Previous performance is a "family" of tie breakers.
It includes different tie breakers:
- Placement in the previous edition of a tournament (applied in the Japanese professional leagues)
- Rating (occasionally used by the EGF)
- Rank (applied in female professionals league in Japan)
- Placement after previous round
They presuppose the existence of a (comparable) scale for the previous performance. Such a scale does not necessarily exist. Breaking ties by placement in the previous year is e.g. unlikely to be useful in amateur tournaments with participants changing from year to year. As they emphasise previous performance they are biased against newcomers.
Unlike many common tie breakers, they are predetermined. As such they are independent of pairing and not open to manipulation. This leaves the tournament director with more flexibility in pairing (otherwise influencing SOS).
In a limited number of rounds SOS-type tie breakers often work similar to previous performance tie-breakers in that pairing software in McMahon tournaments assigns opponents according to rank/rating (= initial MMS). Those cases were SOS-type tie breakers behave differently are often those which lead to unsatisfying results.
They are used in professional tournaments - e.g. in the Honinbo, Kisei and Meijin leagues (placement in previous year as tie breaker) and the Female Meijin league (rank). The use of previous performance (rank and/or rating) is integral part of every McMahon tournament in assigning initial MMS or setting the bar. Also minimum rating requirements are common practice in restricted tournaments.