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Here are the specs so far to give you an idea to the question.

  • should be fully automate-able
  • should not inconvenience the player with regards to time
  • should allow for a voted wild card system
  • should involve skill
  • will be done on a limited time frame

Was thinking of using a ladder like system similar to battle net 2.0 but it would seem to need some tweaking to meet all of the above.

Any suggestions on what would be an ideal tournament implementation for such requirements?

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You leave out a ton of important information from your question. Namely, do you have a set number of competitors? Is this a seasonal system or is it a one-time deal? Etc.

If this is a tournament (i.e. a one-time deal with a known number of competitors), round robin is theoretically the fairest way to run it. After the round-robin phase, you move into the single or, preferably, double elimination phase.

Now, since you mention Battle.net, you need to realize that Blizzard uses the Elo system for stuff like WoW arenas (and a similar algorithm for Battle.net SC2 seasonal rankings). Elo is pretty simple, and Wikipedia gives a great overview of how it works.

A simpler (and Microsoft thinks better) algorithm is TrueSkill. Read (a lot) more about it in Jeff Moser's blog by clicking here. The math may look scary, but it's really not that interesting.

I'm not really sure what you mean by "voted wild card system", so I'm afraid I can't address that part of your question, but both Elo and TrueSkill (and to a lesser extent round robin) should meet most, if not all, of your requirements.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ round robin would impose a time inconvenience on the players (since they HAVE to play all the others, or whatever) \$\endgroup\$
    – Tor Valamo
    Nov 27, 2010 at 7:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's not really a time restriction.. more like a logistical restriction. If you don't care when the tournament ends (and no one else does either), you can just have people take as long as they want between their matches. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 27, 2010 at 7:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ The down side with Elo and TrueSkill is that they both assume a 100% skill-based game. For games like Poker that have both a luck and skill component, you have to make some mathematical adjustments to keep it perfectly fair. Question said "involves skill" but did not say whether it is exclusively skill-based. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 27, 2010 at 20:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ian, that's a good point. In which case I think you can dampen the interpolation between win-loss in Elo and TrueSkill. So for example, in Elo, being 200 points above someone else means that you'll beat them about 75% of the time (and he'll beat you 25% of the time), some dampening could be done so that 200 pts. above your opponent represents the fact that you'll beat him 50% of the time, it'll be a toss-up 25% of the time, and he'll beat you 25% of the time (or somethign to that effect). \$\endgroup\$ Nov 27, 2010 at 21:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ In real life sports there is usually an element of luck, and even then the ranking system is pretty much exclusively win/lose based. I don't think anyone would cut your head off if you didn't make it complicated just to make it complicated. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tor Valamo
    Nov 28, 2010 at 3:51

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