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Serpentine system

The serpentine system is a method employed in the organization of a competition to define the seeded teams and arrange them in pools. The n ranked teams that will be involved in the tournament are distributed in m pools according to the following algorithm:

Pool 1 Pool 2 . . . Pool m − 1 Pool m
1 2 . . . m − 1 m
2m 2m − 1 . . . m + 2 m + 1
2m + 1 2m + 2 . . . 3m − 1 3m
...        

For instance, 12 teams would be organized in four-team pools, according to the serpentine system, as follows:

Pool 1 Pool 2 Pool 3
1 2 3
6 5 4
7 8 9
12 11 10

To improve competitivity, this method is sometimes used in conjunction with the drawing of lots method: the serpentine system is used only for some of the teams involved in a competition ("seeds"); the rest is distributed in pools following a drawing of lots.


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