What is a double elimination bracket? A definition by Interbasket with 12 printable example brackets

You’re running a double elimination tournament and you’re now ready to start thinking of what that double-elimination tournament bracket, but you’re not sure how a losers bracket works or how to design a double elimination bracket.

No worries. On this page, we’re going to tackle defining, talking about the pros and cons of these type of brackets, and providing printer-friendly examples of different types of double-elimination brackets. We’ll first start with our definition of a double elimination bracket.

What is a Double Elimination Bracket?

A double elimination bracket utilizes a tournament format of elimination that allows competitors two losses before being eliminated from the competition. Another way or referring to a double elimination tournament bracket is two-loss bracket. When a team or participant has lost two games or matches, then they’re 1) knocked out from the main tournament bracket and 2) excluded from being in championship contention.

Unlike a single elimination tournament that has a couple different colloquial references, we’re not aware of an alternate naming to refer to a double-elimination tournament other than “double-elimination tournament” so we’ll just use that moving forward.

Using the Winners and Losers Bracket Format

The most common double-elimination tournament is to organize the bracket into a winners and losers bracket. This type of bracket slots every team or participant into one primary bracket. After that first round of play is completed and there are competitors that have won and lost, they then move on into the appropriate bracket: the winners or losers bracket.

The winners bracket continues as teams that lose “fall into” the losers bracket until there’s one undefeated team advances into the championship round.

With already one loss, the teams/participants in the losers bracket play out in a single-elimination tournament format meaning that one more loss, those competitors in the losers brackets will be eliminated. The team that advances through the losers bracket without losing again will then meet up with the one winner of the winners bracket.

That final match will determine the tournament champion.

One important detail is that the final match requires the team from the losers bracket to defeat the team from the winners bracket twice as that team hasn’t lost a game yet. This keeps with the double-elimination format.

Double Elimination Bracket Examples

Below you can find a dozen or so examples and samples of one-sided and two-sided double-elimination brackets. Both type of bracket layouts utilize the winner/losers bracket format we discussed above.

Inherently, double elimination brackets are a lot more intricate than their single elimination counterparts. As you can discern from the above chart, the amount of teams a double-elimination tournament can can further complicate a bracket. The more teams a bracket has will lengthen the time it takes to complete.