>Infinity Cup 7
We'll easily clear the threshold for teams this time around which means we can have a no bullshit, 8 groups of 4, 16 team Knockout Stage Cup. That being said, we'll probably overshoot the 32 team mark fairly easily, which begs the question "What do we do with the extra teams?" Depending on the final number it could be as awkward as it has been the last few Cups, possibly with teams playing in a qualifier and not even making it to the Cup proper. I assume that will piss several people off, which is not ideal in the slightest. Also this option requires the most work for everybody involved.
Regarding that, I may have a solution that makes everyone happy and lets people participate in at least a couple of matches before being tossed away (as opposed to playoffs and all), but it all depends on the number of participating teams.
Now, we know that the only "workable" formats for Group stages are those that are divisible by 4 (so 16 teams, 32 teams, 40 teams etc.) with additional adjustments to the final standings to make sure that the Knock Out stage has a number of teams divisible by 4. With that in mind, I propose the following extra rules as far as participating teams go, with N being the number of teams:
- If N can only be divided by 4 or multiples thereof, there's no problem at all and we can just play normally (i.e. 64 teams get divided into groups of 4 teams each, meaning we get 16 groups of 4 teams each and only the top 2 teams of each group go on to the knockout stage);
- if N can be divided by 4 but also by 3, we'll first have two rounds of group stages followed by a knockout stage between the remaining teams (i.e. 48 teams get first divided into groups of 4 teams -> 12 groups of 4 teams, which allow 24 teams to proceed to 8 groups of 3 teams, with the final 8 teams proceeding to a knockout stage);
- if N can be divided by 4 but can't be divided by 3, we'll proceed as in the Infinity Cup 6, with the first two teams of each 4-teams-group proceeding alongside a suitable number of best-third-places (i.e. 28 teams go in 7 groups of 4 teams each, with 14 teams proceeding as normal and another 2 teams being chosen as the best-third-places);
-if N can't be divided by 4 but is still an even number OR
N is an odd number of teams, then we'll go through the following special procedure of eliminating teams until we reach a number of teams divisible by 4:
Let's say we have 9 teams: A B C D E F G H I
>We randomize matchups and pitch each pair of teams:
D E G H A I B C F
>We divide the teams into pairs (if there's an extra one, we mark it down for the time being)
D E - G H - A I - B C - F
>All the pairs of teams square off in a direct elimination match (no draws allowed, we go to either extra time or benuldies), and the teams that win get immediately promoted to participate in the actual cup
Winners: D G A C (4 teams)
Losers: E H I B
>The Losers get randomized again for their new order, while the team that was Marked is the first that gets to play the next elimination round (also no team must be marked twice):
F H - B E - I
>Another elimination round goes by and we have the following teams:
Winners: D G A C F E (6 teams)
Losers: H B
>We proceed further down the elimination matches until we have a number of Winners teams that can be divided by 4 (8 in this case). So for example
H I - B
Winners: D G A C F E H (7 teams)
Winners: D G A C F E H I (8 teams)
Losers: B (ELIMINATED)
Obviously in a more realistic scenario you're going to have more than one team getting eliminated, or even having to choose among a number of Losers that would result in more teams added to the Winners than those enough to make it divisible by 4.
When that happens, i.e. you need just 2 more teams but going through the process would result in 5 more winners, then you immediately eliminate all teams that just lost, take these 5 winners, add the marked team to them and proceed to go through whatever kind of tournament can eliminate them the fastest i.e. with 5+1 teams just go with two groups of three teams and pick the winning teams.
ADDENDUM: when playing with groups of 3 teams, instead of following a schedule, to ensure that there's enough interest in each group, let the team that lost the first match play against the one who has yet to participate in any match, just so we don't have situations where one team wins both matches back to back so it automatically rises to the next stage.