To begin, there are 25 automatic bids handed out to "champions" of each anime "conference tournament." These include any anime series I've seen at least 2 episodes of, and also including the movie Akira. Spin-off series are no longer included in the tournament. The remaining 40 bids are handed out on an at-large basis.
Characters are seeded based on performances in past tournaments. Any character with at least one previous Elite Eight appearance (or better) or at least two Sweet Sixteen appearances (or better) is automatically included in the tournament and seeded #1-#8. Lower seeds are based on a more subjective criteria. Any character who is not "champion" of their own "conference tournament" or having met the aforementioned criteria is not guaranteed a spot. Most lower seeds are based more on recent anime appearances rather than all-time performances.
This year adds an extra character to the field, bringing the number of characters in the tournament to 65. This creates a "play-in" matchup, which is not an entirely accurate description, as these characters are already considered to be in the tournament. Rather, the technical description for this matchup is the "opening round" matchup. This matchup will include the champions of the new anime I have just begun watching - Blue Exorcist and Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. The winner receives a #16 seed and a first-round matchup against the #1 overall seed.
Tournament matchups will begin on Thursday, with the opening round matchup being first of all, followed by other matchups determined semi-randomly. The first round will go from Thursday to Friday, and the second round from Saturday to Sunday.
Without further ado, here is the 2014 Anime Bracket Selection Show, hosted by Greg Gumbel!
Please watch the video to see the whole bracket unveiled, along with some analysis that could prove useful in picking your bracket. I spent a very long time making this video, so hopefully it will be entertaining to you.
Then, once you've watched it, go over to BracketMaker and click on the "Predict It" link. Create an account if you haven't already, then push all the radio buttons and make your selections. Note: you cannot predict the winner of the play-in game; however, you can choose the play-in winner to win any and all rounds of the tournament. You are given credit for a correct pick regardless of who wins the play-in game.
Happy bracketing, and let the madness begin!