Sudden death (or a sudden death round) is a way of providing a winner for a contest or game (typically a sport) which would otherwise end in a tie. It provides a victor for the contest without a specific amount of time being required, usually by making the first team or participant scoring in the additional time of play the winner. Sudden death is often referred to as sudden victory in the official jargon of sports utilizing it to avoid the generally negative context of "death". For similar reasons, in football (soccer), the concept is referred to as the golden goal, at least where it is used to refer to extra time. If a penalty shoot-out is necessary following extra time, and the scores are tied after five penalties each, the ensuing knockout is still known as sudden death.
North American professional sports using a sudden death method of settling a tied game include the National Football League, the National Hockey League and, in a modified sense, the PGA Tour (golf). Baseball uses a method of tie-breaking that is somewhat unique to it and incorporates elements of sudden death, but is not a sudden death sport in the strictest sense.
In 2000, the AHL changed overtime by having the teams reduced to four players each during the five-minute overtime, and any two-man advantage will be awarded by having the team with the two-man advantage being able to play five-on-three during the two-man advantage. The ECHL and NHL both changed to the four-on-four overtime format in 2001.
If neither team scores during this period the teams will go to a penalty-shot shootout consisting of three players in the NHL or five players in the minor leagues (AHL, ECHL, UHL, Central) to determine the winner. In the NHL, if no team comes out victorious in the shootout, 1 by 1 sudden death shootout continues. No player may shoot twice until everyone on the bench has taken a shot.
During championship playoffs, however, all games are played to a conclusion resulting in a victory for one team and a loss for the other. These are "true" sudden death games, which have gone on into as many as six additional full 20-minute periods with five players, instead of the five-minute period with four players.
A penalty shot shootout is used in international hockey for knockout rounds if neither team scores after one 20-minute period of sudden death. (There is no overtime in round-robin games.)
In 1974, however, the NFL adopted a 15-minute sudden death double overtime period. The game ends and is recorded as a tie if neither team scores in double overtime. This rarely happens, since as soon as a team gets near the end zone, they will almost certainly attempt to kick a field goal. While most overtime games are won by field goals, it is also possible to win by scoring a touchdown. This most frequently happens on a play that begins far enough away from the end zone to make a field goal difficult, but it can also result from a team exercising solid ball control and simply never getting to a fourth down situation. A far more rare occurrence is for an overtime game to be won by a safety; indeed, this has only happened twice. In recent years, game-winning touchdowns or field goals were referred to by sportscasters as "walk-off"s, meaning both teams walk off the field when one of the teams score in OT thus ending the game. (If the winning score in sudden death is a touchdown, no extra point is attempted.)
During championship playoffs, however, all games are played to a conclusion resulting in a victory for one team and a loss for the other. These are "true" sudden death games, which have gone on into a third additional period. The practice has been widely criticized in the case of the NFL, as games often are decided when the team receiving the ball at the start of the sudden death overtime scores during that initial possession (often with a field goal) and the opponent loses without having ever had possession of the ball in overtime. Largely in answer to this criticism, the tiebreaking system adopted in college and Canadian football involves baseball-style "innings" in which each team alternates possessions until one outscores the other during a corresponding "inning" rather than the sudden death system, and where a team must attempt a two-point conversion starting with the third overtime "inning".
In January 2004, a Carolina Panthers at St. Louis Rams playoff game ended on the first play of the second overtime, on a long touchdown pass, the most recent second overtime in an NFL game.
The now-defunct United States Football League had a triple-overtime game in 1984, between the Los Angeles Express and Michigan Panthers, which ended with a walk-off touchdown 3:33 into the third overtime. It is to date the longest professional football game ever played in the United States.
The same system was used in the NFL Europa League.
Of the four men's major championships, only The Masters uses a sudden-death playoff format. The U.S. Open still uses an 18-hole playoff at stroke play on the day after the main tournament, with sudden death if two (or more) contestants remain tied after 18 holes. The Open Championship uses a four-hole total-stroke playoff, while the PGA Championship uses a three-hole total-stroke playoff. In both cases, sudden death is used if a tie exists at the end of the scheduled playoff.
