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In games and sports, a tiebreaker or tiebreak is used to determine a winner from among players or teams that are tied at the end of a contest, or a set of contests.
In some situations, the tiebreaker may consist of another round of play. For example, if contestants are tied at the end of a quiz game, they each might be asked one or more extra questions, and whoever correctly answers the most from that extra set is the winner. In many sports, teams that are tied at the end of a match compete in an additional period of play called "overtime" or "extra time". The extra round may also not follow the regular format, e.g. a tiebreak in tennis or a penalty shootout in association football.
In some sports, tournaments, and playoffs, the tiebreaker is a statistic that is compared to separate contestants who have the same win-loss record. Some competitions, such as the FIFA World Cup, the EuroLeague, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League and the National Football League, have a whole set of tiebreaking rules in which a group of statistics between the tied teams are compared, one at a time, to determine the seeding in their respective knockout or playoff tournament.
The statistics that are compared may include total goals scored, the record between the two tied teams, and other factors. In many of these tiebreaking rules, if the teams remain tied after comparing all of these statistics, then the tie is broken at random using a coin toss or a drawing of lots. Swiss system tournaments use a variety of criteria not found in other types of tournament which exploit features specific to the Swiss system: see tie-breaking in Swiss system tournaments.
In some sports leagues, a one-game playoff, or occasionally a "best-of" series format, may be played instead to break the tie.
Some sports leagues may use tiebreaking rules to help determine which teams who have the same win-loss record are promoted and relegated or have the higher pick in their respective sports draft. These tiebreaking rules may be the same ones used in their respective knockout or playoff tournament, except that the tied team with the worse statistic is the one that is either relegated or receives a higher draft pick. However, in some sports leagues, such as the National Football League, the set of tiebreaking rules to compare the worst-ranked teams is completely different than the rules to determine the playoff teams.
In association football contests, many matches are allowed to end in a draw, but in cases where a winner must be chosen, there are three methods of deciding this. The usual method is Normal Extra Time, where each team will play two 15-minute periods of extra time (but see also Golden goal). The team that leads at the end of 30 minutes wins the tie. If, at the end of extra time, no winner can be decided, the match goes to a penalty shootout. Occasionally, in matches such as the Community Shield in England, the match can go straight to a penalty shootout after 90 minutes' play has been completed. Alternatively, in tournaments such as the English FA Cup, the match is replayed in its entirety, going through the aforementioned stages of extra time and penalties if the second match is drawn. This method is no longer used from the quarter finals onwards.
In the National Football League of professional American football, if both teams are tied at the end of regulation, an overtime period is played under modified "sudden death" rules. Before the 2017 season, this period was 15 minutes in all games. Since 2017, a 15-minute period has been used only in playoff games (in which a winner must be decided); overtime in preseason and regular-season games consists of a 10-minute period. If the team that receives the ball first scores a field goal, then the opponent must receive a chance at equalising that score of their own; the first team to score a touchdown or safety wins the game; and once both teams have had possession of the ball in overtime, the first team to score under any legal means, touchdown (offensive or defensive), field goal or safety, wins. If neither team scores before the end of the overtime period, or both teams score one field goal each, the game is considered a draw and ends, and counts as a "half-win" in the standings for purposes of winning percentage for both draft order and playoff positioning. However, in the playoffs, true sudden death rules apply from double overtime onwards.
There is no tie-break for regular season matches in Australian rules football, and both teams earn two points each.
In the AFL, new rules were introduced for finals in 2016: if there is a tie at the expiry of regulation time, including in the Grand Final, two five minute halves of extra time are played with the teams swapping end after each half. If the match is still tied when extra time has expired, there is a third untimed extra time period under sudden death rules, and the final siren will not sound until the next team scores.
Prior to 1991, if the scores were tied in a finals match after the final siren, the drawn final would be replayed on the following weekend, thus delaying all other finals by one week.
Due to various logistical issues that arose following the drawn 1990 Qualifying Final, the AFL replaced this procedure with extra time (with the exception of the Grand Final) in 1991. Until 2015, if the scores in a finals match were tied when regulation time expired, two five-minute halves of extra time were played until a winner was determined. This procedure was used twice: in the 1994 Second Qualifying Final between North Melbourne and Hawthorn (won by North Melbourne), and the 2007 Second Semi-Final between West Coast and Collingwood (won by Collingwood).
If the scores were tied after the final siren in the Grand Final, the match would be replayed on the following weekend.
If a baseball game is tied at the end of the usual nine innings, the game continues into extra innings until an inning ends with one team ahead. Although games are occasionally ended as ties on account of weather or darkness (the latter happened much more often before lights were installed on most professional baseball fields in the 1940s), and some leagues (including Nippon Professional Baseball) allow only a limited number of extra innings before a game ends as a tie, professional baseball in the United States has no such limit. The longest Major League game in history (on May 1, 1920) lasted 26 innings, and a minor-league game in 1981 lasted 33 innings. In some venues, including international baseball, starting with the second extra inning, that inning may begin a full reset of the batting order to the coach's choice with up to two runners already on base, in order to increase the chances of a resolution.
