PGL Major 2021: The Swiss System Format Explained

Published: Oct 26, 2021 - Last Updated: Jun 24, 2024

The PGL Major Stockholm CSGO event has just kicked off, and it brings with it a somewhat complex format – the Swiss System format. This isn’t the first time the system has been used, as CSGO Majors have featured the format for several years. However, it isn’t immediately obvious what the Swiss System is from the name itself, so we’re here today to break it down.

Essentially, the Swiss System format is designed to provide the fairest platform possible. It permits every competitor the opportunity to progress to the later stages of any tournament, offering ‘equally balanced’ matches throughout. It effectively does away with the need for a round-robin system, and it avoids any competitors being eliminated after just two losses.

How exactly does it work?

Swiss Engineering

The Swiss System used in the PGL Major Stockholm event originated in Switzerland. Reportedly, it was first used to structure a chess tournament in 1895, and since then, it has been used as the format of choice for other board game-based competitions. Now, it’s a common format for some of the best esports tournaments, including CSGO Majors.

When the Swiss System is employed, every team has a fair and equal opportunity to break out of any given stage and proceed into the next. Furthermore, it ensures a balance, restricting any possibility for the same two teams to play each other more than once. In the PGL Major Stockholm event, the Swiss System is used for the New Challengers Stage and the New Legends Stage exclusively, with the New Champions Stage, the final point, using a traditional single elimination bracket.

The below graphic is taken from Liquipedia, and it offers a visual explanation of the format:

PGL Major 2021 Swiss System Explained
Image Credit: Liquipedia

However, it doesn’t end there, as another system – the Buchholz System – is also used in the latter portions of the first and second stages of the competition. It might seem a little complex, but ultimately, you need this information if you’re going to get involved with PGL Major Stockholm bets.

Bring on the Buchholz

In 1932, the Buchholz System was introduced as an intricate scoring or ranking system for chess, specifically for tournaments boasting the Swiss System format. To describe the system, which will be used during this CSGO Major as a tie-breaker system, we’ll use the following explanation:

  • The first team goes with two defeats, and your previous opponents with the results 2-0 and 1-1. Your tie-break score is 2 (your previous opponents have only 3 wins and 1 loss), so 3-1=2.
  • The second team also has two defeats, while their previous opponents go 1-1. Their tie-break score is – (previous opponents have a total of 2 wins and 2 losses), so 2-2-=0.
  • This means that the first team will receive a higher seeding, since its opponents were stronger than those of the second team.

This ruling has been taken directly from the PGL rulebook. It can seem a little complex to start with, but as we’ve said, it’s designed to produce the most balanced competition possible. If you’re interested in CSGO bets, it’s helpful to read up and understand the format of this particularly tournament.

There’s plenty more to learn about the PGL Major Stockholm event, which is live right now. To start with, familiarise yourself with how to watch the PGL Major.


Grant Taylor-Hill
Grant Taylor-Hill

Since: February 12, 2021

Grant is a lifelong, multi-platform gamer with a passion for journalism and more than ten years' experience in the industry. He'll try any game once, and when he's not playing them, he's watching them, being as he is an avid esports fan.

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