Where the number of competitors is larger than a tournament format permits, there may be multiple tournaments held in parallel, with competitors assigned to a particular tournament based on their ranking. In "chess, "Scrabble, and many other individual games, many tournaments over one or more years contribute to a player's ranking. However, many team sports involve teams in only one major tournament per year. In European sport, including football, this constitutes the sole ranking for the following season; the top teams from each division of the league are promoted to a higher division, while the bottom teams from a higher division are relegated to a lower one.
This promotion and relegation occurs mainly in league tournaments, but also features in Davis Cup and Fed Cup tennis:
- In the Davis Cup:
- The first-round losers in the top-level World Group compete in playoff ties against the winners of the second-round ties in Group I of the competition's three regional zones, with the winners of each playoff tie remaining in or promoted to the World Group.
- In the three regional zones, Group II is conducted in a knockout format. The winner of the knockout tournament is promoted to Group I of its zone. The first-round losers then play relegation ties, with the losers relegated to Group III.
- Groups III and IV in each zone are contested in a round-robin format. The top two teams in each group are promoted, while the bottom two teams are relegated (assuming there is a lower group in their zone).
- In the Fed Cup:
- The four first-round losers in World Group I compete in playoff ties against the four winners in World Group II, with the winners remaining in or promoted to World Group I.
- The losers in World Group II play ties against the four zonal Group I winners (two from Europe/Africa and one each from Asia/Oceania and Americas), with the winners playing in World Group II the following season.
- Groups I and II in all zones, plus Group III in the Europe/Africa Zone only, are conducted in a round-robin format. The bottom two teams in each group are relegated to the next group down, assuming one exists, while the top two teams in Groups II and III are promoted to the next-higher group.
The hierarchy of divisions may be linear, or tree-like, as with the "English football league pyramid.
In "contract bridge a "tournament" is a tournament in the first sense above, composed of multiple "events", which are tournaments in the second sense. Some events may be single-elimination, double-elimination, or Swiss style. However, ""Pair events" are the most widespread. In these events, a number of deals (or "boards) are each played several times by different players. For each such board the score achieved by each North-South (NS) pair is then measured against all the other NS pairs playing the same board. Thus pairs are rewarded for playing the same cards better than others have played them. There is a predetermined schedule of fixtures depending on the number of pairs and boards to be played, to ensure a good mix of opponents, and that no pair plays the same board or the same opponents twice (see "duplicate bridge movements).
In "poker tournaments, as players are eliminated, the number of tables is gradually reduced, with the remaining players redistributed among the remaining tables. Play continues until one player has won all of the chips in play. Finishing order is determined by the order in which players are eliminated: last player remaining gets 1st place, last player eliminated gets 2nd, previous player eliminated gets 3rd, etc.
In a "shootout" tournament, players do not change tables until every table has been reduced to one player.
Alternatives to tournament systems
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While tournament structures attempt to provide an objective format for determining the best competitor in a game or sport, other methods exist.
- In this format, champions retain their title until they are defeated by an opponent, known as the challenger. This system is used in "professional boxing (see "lineal championship), and the "World Chess Championship. The right to become a contender may be awarded through a tournament, as in chess, or through a ranking system: the ranking systems used by boxing's governing bodies are controversial and opaque. If the champion retires or dies, then the current top challenger may be declared champion or the title may be vacant until a match between two challengers is held. Prior to 1920, the reigning Wimbledon champion received a bye to the final; the official name of the "FA Challenge Cup reflects a similar arrangement which applied only in that tournament's very early years. The "America's Cup is decided between the winners of separate champion and challenger tournaments, respectively for yachts from the country of the reigning champion, and of all other countries. The "Ranfurly Shield in New Zealand rugby union is a challenge trophy between provincial teams, in which the holders of the Shield retain it until they are beaten by a challenging province.
- "Ladder tournament
- The ladder is an extension of the challenge system. All competitors are ranked on a "ladder". New contestants join the bottom of the ladder. Any contestant can challenge a competitor ranked slightly higher; if the challenger wins the match (or the challenge is refused) they swap places on the ladder. Ladders are common in internal club competitions in individual sports, like "squash and "pool. Another ladder system is to give competitors a certain number of ranking points at the start. If two competitors play each other, then the winner will gain a percentage of the loser's ranking points. In this way competitors that join later will generally start in the middle, since top competitors already have won ranking points and bottom competitors have lost them.
- A champion may be selected by an authorised or self-appointed group, often after a "vote. While common in non-competitive activities, ranging from "science fairs to "cinema's "Oscars, this is rarely significant in sports and games. Though unofficial, the polls run by the "Associated Press and others were prestigious titles in "American college football prior to the creation in "1998 of the "Bowl Championship Series, a quasi-official national championship (to this day, the "NCAA does not officially award "a championship in "the top division of college football). From "2005 until the final season of the BCS in "2013, the "AP Poll operated independently from the BCS, and two other polls were part of the BCS formula. The BCS was replaced by the "College Football Playoff, a four-team tournament whose participants are chosen by a selection committee, in "2014; since then, all polls have operated independently from the CFP.