The "Pyramid" ladder system is designed to allow free team movement up and down within a division, with the goal of providing closely-matched competition.
In this system, teams are seeded by the coordinator into different levels or rungs of the ladder. Each level can hold more than one team, and will usually hold several.
Games are scheduled by first selecting a team, and then selecting an opponent for that team from amongst the other teams at or near the same level on the ladder. If an opponent has been played too recently (i.e. within the last four games), it will not be selected. This is to ensure a variety of opponents.
Movement on the ladder occurs after a game is complete. The winning team moves up one rung on the ladder, and the losing team stays put. If a team is already at the top of the ladder, a new level above it is created for it.
In a division of 8 teams, the initial seeding might look something like this:
A B C D
E F G H
From this, we select a team for A to play from amongst B, C and D, since they are at the same level. If we select C, that leaves us with B and D in that level, who are then matched up. In the next level, we do the same thing, first choosing E and picking an opponent, F, and then matching up the remaining teams, G and H.
For this example, using those matchups, we select a winner for the games:
- A vs C, A wins
- B vs D, D wins
- E vs F, F wins
- G vs H, G wins
From these results, the moves would be that A and D move up to a new level, F and G move up one level, and B, C, E, and H stay where they are. This adjusts the ladder to look like:
B C F G
Next, for week two, we select opponents in the same manner as above:
- A vs D, A wins
- B vs F, B wins
- C vs G, G wins
- E vs H, E wins
which moves A, B, G and E up, giving us:
D B G
C F E
After a few games, charting the teams and their levels looks like a pyramid (given enough games, it should eventually resemble a standard distribution curve, but "pyramid" is easier to say and describe), hence the name. The top levels of the ladder will have a few teams, widening out to a large number of average teams, and narrowing back down to a few teams near the bottom.