Running Your First Esports Tournament — Part 1

Esports is an awesome thing! Competition is fun, often funny, creates great stories and at all levels it’s a great way to meet people and connect. I’ve run loads of tournaments in my time, and while I’m still no expert at it, I do know the minimum you need to get started with the least amount of hiccoughs. So here it is, your guide to running your first esports tournament for your gaming community…

First, setting yourself up…

Game — choosing the right game is important, not just because your gaming community needs to be interested in it, but also because you need to know how to set up games manually so that two players or teams can compete. I can say for certain that if you don’t know anything about CS:GO servers, you shouldn’t run a CS:GO tournament until you know what you’re doing. Those things are brutal. Games like Hearthstone, League of Legends, DotA 2, Smite, Overwatch and Rocket League make it easy to host custom matches and are good starting grounds for Tournaments!

Date & Time — you need to find a good balance of availability for players, and for administrators who will be helping you run the tournament on the day. Also watch out for public holidays, university exam times, and big public events (especially gaming ones, including expos and other tournaments) because those get in the way and limit how many gamers can be involved in your tournament.

Place — offline can be tough, but local net cafes often like to partner with communities for tournaments. It’s MUCH easier to run your first tournament online though, but it does depend on having decent connections and gear.

Duration & Format — I’ve bundled these two together because they’re so tightly integrated. For your first tournament, I would suggest staying simple:

  • Keep it to 1 day. This means you don’t conflict with any other events in the scene and you don’t burn out players. The down side is players have less chance to play against more teams, but with everything happening so quickly it leaves room after for you to reflect and improve.
  • Single elimination tournament. This is great for a first tournament is it’s QUICK, as well as VERY EASY for both competitors and admins to understand and deal with. Downside to this one again though is that if a player or team makes a mistake, they’re out, and they don’t get to play against a massive variety of teams. For the sake of tournament management though it is definitely the one to start out with. You can move on to Swiss and Round Robin style tournaments later to better benefit the scene. My personal favourite is double elimination! But more on that later.

Oof… this is getting long… I think we’ll split this! Next up in Part 2 we’ll cover Registration, Brackets and Rules & Regulations!

Got any questions about running your first esports tournament? Comment below and I’ll see if I can help! Always excited to talk about this kind of stuff :)

Theo // Community Manager