A draw or tie occurs in a competitive sport when the results are identical or inconclusive. Ties or draws are possible in some, but not all, sports and games. Such an outcome, sometimes referred to as deadlock, can occur in politics, business, and wherever there are different factions regarding an issue.
In instances where a winner must be determined, several methods are commonly used. Across various sports:
The rules governing the resolution of drawn matches are rarely uniform across an entire sport, and are usually specified by the rules of the competition.
In other areas, such as in a vote, there may be a method to break the tie. Having an odd number of voters is one solution—after the election of the Doge of Venice by a committee of 40 was deadlocked in a tie, the number of electors was increased to 41—but may not always be successful, for example, if a member is absent or abstains. In many cases one member of an assembly may by convention not normally vote, but will exercise a casting vote in case of deadlock. Sometimes some method of random choice, such as tossing a coin, may be resorted to even in a formal vote.
Tie games, which were commonplace in the National Football League (NFL) through the 1960s, have become exceedingly rare with the introduction of sudden death overtime, which first applied to the regular season in 1974. The first game this new rule applied to ended in a tie between the Denver Broncos and Pittsburgh Steelers. The most recent NFL tie happened on 30 October 2016, when a game between the Washington Redskins and the Cincinnati Bengals ended in a 27-27 tie.
If both sides have scored an equal number of goals within regulation time (90 minutes), the game is usually counted as a draw. In elimination games, where a winner must be determined to progress to the next stage of the tournament, two periods of extra time are played. If the score remains even after this time, the match technically remains a draw; however, a penalty shootout (officially called "kicks from the penalty mark") is used to determine which team is to progress to the next stage of the tournament.
Some competitions, such as the FA Cup employ a system of replays where the drawn match is repeated at the ground of the away team in the first game. Although this was a widely used tiebreaker, it fell out of favour after excessive replays caused organisational and practicality issues.
Draws in Australian rules football have occurred at an average of two per season (under the current fixture). If a draw occurs during a regular season match, the result stands as a draw, and both teams earn premiership points equivalent to half of a win (two points, or one in South Australian competition).
Traditionally, when a draw occurred during a finals match, the match would be replayed the following week, but the Australian Football League introduced extra time to finals (except for the Grand Final) in 1991 following the logistical difficulties that arose after the 1990 Qualifying Final between Collingwood and West Coast was drawn, and introduced extra time to Grand Finals in 2016.
Where used, extra time typically consists of two periods, each five minutes long (plus time-on if applicable), with winner being the team ahead after both periods; if scores are still level at the end of extra time, the game continues under sudden death rules, where the siren will not sound until a team next scores.
Ties are relatively rare in baseball, since the practice dating back to the earliest days of the game is to play extra innings until one side has the lead after an equal number of innings played. An exception is spring training, where a game can be called a tie upon agreement by both teams, usually in a case where one or both teams have used all available pitchers. Games can be called after nine innings, or after any extra inning, and typically do not last more than 11 innings.
Ties are somewhat rare in basketball due to the high-scoring nature of the game: if the score is tied at the end of regulation, the rules provide that as many extra periods as necessary will be played until one side has a higher score. If a game is non-competitive (such as an exhibition game), a draw may be declared if the scores are tied at the end of regulation. Draws are also possible in the any competition such as European major competitions where knockout stages in that league are contested as a two-legged tie. If the first leg is tied, or the second leg is tied but there is a definitive winner in the two-game aggregate score, then no extra period is played.
When a match ends with completion of the specified maximum number of rounds, and the judges of the match have awarded an equal amount of points to both contestants, or if there are three judges (as is the custom) and one judge awards the fight to one fighter, another awards the fight to the opposing fighter, and the third scores it a draw (split draw), the match is declared a draw. The contest would be scored a draw even if two of three judges score it a draw and the third does not (a majority draw). Draws are relatively rare in boxing: certain scoring systems make it impossible for a judge to award equal points for a match. If a championship bout ends in a draw, the champion usually retains the title.
If there is a draw in a quarterfinal or a semifinal match of a tournament, a tiebreaker round is played instead.
There are various ways a game of chess can end in a draw: stalemate, agreement between the players, the fifty-move rule, threefold repetition, or neither player having sufficient material to checkmate. At top-level play, roughly half of games end in a draw.
If the score is even after three periods, the game may end in a tie, or overtime may be played. In most North American professional leagues, the regular-season tie-breaker is five minutes long, with each side playing one man short. Should a team have two players penalised during the overtime, the team on the power play will play with a fifth player. In the Southern Professional Hockey League, each side plays only three players, with a minor penalty in the first three minutes resulting in a team on the power play earning an extra man; a minor penalty in the final two minutes, or a major penalty, results in the awarding of a penalty shot. A goal wins the game in sudden death; otherwise, a shootout will occur, with three players participating for each side. If the score is still tied, the shootout will go into sudden death. In North American minor leagues, the same procedure is used except shootouts are five players. In each case, the winner of the shootout is awarded credit for a regulation win (two points), and the loser of the overtime is marked with an overtime loss (OTL) and receives credit equal to half of one win (one point). In the National Hockey League, shootout wins are still counted as two points, but for breaking a tie in terms of points at the end of the season, the team with more regulation and overtime wins (ROW) takes the higher position in the standings. The Swedish Hockey League (SHL) uses a 3–2–1–0 point system in the regular season, where a regulation win is worth three points, a win in the five-minute sudden death overtime period or a shootout win two points, and an overtime loss as well as a shootout loss one point in the standings.
