Different Tournament Styles


Running a tournament requires plenty of effort and organization, as well as cooperation from everyone involved in it. One of the first things a tournament director must do is choose which tournament style he wishes to use. The tournament format is often dictated by how many teams are entered, and how long the tournament is expected to last.

Single Elimination

  • The single elimination (or bracket) tournament style is the simplest to assemble and maintain. It involves placing all of the available teams into a bracket, which matches them up against one another in groups of two. In the interest of fairness, teams are usually grouped according to skill level, with the highest-ranked teams rewarded for their efforts by matching up in the first round against the lower-ranked teams. In each round, the winning team advances while the losing team is eliminated from the tournament. This format continues until there are just two teams left. Those squads face off to decide the tournament championship.

Double Elimination

  • Double elimination format uses the same bracket style as the single elimination format, only with an extra set of spaces reserved for losing teams. When a team is beaten in the regular bracket, it is moved to the consolation bracket, which consists of all teams with one loss on their record. When a team has suffered a second loss, it is knocked out of the competition. Play continues until just one team from the regulation bracket and one team from the consolation bracket remain. If the one-loss team loses to the unbeaten team, the tournament is over. If the unbeaten team loses, both teams would then have one loss and would face off again, with the winner of the second match-up earning the championship.

Round Robin

  • A round robin tournament format is quite different from bracket play, and is ideal for tournaments with a limited number of teams. Each team is placed in a group, with the goal to have each group contain the same number of teams. Once the groups are set up, each team plays every other team in that group once. The teams with the best win-loss records advance from the group to play in the semifinal or final, depending on whether there are two groups or four. If there is just one group, the team with the best win-loss record wins. The tournament director could also have the top two teams in the group play for the championship, time permitting.

Ladder Tournaments

  • Ladder tournaments are usually held over a longer period of time. In them, each player is given a "rung" on the ladder to indicate rank. The top player on the ladder would be ranked first, followed by the second-ranked player and so on. Players are permitted to challenge players ahead of them on the ladder, although they are usually limited to one to three spots ahead at one time. If that player beats the higher-ranked player, the two exchange spots. Players may not play each other consecutively. The player in top spot by the time the tournament ends is declared the winner.

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