|1951 National League Pennant Playoff Series Game 3 at Polo Grounds|| Bobby Thomson,|
New York Giants
| Ralph Branca,|
| Giants 5,|
|Giants won N.L. pennant 2-1|
|1960 World Series Game 7 at Forbes Field|| Bill Mazeroski,|
| Ralph Terry,|
New York Yankees
| Pirates 10,|
|Pirates won World Series 4-3|
|1975 World Series Game 6 at Fenway Park|| Carlton Fisk,|
Boston Red Sox
| Pat Darcy,|
| Red Sox 7,|
|Red Sox tied World Series 3-3|
|1976 ALCS Game 5 at Yankee Stadium|| Chris Chambliss,|
New York Yankees
| Mark Littell,|
Kansas City Royals
| Yankees 7,|
|Yankees won A.L. pennant 3-2|
|1985 NLCS Game 5 at Busch Memorial Stadium|| Ozzie Smith,|
St. Louis Cardinals
| Tom Niedenfuer,|
Los Angeles Dodgers
| Cardinals 3,|
|Cardinals took 3-2 series lead|
|1988 World Series Game 1|| Kirk Gibson,|
Los Angeles Dodgers
| Dennis Eckersley,|
| Dodgers 5,|
|Dodgers took 1-0 lead in World Series|
|1991 World Series Game 6 at Metrodome|| Kirby Puckett,|
| Charlie Liebrandt,|
| Twins 7,|
|Twins tied World Series 3-3|
|1993 World Series Game 6 at Skydome|| Joe Carter,|
Toronto Blue Jays
| Mitch Williams,|
| Blue Jays 8,|
|Blue Jays won World Series 4-2|
|2003 ALCS Game 7 at Yankee Stadium|| Aaron Boone,|
New York Yankees
| Tim Wakefield,|
Boston Red Sox
| Yankees 6,|
Red Sox 5,
|Yankees won A.L. pennant 4-3|
|2004 ALCS Game 4 at Fenway Park|| David Ortiz,|
Boston Red Sox
| Paul Quantrill,|
New York Yankees
| Red Sox 6,|
|Red Sox trimmed Yankees' series lead to 3-1|
For the most part, if the score is tied after the full 90 minutes, a draw results; however, if one team must be eliminated, some form of tie-breaking must occur. Originally, two 15-minute halves of extra time were held and if the teams remained equal at the end of the halves, kicks from the penalty mark were held, which is generally held in lower regard by purists and traditionalists than even sudden death. To try to decrease the chances of requiring kicks from the penalty mark, the IFAB, the world law making body of the sport, experimented with new rules.
The golden goal rule transformed the overtime periods into sudden death until the periods were over, where shootouts would occur. As this became unpopular, the silver goal rule was instituted, causing the game to end if the scores were not equal after the first 15 minute period as well as the second. The silver goal has also fallen into disrepute so Euro 2004 was the last event to use it; after which the original tie-breaking methods were restored.
The main criticism of sudden death is the quickness of ending the game, and the pressure on coaches and players. To the coaches, it does not seem appropriate once the goal is scored, the game is over and the opponent cannot attempt to answer the goal within the remaining time, creating a game where extra pressure is placed as to not create any mistakes.
Sudden death would have made many legendary matches of the past impossible. Many historical matches have been settled in flamboyant extra-time play, with multiple goals scored by each team, such as the unforgettable "Game of the Century" between Italy and West Germany in Mexico 1970, with Italy winning 4–3 after extra time. Following a 1–1 draw in regular time, the remaining five out of seven scores happened in the extra time. If sudden death had been in effect, the game would have ended on Gerd Müller's goal at 95', giving West Germany the victory instead of Italy.
In NCAA collegiate play in the United States, however, sudden death, adopted in 1999 for all championship play in addition to regular season play, remains. In 2005, the Division II Women's Championship game ended in sudden death as a goal was scored three minutes into the overtime to end the championship match.
If the teams are still tied after the initial allocated number in a penalty shootout, the game goes to sudden-death penalties, where each team takes a further one penalty each, repeated until only one team scores, resulting in the winning of the game.
Any score (try, penalty goal, or field goal) in golden point wins the game for the scoring team - no conversion is attempted if a try is the winning score.
In the NRL, the victor in golden point receives two competition points, the loser none. In the event that no further scoring occurs, the game is drawn, and each team receives one point each.
Tiebreakers are not used in major tournaments in the third or fifth set, respectively, with the exception of the US Open.
An individual fencing bout lasts for five touches in a poule match, or 15 touches in a direct elimination (DE) match. In épée and foil, matches are also timed (three minutes for a poule match, and three periods of three minutes for a DE). If neither fencer has reached five or 15 points within the time limit, the leading fencer is deemed the winner. However, if the fencers are tied after the allotted time, one minute of extra time is added.
Before resuming the bout, one fencer is randomly awarded "priority". The first fencer to score a valid hit within extra time wins the match; if no valid hits are scored within the time, that fencer with priority is declared the victor.
In the normal course of a match, there is a de facto sudden death situation if both fencers are tied at four (or 14) touches each. The final hit is called "la belle". The fencers may salute each other before playing for the final point.