How are IBJJF brackets created?
Contrary to what many may think, black belt IBJJF brackets for all major IBJJF tournaments - including the World Championships - are determined and created through a closed-door meeting among some of the sport's most prominent and well-connected leaders and power brokers.
Are brackets seeded based on IBJJF Rankings?
No. In fact, the IBJJF rankings are not an overall factor in IBJJF bracketing for major tournaments at any belt.
IBJJF Brackets are subjectively determined through the closed-door meeting discussed above.
How does this group determine the bracketing?
Much is unknown about exact criteria this group uses for bracketing; however, there does seem to be an etiquette around giving strong preference to former World Champions and major tournament winners.
There are instances where a team leader may be present during the meeting and can personally advocate for his/her athlete to ensure they receive a favorable position in the brackets.
Additionally, coaches of returning champions may use their sway or pull to ensure that the existing champion has his/her pick of an opponent in their first match.
These are all confirmed details.
Is there a way to prevent bias?
It is difficult to say.
If you're an athlete from a major team with a representative inside these closed-door meetings, you essentially have an advocate in the room.
This means that you will likely be able to have them help you with a more favorable position in the official brackets.
If you do not have a friend, coach, or team leader in these meetings, it means you are unlikely to have anyone advocate on your behalf. This means you could end up with an unfavorable position in the bracketing.
What's more, if you happen to be at odds with anyone in the meeting, it is possible they could campaign to have you placed in a particularly negative spot in the brackets.
When do we see the official black belt IBJJF brackets?
Most people see the official IBJJF brackets when they are publically released on bjjcompsystem.com.
If you happen to be connected to someone in the closed-door meeting there is a good chance you will be able to see these brackets well ahead of time.
It is extremely common for certain athletes, with coaches inside these meetings, posting the unofficial brackets on their social media pages prior to their public release.
Often, these brackets will show names scratched out on handwritten brackets - giving us some insight into how negotiating may play a factor in the overall bracketing for major IBJJF tournaments at black belt.
A Call For Change
Interested in changing the way IBJJF brackets are created? Let them know you'd like to see things change.