A Revised Open/Invitational Weekend Tournament Format

improving on a great tournament format


Major esports often have the luxury of spending weeks to run their premier events. For less-established games like TF2, though, the scene often has to compress its biggest tournaments into the space of a weekend, which requires great consideration for the format of such events.


The best premier events have a group stage feeding into some bracket, with each match of the playoffs being played on and broadcasted from the main stage to ensure that it is given its due importance. This format is based off the best premier event tournament format currently, that of The International, with a group stage that advances the top half of teams to the upper bracket of a double-elimination stage and the bottom half of teams to the lower bracket.

The original version of this format was designed for Rewind II, the premier TF2 event held at Esports Arena in Santa Ana held earlier this year. Like most events held at a large gaming facility or convention, the event needed to have a significant open component that would feed into the remainder of the event. The format served the event well, but had a few complaints, in particular that nothing was organized on Saturday and Sunday for the players not making the main event, and that the invitational portion only had eight teams participating.


The event is designed around a 12-team invitational group stage that feeds into a double-elimination main event. Prior to the group stage, there is an open qualifier, and for teams not making it to the main event, there is an open consolation cup.

Open Qualifier

The open qualifier can accommodate any number of teams not already in the invitational group stage, though it works best with between 8 and 32 teams.

The teams in the open qualifier play six rounds in a Swiss system.

Some number of the top-placing teams (likely six or eight) move on to the invitational group stage.

Group Stage

The group stage has 12 teams, with some number of teams (likely four or six) invited prior to the event and the remainder coming from the open qualifier.

The 12 teams are seeded into two groups of six, with each team plays one game against each of the other teams in the group.

The top two teams of each group move on the upper bracket in the main event, and the middle two teams of each group move on to the lower bracket of the main event. Finally, the bottom two teams of each group do not move on to the main event, but are instead seeded directly into the bracket of the consolation cup.

Main Event

The main event consists of 8 teams coming from the group stage.

Four teams start in the upper bracket of a double-elimination bracket, while the other four teams start in the lower bracket. Every match in the bracket is a best-of-three series, with the exception of the first round of the lower bracket being a best-of-one and the grand final being a best-of-five series.

Consolation Cup

The consolation cup is a tournament open to any team not participating in the main event.

The teams start in a group stage (except for the four which participated in the invitational group stage). There are many potential formats for the group stage, depending on how many teams are playing. For a smaller number of teams, round-robin groups can be played; for a larger number, qualification brackets or a Swiss system can be run. A combination of systems can be run as well, such as a Swiss system feeding into a qualification bracket.

The top eight teams from the group stage proceed to the first round of a 12-team single-elimination playoff bracket. The four teams from the invitational group stage not moving on to the main event are seeded directly into the quarterfinals, facing the winners from the first round. All matches in the bracket are best-of-three.


The schedule has the open qualifier and group stage on Friday. On Saturday, the top eight teams play the first part of the main event, with four teams being eliminated by the end of the day. The consolation cup is also almost fully played out on Saturday, from the group stage to the semifinals. Sunday begins with the final of the consolation cup, and proceeds with the final four teams in the main event bracket.

Each day takes place over thirteen hours, with each series being allocated an extra half-hour to account for possible delays and overruns.


Prize Pool Distribution

A small portion (5%) of the prize pool would be reserved for the top finishers of the consolation cup, with the rest going to each team in the main event.

The distribution is designed to ensure that teams earn progressively more for making it farther in the event. Every team in the main event is guaranteed a share of the prize pool (and greater than any prize in the consolation cup) to ensure that the teams are not at a disadvantage for making the main event. As such, teams have incentive to keep winning and not to sandbag.

Main Event

Place Percentage
1st 40%
2nd 20%
3rd 12%
4th 8%
5th-6th 5%
5th-6th 5%
7th-8th 2.5%
7th-8th 2.5%

Consolation Cup

Place Percentage
1st 1.75%
2nd 1.25%
3rd-4th 1%
3rd-4th 1%


This format keeps the best aspects of the format designed earlier this year, with the group stage feeding into a double-elimination bracket in which every match is broadcasted. However, the additional teams in the group stage and the consolation cup allow for involvement by more teams. As such, this is a much better format for a weekend event that combines open and invitational stages.