Six Pieces of Advice for Running a Tournament

Last Updated on October 7, 2021

So, you want to run a tournament, do you? There’s more to it than you’d think; it’s not simply a matter of getting a few folks together, setting up some brackets, and handing out a shiny trophy at the end. Aside from all the stuff you’d ordinarily have to deal with while running an event, there are certain logistics to consider.

Ignore them, and your awesome tournament is bound to be a bust.

Keep Registration Reasonable

Where tournaments are concerned, registration tends to be a bit of a tough topic; how much you charge depends both on what you’re offering the winners (see below) and how many people you expect to compete. The more people you expect to attract, the lower you can make your registration fee. Makes sense, right?

Offer Relevant Prizes

As with any event, you need to know your audience; who are your competitors? You need to make absolutely certain you’re offering people prizes they’re actually willing to compete for. If you’re running a golf tournament, don’t offer Justin Bieber tickets for First Place.

Hint: in most circumstances simply offering a cash prize will work just fine.

Advertise, Advertise, Advertise

I can’t stress this point enough – you need to make people aware of your tournament. If you don’t attract enough competitors, you’re pretty much guaranteed to end up losing money.  Talk to everyone you possibly can – club leaders, newspaper editors, bloggers…everyone. Put up posters, and send out social media updates. The more people know about your tournament, the more attendees you’ll have.

Bring In Judges Who Understand The Game

Nothing’s worse than losing a tournament for some arbitrary reason – such as when the people running the show don’t understand the rules. If you’re hosting a competition for a sport or game you’re not familiar with, bring in a few outside experts.

Tip: an outside expert can add some excitement and lively commentary to the day’s activity.

Don’t Think Guest Speakers, Think Announcers

On that note…you shouldn’t just publicize your event beforehand – do it during the tournament, too. Hire on an announcer or two, get in touch with a few journalists; set up a live-stream. Whatever you do, make sure you find a way to get people hyped up about the tourney – and give them a reason to watch it.

Stress-Test Your Hardware

One of the worst events I’ve ever attended was a combination Starcraft 2/League of Legends charity tournament whose hosts didn’t bother testing anything out beforehand.  The event was hosted in a University lecture hall, and – not surprisingly – the wireless completely bugged out within five minutes of start time. We had people losing games because the organizers couldn’t get their act together, and they offered neither apologies nor explanation.

The real kick in the teeth  – I was a member of the video game club, but the organizers refused to listen to our advice. I realized helping save the sinking ship probably wasn’t worth the effort.

Event and tournament manamgement is very similar, but some of the logistics vary. Pay attention to the details…knock it out of the park!