Ties rarely occur, since multiple simultaneous player eliminations will rank the eliminated players by chip counts. However, if two or more players are eliminated in one hand, and both players started the hand with identical chip counts, the players will be tied in official rankings. It is impossible for poker tournaments to end in a tie (since one player must end up with all the chips), though multiple players may be tied for second (or lower) place.
In racing sports, if competitors appear to finish simultaneously and no technology (such as a photo finish) can separate them, this is considered a "dead heat" and in most cases the competitors tie for the place.
The term "dead heat" originally came from when horse racing from when horses used to race in matches consisting of multiple heats, rather than single races, with the total number of wins for horses determining winner of the match. When the judges could not determine the first horse over the finish line, the heat was declared "dead", and did not count. If there is a dead heat, wagers are paid on all winning horses, but against half the original stake (or one-third if there were three tied horses, and so on). See List of dead heat horse races.
Ties in motor racing almost never occur. Nearly all modern racing cars and motorcycles carry electronic transponders which relay precise timing information down to the thousandths of a second. However, a photo-finish camera is used at the finish line, and if the two vehicles cross the line together, the position may be declared a tie. The 1974 Firecracker 400 is the only case in modern NASCAR history where a tie has occurred in a position; Cale Yarborough and Buddy Baker tied for third after 160 laps. At the 2002 United States Formula One Grand Prix, Ferrari's Michael Schumacher attempted to stage a dead heat with teammate Rubens Barrichello but failed, finishing 0.011 seconds behind Barrichello. The F1 Sporting Regulations provide that in the event of a dead heat in a race, points and prizes will be added together and shared equally among the tying drivers.
In Grand Prix motorcycle racing, dead heats are avoided by fastest lap times being a tiebreaking measure. This rule resulted in Héctor Faubel winning the 125cc classification of the 2011 German motorcycle Grand Prix after a photo finish could not separate him and Johann Zarco.
In the premier Australasian rugby league competition, the National Rugby League, draws are possible but first are subject to golden point overtime. Golden point also applies to the State of Origin series and Four Nations matches. In rugby league in the United Kingdom, draws can also occur, as in league games, if the score of both teams remain level by the end of 80 minutes play, the game ends a draw, and each team is awarded one point in the league rather than two for a win.
Draws are uncommon in rugby union due to the variety of different ways to score and different values for each type of score. Draws are allowed to stand in league play. In the knockout stages of the Rugby World Cup, two 10-minute periods of extra time are played. If there is still no winner, a 10-minute period of sudden death is played where any score wins the game. Should the result still be tied a place-kicking competition is held where 5 players from each side take one kick each from any on the 22-metre line (usually straight in front of the posts). The semi-final of the Heineken Cup between Cardiff Blues and Leicester Tigers at the Millennium Stadium was decided by a "kick-off". After five kicks per team, the scores were level at 4–4 after Johne Murphy (Leicester) and Tom James (Cardiff) had missed their kicks. Moving now to sudden death, the score continued to 6–6 but, after Martyn Williams pulled his kick wide, Leicester number eight Jordan Crane scored to send Leicester Tigers to the Heineken Cup Final in Edinburgh. In certain knockout competitions, if the scores are drawn after 80 minutes, the teams that have scored the most tries are considered the victors. However, if the number of tries scored are equal, the teams proceed to play overtime.
In most professional tennis matches, a tiebreaker rule applies in each set to avoid lengthy matches, as happens quite frequently if the traditional tennis rule for winning a set is followed. When players reach a score of 6–6 in a set, instead of continuing the set until one opponent wins with a two-game difference, a special game is played to decide the winner of the set; the winner is the first to reach at least seven points with a difference of two over the opponent. This however does not apply to the 5th set of matches at the Australian Open, French Open, and Wimbledon Championships; allowing the total number of games in a match to be virtually unlimited (for example, the final set of the Isner–Mahut match at the 2010 Wimbledon Championships ended only when John Isner beat Nicolas Mahut 70–68).
In versus-fighting games, a draw occurs when both players end the match through a double KO; or via time over, with the same percentage of life bar. For example, some of these games, such as Street Fighter and Tekken, require two winning rounds to win the match, and if after a third round the score ends in a 1–1 draw, the players have to fight again in an extra round. If this extra round ends in a draw, the game will end for both players. In Mortal Kombat, if a round ends when the time runs out and both players have complete life bars, the game ends for both players, because due to Mortal Kombat's gameplay (in which every common hit takes block damage) it is virtually impossible for a round to end tied, and that means the players were not playing for real. In the Super Smash Bros. series, if two players have equal lives at the end of a tied match a sudden death period begins with each player having 300% damage, essentially making it so a single hit can win the game.
In case of ties, the riders concerned will be ranked in the order of the best lap time made during the race.