What Is A Double-Elimination Tournament In Sports?

What Is A Double Elimination Tournament In Sports

Have you heard of a losers’ bracket? A double-elimination tournament offers losing teams a second chance at victory by requiring two losses before a team exits the tournament’s bracket. Including extra excitement and playing time, the double-elimination is an interesting tournament style to be familiar with. Read on to learn all about double-elimination tournaments.

Bracket Style

A single-elimination tournament or bracket places teams or players in head-to-head matches, and every loser is eliminated from the tournament. The winners continue to face each other until one victor remains. Famous examples of this type of tournament include the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments, all four tennis Grand Slams, and the FA Cup.


Unlike a single-elimination or sudden death bracket, a double-elimination tournament allows the losing team or player to move on or drop down to the losers’ bracket, also called a second chance or lower bracket. Elimination is only possible after two losses. Teams that lost in the winners’ bracket are thus able to continue playing in the secondary bracket against other losers. However, when a team loses in the lower bracket, they are eliminated from the tournament. Once each bracket has a winner, the two face off in a final bracket.


For example, let’s call the winner of the main bracket Team 1 and the winner of the losers’ bracket Team 2. If Team 1 wins the final bracket, Team 1 wins the entire tournament because they have no losses. However, if Team 2 beats Team 1, Team 1 only has one loss. The two would compete again because Team 1 would need two losses to be eliminated.


A double-elimination style can seem less intimidating for some teams without the possibility of an early loss and no redemption. This form of bracket means that every team will play at least two games. With the ability for a losing team to achieve redemption, the tournament can be a more exciting watch for fans. The win can also feel more rewarding for the victorious team after beating out the losers’ bracket or even emerging victorious from the losers’ bracket. 


The main disadvantage of double-elimination brackets is the number of matches, which can take up a lot of time and planning compared to a single-elimination bracket. Some also believe that the style is unfair since a team with a loss could end up winning the entire tournament. Additionally, some think that teams might throw matches in order to gain an easier win through the losers’ bracket.


What is a double-elimination tournament?

A double-elimination tournament allows teams or players to gain a second chance after losing in a tournament. Rather than elimination after one loss in a tournament, a team is eliminated after two losses. After one loss, teams drop down into a losers’ bracket, where they compete against other losers for a chance to play the final team in the winners’ bracket.

Which sports use a double-elimination tournament?

The NCAA Baseball tournament uses a double-elimination tournament in the Men’s College World Series. Other sports like pool, wrestling, curling, windsurfing, and surfing sometimes use the double-elimination bracket as well. Also, esports playoffs like Apex Legends, Overwatch, Valorant Champions, League of Legends, and Counter-Strike use a double-elimination format.