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American Cornhole League Kickoff Battle Pool Predictions

Zach Thompson breaks down the American Cornhole League Kickoff Battle Pool on DraftKings Sportsbook, which locks at 2:30 p.m. ET on Friday.

Ryan Smith pro cornhole player Travis Dove for The Washington Post via Getty Images Magazine

As part of DraftKings’ $250k Tailgate Weekend on The Dream Stream leading up to the Super Bowl on Sunday, there’s a great free-to-play pool with a hefty payout attached to one of everyone’s favorite pre-game activities — cornhole. This tournament won’t be played on the collapsible version you set up in the backyard at a barbecue, but the basic rules are the same.

The 2021 ACL (American Cornhole League) Kickoff Battle will take place in Winter Haven, Fla., and run from Friday through Sunday. While competitions are held across all the skill levels and age groups, the pool will focus on the Pro level, which features 256 players, along with the results from the men’s and women’s doubles event.


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How many players will score 10 or more points against Pro Singles World Champion Jamie Graham?

Scoring for Pro-level cornhole is pretty much the same as in most backyards with three points for making it into the hole (Cornhole) and one for landing it on the board (Woody). The pros use “cancellation” scoring, meaning the points of one player cancel out the points of their opponent. Using this method, only one player/team can score in each inning and each contest consists of however many innings are needed for a player/team to reach 21. Each player gets four tosses per round for a max score of 12 points per round, but usually at this level, there is a lot of cancellation in each round, making it difficult to score many points against a top player like Graham since a player has to outscore him in multiple innings by multiple points.

How many games will Graham play? That depends on how he does. The tournament format begins with four double-elimination brackets. The winner of each double-elimination bracket will enter a four-player single-elimination playoff to be crowned champion. Assuming Graham makes the top four, he would play at least seven games to get through his bracket into the semifinals. If he were to sweep the tournament and never lose, he would need nine straight wins. Graham won the kickoff event last year to take over the top spot in the standings and is the current ACL Pro Singles World Champion. During the 2020 ACL Championships last August, he claimed both the singles title and ACL Man of the Year title and finished atop the Player of the Year standings.

However, there is some uncertainty around Graham coming into this tournament after he switched bags from AllCornhole to Fire. This field is stacked with top talent, and it’s not a given that he’ll make a deep run, nevermind win the whole event. Obviously, if he loses either once or twice, he would allow more than 12 points in those games. He may also concede more points than he has in recent tournaments if he struggles to adjust to the new equipment. While I see five-plus as an option to consider, I think the more likely scenario is that he ends up at three or four.

Choice: 3-4


Which of these current or former world champions will win the most games in Pro Singles?

The four options are Matthew Sorrells, Devon Harbaugh, James Baldwin and Jordan Langworthy. In last year’s season-ending standings, Harbaugh finished 25th, Baldwin 22nd and Sorrells checked in at 135th. Langworthy is remembered for his magical run in 2017, when he rallied past the much more-established Matt Guy (more on him later) to claim the championship. The game prior to knocking off Guy, Langworthy barely edged Baldwin, who bounced back and won the ACL Singles Championship the following year.

Baldwin comes in with solid form and seems like the safest pick of the bunch, but it was actually Matthew “Short Shorts” Sorrels who has the most recent championship of this group, claiming the title in 2019. Baldwin’s consistent success, though, over the past several seasons makes him my choice here. He just missed the final four in the Pro Singles event that crowned Graham the world champion last year, finishing second in his bracket in a tie for fifth overall.

Choice: James Baldwin


Will Matt Guy Average over 10 points per round for the entire weekend?

Guy is known as “The Goat” and “The Champ” and is ready to roll for his first season as an official ACL Pro. He has racked up accolades on the ACO, which is the longer-established of the two cornhole pro organizations but seen as less attractive to the top young talent. Guy should be highly motivated to show he can still contend with the young guns in the sport, and he comes in on a great roll after averaging a 10.3 score across eight games in his most recent event, the ACL Open in Myrtle Beach, S.C. The question of whether he can keep up that pace is not quite the same as asking if a pitcher who just had a perfect game will have another one in his next start, but it’s pretty close. Remember, each game is four tosses, and he would need to make at least three cornholes in every round to get to 10 points in any round. While there’s no arguing it’s possible since he just did it, it’s definitely more likely that he’ll cool off a little bit.

Choice: No


Who will win Singles?

There are three specific players listed here in Graham, Guy and Trey Burchfield, along with an “any other player” option that includes an enormous amount of players in the rest of the field. The Pro Division has 256 members, and with a knockout-style format in four brackets, there’s definitely a chance that an unknown player emerges with a win in this event. While Guy is a legend and Graham just won all those titles last year, Burchfield also comes in playing well and some experts think he’s the best player in the world right now. In some ways, a Graham-Guy final match would mirror the Mahomes-Brady Super Bowl matchup with rising star vs. established legend. However, with so much randomness inherent to a bracket format, I’m going to take a shot on the field in this pick.

Choice: Any Other Player


Who will win Doubles?

Graham and Guy will team up for this part of the event and will surely be a tough team to take down. While they would probably be considered the favorites, the team of Trey Burchfield and Derrick King have been dominating lately. Burchfield and King just teamed up for the first time last year, but they already claimed the title as Pro Doubles world champions at the end of last season. They also claimed a doubles win last fall at the 2020 National College Cornhole Championship, where they cruised to a dominant 22-1 win in the final match over Graham and Erick Davis. Again, the “Any Other Team” option is also tempting with so many players in this tournament-style event, and last year’s Pro Doubles standings were led by Greg Geary and Jimmy McGuffin, who edged out King/Burchfield. However, given their great finish to the season, I’m going with Burchfield and King to keep rolling and get the win here.

Choice: Trey Burchfield-Derrick King


Will Ryan Windsor make it into the Final Four for Singles or Doubles?

Windsor just missed the final four at last year’s World Championships, finishing second in his bracket and in both singles and doubles. So the answer would have been no for that event, but only by the narrowest of margins. Windsor finished the season second in the Pro standings behind just Graham, so I think he’ll get to the final four in one event or the other. It actually wouldn’t be a total surprise to me if he wins the Singles title, which would make the “Any Other Player” pick hit as well. There’s plenty of randomness to the tournament format, but he has been so close so often that I think he’ll get into the Final Four at this event.

Choice: Singles Only


How many players will be undefeated entering into the Singles Final Four?

The Final Four is the four winners of the double-elimination brackets, so they can either have made it through with one loss or zero losses. Based on recent brackets that I could find, it’s a toss-up with slightly more coming through undefeated than coming through with one loss.

Choice: 3+


How many teams will be undefeated entering into the Doubles Final Four?

The setup of the event is the same as the Pro Singles, so there are four full brackets of double-elimination that feed into the Final Four.

Choice: 2


Who will be the highest-ranked female player in the ACL Pro Singles Standings after the event?

In the final Pro Singles standings of last season, Christine Papcke finished at No. 83, Samantha Finley finished at No. 96 and Sarah Cassidy was the Women’s Singles/Doubles Champion at the 2020 ACL World Championship. Maya Cupp won the Woman of the Year and leads a strong group in the “Any Other Player” option. While the sport is still predominantly male, there is a growing number of women in this huge field, so I’ll take the numbers and go with any other player.

Choice: Any Other Player


How many players will average over 10 points per round at the event?

As discussed above, scoring 10 points per round is extremely difficult. It’s definitely possible no one will throughout this event, and the fact that one or two players would still keep this as the right answer makes it an easy pick for me.

Choice: 0-2

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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is z.thompson) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.


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