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Last updated 18 May 2024
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Summer 6s Competition Draw Explained

The Summer 6s is a yearly festival of football that links the end of the Winter season with the Christmas period. It's a magical time of year that sees a lot of people pull on the boots for the first time, or even the first time in a long time.

With nearly 150 teams and 1,200 players there are some significant challenges to putting together the competitions and the draw each week.

This article will explain how the drawing system works, and all considerations that need to be factored in when coming up with each team's opposition week-to-week.

The Competition System

For the scale that the competition is now at, it became impossible to manually do the draw in a spreadsheet and then find time to also publish fixture times, results and ladders. To cater for the growing popularity and demand of the system, a purpose-built application called Whirlpool was developed. It is responsible for all aspects of the Summer 6s from Week 1 to Week 10.

Challenges of the Draw

One of the greatest challenges to overcome is the sheer numbers of players and teams in each competition (can get to 26 teams for a given age group). With that sort of scale comes a likely gulf in disparity between the very top team and the very bottom team.

An extremely popular suggestion that we receive regularly is to split a competition into separate pools based on ability, but there are no viable ways to do that. This is not like the Winter Season competitions where players and teams are graded and placed into competitive divisions. Indeed, most teams register for Summer 6s without a club affiliation at all. A lot of teams come in with a mix of Winter season players and their friends from school who don't play football during the year. It is virtually impossible to tell a team's ability from the nomination form that is filled in, so the idea that nominations can be perused and deductions made about ability is absolutely incorrect. We've heard suggestions that we should ask for each team's ability, and we can tell you first-hand that 95% of entries state they're there to play socially and have fun. It's not a signal we can use to make any informed decision about a team's ability.

The core tenet of Summer 6s is fun and participation, so we needed to come up with a way to try and create match-ups that gradually became more even as the competition went on without knowing anything about the teams.


Enter the Equaliser

One of our prerogatives when creating a competition is to ensure that the competition has an even number of teams. Nobody wants a bye round in a 10-week competition - they want to play every week.

In Week 1, the match-ups within a competition are absolutely random. We have no real idea about any of the teams so we just create a set of match-ups. Because of this limitation, the first week is more prone to having lop-sided games, but the system makes the most of the knowledge that is gained when results are entered and the ladder generated.

From Week 2, when it comes time to draw, the system divides the ladder into a top and bottom half, yielding two sets of teams. The drawing algorithm will then create the round's match-ups, ensuring that any given team will only play an opposition in their half of the ladder.

As weeks progress, the ladder gets more 'fixed' at the top and bottom ends, guaranteeing teams at either end of the spectrum stronger or weaker opposition depending on their past results. Within the middle of the table there can be movements from week-to-week. If you're a team in the bottom half and you have a win next match, your next match will likely be against an opponent in the top half of the draw as that's where your win in the last match may place you.

It is inevitable that this system is likely to produce a match-up where the opposition has already played in an earlier round, but the system does what it can to ensure those rounds are as far apart as possible. To get an idea of just how sophisticated the Equaliser algorithm is, take the time to look at some of the complex mathematics explored in fixture generation when the set of teams changes constantly. 


Still the Odd Mismatch

Yep, that can certainly happen. If your team strings a couple of wins or draws together, you will probably move into the top half of the ladder and draw someone tougher. If you start to struggle, you won't stay in that top half, and should you move back towards the bottom your next match will be someone closer to your ability. It's mathematical unavoidable to ensure you play an opposition that matches your team's every week unless you want to play the same two teams for 9 weeks.

We feel part of the beauty of the Summer 6s is that you can have two teams play against each other when there is no other scenario imaginable that would put them in a match together. If you have a team relatively new to football, they are probably going to struggle against every team, but as long as they are learning, it's all worthwhile. In the early rounds, match referees are encouraged to 'coach' kids rather than referee the game.



If you've got any ideas about how we can cater for some of these challenges, please do send them through to

I know it can be frustrating when you've had a big loss on the pitch, but you need to enclose some constructive suggestions as to options we could consider to make the competition as even as possible. Just telling us that you don't like how the draw works because your team got flogged doesn't help us at all. We know the possibility exists for that to happen, but we're confident that Equaliser even things out over the full 10 weeks. It needs time to 'learn' who the stronger and weaker teams are so that it can attempt to draw evenly-contested matches.

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