Tournament Series #2: Getting Organized

Posted on: Nov 16, 2017 By admin in Tips, Tournaments,

This is part 2 of the Tournament Series. Catch up with the first post in the series, How to Find and Approach Sponsors.

“Ideas are easy. it’s the execution of ideas that really separates the sheep from the goats.”–Sue Grafton

Having an idea is easy, but taking an idea and creating an executable plan requires intense focus and organization. You know that, even while you fantasize about a tournament at your LAN center.


Systems Beat Brute Force

Highly productive people “have systems in place to find what they want when they want it, and can quickly locate the information needed to support their activities,” productivity consultant, Laura Stacks says.

So it may surprise you to hear this after the passionate rant about goats above, but you, as a human being, actually have quite a few advantages over goats.

For one thing, you have opposable thumbs. For another, your ability to get things done is not entirely reliant on brute force.

Having the right systems in place can act as a hack for the dreaded, “self-discipline.” It’s important to recognize that a system is part of an organization–it’s not just about having the pencils on your desk in the same place or having an orderly desktop. Systems are a way to keep your thoughts organized, which will make you that much more motivated to get things done, as well as feel good about your ability to do so.

When trying to hammer out the details of your tournament, and organizing the people, events, and things that need to happen to get your tournament underway, consider using the following organizational systems:

Autofocus System

This is a processing system that really cuts down on the time spent managing to-do lists. Which fantastic when you want to optimize the amount of time you spend getting things done versus thinking about getting stuff done. The Autofocus system focuses on a single master list, instead of the typical technique of managing different lists for the different areas of your life (though some like to separate between personal and professional).

The basic idea is that you start with a lined notebook and list out all of your to-do items. Once you have finished listing out to do items, start working on the items on the first page (as new items come up, add them to the end of the list). If you finish a task that’s recurring, add it to the end of the list. Likewise, if there is a task that you are particularly resistant to completing, or can’t complete it at the moment, move it to the end of the list and cross it off. Once you have crossed off all the tasks on the first page, move on to the next.

The Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro (which means tomato in Italian) technique, is a popular technique that helps you break up your work into 25 minute chunks. The long and short of it is, set a timer for 25 minutes, commit yourself to the task at hand, and then give yourself a 5 minute break.

Pro-tip: If the idea of concentrating for 25 minutes seems like the most daunting thing ever (I get it, 25 minutes is nearly half an hour–long enough for you to catch up on your favorite TV show!), set the timer for 10 minutes to start, and then give yourself a 10 minute break. Then raise the amount of minutes you work with each Pomodoro session and lower the amount of time you break until you get into a comfortable groove.

Different Tournament Types-Pros and Cons

Round Robin

Pros: Round Robin is often viewed as a very “fair” tournament style, as it truly works to assess every player against every other player.

Cons: This is a time-consuming type of tournament. If you anticipate a high number of spectators, you may want to limit the number of players involved.

Single-Elimination/Olympic Style Tournament

Pros: Olympic style can be very dramatic, which is great for spectators and creates a lot of tension and motivation for players.

Cons: It isn’t the fairest tournament style. If you can think about it in terms of rock, paper, scissors, you can imagine that one player is generally superior when pit against another, but that doesn’t mean he’s necessarily better than the player his opponent previously defeated.


Pros: Double-elimination is slightly fairer than the single-elimination, but still has a more heightened sense of competition than round robin.

Cons: Longer than the single-elimination, which may limit how many contestants you can reasonably have.

Team-Based Arena Style

Team-based tournaments can take the single or double-elimination styles, or even All-Star style (if you want to showcase some incredible local talent).

Pros: This works well if there is a lot of interest in the tournament and you expect a high traffic. Team-based tournaments allow you to include more people, which is great if you’re concerned with revenue.

Cons: If you are allowing teams to register themselves, there can be a really unfair and clear advantage, as players of a similar skill level will tend to band together.

Other Considerations

The pros and cons above are generalizations, so of course, you have to think about other variables, like the game, general age of your customer, and if you are going to do random teams (in the event of a team-based tournament), or allow teams to register themselves.

Meeting 101

When getting your staff together for tournament planning sessions, resist the urge to keep it casual and to “see what sticks.” There should always be someone in charge, whether they organically pick up the slack, or if they are elected by your team. A designated individual should plan the agenda, preferably the person who is going to lead the meeting.

How should meeting agendas work? Simply create any kind of list or outline that details the different aspects issues you must talk about. Think about it like a beat sheet–though you don’t perfectly know where you’re going to land, write down everything you can think of and ask people to tell you beforehand issues they’d like to discuss.

One person should be designated to run the meeting. Their purpose is not to control everything that happens, but to make sure that the three following things occur:

  1. The meeting stays on topic
  2. The meeting moves through the topics without going down the rabbit hole
  3. The solutions or follow-ups are clear (i.e.– “Ok, so Rick is going to follow up with the local designer to see how the event poster is going. He’ll report back to Jenny on the status by the end of the week.”)

Remember, there should be accountability for each item, specific goals, and hard deadlines. Never have vague goals that are not actionable. Someone (not the meeting runner), should be taking notes to send to each team member afterward, and should be in charge of checking in with members to hold them accountable for their assignments.

Track Everything/Keeping Score

“What gets measured gets managed.”

It can be easy to lose sight of this when an event is in full swing. Be sure to keep track of things like:

  • Score
  • Revenue
  • Attendance
  • Names
  • Emails

Analyze this data in a post-meeting. Discuss what went well, what could be done better next time, and keep notes. Next time you have an event, you already have a game plan to work off of!

How do you get organized for a tournament?

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