Flexible “Festival Mode” Cornhole Tournaments for Charity, Corporate and Community Events

Imagine you’ve been asked to run a cornhole tournament as part of a company picnic with 250-300 employees expected to attend. The organizer wants everybody to be able to play if they want, but who knows how many will want to play, let alone stick around and play multiple games.

Scoreholio’s unique “Switcholio” format is that it facilitates doubles play without requiring people to bring their own partner, or even locking people into a partnership with one player for the entire event. This means people can come and go as they please, affecting only their own point total. It’s perfect for unpredictable environments.

Solace Team Building Tournament

This summer when my company asked if anybody had ideas for fun activities for the beach party during our annual sales meeting in San Diego, I leapt at the change to introduce my colleagues (mostly from Canada and overseas) to the game that I love. We hired Scoreholio founder Ben Budhu, who also organizes cornhole tournaments as Longshot Cornhole, to run a tournament for us. He did, it went ridiculously well, and many people said it was the highlight of the entire event.

Other Scenarios

Consider now a charity that wants to sell tickets to a cornhole tournament to raise money for their cause, and make it as easy as possible for people to sign up, without the hassle of finding a partner, and then dealing with the inevitable need to replace partners who end up unable to attend.

Now imagine an open environment like a festival or street fair, where people want to play without getting locked into a multi-hour commitment, waiting around to between games, etc.

Here’s how to use Switcholio to run a fast, flexible cornhole tournament that lets an unpredictable number of players compete in a way that’s both fun and fair.

Creating the Tournament

Go into Organizer Options and click Create Tournament. Set format to Round Robin, team generation to Switcholio, and number of rounds to 1. The number of courts doesn’t matter as much as it does in a regular Switcholio tournament, so just make it however many courts you have.

Check in everybody who says they want to play and click Start Tournament.

Running the Tournament

Because you set the number of games to just a single game, whenever a game ends, the four people who just played will go into the “Completed” queue so they do not automatically get slotted into a new game. They can wander off for a little bit or forever, doesn’t affect the tournament or anybody but themselves. They play as many games as they want to, and the points they earn in those games earns them an individual ranking on the leaderboard.

All “number of games” does is push a player into the Finished list if the completion of a given game puts them at or above the number of games. It does not prevent assignment of players in Coming Up. That means even if somebody has played a dozen games, when you manually put them in Coming Up the system will see them as eligible and off they go. You can do this by clicking a player’s name or move everybody back into the queue with the button.

In any case, players will be moved from Finished to Coming Up.

As soon as there are four people in Coming Up, you can click advance game and it will randomly pair them up and put them into a game. If the same group of four comes up a few times, you might want to wait until there are more people in Coming Up for better randomizaton.

Limiting Number of Games

Since players earn points every time they play, a lesser player could top the leaderboard by playing over and over and over again for the entire duration of the round robin. In some “totally for fun” environments like a festival or company picnic, that might not matter, but in others you might want to apply some rules to keep them from doing that

If you DO want to limit this possibility, you can set whatever rule you want for how many games each person can play. For example, maybe you say they can only play 4 games, and get what they get. Or you could get fancy and do something like let people play six games, and they get to drop their 2 lowest scores. Scoreholio doesn’t automate that yet so you’ll need to do some subtraction and manual editing of player records, but you’ve got that move!

Playoffs

You don’t need to run playoffs. You can give prizes or whatever based on the leaderboard at the end of the day. Most folks want their tournament to wrap up with a playoff bracket though.

If you’re not familiar with Switcholio playoffs, it assigns each player one final partner for playoffs based on the leaderboard. I suggest pairing people using the approach called “Top with first of the lower half.” That means the top half of players are paired with the bottom half, in the same order. If you have 8 players that means 1 paired with 5, 2 with 6, 3 with 7 and 4 with 8.

How Many Players?

With Switcholio you can advance any (even) number of players to the playoffs. You can decide ahead of time that you want to advance everybody for the sake of team-building, only advance 8 because you want a very fast playoff, or if you’ve got some flexibility you can base the bracket size on the number of people who “get into it” and are itching for more competition.

If you want to do that, I suggest coming up with a threshhold…like you say you’ll advance everybody who has played at least 3 games, or scored 40 points or more. That will leave out those who played a game or two but weren’t really into it.

How Much Time?

I generally assume that each round of playoffs takes about 15 minutes. For example, a playoff of 16 players, which is 8 teams starts with four quarterfinal games, which can be played simultaneously if you have four courts at your disposal. That’s round one. Then the winners square off in two semifinals as second round, and then as a third round the winners of those semi’s play in the finals while the losers play a consolation game. So a 16 player / 8 team playoff takes about, and usually less than, 45 minutes.

I generally like to break the timing of events down to 2/3 round robin and 1/3 playoffs. For 3 a hour event that’s obviously 2 hours of round robin and an hour of playoffs, and for a 2 hour event you’re talking about an hour twenty of round robin and a 40 minute playoff. (Just about enough for 16 players, by my estimation above!)

When running a festival mode event it’s very important to make sure everybody knows when playoffs start so they can get in the preliminary games they want to play and report back at the scheduled start of playoffs.

Accomodating Unpredictability

Given the unpredictability of events like these, I recommend taking a ‘wait and see’ approach. Watch how things go and work with your point person to decide how they want to proceed once you both see how many peope are playing, how many of them are really getting into it, etc. I recommend announcing the playoff strategy no later than halfway through the round robin, so those who care can get their games in, step up their game, etc.

Conclusion

There’s no better or easier way to run a fast, fun, flexible cornhole tournament than with Scoreholio and our unique Switcholio format. If you want to give it a shot I suggest you join our user group Scoreholio Event Organizers on Facebook where you can discuss this and more with the many tournament directors who’ve done so with great success.