follow my advice. This is simply my methodology that has worked amazingly for Florida events, and that I think it can be of great help to the community. Should this somehow become the new standard of running tournaments, I would absolutely love to teach others how to do it, and find even more ways of perfecting it. Until then, here I am.

Now before I even start explaining this method, I want to actually thank one person for the inspiration behind this method: MattDotZeb. For those who don't know, he was the man who revolutionized today's method of running brackets, and has written multiple posts on the subject, which you can find here:

https://www.reddit.com/r/smashbros/comments/3530gw/to_tips_how_to_estimate_bracket_pool_length_and/
https://smashboards.com/threads/how-do-i-manage-time-for-a-double-elimination-bracket-toing.360606/

A lot of what you will see in this blog is from these posts above, but I've gone ahead and revamped it a little bit to make the system you will read now. I HIGHLY encourage you to read those posts above if you'd like to improve as a TO - they have been amazing ressources to me, and I wouldn't be where I am without his knowledge.

Without further ado, let's get started!

What is the Queue System?

The Queue System is a method that allows TOs to essentially buffer matches during tournament so that every setup will always have a match playing on it, no matter where you are in the tournament. While the order in which you call matches isn't different from the rest, it's the efficiency at which you do so that is key, and this method allows you to do so while eliminating a lot of factors that could slow you down. This method is aimed at finishing bracket as quickly as possible, so if you're looking to stretch out your event, or have more streamed matches, this is not for you. The biggest benefits of the queue system are the following:

- Eliminates all downtime between sets, allowing you to continuously run bracket without leaving setups open
- Allows players to ready-up faster and wait less time for their sets, which allows for more time outside of bracket for friendlies, going home, getting food, etc.
- Prevents the TO from being slowed down by factors such as multiple players reporting scores at the same time, technical issues with the stream, disconnecting pro controllers, etc.

Now while this does make it more efficient, it also has it's downsides:

- Requires the TO to be more attentive of the bracket, which means focusing more on the bracket page itself, and having to multi-task more apsects than before
- Makes utilizing smashgg more tedious, as it requires you to constanlty be editing matches and checking what's playing/who's playing where, etc.
- Competing & TOing at the same time becomes more complicated, as you may run behind on queueing matches, or other people may not be able to follow you system

Another point to note is that this method is mainly optimized for larger brackets (64 entrants and above) - many others have tested this method with smaller brackets and have seen considerable improvements in the speed of the bracket itself, but I will mainly be covering bigger brackets. This method also works with pools as well, and has been a lifesaver when running large events on tight schedules such as GatorLAN.

How does the Queue System work?

The execution of the method itself is simple: similar to how you queue up matches for stream at events, you will be doing the same thing here, but for every single setup. Meaning that on top of the match playing itself, there will always been one match ready to go at all times. Thanks to smashgg's interface as well, you'll always be able to track how many matches are playing, and how many are queue'd up as well.

Let's take this scenario for example: a 64 man bracket with 16 setups.

Normally, you would call the first 16 matches, wait for them to be over, and then call the next matches as setups become available. However, if you queue those matches, every single match can be called and ready to be played as soon as they are ready. This is what it would look like once done:

When you first start bracket, DO NOT QUEUE UP THE MATCHES RIGHT AWAY. Give all the players time to sit down, put their controls in, and start their sets. Ideally, the goal is to queue matches while everyone is in Game 2 of their match, that way once everyone makes their way to the setups, they don't have to wait for the entire set to be over before swapping places. Once the first matches you've called started reporting their scores and the queued matches have started playing, then you can start queueing matches right away. Every setup should always 2 matches on it, one playing and one queue'd up. I do not recommend queueing more than 1 match at a time, as players will be waiting too long at the setup, and it can cause confusion as to who is queue'd up first.

Once you've finished Winners Round 1, then you can proceed with every other round as you usually would with any bracket. Remember that the optimal order of calling matches is the following:

- Winners Round 1
- Winners Round 2
- Losers Round 1
- Losers Round 2
- Winners/Losers Round 3
- Winners/Losers Round 4

Once you get to the later rounds, the bracket pretty much runs itself, and you don't need to pay specific attention to it like early on. The reason why you want to finish the first two rounds of winners bracket before moving on is so that every player (including those that have a bye), can play at least one match, and so that losers can have all the matches ready before starting. Your main priority should always be to get losers done as quickly as possible, as that's where the bulk of your players are, and is also what's going to be holding you back the most once you get to Winners Finals and such. Once losers is caught up to winners, then you may call ONE round of winners, and then move back to losers. Depending on how the bracket is going, you can also alternate between winners and losers, but it all depends on the event itself, amount of setups, etc, so use your best judgement there (but this is only once you reach Winners/Losers Round 3).

Now, going back to our scenario - let's assume you're currently in Winnners/Losers Round 3, and that you don't have as many matches to queue up because you don't have both players for it yet. No worries! You can still queue up matches as follows:

Because the bracket is simplified, and that it's at a point where one player will be playing the winner of the previous round, you can simply queue them to that same setup so they can sit down and play right away as opposed to having both players get up, report their scores, find the setup again, and then start playing. This also makes it much easier for you to manage which setups are being used in tournament, and which ones you can dedicate to friendlies.

