Tourney Tips

The Preamble

This is a few tricks tips 'n pointers to help improve your competition, or a basic 'how to' for the fresh upstart. Over the past few months a new trend has developed – the DIY competition. A plethora of tournaments in various guises, run by differing people have popped up all over offering an exciting variation never seen before to the average ETPLayer.

But these tournaments, as enthusiastic as their organisors are have faced differing problems. As much as I loathe to use the term in a gaming setting, it’s a lack of professionalism [sic]. Now this could be anything, from inconsistent rulings and mates rates to competitions not attaining the prestige they deserve.

During my time at Crossfire, and my involvement in many competitons and initiatives; we’ve developed an unwritten formula. Now this won’t guarantee success, but it’ll hopefully offer a few pointers to improve the quality of the ET scene for all.

Presentation: The Superficial

An important and simple, yet criminally overlooked aspect of any competition in the presentation. Your initial news, and your site set the tone for your tournament. It effects who signs up, how many and the overall feel of the tournament.

Your initial post should be concise, interesting, attractive and clear. These are requirements laid out in the ‘Crossfire Quality Control’ which must be met to have any hope of making it on the front page – immediately putting your tournament alongside the likes of ClanBase and the ESL. If your English isn’t brilliant, ask someone to proof read it. It’s the simple things that make the difference.

Formatting is also important, the aesthetics of a post. A player should be able to glance at your news and immediately ascertain the important information. When the tournaments taking place, the structure, the ruleset and how to sign up. Accept that people are lazy – and make it easy.


This is where one must decide what you want your tournament to be. Not every competition has to rival that of CB, so you may think coverage to be unnecessary. But consider this; coverage raises the prestige of your tournament, it gives the winners greater fame and so a desire to compete in, and win your tournament.

Coverage can be anything from simply taking advantage of the wonderful resource that is and getting matches broadcast on ETTV, to interviews, match roundups and regular updates on the tournaments progression.

Coverage is as easy or as complex as you chose to make it.

For the coverage sceptics: let us compare two recent competitions, their priority placed on coverage and their perception of success. These are the ESL EMS and the Crossfire Nations Cup.

By right, given the prize money at stake and the names involved – the ESL EMS should’ve far surpassed the Nations Cup in interest and prestige. The ESL final had 12 of the biggest names there’s been in ET, the tournament had arguably a better roster than last seasons EC. It had a final comparative to that of u96d vs Parodia. Yet how many people really followed the tournament? It was a phantom competition; the ESL chose not to develop the narrative.

Compare this to pedro’s stewardship of the Nations Cup. He managed to fabricate a groundswell of interest in the usually overlooked group stages; using previews, match reports and constant updates in order to maintain momentum. This kept the NC at the forefront of people’s minds and instigated interest and support.

Why is this important? Without the narrative, the interest in high end ET feigns. And if this feigns, our collective reason to converge on one place and debate matches and the scene is gone. Who cares about a match nobodies seen, involving players nobody knows anything about?


This is arguably the most important aspect. As tournament admin you are the figurehead. How you act, and the decisions you make directly effect your tournaments standing. As the saying goes, reputation takes a lifetime to earn and a second to destroy.

The easiest, simplest and oft forgotten advice to give is to ensure you never make rash decisions. Make swift decisions, make correct decisions – but take your time if necessary. ETPlayers are an emotional bunch and won’t beat around the bush if they feel they’ve been wronged. Flame is a necessary by-product, it shows that people care. Ask any experienced admin how they feel about flame and they’ll be unanimous; it bothered them at first, but they learned to live with it, accepting that it’s near never personal – and to ignore it.

This isn’t to say you should ignore criticism. You should certainly justify controversial decisions as best you can. But don’t reply to every flame bait. One must also remember as tournament admin you have total discression – your word is final. But you rise and fall by these decisions. Don’t be too arrogant to admit to mistakes, see a problem; solve it.

Another important factor is application of your rules. This seems basic, but is often as issue when people go for the easy option of using the standard CB ruleset – ensure you’ve at least a vague knowledge of them, and always have a copy to hand. Ensure you’re familiar with them, as I can assure you some teams will be.

