Info! Announcement of finalists and abstract/paper submission

The ITC2021 competition is now officially over. We would like to explicitly thank all 13 teams that have participated in the competition. We are pleased to announce the following 6 finalists (the order of this list was generated at random and hence does NOT necessarily represent the final ordering):

  • TU/e: Eindhoven University of Technology, composed by: Frits Spieksma, Christopher Hojny, Roel Lambers, and Jasper van Doornmalen.
  • Saturn: HSE University, composed by: Sumin Daniil and Rodin Ivan.
  • MODAL: Research Campus MODAL, Zuse Institute Berlin, composed by Thorsten Koch, Timo Berthold, and Yuji Shinano.
  • GOAL: Group of Optimization and ALgorithms from Federal University of Ouro Preto, composed by: George H. G. Fonseca and Túlio A. M. Toffolo.
  • UoS: University of Southampton, composed by: Toni Martínez-Sykora, Chris Potts, Carlos Lamas-Fernández.
  • Udine: University of Udine, composed by: Roberto Maria Rosati, Matteo Petris, Luca Di Gaspero, and Andrea Schaerf.

Congratulations to all! Due to the continued spread of COVID-19, it is unclear whether PATAT 2021 can take place at the date originally announced. We therefore decided to announce the winners of the ITC2021 competition together with an overview of all best found solutions at MathSport International 2021 which will take place online on the 24th and 25th June 2021 (free registration, more information to follow).

In order to receive prizes, please remind that finalists are expected to submit an extended abstract or full paper to the PATAT conference. Although it is unclear at the moment whether the PATAT conference will take place during this summer, proceedings will continue as originally scheduled. Participants that want to submit an extended abstract or full paper to PATAT should follow the guidelines below.

  • Clearly indicate whether your submission is an extended abstract (max 3000 words) or full paper (no word limit).
  • Submission format: LateX is preferred, but Microsoft Word (>2007, include a pdf as well) is also acceptable. Templates can be found here for Latex and here for Word.
  • All submissions will be peer reviewed. Accepted abstracts and papers will be invited for an oral presentation at the event and included in the PATAT proceedings after they have been presented.
  • Authors of extended abstracts and papers will be invited by the organizers of PATAT to submit extended versions of their original work as full papers for consideration to be published in a special issue of an academic journal (to be determined).
  • Submission deadline: June 20, 2021. (Extended abstract or full paper to be submitted by email to
  • Revised version deadline: July 8, 2021. (Referee comments will be provided no later than July 1, 2021)

Admittedly, these deadlines are short, but we hope that joining the proceedings organized by PATAT may speed up the publication process and may eventually result in a journal publication in the special issue dedicated to the PATAT conference. Also teams that did not make the list of finalists are more than welcome (and encouraged) to submit an extended abstract or full paper.

Besides this, would it be possible to provide us with a heads up on what algorithm you used, using the following google form (information only visible to the organizers)?

Please also note that there are still a considerable number of open sports timetabling problem instances available on the RobinX website. Problem instances on this website use a very similar but slightly more elaborate encoding and should thus only require minor modifications to your existing algorithms. Since today, for most problem instances a first solution is available. Feel free to submit any better solution to! If your algorithm was able to compute any bound on the objective value of the (ITC2021) problem instances, feel free to submit them as well to

First milestone results
We are pleased to announce the top three of the first milestone.
  • 1st place (138 points)
    Team UoS consisting of Toni Martínez-Sykora, Chris Potts, and Carlos Lamas-Fernández.
    Team UoS wins a free registration for MathSport International 2021 (Reading, UK)!
  • 2nd place (96 points)
    Team Udine consisting of Roberto Maria Rosati, Matteo Petris, Luca Di Gaspero, and Andrea Schaerf.
  • 3rd place (57 points)
    Team TUE consisting of Jasper van Doornmalen, Roel Lambers, Frits Spieksma, and Christopher Hojny.
The points have been awarded using the scoring rules 12-15. For each problem instance, the objective value of the best submitted solution can be found under the Instaces tab.
Please note that the participation in the first milestone was completely voluntary and has no impact on the final ranking of participants. For the final ordering, points are only awarded based on the final submission for each early, middle, and late instance uploaded by April 30, 2021. The middle problem instances will be released by the end of this week, and the late problem instances will be released middle April.
Aim of the competition and prizes
Building on the success of the earlier timetabling competitions, the International Timetabling Competition 2021 aims to motivate further research on automated sports timetabling and to learn from these efforts. In order to participate in the competition, send a mail to itc2021 at ugent dot be.
The prizes for the ITC 2021 competition are as follows (see also rules).

Winner first milestone:
Top three overall:
  • Winner: 1,000EUR + free registration for PATAT 2021 (Bruges, Belgium)
  • Runner-up: 500EUR + discount on registration for PATAT 2021
  • Third: 250EUR + discount on registration for PATAT 2021

These prizes are kindly sponsored by the EURO working group on Automated Timetabling (EWG PATAT) and the EURO working group on OR in Sports (EWG OR In Sports)).
Video introduction

D. Goossens, J. Beliën, M. Davari, D. Van Bulck (2020). The International Timetabling Competition 2021: Sports Timetabling. Presented at the INFORMS 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting.

Problem instances
The problem instances consist of constructing a time-constrained double round-robin tournament with 16 to 20 teams while respecting some hard constraints and minimizing the penalties from violated soft constraints. Three groups of problem instances will be published during the competition (early, middle, late). While the order of the competitors will be based on all the published data instances, the instances released later in the competition have a much higher weight in the final ranking. See the rules for more information.
Submitting Solutions
You are invited to send solutions to itc2021 at ugent dot be. Our aim is to answer your mail within a week. To avoid mistakes, please follow these rules:
  • Only submit solutions in the appropriate XML files format, any other format will not be accepted! Note that an interactive XML solution file writer is at your disposal here.
  • Run the online validator on the XML files to check that the results are as expected.
  • If you submit more than two XML files at the same time, please bundle them in a single zip file.
Important dates
ITC Timeline
We will release the instances in three groups: early, middle, and late instances. The early group of instances are already on our website. The middle group of instances will be released in February 2021, and the late instances will follow half April 2021. There is only one deadline for all problem instances which is end of April 2021. After this deadline, we will announce the finalists. First results will be announced at the MathSport International 2021 conference in June 2021. The winners of the competition will be announced at the PATAT 2021 conference in August 2021. There is also the opportunity to submit intermediate results for the early instances (first milestone). Half January 2021, we will make a ranking of the intermediate results. Although not obligatory, it is strongly advised to submit intermediate results since this allows to have a first idea of how your methods compare to what other participants have. A prize is awarded to the winners of the first milestone.

What's new?

  • Januari 31, 2021. The middle instances are now available and can be found under the Instaces tab.
  • Januari 18, 2021. The winners of the first milestone are announced. Congratulations to "Team UoS" consisting of Toni Martínez-Sykora, Chris Potts, and Carlos Lamas-Fernández. For each problem instance, the objective value of the best submitted solution can be found under the Instaces tab.
  • November 12, 2020. Some small types have been fixed in the user manual. Some missing attributes that take a constant default value in the ITC2020 competition instances have been added to the XML files. While these changes have no impact on the feasibility of solutions, download the latest ZIP files for the test and early instances for the most accurate files.
  • November 11, 2020, 2:00 PM - 3:15 PM. If you are attending the INFORMS 2021 annual meeting: don't miss out the presentation and discussion session on the organization of the ITC 2021 competition!
  • October 30, 2020. ITC2021 website goes live.