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How to Organize a Local Esports Tournament: Part 1

This series of articles is going to lay out some of the challenges that you may face when attempting to organize your own esports tournament. The articles will focus on how to do this from three different stages of event production: pre-event, during, and post-event.


At Low Kick Esports, we know that planning an event is more than a labor of love - it’s also an attempt to find and build your community. Low Kick Esports has been building the Fighting Game Community (FGC) in Chicago for the past two years.

We’ve learned a lot the hard way, and we’ve helped build and contribute to one of the strongest FGC scenes in the United States. Fighting games are more than just pastimes: they’re ways to connect with one another, build friendships, and push yourself into learning new skills.

These articles are going to focus on the events we’re currently in the planning and post-production process for:

Before we go any further Low Kick wants to recommend two things:

  • Start small. Run a bracket at your house. Borrow consoles and setups from other players you trust. Do everything at minimal or no cost your first time around. Organizing events can be stressful and you’ve got to make sure you want to deal with that pressure before committing all in to spending upfront cash on your tournament.
  • Support your locals. If there’s an existing scene in your area, come out. Showing up will allow you to meet more members of the community and learn from them. Once you show up and learn, you’ll have a much better idea how you can help the existing local scene.


Credit: JuliaRoseMedia

PICKING A VENUE

The first rule of real estate is the first rule you should consider: “Location, Location, Location.” How will people travel to your event? Can they get there? Low Kick Esports runs events in Chicago so we’re always looking for public transit accessible venues. If you live a community where there’s mostly driving, where is everyone going to park? Will your attendees have to pay for parking?

Consider every minute in transit and every dollar that an attendee spends before they walk through your door. If the total cost through the door is too high, you will have less attendees or you simply won’t have attendees spend money when they show up. That’s a big deal if you’re seeking sponsorships.

Also, think about what you’d like to experience at a tournament – what’s a fair exchange of value to you as a player, in exchange for a tournament organizer developing opportunities for you to challenge yourself and meet new friends?

Do you plan on streaming your tournament? Running a streaming operation is an entirely different skill set than running an in-person tournament. But the most important thing to consider is that if you are running a stream, your venue needs to have sufficient bandwidth to handle the throughput you’ll be pushing out the stream (upload 35 Mbps minimum).

Credit: JuliaRoseMedia

Here’s some other pre-event tips to consider:

  • If you’re streaming: can you get a high speed, private connection, with enough throughput for your streaming services? (FYI Streaming is a business by itself – start small and don’t spend a ton on gear before you know if you like it)
  • Does the venue have the proper licensing to have a cash payout at your tournament? Does your municipality require a gaming license?
  • What food and beverage requirements are at the venue?
  • How much will an electrician cost?
  • They will add additional power for your consoles and monitors – this is 100% necessary if it’s not a high-power ready facility.
  • Are the facilities (bathrooms, seating, safety) inviting and welcoming?

THE COMMUNITY EFFORT

It’s going to take a village to run a tournament. Hopefully you have some friends in your community that are just as passionate about the FGC, or maybe they really like watching you build your dream and they want to help. Regardless, running tournaments at a high scale involves a lot of equipment. You can always partner with a venue that holds esports tournaments to begin with, but if you’re interested in having the most control over the experience your community is involved in, you’ll have to host your own events with gear you source yourself.

  • Can you borrow consoles/games? Is there a service in your area that would allow you to rent consoles or games? Try all options before purchasing when starting out. Long term, you will want to buy your own consoles.
  • Where will you store all the gear? Make sure it’s in a temperature-controlled space.
  • How will you transport your gear? If you don’t have a few vehicles at your disposal, this will be hard. Give yourself adequate time to gather and transport all your gear to the event site.

Credit: JuliaRoseMedia


BUILD THE SCENE

Marketing about 8-6 weeks in advance of your first few events is more than enough. If you’re hosting a larger tournament, you’ve going to want to think on the scale of months for your promotion.

  • Design – you might need design logos and slides for your stream, you may need social share images, and you may need onsite branding, depending on the scale of your overall needs for design and brand recognition.
  • Registration Page – the FGC commonly uses smash.gg for event registration, but there may be other registration platforms that are better for your scene. Make sure you set one up so you can track registration and encourage your community to preregister! The more commitments in advance the more you can plan accordingly.
  • Promotion – Blast social media at the right times on each platform. If you have pics or video of events you’ve run in the past, bring that into your marketing. If there are existing events in your scene, show up and talk to everyone you know about what you’re planning. Get feedback from the community as you do so and adjust accordingly.

  • This is the end of part 1. In the next article we’ll discuss what you need to be aware of when running the actual event itself, focusing on our Tekken World Tour Event and Fall Fights
    In the meantime, support your locals! You can follow Low Kick Esports on Twitch, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Header image credit: JuliaRoseMedia