A recurring issue is consistency. Think about the possible ramifications of any decision and the consistency on previous decisions, as you’ll be shouted down if there’s any perception of favouritism or bias. Don’t be rash; have the confidence to take your time and ascertain the facts.

Take the recent example of aza and tekoa here at Crossfire. The facts of what’d happened were clear within 5 minutes. Yet the admin channel took near three hours of discussion and argument to agree on a course of action. Should we set an example? Should we be lenient? Should this set the precedent? Or did we not clearly pre-define the consequences so this should be an exception, with a rule outlining the precedent for next time? Should they be banned at all? Should we collectively punish the Netherlands team? This may seem melodramatic, but it’s what is expected – you’ve to make the right decision. ETPlayers are an unforgiving bunch.

Finally, your admin team. They are vital in successfully running any competition. Ensure they’re trustworthy. That they’re equally familiar with the rules, and if they’re not have them run things through you. Remember to value your crew, and crucially thank them – it’s their free time they’re giving up. Yet a good competition isn’t a democracy, it has a clear hierarchy. Take advice from anyone and everyone, contrasting views are good – but you’re top dog, one person must eventually make a decision.


Be realistic! For one day cups always allow for a third map in your schedule. Consider the maps being played, if set by you, and their average times. Usually 45 minutes - 1 hour between matches should be adequate for 6v6. Any longer and teams get bored. Any shorter and you've a scheduling nightmare.

You should also be strict in ensuring matches start on time. Give teams a short window (5-10) minutes if you must; but if they go beyond that don't be afriad to force start a match - or forfeit. Everyone is competing for fun, and you should only foreit as a last resort - but one match being delayed ruins the fun for the other teams in your competition. There's little more irritating to a player than aimlessly hanging around for their opponent.

If you're a longer tournament be sensible with your schedule. Check out what other tournaments teams might be playing in, try to avoid clashes. Give teams as much freedom as is possible in arranging their matches. Create match channels to get people together to discuss a server. These simple things make life easier for everyone.


There’s a million different leagues, cups and tournaments out there. What makes yours different? Do you want it to be different? If you’re aiming for the high skilled teams, don’t be afraid to hassle them into signing up – tell them why they should compete in your tournament. This is a tact we shamelessly exploited in the times of ET-Cup, where we had the best teams of the day. Play teams off against each other, remind them officials effect their qualification and seeding if EC, or a LANs pending. If it’s for everyone else, ensure signing up’s seamless and that you reduce the barrier to entry as much as is possible.

Are you the tournament that tries new maps? Are you the tournament that zealously sticks with the old maps? Are you just another ET tournament? They’re all good, they’re all worthwhile – but be clear in what you want to be.


This initial guide is incredibly simple and will probably be added to later. But when the simple things stop working, the world comes crumbling down. And if you're unsure of something, there's a multitude of helpful experienced heads around to offer advice and support.

Most importantly; don’t be a prat. It’s not superficial pseudo professionalism, it’s common courtesy. And have fun.
Great tutorial.
Blind faith from the kot, that be what we like.
needs more loving
Nice one Nellie!
Make a summary so I don't have to read it all.
nice tut/column but I need to comment on the following tbh:
Quotethe ESL chose not to develop the narrative

It is true that the coverage of the EMS finals was not at its best at all but this was mostly the fact because of the also mentioned
Quotelack of professionalism
Getting to know that the final will take place right after the semi final you are just admin of is a step which was chosen due to the fact that the teams could not agree on a date for month which I think will be one of the major reasons why we will not have the chance to see another EMS season for ET... overall it was a bit unlucky, seing my newspost about semi finals & added grand finals being pushed down by multiple stickys on the front page (same with the latest 6on6 cup) did not give it a big chance too.
Still I agree with you but just wanted to make clear under which conditions this took place.
I certainly wasn't implying the ESL is that, was a broader point - the ESL was a specific example on a non-related point. Would apply the end of the sentence you quoted "...competitions not attaining the prestige they deserve."
Nice job as usual Nellie
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