Abstract We describe the stepwise construction of an 8-component self-sorted system (1 - 8) by the sequential addition of components. This process occurs via a large number of states (28 = 256) and even a larger number of pathways (8! = 40320). A pathway (5, 6, 7, 8, 4, 3, 2, then 1) that is self-sorted at every step along the way has been demonstrated experimentally. Another pathway (1, 8, 3, 5, 4, 7, 2, then 6) resembles a game of musical chairs and exhibits interesting shuttling of guest molecules among hosts. The majority of pathways - unlike the special ones described above - proceed through several non self-sorted states. We characterized the remainder of the 40320 pathways by simulation using Gepasi and describe the influence of concentration and binding constants on the fidelity of the self-sorting pathways.