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5 things you have to think about when running a gaming tournament

5 things you have to think about when running a gaming tournament

| April 8, 2014

I’m running a small-scale gaming tournament for the Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme Vs: Full Boost (EXVSFB) Singaporean community this coming Saturday, and this post is as much an informative piece for you guys as it is a memo to myself to not mess anything up.

Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you increase tournament participation, decrease hiccup occurrences, and gain a six-pack in just two weeks with some simple exercises.

1. What’s my target number of participants?

This is always the first thing on an organizer’s mind: how many people are going to show up? The reason this is the first item on this list is simply that if you can’t draw in a reasonable number of participants, there’s really no point running a tournament. More importantly, being the organizer of a tournament with a high number of participants is something you’d definitely want to put on your résumé, or casually mention in a conversation with a member of the opposite sex.


Rallying up a good number of participants for team-based games such as EXVSFB tends to be extra difficult, thanks to the fact that players need a group of friends to join with them.

2. Where will I be holding the tournament?

As they say in real estate: ‘location, location, location.’ Tourney-goers don’t want to travel too far to take part in a tournament, and it’s your job to make sure they don’t have to. You also have to look into whether the potential venue has all the equipment you need, which may include the necessary consoles or PCs, a setup that will let you do livestreaming, and a sound system so you don’t have to shout yourself hoarse. Also, you have to make sure your venue is big enough to house all the tournament participants, plus their girlfriends who come to support them. Speaking from experience, the latter is not a particularly large number of people, but I think my tournament participants would want me to be optimistic on their behalves.


Garena Stadium, located in Bugis+, Singapore, is a great place for holding League of Legends tournaments.

3. What are the prizes I’ll be distributing?

Prizes are directly related to the hype surrounding a tournament, as demonstrated by Valve in the organization of The International, where they gave out approximately $2.7 million in total prize money. On the other end of the spectrum, our community looks a little bit more like a bunch of sorry scavengers who forage for small-time prizes and donations from sponsors or members of the community, but we do a pretty good job of lying to ourselves that it’s good enough, so we tend to get by just fine.


4. What will be the tournament format?

There really isn’t a set tournament format for many games, so it’s up to the organizer to decide how they want to run their tournaments. For example, in Street Fighter 4, tournaments can either allow single or team entries, the latter of which adds a bit of tournament depth because it allows you to overcome the limitation of having only a single character to face down the occasional bad character matchup.

For my tournament, because EXVSFB is a four-player game where the players are split into two teams, I have to consider if it’s better to let players form their own teams or if we are going to randomly split them up on the day of the tournament. While letting them form their own teams is much easier to organize and is much fairer to the better players who don’t have to worry about getting teamed up with a weaker player, it also means that a lot less people will enter the tournament. Players who don’t have anyone to team up with and players who are afraid of taking on a team of two top-players are unlikely to join tournaments in that format.


5. Where will I be promoting this tournament?

If you’ve got a Facebook group for your community, it’s a given that you’ll be promoting the tournament there. At the same time, you’ll probably want to post about the tournament somewhere else, like maybe some local forums. It’s always great to branch out and try to promote your events outside of the usual territories, because it’ll mean you can draw fresh blood into your community to join your ever-growing legion of like-minded individuals.


In closing, organizing even a small-scale gaming tournament can be a lot of work, but it’s really rewarding to see the smiles on your tourney participants’ faces as they crush each other’s dreams. If you play an obscure game which doesn’t get a lot of attention in your home country and you would like to meet more people to play the game with, you should consider starting a community of your own and running some tournaments for it. It’s also a solid first-step to beginning a campaign of global domination.

Disclaimer: Kuanyi is a founding member and active participant of Singapore’s EXVSFB community.

(Image sources: 1, 2)

  • msantaka

    I would like to add human resources.

    How many people will be needed to manage the tournament. How many referee(s) needed to run the tournament and how many needed to keep the tournament and the equipment safe. How many will be managing the registration and creating the brackets. Do we need gofer/gopher and how many? Who will be the MC and/or managing the event’s flow?

    And talking about event flow.

    What is your time table? You can add mini events in the main event (to introduce future game(s) to gauge interest). Do you want to put give aways during the event? Is there a prize giving ceremony (If you have sponsors, it’s a must). And when is that? Can the representative of your sponsors be available at that time?

    And lastly if it is a commercial event. Make a business case.

    Are you doing this and willing to cover the expenses? If not, how do you generate revenue? How many are you getting from the sponsors? Etc.

    • Kuanyi Twang

      Hi! Thanks for reading the article.

      I agree with you entirely! Those are definitely things that need to be considered. I didn’t add them to my list because the tournament i’m running is pretty small so it’s just me and an elite team of 2 other people at most helping out, so we’re pretty good on resources.

      Maybe I should change the title of the article to ’5 of MANY things to think about when running a gaming tournament’- because there’s just a lot of crazy going on!

    • L_Z_N

      FYI, msantaka used to be involved in running majors in Indonesia. Along with his friends & crew at videogamesindonesia he ran numerous video game tournaments from 2002-2009.

      Btw I want to add a few tips, if you don’t mind. Don’t hesitate to organize a tournament for your favourite game. No matter how obscure/unpopular the game is in your area. Just plan the tournament carefully and you should be fine. For example you want to run a Jojo All Star Battle tournament, you expect no more than 10 people will show up. Then choose a small place like someone’s house, a small store, a gaming cafe, just pick a suitable spot as the venue. Plan the date, the schedule, make sure the income from entry fee can cover the costs(venue fee, equipment rental fee, and possibly the prizes). Build your experience. Just like any set of skills, as you organize more tournament the better you become at it. The better you are at time management, resource management, promotion and so on.

      As of prizes. Having huge prizes can bring a lot of hype, media exposure to your event. Huge prizes can also attract foreign players which may boost up the local players’ interest in joining your event. However when you’re just starting up I recommend you focus at improving your skills as tournament organizer, at building your reputation, at improving your event(such as having your event broadcasted, or having exhibition matches with unique rules). When you run events consistently people will certainly speak of your events. This can possibly can get your more entrants in your future tournaments. If things go well for you and the community, you should be able to eventually see more demand. Bigger demand in having a larger venue, bigger demand in having more games featured in your event, etc.

      In addition to getting more friends, more solid community, improving the players’ skills in your area, more exposure to the game you enjoy. Running tournaments may also give personal benefits to you. Maybe not financially because I feel it’s tough to make money from this(e.g charging a high entry fee can lead to less enthusiasm from players which can equal you generating less money). However because I’ve been running fighting game events since 2006 I’ve become better at taking photos, photo editing, video editing, writing articles, etc. I can’t brag because I’m no maestro in any of those fields. But the time I spent making those banners & posters made me better at image manipulation, thus nowadays I don’t need to hire an artist to make artworks for my small custom stick business.

      This comment has become very long. I hope it’s useful.

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