In the world of Counter-Strike, there is rarely a defined line between third and fourth place finishes. Instead, teams finish 3rd-4th when they lose in a semifinal. Some tournaments have formats which enabled a true third place to be decided and there are means to determine this placing that exist but are not used officially.
Below are five possible ways for tournaments to handle the '3rd-4th' label.
The simplest way to determine a third-place finish for a team would be to use a stat like the round win-loss difference compared to the other losing team from the other semifinal. This doesn't require another match to be played so leaves room for other things like show matches or crowd competitions before a grand final.
If the difference is equal, team kill-death ratio could be taken into consideration instead or another stat which helps determine which team had the 'better' performance overall. Semifinal performance could be looked at exclusively, with the team with the better stats in their respective semifinal being awarded third. Alternatively, if proper seeding is used at the tournament, the opponents of each team could be examined to see which had the harder route to the semifinal, giving third place to the team who beat higher ranked teams on average.
2. Decider matches
If a third place has to be decided, they usually play a standard decider match. With nothing but a distinction between 3rd-4th at stake and a usually small prize money increase, these matches are more a matter of pride than anything else for the previously defeated teams. While fans will always enjoy seeing their favourite teams playing on a big stage, for the players it is a bitter reminder of how they came so close to being in the grandfinal, but just missed out.
Instead of a regular decider match, a combination of decider and showmatch was first seen at BLAST Pro Series Copenhagen 2017. Named the 'BLAST Pro Standoff', the 'match' involves five 1v1 aim duels allowing the third place team (which was FaZe Clan in Copenhagen) to pick another team (they picked North) to face. With M4, Deagle, AK, CZ and AWP rounds, viewers got to see specific 1v1 matchups like olofmeister vs. k0nfig that would never happen otherwise in the same way.
This could be applied as a decider rather than just a showmatch in the future. Instead of someone finishing third picking an opponent, two teams finishing in the usual 3rd-4th spot could battle it out for the higher finish in a more unique format.
4. Just keep 3rd-4th as placements
Regular showmatches are interesting, teams don't necessarily want to play an extra match over having a day off. Crowds watch a match with nothing significant at stake.
Out of twelve Premier events this year, only two (StarLadder & iLeague StarSeries Season 4 and WESG 2017) have had third place decider matches, but this is the simplest way to settle the score
5. Use formats like GSL for playoffs
While some events use a double-elimination format for their group stage, using GSL for playoffs would allow for a natural third place to emerge. As teams are beaten in each playoff stage, they could get a chance to make it all the way to the final through the lower bracket. This format is seen in the regional Minors for the Majors between the top four teams, with two from each group.
This system would increase the length of a tournament, requiring more days to fit in extra lower bracket playoff games or the games would be played off-stream and off-stage which is good for neither fans nor players at a tournament.