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Trial & Error: Searching for the Perfect Tournament Format

Posted 21st April 2018 By: Derpina    328 Views

Trial & Error: Searching for the Perfect Tournament Format - Tipify

Esports News – International and Regional tournaments for League of Legends (LoL), Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO), Overwatch, and Defense of the Ancients 2 (Dota 2)  have been around for a while. But have any of the event organizers finally found the perfect format tournament format? That one fail-proof and accurate approach that determines the best teams in a group stage or playoffs of a tournament? They haven’t, but the search isn’t over yet.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the three group stage formats esports tournament organizers used in the past before landing the perfect one:

Round Robin

Round Robin is the least complicated format in any type of situation, but it is also the least effective—probably the most flawed among all. In a single Round-Robin tournament, each participant may play every other participant once. The lack of tiebreakers to resolve matches with indefinite results is the main loophole in Round-Robin, especially in situations where there are two or more teams with the same points. As a result, many tournaments dropped the format and searched for a new one.

Group Stage Single (GSL)

The GSL format is widely used today since many prefer it over the complicated ones. Like Round Robin, it also lacks tiebreakers. But there is no need for that when there is a double-elimination bracket present. To say it simply, meaningless matches and predictable results are finally out. However, one team will only compete against two or three opponents, and they only need to beat one opponent to join the playoffs. The results GSL gives are not a hundred percent accurate, but some tournaments revised the original format to put the format to good use.


Swiss is a non-eliminating format with a set of numbers per round. These are the popular best-of-three (BO3) or best-of-five (BO5) formats. Global tournaments often use the combination of GSL and Swiss before the playoffs. When in use, teams battle against three to five opponents and eventually have to beat another three to advance to playoffs. Moreover, they can meet any opponent from the line-ups in the group stage. The only downside of Swiss formats is occurring situations where two best teams and two worst teams meet each other earlier than expected, making the entire tournament short and predictable.

The perfect format

The perfect format is a combination of different strategies. The solution to the problems people often encounter in GSL and Swiss formats is to use a predetermined seeding throughout the group stage. However, the results of the tournaments still need to reseed the teams depending on the level of their opponents. For that, the Buchholz system comes in the picture. It is a tiebreaker match that determines the severity of the tournament by summing up the scores of one team’s opponents. It is advisable to use predetermined seeding for the first round, and shift to Buchholz system in the third round. To witness the effectiveness of the perfect format, follow the updates and results of the StarSeries tournaments.


Written by Derpina