Using the round robin format for races

redlinederby Wednesday, 2/12/2020
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Most of our mail-in events use a standard single/double elimination bracket, like those you see in basketball and other sports. It’s a tried-and-true format and always a lot of fun, but there are other tournament formats out there and some of them can be pretty entertaining as well.

This past January was the first Rookie Rally and rather than use a standard bracket, I decided to go with a round robin format. With the round robin format, every car races every other car once. It’s a nice format that avoids the “what if” questions when seeing who beat who (and who didn’t) in a normal bracket. But it can mean a lot of extra racing too.

Different but familiar

The Rookie Rally only had 8 entries so having everyone face everyone else once was very straight forward and went pretty fast. Eight people breaks down into 4 match-ups per round with 7 rounds total...or 28 races. More than usual but not overwhelming.

The round robin format is also easier to keep track of, if you ask me. I didn’t have to worry about who moved on, or a loser’s bracket, or getting confused by my own doodles. All I had to do was track the wins per car. After spending years doing standard brackets, this felt a lot less stressful.

The feedback I got from the participants and spectators was also positive. They liked that the format eliminated some of the “what if” scenarios often created by normal brackets. I think knowing that you car really was a winner (or loser) lets you sleep a little easier at night, rather than feeling like you got a bad seed draw.

Mo’ cars, mo’ problems

The round robin can be a breath of fresh air if you’re looking to spice up your racing, but be careful because it’s a slippery slope thanks to math. The round robin format is great when you only have a few entries but things can get out of hand quick.

Lets say you have 32 cars entered in your tournament. With a normal bracket, that means 5 rounds with 31 races. But in the round robin, that’s 31 rounds with 16 match-ups each round. And if abacus has all its beads, that means 496 races. We like to say, “the more racing the better,” but even that has its limits.

Now, you could certainly do a long round robin over many weeks and that could me fun. But for me, I think 10-12 entries would be the max I’d want to try and deal with. At worst, that’s 66 races over 11 rounds. That’s a lot of racing but still doable over a weekend, which I couldn’t say for 496.

Give it a try

If you’re looking for something a little different to keep your races interesting, the round robin format is certainly worth a try. You can easily generate one at PrintMyBrackets or on Challonge to get your started.

I’m certainly going to integrate more round robin races into my yearly race calendar. I might also use round robin as a fallback for when a normal bracket tournament gets only a few entries. It’s nice to expect 16+ cars for your tournament, but when you only get half that, a standard bracket might be a little underwhelming. 


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Mattman213 2/12/20

I loved it.  Rather than looking at brackets and hoping the luck of the draw if favorable for you, you face everyone eventually.  With that in mind, during the Rookie Rally, I looked at EVERY race to see how each car did and compared to how mine was looking to see how my chances were.  I KNEW the Ballistik was gonna be trouble when comparing notes and sure enough, he did exactly what I expected.  Also, you dont have to wonder how you woulda done against so and so's car and hope that maybe you can get a grudge match set up, you will find out eventually.  Entertainment value was definitely there.  Like you said, if there is ever a lower turnout race, this would be a fun way to go about it.  These 30-60 car fields tho...forget about it!!!!


I liked the round robin format during the rookie rally. I would have been bummed to have put all that work into my truck, lose in the first round and not see how it did against the rest of the field.

  • Definitely a great format for new racers...we'll keep it going for the next rookie race too — redlinederby
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WorpeX 2/12/20

I liked it too. I knew my car was slow, but at least I got to see it win a race! Definitely will consider changing the Philly Finale to Round Robin if there aren't too many people who enter.

Yep, I enjoyed watching the format, and for newcomers, great to see their cars get a workout, not just a one and done!


This format is great! I got inspired to organize a small drag races tournament with my tiny collection.  Thank you!

I run a modified round robin in my Facebook group. Our races are based on commenting on a post. Anyone who comments races. If it's not 4, 8 or 16, which it rarely is, we run round robin. We race through the even numbers and when we get to the final car, it races the first winner. The winner needs to win 2 in a row to move on but the challenger only needs to win 2 in any order. The racers really love it. Adds another layer of suspense to the races. In the case of an odd number of cars, there's a round robin race every round.

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ghenty 4/20/20

There's an option to do small round robin groups and then the top two go through into eilmination rounds.

4 groups of 4 would 24 races in total in the group stages, then into Quarter finals, semis and the final, so in 31 races it would be done, but every car would have at least 3 races.

  • Yes, you could certainly do blocks of round robin to get finalists. That's what's been in my head for some upcoming racing. A Block, B Block, etc... — redlinederby

The Diecast World Cup in 2021 will have 32 cars put in 8 groups of 4 and group play/races will be round robin and then the top 2 teams from each group advance to the knock out rounds...just like in the actual World Cup 

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