Now you may be asking yourself: how come every round has setups queue'd up already? While you do not need to do this at all, let me explain the reasoning behind it. Due to the fact that the bracket will basically run itself, and that you won't need to change the pairing of players on each setup everytime, you can essentially assign a setup per row of matches, which then divides itself by 2 the further along in bracket you go. Not only does this make it easier on the TO to manage the event, it also makes it easier for players to follow the bracket, and know exactly where they have to play instead of running around the venue. So if one player were to make a losers run for instance, they can simply stay at the same setup, and continuously play on it without having to re-enter their tags everytime, move around, etc. You're basically playing King of the Hill with every setup. And once you move along to the next section of bracket where the amount of matches is divided by 2, you can take whichever match ended first in the previous round, and assign it as the setup for that row. It looks complicated on paper, but it becomes very evident when doing it in action.  If any setups were to be completely open while you already have matches queue'd up, you can also move those players to those open setups, and either go back to their previously assigned setup, or simply adjust the assigned setup for that row.

In this current bracket, once you reach Losers Round 3, you can split the setups between Winners and Losers, and have every match playing at all times. But obviously, that is an extremely rare case.

If you had only 8 setups and a 64 man bracket for instance, when going from Losers Round 2 to Winners Round 3, you will be queuing up those WR3 matches on the LR2 matches, and then queuing it back to LR3/4, assigning each setup to a row as described above. Then keep repeating until you can have Winners and Losers playing at the same time. If you have a stream setup, you can keep that as the dedicated winners bracket setup, and have it constantly sending players to losers for you to continue bracket, while also throwing winners sets off-stream once needed.

Once you reach Winners Quarters and onwards, TOs typically reserve all those matches for stream, as it helps with viewership, watching VODs, etc. However, this can make Losers Bracket come to a halt, meaning you won't be able to call any other matches until Winners is done. This method is aimed at finishing bracket as quickly as possible, which means treating the stream as a regular setup. It will still be dedicated for winners only, but you will only be holding at most one match for stream as opposed to an entire round's worth of matches in the interest of filling up losers (unless you're far enough in winners where you can dedicate it to stream obviously). This is probably not optimal for regionals and majors, as they usually aim to maximize content as much as possible, but if you're running locals/monthlies, or even a regional on a very tight schedule (GatorLAN is a prime example), this will greatly help.

Results of the Queue System

So now that I've explained exactly how it works, you're probably wondering how much of an impact it actually has on brackets. To give you some perspective on how much it has helped GSEs (Gainesville Stock Exchange), let me explain what our typical scenario is: GSEs average 100+ entrants every week, and has between 10-15 community setups (including the stream), with bracket starting at 7PM. As you can tell, this isn't a very good ratio of setups/players at all, and while I would love to buy setups for our events, I simply do not have the funds to do so (it's a free weekly, so we don't get any venue fee), so I had to do with what I had.

Before I started using the Queue System, the bracket would take 6+ hours to finish, sometimes more depending on the influx of entrants, or lack of setups. Winners Round 1/2 would be complete in about 2 hours, and we would get to Top 8 Winners Side by around 11PM

After implementing the Queue System, the bracket takes 5 hours to finish, with this past GSE finishing in only 4h30 hours (it did have less entrants than usual however). Winners Round 1/2 is completed in 1h30 (sometimes even less), and we reach Top 8 Winners Side by 10PM

The Queue System was also used at GatorLAN Spring 2020 during pools and Top 48, and the results went as such:

For pools with 2hr waves, all pool captains using this system finished the pool in 1h30, with some finishing even earlier than that (I believe one pool finished in an hour).

For Top 48, we started at 7PM and got to Top 8 at 8PM, aka in ONE HOUR (note that this was with 24 setups, and all sets were Best of 3, but this still proves how efficiently it can be run).

Other weeklies have started using this system, and have seen considerable improvements as well. Hopefully more TOs around the world are able to implement this themselves and make the tournament experience better for everyone.

BONUS: The Texting System

While this is not directly related to the Queue System, this is another system that I've put in place recently to speedrun bracket as well. Using an app called TextNow (https://www.textnow.com/), I've created a fake phone number that anyone can text at any time for no extra cost. With this number, all players can text the score directly to me instead of reporting it in-person, which means they can do it right after their set is over without having to even get up. From there, I report it directly to smashgg and can continue calling matches. This does the following:

- Further eliminates downtime between sets
- Prevents any sort of confusion when reporting scores in-person (loud venue, quiet voices, accents, etc)
- Makes it easier for the TO to manage who reported their scores already

Obviously, this is mainly targeted at bigger weekly events such as GSE, and would probably not be necessary for smaller weeklies, although you are more than welcome to try it out yourself and see how much it improves the experience. This system is also not possible at regionals and majors, as it would require you to create multiple fake numbers, assign it to pool captains, etc. However, if used at a weekly (whether alongside the Queue System or by itself), it has proven to be very effective in improving bracket efficiency.

Conclusion

As you can see, this was quite a lot of information to take in at once, and I don't expect everyone to understand it right away. But I hope you can take some time out of your day to read this blog, and at least try to implement it into your events. Let me know how it works for you, if you have any feedback, etc. I'm always looking to improve, and would like to do the same for everyone else. While I haven't gone too much into bracketology itself, I may or may not write a blog on it down the road, and get some other people involved on it as well. Make sure to read the posts I've linked in the beggining of this blog as well, as it has a LOT of valuable information on TOing and running brackets smoothly.

Thank you for reading!
- Cyrus "Cagt" Gharakhanian

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