If you’ve only just discovered the world of pro-level Counter-Strike: Global Offensive gaming, you may find it hard to wrap your head around match formats and tournament structure. The average minor tournament will play out very differently to a Grand Slam final, while live cycle formats are markedly different from regular match-up fixtures. You can watch coverage of CSGO live here, while our in-depth breakdown is on hand to provide you with all the tournament structure insights you need.
An Introduction to Tournament Types
As with conventional sports, CS:GO boasts many different types of tournaments. Many of these attract high-level teams and individual players, but smaller events tend to be open to less established esports players looking to enjoy a slice of the pie. Below, we spotlight the main tournament types you’re most likely to encounter.
Regular CS:GO tournaments are the most commonplace and are made of individual leagues. In many ways, regular CS:GO tournaments are very similar to traditional sporting leagues. Some of the most prolific CS:GO leagues include the ESEA and FACEIT Pro League, although the ECS and ESL are also popular. The basic structure of these standard CS:GO tournaments is fairly simple. Participating teams play online and match outcomes are recorded in a live score table. Eventually, the highest-ranked teams come together for live final rounds, where they compete for the tournament trophy and lucrative prize winnings.
Live Cycle Tournaments
Unlike other CS:GO competitions, cycle tournaments are exclusively live events. They are commonly held in big arenas, attracting thousands of fans every year. Cycle tournaments don’t always follow the same structure. However, the majority of live cycle events tend to utilize a double elimination approach. Generally speaking, only the best pro-level teams are invited to such events. However, once organizers have sent out their invitations, other teams may be invited to compete in qualifying rounds to secure a place.
CS:GO Grand Slams
Grand Slam tournaments are particularly lucrative, with many of these events offering prize totals exceeding a million dollars. As with the biggest cycle tournaments, Grand Slams are often reserved for the most established teams, with a direct invitation the only way to secure a spot.
CS:GO Major Championships
Tournaments like the CS:GO Major Championships provide up-and-coming teams with the chance to showcase their skills to the world. Unlike other tournaments, events schedules for major championships are plotted in advance. Although many majors dish out direct invitations to high-ranked teams, less established teams can secure themselves a spot by qualifying through minor tournaments.
Other Tournaments and Minor Events
Although the average minor tournament isn’t particularly lucrative, it can provide lower-ranking teams with the chance to inch their way into the spotlight. Minor tournaments are held across the world, making them an accessible avenue for emerging esports players to establish themselves. Those who come out on top in minor tournaments will also progress to the majors.
How Bracket Structures Work
Although there are numerous tournament types to wrap your head around, tournament structure is largely consistent. Single elimination systems are fairly popular during the early stages of tournaments, offering a quick method of whittling down competing teams. In this tournament system, there are no second chances. Once a team loses a match, they’re removed from play.
The double-elimination system is more commonplace if a little complicated. In this system, a team isn’t automatically eliminated if they lose their first match. Instead, they’re relegated to the loser bracket and forced to compete against other losing teams. This means a team that loses an initial match can still fight its way through to the final rounds.
Match Types Explained
There are a few different match types you’re likely to encounter when following a CS:GO tournament. Best-of-one (BO1) matches are a staple of regular tournaments and qualifying rounds. Because teams only need to win a single map to win the match, these quick-fire rounds are often over in minutes.
Best-of-three (BO3) matches are more commonplace. Unlike BO1 match formats, where a single mistake can cost a team victory, BO3 formats require teams to secure two victories before walking away with the win. Most major tournaments utilize BO2 match formats.
Although you may encounter best-of-five (BO5) formats, they are far less common than BO3 matches. BO5 formats require teams to secure a majority of three victories before securing a win. Although a particularly effective team can secure three wins in quick succession, this outcome is unlikely. Therefore, the majority of BO5 matches are drawn-out affairs. As such, they’re rarely used in the early stages of a tournament and tend to be reserved for final match-ups to heighten tension.
Understanding tournament types and bracket structures is essential if you want to get the most out of CS:GO. If you’re an experienced player looking to turn pro, you must be ready to take on all match formats if you stand any chance of progressing to the final stages. However, in-depth knowledge of brackets and formats will also benefit the casual esports viewer, especially if you’re looking to stake a wager on the outcome of an individual match or final round.
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