Running a WATL League 2019 - World Axe Throwing League

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Running a WATL League 2019

We have had many requests from new affiliates and players for a quick guide on the basics of Axe Throwing Leagues, so we’ve put this outline together for you. Please note, this is not intended to replace the rule book. In the event something conflicts with the rule book, the rule book overrides anything outlined here.  This is only intended to provide best practices and context.

Running Axe Throwing Leagues – 2019

Some definitions:

  • A match is a set of ten throws
  • A series is a set of three matches, with the best of 2 matches advancing and or winning.  This is only used during tournaments.
  • A lane is a set of two targets used for competition
  • A target is a set of wood with the target circles drawn on it and assigned to a single thrower
  • Sudden Death throws are used in the case of a tie, where after the tenth throw, the points are identical creating a tie.  Sudden death uses the point value of the 10th throw. The point value does not contribute to the match scores

Target description:

  • Bullseye is six points and is defined by a filled in red circle surrounded by a black circle in the center of the target.
  • Concentric circles are then surrounding the bullseye worth 4, 3, 2, and 1 point with lower point values being farther away from the bullseye.
  • A kill shot is worth 8 points, and is the blue circle and only able to be active on the 5th, and 10th throw.  It is also used during the sudden death round.

Dates for 2019:

Winter League starts the week of January 14th

Spring League starts the week of April 8th

Summer League starts the week of July  1st

Fall League starts the week of September 16th


Arnold Sports Festival Open = Weekend of March 2nd

Canadian Open Tournament = Weekend of March 8th

U.S. Open Tournament = Weekend of August 25th

World Axe Throwing Championship = Weekend of Dec 7th


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Epic Axe Throwing Orlando's 2019 Spring League sign up DEADLINE is end of day TODAY April 7th 🎯💪🥇!! Sign up NOW Orlando !!! Spring League will begin on Tuesday, April 9th, 2019 and will run for 8 weeks (7 weeks regular season, 8th week playoffs). This season will be Epic with a trophy, Cash prizes, Orlando Theme Park Tickets, raffle items, free playing sessions, membership benefits, discounts, swag and more!! For more information visit our website at Sign up on our website at to meet new people, pick up some serious axe chuckin' skills, compete for the regional championship, and a potential spot to compete at the WATL World Championship for the grand prize (as seen on ESPN)!! #YOLO #WATL #league #win #champion #axe #axethrowing #hatchet #hatchetthrowing #epicaxethrowing #epicaxethrowingorlando #orlando #downtownorlando #florida

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League Year

Each year of WATL Leagues there are 4 seasons with a break of 3-4 weeks in between.

The seasons:

  • Winter
  • Spring
  • Summer
  • Fall

These seasons coincide with the northern hemisphere seasons.



In each season there are 7 weeks of regular matches finishing with a tournament in the 8th week. Each week in the league can be played any day you wish, but the week starts on Sunday and ends on Saturday.

Week 8 is a playoff to determine the champion in a double elimination bracket.

Each Leagues week must start on the same week, then throughout the season, the scores are uploaded the same week they are finished. All scores must be submitted no later than Saturday of each week.

If someone joins late, they can make up their missed  throws up to 2 weeks:

  • Every league week, each player plays 4 matches. All four matches will equal to 40 throws per week.
  • League is typically scheduled the same night every week to allow for league players a way to set their personal schedules
  • In the rule book, if three weeks are missed, the players are not eligible for the playoffs.

Week 8 playoffs:

  • Overall standings from week 7, set the seed for the playoffs which are a double bracket elimination Regional Tournament.
    • It’s best to think of the first 7 weeks as qualifying for the 8th week Regional Tournament.
  • Double elimination means that each person has to lose twice.  After losing the first game, players drop into the underdog bracket for final placement.  
  • Additionally, the winner of the underdog bracket goes to the final round with the winner.
  • Print your bracket (website) is one that is very useful for creating paper brackets. But as an example here’s the World Axe Throwing Leagues double elimination bracket.


