Hosting a Gaming Tournament? Here’s How to Get Organized

Posted on: Sep 03, 2017 By admin in Tips, Tournaments,

It’s no secret–the number one way to put butts in seats and show off your fantastic gaming facilities is with a tournament. What may seem elusive, however, is how these gaming tournaments get put together in the first place.

When considering so many variables like costs, set-up, marketing, and prizes, it’s hard to know where to begin, even if the benefit to your establishment is potentially tenfold. Running your cafe is enough work as it is!

We don’t want anxiety to get in the way of you growing your business–that’s why SmartLaunch has put together this comprehensive post on how to organize your next gaming tournament.

Know the game and know your audience

Many would-be tournament hosts get stuck when they try to think about what kind of event they should host. Should it be a League of Legends tournament? Or maybe a Street Fighter shindig?

Should it be organized Olympic style? Or are team-based events more fun?

While some center owners can simply intuit the best game for their venue and their customers, for others it can be a painstaking process. And there’s no shame in that because it’s a complicated decision. Here is a list of things to consider when deciding on what game to organize a tournament around:

Get customer insight

Strengthen your bond with your regulars and ask for their input. At the end of the day, they’re the ones reviewing your gaming center online and recommending you to other people. See what kind of event they would like to participate in, and if there’s a general consensus and the idea is otherwise feasible, you might have a head start in marketing through word-of-mouth alone.

What’s your budget?

While you might be expecting a return on investment, it’s still important to have a budget like with any other aspect of your business. Consider starting with a game that wouldn’t require many additional purchases on your part. It’s important to know that while some developers and big companies are generous with sponsorships, if your event will have less than several hundred people you will probably have to raise the funds yourself. Make sure your budget includes:

  • Prizes (can be a cash prize from the door fee if you can’t get sponsors)
  • Refreshments
  • Extra equipment
  • Overtime for employees (if applicable)
  • Keep your expectations realistic

    Figure out what the purpose of this tournament is. While it might be tempting to start calculating all the revenue you could be making (you are a business owner after all), the importance of a sound investment can’t be overstated. Setting small financial goals for your tournament, as well as focusing on reaching new potential customers, might keep your expectations realistic–especially if this is your first event!

    Get creative

    For most it may seem like a no-brainer to use your cafe computers to run the event, but consider thinking outside the box. If you have an extra room and additional gaming consoles, why not set up a Mario Kart or Street Fighter tournament? Tournament classics like these can appeal to a broad range of gaming patrons. Not only that, but if you rely on gaming consoles over your computers, you would be able to keep your cafe business running tangentially.

    On the other hand, if there is a lot of local gaming cafe competition it may be best to design a tournament that shows off your amazing computers and facilities. In this case, try adding a unique element to your tournament that will set you apart from the rest. For example, consider donating proceeds to a charity, or perhaps invite video game-inspired artists or musicians for an after party.

    Figure out the structure of your tournament

    Once you’ve chosen the tournament game(s), you have to decide what the structure of your event will be. For example, will it follow the structure of other tournaments you’ve attended? Will it be round robin or single elimination-based?

    Often times the video game of choice will help narrow this decision down to a few choices. Youtube gamer Jacob McCourt has a terrific videoexplaining several different tournament structures he has experience with, which is a great resource to help you get thinking about which direction to go.

    Involve game changers

    A successful tournament can’t be hosted by a single person. When recruiting people for your tournament, carefully consider the people you’ll reach out to for these roles:

    Host – A great host can bring a following with him or her. But if you don’t have a huge budget for an international star, consider asking local talent instead. Gaming chapters from a nearby college can attract their modest following to your doors, which isn’t always possible with international personalities.

    Sponsors – Having sponsors can really help unload some of the financial burdens you’ll otherwise encounter. Consider not only approaching >developers and huge corporations, but also leveraging existing relationships you have with vendors and regional businesses. Here are several tips when reaching out to potential sponsors:

  • Write a clear and organized proposal
  • Be comfortable with product placement–many sponsors will agree to contribute prizes over money
  • Focus your time and efforts on existing relationships
  • Event Manager – While you might be taking on this role yourself, it may be helpful to see if an enthusiastic (and organized!) employee can help take charge of some of the more detail-oriented tasks, like keeping score and registering players.

    Remember, these talented individuals you’ve managed to band together are not all your workers, but instead your partners. Set dates for meetings and find a way for all voices to be heard. It may sound stressful at first, but setting a meeting agenda and a time limit go a long way in keeping people on track

    Gather materials and getting organized

    Don’t forget to create a running list of everything you’ll need to get before the tournament date. This might seem like a tip too obvious to be worth mentioning, but it’s important to have deadlines for when you need certain materials.
    Things as small as extra paper and pens are super important when you don’t have them!

    It’s also important to have backups–be prepared with extra keyboards, cords, and controllers (if necessary). If you’re providing refreshments, don’t forget extra napkins and garbage cans to keep the area clean.

    Promote your event

    Once you have the details hammered out and have an organized game plan, consider how you’ll go around promoting your event.

    Get the word out on forums, especially if you have an active account on these platforms. If not, see if you can create one for your cafe, or have your employees spread the word through their personal accounts. Social media is also very helpful, and you can ask your local sponsors for additional support. Remember these social media musts:

  • Create a Facebook event at least a month in advance
  • Change your social media profile pictures to a graphic promoting the tournament
  • Live tweet the day of the event–this will help create buzz for your next event
  • But don’t forget the power of marketing offline: print out flyers to hand out, and leave them at your own cafe and other willing establishments in highly visible areas.

    Don’t forget to design a background promoting the event for all your cafe computers–if you don’t have graphic design skills, you can easily find someone to create one quickly and affordably on sites like Fiverr and People per Hour.

    Run the Event

    Planning the logistical details of your tournament may have been the fun part since you’re used to analyzing information and crunching numbers. But actually running the event on the big day is a completely different story.< Stay cool! Events are difficult and require a lot of quick decision-making skills–that’s why people run them professionally. Be sure to get as much sleep as you can the night before, stay hydrated, and communicate with your team. If someone has a conflict (which is not unheard of in competitive gaming!), assign a cool and levelheaded team member to be your conflict mediator.

    Hopefully the gears in your head have started turning and you’re pumped to get your first event underway! If you carefully work out your game plan, before long you’ll have an awesome tournament that will give your gaming cafe or center the PR boost you’ve been vying for.

    Have you ever run a tournament before? If so, what was the most challenging aspect of the process?


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