Bracketology 101: Triple knockout explained

January 10, 2019, 6:06 PM

The Meridian Canadian Open is unique in the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling as it’s the only one in the seven-event series to feature triple knockout brackets instead of round-robin pool play.

Triple knockout is a familiar format on the World Curling Tour, and was used throughout the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling when the series started in 2001-02, although we don’t blame you if you’re unsure with how it works.

Just remember this simple rule: teams must win three games before they lose three in order to advance to the playoffs. Win three games to move on, lose three and you’re gone.

The 16 men’s and 16 women’s team divisions are split into two A brackets to start.

A Event: Go 3-0 to qualify for the playoffs. Lose before that and you drop to B.

B Event: Go 3-1 to qualify for the playoffs. Lose before that and you drop to C.

C Event: Go 3-2 to qualify for the playoffs. Lose before that and you’re eliminated.

Two A teams, three B teams and three C teams advance to the playoffs.

“It’s similar to a normal Slam when you think about it,” skip Laura Walker said. “You don’t know who you’re going to play ahead of time but you can’t lose three games. Usually, if you get two losses you still get something, so we’re just trying to keep the same mindset that we normally have and win more than we lose. If we can do that then we’ll find ourselves in the playoffs.”


Fun Fact: The Meridian Canadian Open switched back to a triple knockout format in 2014.


What makes triple knockout interesting is you could breeze through A-side and reach the playoffs in only three games (and earn a day of rest) or could end up grinding it out and play up to two more games through the C-side. The latter isn’t necessarily a bad thing as sometimes teams play better with their backs against the wall and keeps them focused in game mode plus it doesn’t hurt to learn more about the ice and the rocks in play.

Also, with the 16-team triple knockout teams always face off against another team with an identical record as themselves making every match an intriguing battle. As long as you’re still playing, you’re still in it. There are no games where a team has already been eliminated and is just playing for pride nor do teams have to worry about possible tiebreaker scenarios as winning alone will control their destiny.

“There’s no can we get in if so-and-so beats so-and-so, do you have the right draw-shot challenge, do you have the right blah, blah, blah,” skip Glenn Howard said. “You don’t have to worry about that. Just try and win three before you lose three, so that makes it a little bit simpler.

“I like the change-up. I love the fact that they make the Slams all a little bit different with the Elite 10 and now the triple and that sort of thing.”

It may seem tricky since teams don’t always know who their opponent is going to be but as they say, to be the best you have to beat the best regardless and that’s why these teams are among the top in the world because they’re up for any challenge!

So then, which path has produced the most success since the format was reintroduced in 2014? Let’s break out the stats.

A B C
Champions 1 5 2
Runners-up 5 1 2

The numbers never lie: B-side has been the path that has set up teams for the most success. A-qualifiers have made as many finals but have only produced one champion (Team John Epping in 2015). Between the two paths, if you’re only going to lose one game then at least get it out of the way early.

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