Major League Baseball uses the term "tiebreaker" to refer to one or more additional games played after the scheduled end of the regular season between teams with identical win-loss records in order to determine participants in postseason play.
In Chess, when two players play a match against each other and the score is even after the scheduled number of games, often there is a tie-break with games with faster time controls. In tournaments, when two or more players have the same final score, there can be a play-off but usually an auxiliary scoring system is used.
Field target — a precision air rifle shooting sport — uses either a sudden-death or shot count tiebreaker. The sudden-death tiebreaker (usually used to determine a single place such as 3rd when 3 awards are to be given or between two shooters) consists of each tied shooter (order dictated or decided by coin-toss or other technique) shoots at a target (typically a difficult shot such as ½" at 35 yards). If all shooters in the tie fail, then the target is moved closer. If one shooter hits, then the next shooter(s) who miss are out of the competition. If a round is complete with multiple ties remaining, the target is moved out (made more difficult) and the same procedure is repeated until only one shooter remains. This procedure can then be repeated to determine further placings among the losers of the previous round.
In cases where multiple places are to be determined (as in five people tied for first place), one approach is to have each shooter make several shots (n − 1 or more with n being the number of tied shooters). If all shooters miss all shots, the target is moved in (made easier); similarly, if all shooters hit on all shots, the target is moved out (made more difficult). If some variation in hits exists after a round, the top score gets the highest placing while those with identical scores can have a sudden-death shootout or a repeat of the multiple shot shootout (typically with a more difficult target) to determine other placings.
If the scores are level when all the balls are potted in a frame of snooker, the black is "respotted" (placed back on the table, on its designated spot) and the cue ball put "in hand". The referee will then toss a coin, and the winner of the coin toss decides who will take the first shot. Play then continues until the black is potted or another frame-ending situation occurs.
At the conclusion of a professional sumo tournament (本場所, honbasho ), the winner of a division is the wrestler (力士, rikishi ) with best record at the end of the 15-day tournament. If two or more wrestlers share are tied for the lead within a division, a series of additional playoff bouts will be held on the final day to determine the divisional champion. Restrictions against bouts between close relatives, members of the same stable, and previously faced opponents are lifted during a playoff situation.
The term "tiebreaker" is sometimes used loosely outside the world of sports — for example, for an innovative weapon or strategy introduced in a war where the two opposing armies are evenly matched, a decisive political move introduced in an electoral race where the contending parties are evenly matched (such as a casting vote), and similar situations in other fields.
The golden goal or golden point is a rule used in association football, bandy, baseball, lacrosse, field hockey, ice hockey, floorball and korfball to decide the winner of a match in which scores are equal at the end of normal time. It is a type of sudden death. Under this rule, the game will end when a goal or point is scored; the team that scores that goal or point during extra time will be the winner. Introduced formally in 1992, though with some history before that, the rule ceased to apply to most FIFA-authorized football games in 2004. The similar silver goal supplemented the golden goal between 2002 and 2004.
A penalty shoot-out is a method of determining which team is awarded victory in an association football match that cannot end in a draw, when the score is tied after the regulation playing time as well as extra time have expired. In a penalty shoot-out, each team takes turns shooting at goal from the penalty mark, with the goal only defended by the opposing team's goalkeeper. Each team has five shots which must be taken by different kickers; the team that makes more successful kicks is declared the victor. Shoot-outs finish as soon as one team has an insurmountable lead. If scores are level after five pairs of shots, the shootout progresses into additional "sudden-death" rounds. Balls successfully kicked into the goal during a shoot-out do not count as goals for the individual kickers or the team, and are tallied separately from the goals scored during normal play. Although the procedure for each individual kick in the shoot-out resembles that of a penalty kick, there are some differences. Most notably, neither the kicker nor any player other than the goalkeeper may play the ball again once it has been kicked.
Overtime is a method of determining a winner in an ice hockey game when the score is tied after regulation. The main methods of determining a winner in a tied game are the overtime period, the shootout, or a combination of both. If league rules dictate a finite time in which overtime may be played, with no penalty shoot-out to follow, the game's winning team may or may not be necessarily determined.
A draw or tie occurs in a competitive sport when the results are identical or inconclusive. Ties or draws are possible in some, but not all, sports and games. Such an outcome, sometimes referred to as deadlock, can also occur in other areas of life such as politics, business, and wherever there are different factions regarding an issue. In some sports, such as cricket, a tie and a draw have different meanings.
In a sport or game, sudden death is a form of competition where play ends as soon as one competitor is ahead of the others, with that competitor becoming the winner. Sudden death is typically used as a tiebreaker when a contest is tied at the end of regulation (normal) playing time or the completion of the normal playing task.
