I have a game where there are 12 teams. One round is where 3-4 teams play at the same time and only one team wins. I'm looking for how to put a schedule for all the rounds needed to determine the champion team.

Example: Let's say I have teams A-L (12 teams): First round teams A-D play, let's say team A wins. That would be 1 round, 1 winner. So I would need 3 rounds to get 3 winning teams, then a final round where the 3 winning teams play.

But I'm looking for a more "fair" way of getting a champ where teams could have a loss and still be the champ. And I can't figure out how to schedule the rounds to do that in a 12 team competition where 3-4 teams play at the same time in a round.

  • 1
    When running a game with 3 to 4 teams, is one team winner and the other losers, or do the teams get 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th within the game?
    – Linkan
    Commented Feb 2, 2017 at 11:20
  • 1
    What do you mean by "game"? A match between two teams or the whole championship? Your question is unclear.
    – Chenmunka
    Commented Feb 2, 2017 at 11:37
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    @Chenmunka As I understand the question, a game is a match between 3 or 4 teams. I have seen some 3 team football matches and in some card games it is optimal with 5 players per "match". The question is how to do a round robin with 11-12 teams when each game/match needs 3 or 4 teams in it.
    – Linkan
    Commented Feb 2, 2017 at 12:29
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    You can't do this with an elimination bracket; losers are eliminated and they do not play any more matches, hence the name. You need a tournament which involves subset non repetition, and there are ways to do it, but unless you have a very exact number of teams, it's impossible to create something that works for every choice of number of teams. Please edit more detail about what is happening into the question.
    – Nij
    Commented Feb 2, 2017 at 18:55
  • 1
    I've reworded the question based on the responses. Hopefully it makes more sense and is more precise with a requirement. Let me know, thanks! Commented Feb 2, 2017 at 21:09

3 Answers 3


This is almost exactly how Vampire the Eternal Struggle, the TCG plays its tournaments, although they prefer players per "table". In this page vekn.net/downloads you can download "the Archon v1.5e", which is a generator for this sort of tournament.

In this case round 1 would be three games:

A,B,C,D in first
E,F,G,H in second
I,J,K,L in the third

Round 2:

A,E,F,I in first game
C,H,J,K in second
B,D,G,L in third 

Round 3:

A,B,H,I in first game
D,E,G,K in second
C,F,J,L in third 

Everybody does not play everybody, but using scores from these games you can get to final.


It seems that rankade, our ranking system for sports, games, and more, fits your needs.

It's free to use and it's designed to manage rankings (and stats, including matchup stats, and more) for small or large groups of players/teams.

Its algorithm (called ree algorithm), although more complex (here's a comparison), is similar to most-known Elo if you play 1-on-1 matches only, but - opposite to Elo - it can manage 3+ teams/players per match, as per your needs, allowing both all losers tied results or detailed standings.

You can schedule matches using ranking after previous turns to optimize teams sorting (lowering the number of turns needed to getting a champ), or play random matches for longer time, seeking for an optimal skill based ranking.

We host many 3+ factions games groups/clubs (boardgames, shooting sports, races, and more), as well as other sports/games ones. Here's our dojo.

  • 2
    Never heard of rankade, very interesting. I appreciate the information, I'll look into them as well. Commented Feb 3, 2017 at 23:38

I do not know what sport are you talking about so it is difficult to reply. Maybe you can use a swiss-system with variations.

I use it for curling tournaments and work in this way (for 12 teams):

  1. draw for the first 6 matches (first round);
  2. rankings after first round;
  3. second round determined by rankings (1vs2, 3vs4, 5vs6, 7vs8, 9vs10, 11vs12)
  4. rankings after second round;
  5. third round determined by updated rankings (1vs2, 3vs4, 5vs6, 7vs8, 9vs10, 11vs12)

For your need maybe you can:

  1. draw for the first 3 "matches" (first round) for 4 team per match;
  2. rankings after first round (in every single mathc you can find the first but I do not know if is it posssible to determine a second/third/fourth classified);
  3. second round determined by rankings (1vs2vs3vs4, 5vs6vs7vs8, 9vs10vs11vs12)
  4. rankings after second round;
  5. third round determined by updated rankings (1vs2vs3vs4, 5vs6vs7vs8, 9vs10vs11vs12)

You can go on with many round as you need then make the last final round for the first 4 teams: 1vs2vs3vs4

After the first few rounds this method guarantees matches between teams of similar level and you can a number of mathces as you need at the same time.

There are also a lot of variants (for example to avoid matches with the same teams..) you can check on wikipedia link

  • 3
    The OP wants the matches to have 3 or 4 teams each. That is first round have 3 matches of 4 teams each. Swiss system is very good for 2 team matches, but not for 3 or 4 team matches.
    – Linkan
    Commented Feb 3, 2017 at 15:12

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