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Gaming is not what it used to be. Frankly, as a Gamer these days, it’s not about whether or not someone’s a gamer; it’s what games do they play. Welcome to the popular world of eSports. Professional gamers are well on their way to being considered on par with professional athletes; we’re even starting to see universities offering League of Legends scholarships.

So what do eSprots have to do with event management?

Given the current popularity of video games, there’s real opportunity in running video game tournaments. Of course, executing a successful tournament isn’t simply a matter of inviting a few players, throwing down some brackets and handing out a shiny trophy.

Here are several Do’s and Don’ts for event managers looking to host video game tournaments.

DO: Understand The Game You’re Hosting

If you’re hosting a video game tournament have at least a rudimentary understanding of the game your guests are going to be playing. It’s not enough to simply hire a few judges and call it a day – you need to know enough about the game that you can step in when there’s a problem.

Tip: knowing your audience means knowing their game. If you nail this, your staff, venue, setup, etc. will better meet your player’s expectations.

DON’T: Assume Every Contest Plays The Same

Not every video game is played the same way; therefore a tournament’s structure and requirements will vary. A game like Street Fighter, for example, will feature two contestants going head-to-head, and won’t require an Internet connection. First-person shooters like Call of Duty or Titanfall may feature teams; titles such as League of Legends will require an active network connection in order to function.

Hint: you need to know how a game is played in order to provide the proper logistical support.

DO: Look To Hire Top Announcers

In the growing competitive gaming industry, there are a few well-known announcers for different games. Depending on your budget and how large your event is, it might be worth hiring a top-tier announcer – it could give your tournament exactly the visibility it needs.

Tips: A game’s developer often officially recognizes these men and women, and their involvement may increase the likelihood the developer helps promote your event.

DON’T: Discount The Little Guy

While keeping the benefits of a top-tier announcer in mind, don’t dismiss hiring less-known announcers and event support staff of all types. Smaller or new service providers can end up being as excellent as a better-known source and may better fit a smaller budget.

Hint: always focus on expertise rather than experience and fame when hiring staff. Yes, they often come hand-in-hand, but expertise is the trump card.  

DO: Pay For Top-Notch Hardware

You wouldn’t run a golf tournament on a torn-up, poorly tended green. You wouldn’t host a poker tournament with shredded, damaged cards. Then why host a video game tournament with low-grade hardware? The equipment you use at a gaming competition is vital. You either get this right or wrong; you can either play or can’t play.

DON’T: Go Overboard With Spending

Of course, while you should be shelling out for decent-quality hardware, you should also keep in mind that you don’t exactly need a bunch of supercomputers to play League of Legends. The trick is to find a happy medium between power and price.

DO: Talk To The Game Developer

Contact the developer of the game you’re running. There’s a good chance that if they’re involved in eSports, they’ll help you run your tournament. In the case of Riot Games, they can actually offer prizes on your behalf, along with advice and equipment for running the best tournament.

Hint: involving a game’s developer and running an officially accredited competition gives your tournament credibility and will attract more players.

DON’T: Run Your Tournament Without Partners

Certain tournaments are perfectly acceptable to run on your own. Video game contests are not among them. You want to invite a few vendors, hardware partners, and/or sponsors to lend you a hand. A large competition can be costly, but there’s also the cost of lost opportunity if you don’t enlist the collaboration of others.

DO: Try Something Different

Not every tournament has to be a traditional bracket-match. Want to host an event where people compete to see who can play through Super Mario World fastest? Maybe an endurance challenge involving Dance Dance Revolution or Rock Band? Don’t be afraid to stretch your imagination a bit. Maybe these ideas are add-on events to the main competition. If they catch on you know you’re on to something.

DON’T: Attempt To Break The Mold Completely

I never thought I’d say this but…don’t go too overboard with your creativity. There are certain games that simply do not work in a tournament setting, and never will (Journey, for example.) For this reason, when you’re thinking of running an event centered on a single game, first ask yourself how players involved could possibly compete with one another. If you can’t come up with an answer, then it’s probably better to move on to the next game.

The world of gaming as a sport, a competition with it’s own tournaments and hierarchy is here and event management professionals are getting involved and enjoying a new niche.