The mainstay of many of the early GSL format CS:GO tournaments, its origins in esports date back to the Global StarCraft League (hence the name) – it is basically a double-elimination system that doesn’t rely on tiebreakers whatsoever, usually with best-of-one matches in the upper bracket and best-of-three ones for the two deciders in the group.

The GSL format is intended to make sure that every group stage match is a high-stakes affair with no potential for dead rubber games that we sometimes see in a round robin system. After the initial matches, the winners and the losers face each other in the following round. The one who triumphs in the winners’ match immediately makes it to the playoffs – the loser then goes on to face the team that won the loser’s match in a decider game. In most CS:GO tournaments, the upper bracket matches are best-of-one only but the ones that make or break a team’s chances of success are played in a best-of-three format.

While it guarantees a high-stakes playing experience while giving every team a chance to shine even if they run into an early defeat, the GSL format certainly has its downsides. Not every team will face each other in a group and it is possible to get into the playoffs by only defeating the same opponent twice. Nevertheless, it’s a mainstay of esports events for a reason, an easily understandable and exciting way to organize your group stages, even if it’s perhaps not the most accurate way to gauge the strength of the participants.

Did you learn what you wanted about the GSL format CS:GO? If so, check out our other pieces on the Buchholz System and the Swiss System. GLHF!