VALORANT Masters Shanghai adopts Swiss format, gives top-seeded teams huge playoff advantage

VALORANT Masters Shanghai will be a milestone tournament, according to Riot Games, in part due to adopting the format that the game’s greatest competitor uses for its biggest events of the year.

Masters Shanghai will be the first VCT event ever held in China. It will also be held in the largest venue ever for a VALORANT event in the Mercedes-Benz Arena and will feature the debut of a new map. But the tournament will also be historic because it will use the Swiss system as part of the format for the first time.

Masters Shanghai promotional art.
Shanghai will be a historic VCT event. Image via Riot Games

In a traditional Swiss stage format, teams are seeded against each other in round one, and with each round, teams with the same record are matched up against each other. In round two, the 1-0 teams face off while the 0-1 teams play each other. This continues until a team reaches the number of wins needed to advance or until the team accrues enough losses that they’re eliminated.

But in Shanghai, there will be an additional aspect to the Swiss stage that will definitely encourage teams to try their hardest right away. The higher-seeded teams at the end of the Swiss stage will have “the power to choose their opponents, thus placing their fate in their own hands,” says global head of VALORANT esports Leo Faria. Effectively, this means the teams that advance past the Swiss stage first will be able to pick their playoff opponents.

The Swiss system has been a staple of Counter-Strike 2 Majors for a number of years now, but the playoffs of a Major are seeded automatically based on a team’s Buchholz Score, which effectively grades the quality of opponents they beat during the Swiss stage.

At time of writing, the VCT leagues for Americas, EMEA, and China are in the process of determining which teams go to Masters Shanghai. A group draw for Shanghai is scheduled for May 12 to determine the tournament’s opening matches.

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