The five best annual tournaments in sport
Tournaments are an essential part of the sports calendar. So that begs the question, which are the best?
Tournaments are some of the most exciting events in all of sports. Usually taking place between top teams, they bring about some of the best competition that can be found in sport.
Here we are taking a look at the best annual tournaments. The criteria for qualification is as followed.
- The tournament has to take place every single year (Sorry World Cup fans).
- The tournament cannot be a general playoff structure, so football league playoffs and American sports playoffs do not qualify.
NCAA basketball tournament
Affectionately known as March Madness, this tournament pits the best teams in college basketball against each other, along with the winners from the smaller conference tournament.
The tournament takes place from mid-March to early April and is a very popular time for employees to take “sick” days.
The now 68-team tournament has expanded many times, but the “one and done” format has always remained the same, leading to some exciting runs from Cinderella teams. Some notable runs include 15th-seeded Florida Gulf Coast, making it to the Sweet 16 in 2013, and 11th seed George Mason and VCU, making it all the way to the Final Four in 2006 and 2011 respectively.
Despite the numerous upsets, fans are still waiting for the inevitable day where a 16th seed will topple a number one seed.
Some may say it’s dying a slow death, but there is still something magical about the FA Cup.
This year's tournament is no exception, as non-league teams Sutton United and Lincoln City have clawed their way through to fifth-round ties.
Top flight teams may not play their best players anymore, but that doesn't mean there isn't great competition throughout the tournament. Even first round ties between the likes of Solihull Moors and Yeovil Town can have great entertainment value.
The FA Cup may never return to its former glory, but it is still a staple of English football.
Six Nations Championship
Let’s be honest, international rugby union easily trumps club competition. The Six Nations highlights the best of the sport and features the top rugby squads in the Northern hemisphere.
Although it has essentially been a four team race, not one team has truly dominated since it expanded to six teams in 2000.
Where this competition reigns supreme though, is in the atmosphere that surrounds the fixtures. Go to Twickenham, Dublin, or Cardiff on game days and you will see the surrounding streets shut down and local pubs filled to capacity.
FIVB Volleyball World League
Though not as popular as the rest of the list, the top flight of the Volleyball World League has arguably the best competition from top to bottom.
In fact, there is so much competition, the tournament has seen six different countries win the gold in the last seven years.
Volleyball features some of the best athletes in the world, where even the 6’10” players are lightning quick, and can jump out of the gym.
The World League also has the advantage of being played in the summer, when many other sports are in their off-season, bringing in a new audience to watch the sport of volleyball.
The premier South American football tournament takes place from January to November every year. The tournament has been in its current format of 32 teams since 2000.
Similar to the UEFA Champions League, Copa Libertadores is split into eight groups, with 16 teams qualifying for the knockout stages.
The tournament also features some of fiercest rivalries in all of football, such as matchups between Colombia’s Atletico Nacional and Independiente Medellín, and Argentina’s Boca Juniors and River Plate, arguably the best rivalry in all of sports.
Plus, where else can you see a young Neymar run rampant?