Published on February 8th, 2014 | by Spencer
Cornhole Leagues and Tournaments
Cornhole League Formats
Owing to cornhole’s surging popularity, local and state cornhole leagues have sprung up across the nation. Usually, membership only requires payment of a small fee and a sincere interest in the game. Members are then eligible to compete in sanctioned tournaments and earn prizes. Most leagues also administer and publish rankings for all members. These rankings are a rough measure of a player’s relative accuracy and skill level. When leagues collaborate with local merchants, members can earn discounts on certain items. League play gives the game legitimacy, offers a chance for players to meet new people, and increases the visibility of the game in the public eye.
Ranging from small town showdowns to professionally sanctioned events, cornhole tournaments encourage a high level of competition and fun. Tournaments can be either single- or double-elimination. In some cases, a round robin series determines tournament seeding. A round robin consists of each competitor playing every other competitor one time. An official match often consists of a three or five game series. Tournaments sanctioned by the ACA or ACO operate under a points system. Depending on their finishing position, players can move up or down the list of rankings. The ACO Masters Series is the upper echelon of cornhole competition, attracting the best players in the world. Four Masters Series “Majors” take place each year. Additionally, there are nine regional Masters Series events throughout the year, offering cash prizes and a chance for cornhole fame. Stellar performances in the open Masters Series events may earn an invitation to one of the ACO Invitational tournaments.
Levels of Competition
Striving to be the game’s leading authority on competitions and rules, the American Cornhole Organization divides events into three tiers: Professional, Amateur and Non-sanctioned. Professional events must be organized and run by an ACO approved member or group. Events at the pro level require official boards and bags, supplied by the host of the event. The boards must be free of any stickers or decals. Twenty-seven feet of space separate the front edges of cornhole boards in professional competitions. Amateur events are still sanctioned by the ACO, but the rules are somewhat more relaxed. Decals are permitted on the boards, and players can bring their own bags provided they are official size and weight. At the amateur level, boards may be placed 24 feet apart, three feet closer than on a professional court. Both professional and amateur events generally have modest entry fees for players and teams. A non-sanctioned event has no affiliation with the ACO, therefore the host can enforce whatever rules they see fit. Non-sanctioned cornhole gatherings are typically casual, with the focus on fun and camaraderie rather than competition. The American Cornhole Association also sanctions tournaments across the nation, and keeps a running list of these events on its website. However, ACA does not have the tiered approach that you find with ACO.