I think that in our games, generally speaking, is that everyone is trying for 1st, right up until the last round or two when it becomes obvious where everyone lies in relation, and then everyone tries to pull the first player down to better their chances of moving up the ladder.
If you think about it, unless time is going to be called, 3rd and 4th should be ganging up on the 1st place player to extend the game which is their only chance of moving up enough to really matter. 1st trying to fight off 2nd rather than going for his own final push bogs him down against the person who is most likely to have the next strongest board position. Now if 3rd and 4th try and attack 2nd they open themselves up in their weaker board position to be farmed by the first player and have the game end, and possibly lose any power they gained from the 2nd player. It just seems safer to play for the win where they are concerned.
The real struggle comes in with what do you do if you are in 2nd? Do you try and farm the 3rd and maybe 4th places hoping to keep them far enough away to secure your own 2nd place? Do you attack the 1st player all out hoping to pull ahead? Do you defend the 1st player by kneeling out the 3rd and 4th places so the 1st can get the win?
It is all these interactions that make melee so fascinating to me. I don't look at king making as king making, I look at it in what do I need to do to get more power and defend it from everyone else so when the game ends I have the most I can possibly have.
I think this is why I love so many other 3+ player games, and hate melee AGoT. Tourney games should have only two outcomes IMHO, win or lose. I play an insane amount of a multi player magic format called Elder Dragon Highlander, amazing format for the casual card gamer. And in my 100s of games, I have never really seen someone play for second. People try to win, and IMO thats how it should be. To quote (or missquote no doubt ;P ) a book that some of you may have heard of "When you play the game of thrones you win or you die, there is no middle ground."
Anyhow... uh KUBLA!