[Archive] Intro to eSports #4: Tournament Admins

Well-run tournaments seem magical as a viewer. Competitors appear in an arena, fight their way through brackets and win the championship or die trying. This seamless path is provided by tournament admins, working behind the scenes to arrange each match, report scores and settle disputes. Working as an admin allows you to contribute to eSports and develop a relationship with the pros, without the stress and competition of casting, hosting or playing yourself. In this article, we’ll show you what tournament admins get up to, and how you can become one yourself.


An ESL admin reports map vetoes to production (source: Hun Park, aceresport.com)

So first up – what exactly does a tournament admin’s job involve? The answer is that whether you’re working as part of a big team or as the single man behind the scenes, you’ll be helping the players get where they need to be.

For online competitions, that means deciding on maps, hosting game lobbies – with the correct maps and rules – and inviting the casters and players. Once the game has begun, your job is to ensure that any in-game issues are dealt with, and that results are accurately and rapidly reported at the game’s close. You’ll also be on-hand to deal with player requests, arbitrate disagreements and generally solve problems.


A tournament admin informs a player of his next match (source: Navneet Randhawa,aceresport.com)

For offline competitions, your role might also entail physically bringing players to where they need to be, providing them with appropriate equipment and refreshments and generally ensuring that the event runs smoothly.

While being a tournament admin doesn’t require you to be an expert at the game, you do need to know enough to enforce in-game rules and set up each match appropriately. A big part of your job is communication, so a good relationship with players, their managers and other staff is essential. Reacting quickly and correctly to sudden issues requires a calm head; something that also comes in handy when moderating and adjudicating disputes between players or teams. The final piece of the puzzle is a good understanding of the website or software used to report results.


A Gfinity admin doing map vetoes with pen and paper (photo: Grant Hill /aceresport.com)

So, how can you get started as a tournament administrator? Probably the easiest thing to do is work in part of an existing eSports organisation, in competitions large enough that you’ll be working with other admins that you can seek help from. Companies like ESLGfinity and Insomnia are often looking for new recruits, so the odds are good you can get a volunteer position.

Once you’ve found a role, it’s time for research. Learn the rules inside and out for your chosen game and tournament. Get on their website, and familiarise yourself with the system of reporting results or disputes. One nice way of getting a good understanding is to enter a tournament as a player. Even if you get knocked out in the first round, you’ll get some valuable insight into how the tournament works, and what you’re expected to do.


Brackets of a StarCraft II tournament on BinaryBeast.com

If you’d rather blaze your own trail, then you could make your own tournament or showmatch. Decide on the rules and bracket websites you’ll use (Binary Beast and Challonge are two good ones), find casters, and advertise for players to take part. You could provide a small prize pool yourself, or even look for sponsors.

You might find being an administrator challenging when you start, but once you get familiar with the systems and players in place, things should go fairly smoothly. Then you can focus on watching the games and chatting with the players and casters. It’s fun to contribute to the eSports scene as an administrator, and it’s a good way to make connections as well.

Even if you don’t decide to become a tournament admin, it’s important to spare a thought for them. They are the essential material that keep tournaments running smoothly, working behind the scenes to provide both viewers and players with the best possible experience. So: thanks, eSports tournament admins!

Thanks also to Robert “Pughy” Pugh for his insight into life as a tournament admin.

Posted in Portfolio.