Goals of the IATC
The International Axe Throwing Championship is the pinnacle event of the axe throwing year. The goal is for a representative group of skilled players to compete for the Wilson Cup and to crown an annual international axe throwing champion.
There are some important considerations for who participates in the tournament. The IATF strives to find a balance between creating a sporting chance for a large number of consistent league players to participate and ensuring highly skilled players are among those in the competition. In addition, the IATF ensures that all participating member organizations have at least one player competing from their organization’s qualifying leagues.
IATF Member Organization Reserved Spots
All IATF member organizations are reserved one spot in the tournament for a player from their qualifying leagues. Member organizations are not obligated to participate and may elect to release their spots.
Each organization’s league participation is used to apportion the remaining spots. League participation is calculated as follows:
If a player competes in five qualifying league seasons, then this will count as 5 units of league participation for the organization hosting those league seasons. If four other players each play in one qualifying league season, then this will count as 4 units of league participation for the host organization. Essentially this can be understood as the sum of each players’ seasons played at the host organization.
The remaining spots, beyond those initially reserved for each member organization, are granted based on each organization’s league participation as a proportion of the total IATF-wide league participation.
IATC Round 2 & Finals
The format of IATC Round 2 is a seeded double elimination bracket, traditionally hosted in Toronto.
The tournament has grown to include more competitors over time, reaching a field of 256 players in 2019.
Until 2018, the IATC (then NATC) was composed solely of this double elimination tournament.
IATC Round 1
In 2018, Round 1 was introduced to accommodate the increasing number of qualifying competitors. Round 1 is typically hosted on a single day at local venues across the IATF. In 2022, Round 1 was held over three days as a COVID accommodation.
In Round 1, players compete against the other players from their qualifying organization. Each player throws a set of 75 axes and 15 big axes. The total score of the 75 axes is used to rank the players within their qualifying organization, with the score from the 15 big axes used to break ties. Further ties are broken by the Standard average recorded during the qualifying period, then the players’ Collins Ratings. In 2018, the players threw 45 axes and 9 big axes in Round 1.
The results of Round 1 are used to determine which players advance to the Round 2 double elimination tournament.
Definition of a Qualifying League Season
Historically, a player’s performance was considered for IATC qualification if the league seasons in which they participated met all the following criteria:
The season was hosted by an IATF member organization in good standing
The season was not designated as Recreational
The season was played using either IATF Standard or IATF Premier rulesets
The round robin consisted of matches where each player competed in 28 matches
The round robin took place over 7 weeks of play
The league concluded on the eighth week with a double elimination playoff tournament
During the COVID qualification period, as an accommodation for IATF member organizations, in some cases, not being able to run 8-week league seasons, “marathon” seasons (seasons where all 28 matches and playoffs are played in a single day) and “sprint” seasons (seasons where the round robin is shortened, but each player still plays 28 matches) were included on par with seasons that met the above criteria.
Based on community feedback, these marathon and sprint seasons are allowable as qualifying seasons since IATC 2023.
Today, a player’s performance is considered for IATC qualification if the league seasons in which they participate meet all the following criteria:
The season is hosted by an IATF member organization in good standing
The season is not designated as Recreational
The season is played using either IATF Standard or IATF Premier rulesets
The round robin consists of matches where each player is scheduled to compete in 20-28 matches
The league concludes with a double elimination playoff tournament
Champions Points (Champs Points) are awarded to players at the end of every Standard and Premier qualifying league season, based on where they place at the end of round robin play (see the table below) and additional Champs Points are awarded based on playoff performance (see the table below).
Round Robin Rank
Playoff Finish Position
Historically, players were required to participate in a minimum of three seasons to be eligible for IATC qualification.
During the COVID qualification period, the requirement that players participate in a minimum of three league seasons to be eligible for IATC qualification was removed. This change accommodated IATF member organizations being closed at various times, and not able to run three league seasons within the qualification period. It also allowed players to participate when they felt able to.
This accommodation is no longer in effect as of the IATC 2023 qualification period. Players are again required to participate in a minimum of three league seasons (Standard or Premier) with one IATF member organization to be eligible for IATC qualification.
Requiring a minimum of three seasons participation ensures that players are demonstrating a commitment to the sport and also to the member organization at which they play.
In order for a season to count toward a player's participation, they must compete in a minimum of 12 matches. These must be played matches, not forfeits.
