In January, Total Axe will be hosting the 2023 Michigan Axe Throwing Championship. We’re using this opportunity to test a new format: multi-day starting heats. Our goal is to make tournaments run more efficiently, lessen the downtime between matches, and give throwers the chance to play in more tournaments without having to choose between two. Update: Since writing, we have added a few more enhancements to the tournament. Read part two here.
What are we changing?
Instead of trying to cram 128 throwers into one venue, we’re breaking it into 4 starting dates on Saturdays from January 14 – February 4. This allows our small venue to host larger competitions without having to sacrifice quality. 32 throwers will start each day and play until only a handful are left. Those handful will meet the finalists from the other dates on Sunday, February 5 to play for the championship.
How does this benefit players?
There are several benefits of this format for the players. First, and most obvious, if there are multiple tournaments happening on a given weekend, you don’t have to choose between the two. You can choose any of the starting dates to throw in. With a large enough field, you’ll only have to come back for the finals if you’re already in the money, so it won’t be a wasted trip.
Secondly, this reduces downtime between matches. Typically in a 128-person field, time between early matches can be over an hour, which makes it easy to get cold. Worst case scenario: you’re the first match called, and you lose, you would have to wait for 63 other A bracket matches in the first round, and 32 in the second round to conclude before getting called. Now you would only have to wait for 15 matches in the first round and 8 in the second. 23 matches is much shorter wait than 95.
A smaller field also reduces crowding and missed matches. As much as we love spending tournament day with friends, there’s no way to talk to 127 other people in a few hours. 32 is enough to keep the excitement going while also making sure that the crowd size isn’t inhibiting players to hear their names called or make it to matches.
With fewer lanes needed for the tournament, the quality of judges goes up as well. 4 or 5 scorekeepers can easily help with only 1 head judge needed. Lastly, you don’t need to be at the venue all day just to go 1-2. Hopefully we wrap up early in the afternoon, and you can still make dinner and an event with all your axe friends that night!
What if the venue is too far away?
Yeah, if you live in Philly or Toronto, you probably don’t want to make 2 trips to a venue for a tournament. That’s why the finals are held the day after the last starting heat. If you live far away and don’t want to make the trip twice, you can register for the February 4 start date. If you make the finals, there are plenty of accommodations nearby where you can stay.
What’s in it for the venue?
From an ownership standpoint, this takes a lot of the burden away from the venue. Keith Gibbons at Chopper’s Hatchet House spends months with his team planning Choptober every year. While it’s about the most fun you can have, the amount of stress put on the entire team can be crippling. From having to manage scorekeepers across 24 or 28 lanes, board changes, second guessing calls, security, and so many other things, having over 300 people in one building is a nightmare. Tournaments with different dates or starting times will likely be more common in the future. As Charlie Bain put it, “We can learn a lot from other sports. This could be national, just look at March madness. 4 regions consolidate at some point and the finals are in one spot.” In a similar vein to Round 1, Regionals or IATC, tournaments could be held across multiple venues with finalists meeting in one place for the championship.
Ok, I’m sold. Where can I register?
Registration is going live on Black Friday, November 25 at noon Eastern Time on our Tournaments Page. Tickets are $50/thrower. Everyone will be allowed to bring one spectator as well. With enough interest, we will also consider adding other events like a Big Axe tournament as well.
If you want to sponsor this historic event, you can send inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Lane sponsorships are available for $100 and will be left up for the month following the tournament. T-shirt sponsorships are $250 and the Featured sponsorship is available to $1,000, which includes branding on all future advertisements for the event, t-shirt sponsorship, and lane sponsorship over the finals lanes.