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Understanding Playstile 2LO: Outlining differences to Swiss

Ghost Galaxy have announced that they “put their thinking cap on” and came up with an “innovative solution” to Double Elimination. Their solution? The one that the community, myself included, have been screaming at them for a month.

In the interest of positivity, the above is going to be the only time in this article where I poke fun at Ghost Galaxy.

Playstile 2LO

The Playstile 2LO article attempts to explain the format that has very few minor differences than Swiss with a cut to top 8. However, the article misinforms the reader early on and then corrects it in the “advanced concepts” section. Regardless, I will outline the implications of the choices Ghost Galaxy have made in their tournament structure with commentary.

Undefeated Qualify

The biggest difference between Swiss tournaments I am familiar with and Playstile 2LO is that when the number of undefeated players is equal to or smaller than 4 (half the top8) then they automatically qualify and do not play additional rounds. The implication here is that seeding of the top8 will either be random or based on Strength of Schedule (SoS). It also means that there is no “low stakes” last round for players that are guaranteed to qualify.

I think that overall this is a good thing, but I am not certain. Regardless, this is unlikely to cause issues, and definitely not major issues.

UPDATE: Upon further thinking, I think this is functionally identical to undefeated players agreeing on a tie instead of playing the last round, except that it eliminates the option of an undefeated player eliminating a player with 1 loss in the last round. In that case, this is innovative and welcome.


Ghost Galaxy have chosen to use tie-breakers rather than a play-in round to determine which players from the X-1 pool qualify for top cut. As I understand it, this means that players that are X-1 and get a bye are greatly disadvantaged, as the chance of them making top cut is very low. There is a virtual guarantee that SoS will be used to determine which players make top cut, and players with byes have very bad SoS.

Ghost Galaxy were perfectly happy having 62 players sit out round 1 so 4 players can play a play-in round to form a 64 player bracket but are unwilling to have 4 players play another round at the end of a tournament to determine who makes top cut. Unless the players have identical SoS + Extended SoS, which is very unlikely to happen. Swiss is a shorter tournament structure than Double Elimination, it is baffling that they are unwilling to run another round. Yes, in the case of a play-in you still need to use SoS to determine who must play to earn a spot, but at least a bye only means you have to play another round and not that you’re mathematically eliminated.

Furthermore, they seem to combine SoS with Extended SoS for tie breakers instead of doing SoS first and Extended SoS if needed. This is weird, but I am unsure what the implications are.


They start by saying that the players in the undefeated pool will only be matches with other players in that pool, which would be innovative. But then in the advanced concepts they specifically say that if there are an odd number of players in the undefeated pool they will play down against a player with a loss. This is just Swiss. I have no idea why they went on to explain it this way, it makes no sense.

Anyway, byes. The article states that a bye will be randomly assigned. I believe that traditionally Swiss tournaments assign the bye to players that lost earlier or have a weaker SoS. Since the use of SoS to determine who makes top cut you’re essentially playing Russian roulette every round, eliminating a player at random. If you were to give a bye to players that lost earlier, then winning more consecutive rounds early affords you some protection against random elimination.

A major improvement

Overall this is a major improvement over double elimination, but it still has issues. I do not believe the community will rally to have the tie breakers changed to play-in round so I am going to let this one rest. Maybe after another season of tournaments where I can prove that this is an issue I can bring it to someone’s attention.

If you’re in a tournament running Playstile 2LO and you get a bye in the loser’s bracket, and then fail to make top cut based on SoS, then please contact Ghost Galaxy, and myself, so we can keep a record of the players that got randomly eliminated. Thank you.

Until then, at least nobody has to sit out for 5 hours. Happy forging!


Aurore is a competitive KeyForge player and the founder of Timeshapers. She's a content writer by trade and aspiring game designer. Follow @Timeshapers1