Participants: All comers (with no restriction whatsoever). New players may join until three weeks after the start of the round (those joining later must play using quick round rules or wait until the next round).
Skipping: Players in the other tournament brackets may skip ladder rounds without forfeiting their ladder position (seeding) -- provided they play at least one ladder game during each tournament period. Any player may also skip a single round without forfeiting their ladder position by informing the GM prior to the round. In addition, players may enter and exit the ladder at the end of any round. Those who join (or re-join) the ladder begin at the bottom in the order they enter. Players in the top three positions may not skip a round without forfeiting their ladder position (exception: players in positions #2 and #3 may skip the first round in a tournament period). Other attempts to skip a round are treated as an unrated loss (moving the player half-way down the ladder).
Format: King of the Hill. Every player may play in every round.
Ranking: All winning players pass all losing players on the ladder each round but do not pass anyone above them on the ladder who also won. Losing players fall below all winning players but do not fall below anyone behind them on the ladder who also lost. This means that when the leader loses, s/he falls halfway down the ladder. In fact, each player moves up or down the ladder halfway when s/he wins or loses. Players who skip a round retain their exact positions. Players who sign up and are given a pairing but do not play will be considered to have lost a rated game.
Seeding: Initial seeding based on the results of the previous ladder rounds (such that the ladder is an ongoing tournament across tournament periods).
Round Length: 4 months
Tournament Period: The six rounds from September 15th, 1999 to September 12th,
2001 (and each subsequent two year period).
Current Tournament Period: September 15th, 2019 - September 12th, 2021
Next Tournament Period: September 15th, 2021 - September 12th, 2023
Pairings: #1 plays #2, #3 plays #4, etc. Players skipping a round are ignored for that round -- for example, if #6 were skipping, #5 would play #7. New players joining at the bottom will be inter-leaved with those already on the ladder to ensure each has an opponent who can teach them the format and tools -- for example, if two new players join at #68 and #69, they will be paired with #66 and #67 respectively.
Trophy: The top position at the end of each tournament period will receive the "King of the Hill" Championship Plaque and will have his/her name engraved on the traveling World Championship Trophy!. The highest player (King of the Hill) at the end of the tournament period will receive an automatic invitation to the next Top 10 Invitational. In addition, the player with the most wins (≥2) at the top of the ladder during the tournament period will be the first alternate to the next Top 10 Invitational.
With the likelihood that some players will finish their games within two months, there will be a "quick" round between most regular rounds. The quick round will not affect the normal ladder standings. To be eligible, players must commit to a 48-hour turnaround (notification of extended response time is still permitted, of course). These games will be AREA-rated, just like regular tournament games.
The GM will also attempt to pair players such that recent opponents (or likely opponents for the next regular round) will not play each other. The GM may utilize special rules for play-testing purposes during quick-round games.
Players joining the regular ladder too late to play in the main round may count their first quick round game as a regular ladder tournament result.
Prior to Round Five, rounds lasted 6 months. Initial Seeding was done completely at random.