Page playoff system
The Page playoff system is a playoff format used primarily in softball and curling at the championship level. Teams are seeded using a round-robin tournament and the top four play a mix of a single-elimination and double-elimination tournament to determine the winner. It is identical to a four-team McIntyre System playoff, first used by the Victorian Football League in Australia in 1931, originally called the Page-McIntyre system, after the VFL delegate, the Richmond Football Club's Secretary, Percy "Pip" Page, who had advocated its use. It was played there until 1971.
The Page playoff system was used at the Australian Rugby League Championship 1954-1972.
Its first use in curling was by the Canadian Curling Association in the 1995 Labatt Brier, the men's championship, and was adopted the next year at the 1996 Scott Tournament of Hearts, the women's championship. It gained acceptance and in 2005 the World Curling Championships started using it, but it has not yet been adopted in curling at the Olympic Games.
The system requires teams to be ranked in some way, as the top two teams have an advantage over the bottom two. This is usually accomplished through a round-robin tournament, which eliminates all but the top four teams.
A standard round-robin tournament is used, in which all teams play each other once. Because the number of total games increases quadratically with respect to the number of teams, scheduling too many teams will result in an unwieldy number of games, particularly when there are a limited number of playing surfaces (curling rinks usually only have four sheets). Therefore, the number of teams is usually capped at around a dozen; if this is not possible or desirable, teams may be separated into groups playing separate round-robins and either having the top teams combining for the Page playoff or playing separate ones in each group and having the winners play each other after.
Page playoff system
The system was invented in Australia in the early 1930s and adopted soon after by the Victorian Football League (now known as the Australian Football League). The top four teams advance to the playoffs, which are played over three rounds with one team being eliminated in each round.
The format progresses as follows:
- In Game 1, the third- and fourth-placed teams play against each other. The loser is eliminated.
- In Game 2, the first- and second-placed teams play against each other. The winner qualifies directly for the final.
- In Game 3, the winner of Game 1 plays against the loser of Game 2. The loser is eliminated.
- Game 4 (the final) is then played between the winners of Games 2 and 3.
This system gives the top two teams a double chance, meaning that they can lose a game and still go on to win the title, producing a similar effect to a double-elimination tournament. This gives the top two teams a significant advantage over the next two, since winning the title from third or fourth place requires defeating every other team in the playoffs. For example, in 12 years at The Brier, 12 years at the Tournament of Hearts and one year at the Worlds, only thrice, at the 2000, 2008 and 2009 Tournament of Hearts has the third- or fourth-placed team won the tournament. Additionally, the higher ranked team in any pairing (which, in the final, is automatically the team which won Game 2) will play as the home team to provide an additional advantage; in the case of curling teams, there teams rarely play national or international tournaments at their home rink, the advantage is that the first-placed team is given the hammer (last rock) in the first end, which is a reasonable advantage between comparably skilled teams.
In the 2008 World Women's Curling championship, a fifth match was added to the format: a bronze medal playoff match, which was played between the two teams which did not qualify for the final. Previously, the bronze would have automatically been awarded to the team which lost Game 3. This was also introduced at the national level at the 2011 Scotties Tournament of Hearts and the 2011 Tim Hortons Brier.
Names of matches
In Australia, Games 1 and 2 are known as semi-finals; Game 3 is called the preliminary final, and the final is known as the Grand Final. To distinguish between the two semi-finals, which are different in nature, the match between 3rd and 4th is known either as the first semi-final or the minor semi-final; and the match between 1st and 2nd is known either as the second semi-final or the major semi-final.
In Canada, Games 1 and 2 are known as the Page playoffs; Game 3 is called the semi-final, and the final is known by that name.
The first-ever use of the system was in Australia in 1931 after the Victorian Football League adopted it. The regular season ended with Geelong winning the minor premiership, followed by Richmond, Carlton and Collingwood. The finals proceeded as follows:
|Semi-Finals||Preliminary Final||Grand Final|
|2||Richmond||15.9 (99)||2||Richmond||7.6 (48)|
|1||Geelong||11.17 (83)||1||Geelong||9.14 (68)|
Page playoff results from the 2004 Nokia Brier:
|1||Nova Scotia||7||1||Nova Scotia||10|
|3||Newfoundland and Labrador||5|
Page playoff, including a bronze medal match, from the 2011 Scotties Tournament of Hearts.
|Bronze Medal Game|
Players and fans alike have had a mixed reaction to the system. Broadcasters also enjoy it as it produces one more game than the single elimination format.
- For a detailed history of the evolution and development of the finals system used by the Victorian Football League (VFL) and, later, by the Australian Football League (AFL) see Early VFL Final systems and McIntyre System.
- International Softball Federation. Technical & Venue Manual (PDF). Retrieved March 23, 2006
- Dalla Costa, Morris (March 3, 2006). Page playoff system prompts much debate. London Free Press.
- Soudog's Curling History Site. 1996 Scott Tournament of Hearts. Retrieved March 23, 2006.
- Indian Premier League
- Fischer Random Chess Email Club. FRCEC’s Annual Championship Tournament. Retrieved March 23, 2006.
- New Horizons Backgammon. New Horizon Ladder Super League. Retrieved March 23, 2006.
- Canadian Curling Association. Archived Statistical Summaries. Retrieved March 24, 2006.