Top 4 Rule
When first introduced, the Top 4 Rule ranked participants based on their earned Champs Points within qualifying Standard league seasons throughout the year. The top 4 league members at the end of a qualifying period, from each qualifying league earned a spot in that year’s IATC. For example, if a player threw 5 seasons on Tuesday night at a one member organization, finishing 1st place in regular season and playoffs each season they would earn 120 Champs Points from the whole year and would qualify in 1st spot from their Tuesday night league.
Over time, players began to participate in more than one league season at time, which meant they would earn Champs Points in more than one league. These leagues were evaluated separately to determine which league players would qualify from. Eventually players switching leagues were allowed to “transfer” Champs Points between leagues. This became problematic as there was a real potential to “game the system” by strategically switching leagues late in the qualifying period. This type of switching was difficult to monitor and resulted in the perception that consistent league players were being prevented from qualifying by these players joining their league.
During the COVID qualification period, in order to increase the opportunity for players to qualify, the Top 4 Rule was amended to consider each league season separately, rather than tallying Champs Points over the entire qualification period. This change accommodated IATF member organizations being closed at various times due to jurisdictional mandates, and allowed players to participate when they felt able to. In practice, this rule change allowed many more players to qualify for Round 1 and also alleviated much of the administrative burden of managing Champs Points transfers. This rule change was made permanent for the IATC 2023 qualification period.
Today, Champions Points are awarded at the end of every qualifying axe throwing league season. The top 4 Champions Points earners in each Standard league season qualify for Round 1 of the IATC, provided they have also participated in the minimum three seasons (Standard or Premier) at the league’s member organization.
To qualify for IATC Round 1 under the 70 Rule, an axe thrower must throw an average of 70 or better in three non-concurrent seasons during the IATC qualifying period. The three seasons do not have to be back-to-back, nor do they have to be in the same league night or ruleset (please note; only Standard and Premier rulesets are considered); but they have to occur at one member organization and they must be in three separate time frames over the course of that qualifying period.
The 70 Rule was introduced to ensure highly skilled players qualify for Round 1, regardless of how competitive their league is. Also, since qualifying via the 70 Rule removes a player from consideration via the Top 4 Rule, more players are able to qualify for Round 1 (see Hierarchy of Paths below).
Top 8 Rule
Similar to the Top 4 Rule, Champions Points are awarded at the end of every Premier qualifying axe throwing league season. The top 8 Champions Points earners in each Premier Rules league season qualify for Round 1 of the IATC.
This rule was introduced along with the Premier ruleset in March 2020. Including the top 8 players from Premier league seasons encourages skilled and competitive players to join Premier leagues as it gives them a stronger opportunity to qualify for Round 1.
Today, Champions Points are awarded at the end of every qualifying axe throwing league season. The top 8 Champions Points earners in each Premier league season qualify for Round 1 of the IATC, provided they have also participated in the minimum three seasons (Standard or Premier) at the league’s member organization.
IATF Regional Tournaments were introduced in 2017. They are double-elimination Premier ruleset tournaments hosted at a venue in each IATF Region once a year.
Historically, the winner of each of these tournaments qualified for IATC Round 1. Starting in the IATC 2023 qualification period, the winner is now given a berth into IATC Round 2. The winner will still compete in Round 1 to determine their seeding for Round 2.
There are currently nine IATF Regions: seven North American Regions, one European Region and one Pacific Region.
The original seven North American Regions were adjusted in 2021 to accommodate COVID travel restrictions and requirements between the United States and Canada.
The COVID-adjusted North American Regions remain in place for the IATC 2023 qualification period. See IATF Regions
Reigning IATC Champion
Historically, the winner of the previous IATC (or NATC) was given berth into IATC Round 2 and was seeded #1.
Starting with IATC 2022, the winner is no longer seeded #1 and is required to compete in IATC Round 1 to determine their seeding for Round 2. This change was made to ensure that the seeding in Round 2 was more reflective of the current standings of players advancing via Round 1.
Wild Card Tournaments
Historically, Wildcard tournaments were introduced as a way for players that had not qualified for IATC, to have one more chance to qualify. The winners of each of the local Wildcard tournaments qualified for IATC Round 1. This was beneficial to players who were perhaps new to the sport or were just outside the Top 4 Rule qualification on their league night.
In practice, due to the introduction of new qualification paths, the competitor turnout for these tournaments diminished dramatically over the past three qualification periods.
Wildcard tournaments have been removed from the qualification paths for IATC 2023.