Overtime or extra time is an additional period of play specified under the rules of a sport to bring a game to a decision and avoid declaring the match a tie or draw where the scores are the same. In some sports, this extra period is played only if the game is required to have a clear winner, as in single-elimination tournaments where only one team or players can advance to the next round or win the tournament. In other sports, particularly those prominently played in North America where ties are generally disfavored, some form of overtime is employed for all games.
The penalty shootout is a method of determining a winner in sports matches that would have otherwise been drawn or tied. The rules for penalty shootouts vary between sports and even different competitions; however, the usual form is similar to penalty shots in that a single player takes one shot on goal from a specified spot, the only defender being the goalkeeper. If the result is still tied, the shootout usually continues on a "goal-for-goal" basis, with the teams taking shots alternately, and the one that scores a goal unmatched by the other team is declared the winner. This may continue until every player has taken a shot, after which players may take extra shots, until the tie is broken, and is also known as "sudden death".
The away goals rule is a method of breaking ties in association football and other sports when teams play each other twice, once at each team's home ground. By the away goals rule, the team that has scored more goals "away from home" wins, if the total goals scored by each team are otherwise equal. This is sometimes expressed by saying that away goals "count double" in the event of a tie.
The National Football League (NFL) playoffs are a single-elimination tournament held after the regular season to determine the NFL champion. Seven teams from each of the league's two conferences qualify for the playoffs. A tie-breaking procedure exists if required. The tournament culminates in the Super Bowl: the league's championship game in which two teams, one from each conference, play each other to become champion of the NFL.
The golden point, a sudden death overtime system, is used to resolve drawn football matches. The term is borrowed from soccer's now-defunct golden goal.
The Slovak Tipos Extraliga is the highest-level ice hockey league in Slovakia. Since the 2018–19 season, the league also includes two teams from Hungary. In 2009, it was ranked by the IIHF as the fifth strongest league in Europe and in 2012, it was ranked by The Hockey News as the sixth-strongest league in the world behind the NHL, KHL, Swedish Hockey League, SM-liiga and Czech Extraliga. However, it has dropped significantly since then, with the American Hockey League, Swiss National League, German DEL and Austrian EBEL, among others, all now ranked ahead.
In sports, a two-legged tie is a contest between two teams which comprises two matches or "legs", with each team as the home team in one leg. The winning team is usually determined by aggregate score, the sum of the scores of the two legs. For example, if the scores of the two legs are:
In a group tournament, unlike a knockout tournament, there is no scheduled decisive final match. Instead, all the competitors are ranked by examining the results of all the matches played in the tournament. Typically, points are awarded for each match, with competitors ranked based either on total number of points or average points per match. Usually each competitor finishes with an equal number of matches, in which case rankings by total points and by average points are equivalent at the end of the tournament, though not necessarily while it is in progress. Examples with unequal numbers of matches include the 1895 County Championship in English cricket, and the U.S. National Football League prior to 1972, when tie games were excluded from the winning percentage used for regular-season standings.
A one-game playoff, sometimes known as a pennant playoff, tiebreaker game or knockout game, is a tiebreaker in certain sports—usually but not always professional—to determine which of two teams, tied in the final standings, will qualify for a post-season tournament. Such a playoff is either a single game or a short series of games.
A replay is the repetition of a match in many sports.
The MLS Cup Playoffs is the annual postseason elimination tournament of Major League Soccer. The final match of the tournament is the MLS Cup, the league's championship game. Under the current format adopted for the 2019 season, 14 teams qualify for the tournament based on regular-season point totals—the seven highest-placed teams from both the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference. Audi is the title sponsor of this tournament.
A penalty shootout is a method used in field hockey to decide which team progresses to the next stage of a tournament following a tied game. Two methods have been used: the original penalty stroke competition is a best-of-five penalty strokes with sudden death if scores were level after five strokes. An alternate penalty shoot-out competition was introduced at major tournaments in 2011. Sometimes known as a penalty shuffle, the method is similar to penalty shots in ice hockey and consists of one-on-ones between an attacking player and a goalkeeper. Up to 2013, up to two 7.5-minute golden goal periods were played first; that method ceased after.
The National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) Playoffs are a single elimination tournament among four teams in the National Women's Soccer League, ultimately deciding the winner of the NWSL Championship.
The 2015–16 Champions Hockey League is the second season of the Champions Hockey League, a European ice hockey tournament launched by 26 founding clubs, six leagues and the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF).
The 2016–17 Champions Hockey League is the third season of the Champions Hockey League, a European ice hockey tournament launched by 26 founding clubs, six leagues and the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF). The season started on 16 August 2016 with the group stage and ended with the final game on 7 February 2017 with Frölunda defeating HC Sparta Praha, 4–3 in overtime.