A-Cho for Beginners

This weekend we have the tenth OzHadou Nationals tournament. One of the highlights at OHNX will be the renewal of the Street Fighter IV team exhibition between rival cities Sydney and Melbourne. OHNX will be the first time this encounter has taken place on Sydney’s home turf, and things will be a little different as the organisers have elected to swap out the usual “winner stays” format for the so-called a-cho format.

In this special pre-OHN edition of Bracketed I’ll provide an explanation of the a-cho team tournament format. I’ll compare the a-cho format to the “winner stays” approach and explain why a-cho offers unique advantages for tournament organisers and players in an exhibition setting.

Understanding A-Cho
The a-cho format derives its name from the a-cho arcade in Japan where the format was first observed during the time of Capcom vs. SNK 2. Up until then most team tournaments in Japan were running using a “winner stays” format, which can be summarised as follows:

  • i) Each team consists of “n” players.
  • ii) Teams can nominate any player to step up when called upon to play an opposing team.
  • iii) Players that have lost cannot play again in the current match-up.
  • iv) Players that win must stay on the machine and face the next player from the opposing team (if any remain).
  • v) The first team to reach “n” wins is the winner of the match.

By contrast the a-cho format replaces rules (ii) and (iv) as follows:

  • ii) The play order of both teams is fixed before the match begins and cannot be changed during the current match.
  • iv) Players that win must return to the end of the line and await their next turn to play (if any).

Hence the only significant differences between the two are that players have to stick to a predetermined order once the match is underway, and players that win are required to rotate to the back of the line on their team rather than stay on the machine until defeated.

An Example of A-Cho
Let’s imagine a hypothetical match-up between 5 Sydney players (robsux, Shangtsung, bbbenson, Furyblitz and Afterdeath) and 5 Melbourne players (ToXY, Heavy Weapons, Sol, CARNAGE and naruga). Assuming the team orders are as given here, the first 5 match-ups under the a-cho format will be:

  • i) robsux vs. ToXY
  • ii) Shangtsung vs. Heavy Weapons
  • iii) bbbenson vs. Sol
  • iv) Furyblitz vs. CARNAGE
  • v) Afterdeath vs. naruga

Let’s assume the results turn out like this:

  • i) robsux vs. ToXY
  • ii) Shangtsung vs. Heavy Weapons
  • iii) bbbenson vs. Sol
  • iv) Furyblitz vs. CARNAGE
  • v) Afterdeath vs. naruga

After 5 games the score is currently 3-2 in favour of Melbourne. Following the rule that winners go to the end of the line on their team, the next round of match-ups will be:

  • vi) Shangtsung vs. ToXY
  • vii) Afterdeath vs. Sol

Note that CARNAGE is still alive, but he’ll only need to play if either ToXY or Sol lose i.e. if someone from Sydney is still undefeated after games (vi) and (vii).

Let’s say the next round turns out like this:

  • vi) Shangtsung vs. ToXY
  • vii) Afterdeath vs. Sol

Now the score is 4-3 in favour of Melbourne, and the next match will be:

  • viii) Afterdeath vs. CARNAGE

Now that Sydney only has one player left, the a-cho format simply becomes the same as the “winner stays” format i.e. if Afterdeath beats CARNAGE he’ll have to take down ToXY if Sydney are to win.

A-Cho versus Winner Stays
Both formats have a lot in common. They require the exact same number of games to determine a winner, and they both have the potential for reverse “one character victories” (OCVs) whereby the last player on a team is forced to beat all of the opposing team members on his/her own. Hence it’s still possible for a team to be “carried” to victory by its strongest member under the a-cho format.

The primary distinction is that under a-cho every player on the team must play at least once. This makes a-cho a more interactive experience, and is ideal for an exhibition setting where the objective is for all invited players to demonstrate their skills in front of an assembled audience.

The downside of the a-cho format is that team orders need to be locked and tracked during matches, and the added player rotations might take some extra time. However any time increases should be minimal since there’s always a player swapping out under either format, and button checks for 1 or 2 players takes almost the same amount of time.

Another Example: Reverse OCV in A-Cho
Let’s start with the same example, but we’ll assume Melbourne has a bad day and only ToXY wins in the first round of matches:

  • i) robsux vs. ToXY
  • ii) Shangtsung vs. Heavy Weapons
  • iii) bbbenson vs. Sol
  • iv) Furyblitz vs. CARNAGE
  • v) Afterdeath vs. naruga

From here the score is 4-1 to Sydney, and the only way Melbourne can win is if ToXY pull off this streak:

  • vi) Shangtsung vs. ToXY
  • vii) bbbenson vs. ToXY
  • viii) FuryBlitz vs. ToXY
  • ix) Afterdeath vs. ToXY

  • The final score in this case is 5-4 to Melbourne.

    The only other possibility after the first round is if one team wins all of games (i)-(v) straight off, meaning a 5-0 clean-sweep for their team. Although no OCV takes place for 5-0 under a-cho, it does mean that any 5-0 outcome will always be a true team effort.

    Giving it a Go
    While most team tournaments default to the “winner stays” format, the a-cho format ensures that every player on every team will get to play, and the extra effort required to run the a-cho format is minimal. Next time you’re running a team tournament or exhibition, consider giving the a-cho format a go and see what you think.

    Feedback and Future Articles
    If you have any feedback about this article, or would like to request a subject for a future Bracketed article, you can send me a PM or an email, or make a post in the Bracketed Feedback thread on the OzHadou forums.

    ]– Ziggy –[

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