From the rule book:

  • The final Championship round is between the winner of the W bracket and the winner of the U bracket consisting of best of 3 matches. Allowing for one practice throw between each match.
  • The Winner: will be the person who wins 2 out of the 3 matches first.
  • The W winner must lose twice in order for the U winner to win the Championship
  • This means that if the U winner, beats the W winner in a best of 3 matches, they must play another best of 3 matches in order for the U winner to win the Championship

League week

Before practice starts:

  • Weigh all axes not provided by the facility
  • Ensure all waivers, liability forms, etc. are complete
  • Add players into brackets or match list
  • Be sure to have fun, and your players will too.

The first hour it is recommended to have a practice session and sign in. A standard is for an hour of practice around the league. Each person gets ten throws and then is cycled to the back of the line.  Players do not have to participate in practice.

Before the beginning of the week night, there is an announcement period.  Topics should be:

  • Business promotions/announcements
  • Community Announcements
    • A fun idea is that players get a chance to write a message on an index card.
  • High scores and standings
  • League announcements for the season
  • Review of all the rules
  • Question and Answers

During the practice session, the judge should be assigning groups of matches

After the briefing, games begin and assigned four random players. It is best practice not to play the same person twice in the same evening. The reasoning here is to create a fair and competitive landscape so that top throwers don’t shred weaker throwers.

Take whomever is present, play out four rounds of the membership pool for the evening.

In an ideal world, the bracket would be built out for the entire season, with as few replays of players as possible throughout the season (seven weeks.)  In the event that someone does not show up for their throws, then the person left hanging, can select anyone to throw against. This is also known as a phantom player and follows the suggestions down below.  

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Really axecited for the World Axe Throwing League Championships this weekend! Getting some last minute practice in and looking good too! Thanks to @rec_less_sports for the jerseys! We're having a watch party on Saturday if you want to stop by for a drink or you can catch us on ESPN3 from 2-9pm! Additional details on the official Facebook Event page! #axethrowing #axethrowingleague #leaguesports #houstonaxethrowing #houston #htown #htx #thingstodoinhouston #watl @worldaxethrowingleague

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Phantom Player

The phantom player is an anonymous profile on the app that counts no points or wins and losses can also be used for an odd-numbered league.  

Applications to use the Phantom Player:

  • When someone is participating in multiple leagues/nights but has chosen not to count the current one for their leaderboard scores
  • When there is an odd number of match-ups and someone needs a final match after everyone has done their 4 matches. In this case a volunteer thrower may act as the Phantom Player.

Phantom player model means that this is a random player which throws, however, their win or loss does not count against them, but how it impacts the player throwing for a score, is impacted by the points and or the win/loss.  

Wins/losses during the season, are used only for breaking points ties for the seeding process for week 8.  If the score total and the win total is identical then a sudden death round is used to break the tie for final seeding.  Hence the wins / losses are critical for solving future problems.

Important things to be aware of:

  • Players can not throw alone to capture the win/loss information
  • An exception is during makeup throws, which is automatically recorded as a loss
  • Players can only have two makeup sessions during a season.
  • If a thrower/player misses a third league match, the point value for that match would be zero. This does not prohibit them from playing in the final match on week 8.

Common FAQ’s and workarounds

Building targets:

  • With the WATL stencil, use the sharpie magnum black for the thick lines.

Building brackets:

  • is a website that can build your league brackets out for most of the season.  Note: based on the four throws per league night rule, every four rounds would be a single night of throwing.  Once the league numbers are exhausted, then start another one, and it’s random.
  • Seeding is recommended to be done by arrival time/sign up as they walk in on the first night of the new bracket sheet.

Disaster recovery:

  • It is recommended that paper backups be kept of the evening to be able to reconstruct each evening’s play.  This is to protect against failure of the database and or “software glitches” happening to the software. This should include, basic member records, throw win / loss, points, who they played and other important notes relevant to reconstructing a week.  They should be kept through a league year in the event something is needed for the world championships.
  • All documents should be noted as to who completed them, dates, times, etc. for the events.  The judge / coach should sign off on the form at the completion of each evening.
  • This could be a print out of the software or complete manual records.

Some other suggestions:

  • Week four appreciation night.  This is a good way to get players through the season, let them know they are valuable assets to the community.
  • Week eight potluck.  For those facilities which are not restaurants, a pot luck or similar bonding type is valuable for the community.

Special thanks to Scott Sawyer from FlagTag AZ, Head Coach Benn MacDonald from Farshot Recreation, and AJ Hughes from Splitting Timber, for helping put together this comprehensive list of experiences in running leagues.

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