Why Some Participants Go Straight to Round 2

In single and double elimination brackets, you'll often find that some participants skip the first round (they receive byes).

This cannot be avoided unless the number of participants is a power of two (2, 4, 8, 16, 32, ...) — a number that can be repeatedly halved until only 1 person remains.

Imagine you paired everyone in round #1 of a 5 player bracket: 1 v 5, 2 v 4, 3 v ?.

To avoid this, an initial qualifying round will occur to create a balanced bracket. Following this rule, round #1 would have 4 v 5. The winner, or qualifier, would advance to join players 1, 2, and 3 in the next round. The bracket at this point becomes balanced with 4 participants, which is a power of 2.

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