How to Organize an eSports Tournament

02 / 10 / 2021 By Mark Saldana

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The popularity of eSports is unprecedented and needs no explanation. People are playing online games now more than ever.

Esports tournaments are also a popular way to not only play the games but are also a way to build community.

Anyone can organize a tournament, but it’s not as easy as simply inviting a few people, organizing a bracket, and handing out some fancy trophies.

Lots of details are involved — even if it’s a small tournament, but it is something you can definitely pull off.

In this article, we’ll spell out all the details you’ll need to organize an eSports tournament on your own.

What Is an eSports Tournament? 

Electronic sports, AKA eSports, are popular sports where video games are used in competition — and the popularity continues to grow. reports, “According to recent figures, the global eSports audience size will grow to over 250 million in the next 3 years.”

Esports tournaments are organized, multiplayer player events and can include competitions between:

  • Teams
  • Individual players
  • Professional players

Do eSports events involve betting?

Yes, many eSports events involve betting, and you’ll often see these types of events with big-name players. But it’s also possible to host a small event without betters and instead offer prizes for the winners.

Esports events involve lots of details including, but not limited to: 

  • Choosing a venue
  • Advertising and marketing
  • System and equipment set-up and management

How To Start an eSports Tournament

Organizing your own eSports tournament may sound intriguing. And for good reason.

An eSports tournament:

  • Can build community
  • Bring friends (new and old) together
  • Can be an opportunity to learn new skills
  • Quenches the competition thirst of many players

Maybe you’ve attended an event and have competed in one before, and you’d like to organize a tournament yourself, but have no idea where to begin. Below are a few tips to introduce you to what’s involved in pulling off an event like this.

Step 1: Do Your Homework — Check Out Other eSports Events

Just like preparing for that college final exam, doing your homework is the best preparation.

The best way to learn how to organize eSports tournaments is to attend some yourself.

Not only will you see an event in action, but you’ll also be able to meet key people who help pull those events off. Get to know them and ask them lots of questions.

Attending as a part of the audience will allow you to scope out the scene and see the event from an outsider’s perspective. 

You’ll have plenty of time to move about the event, make contacts, and talk to players to gather the information that will be helpful in planning your own tournament. 

Better yet, attend events as a player. 

Experiencing the event as a gamer will give you another perspective that will go a long way in planning and organizing your event. You’ll be able to find what motivates players to attend, and then you can organize your own event with those tips in mind.

Get to Know Your Community 

Each community has a unique personality and flavor, so getting to know your community will help you know if it will support an eSports tournament. 

If you live in a senior community, chances are, eSports events aren’t a big draw.

According to a 2020 survey, 38% of gamers are aged 18-34, and only 6% are aged 65 or older.  If you live in a community filled with Millenials and Gen Zers, an eSports event could be a huge draw.

Scope out your community and talk to the young folks there to see how popular gaming is. Chances are, you’ll find a large following that can turn into a pool of participants for your tournament.

Step 2: Decide What Kind of Event You Want to Hold: 6 Questions to Ask

Esports events come in all shapes and sizes. Knowing what kind of event you want to host will determine many of the factors involved in planning and holding the tournament.

Asking a few questions will help you know what steps you’ll need to take.

Question #1: What are Your Event’s Goals and Objectives?

Some common ones are:

  • Growing the gaming community 
  • Brand building
  • Increasing revenue

Having these goals outlined from the beginning will guide you along the way. 

For example, if your event is aimed at increasing revenue, you’ll probably want to gain some sponsors and invite vendors. If the goal is to build community, you may want to keep it low-key and simple.

Question #2: What Equipment Do You Need?

If your tournament is large, of course, you’ll need more equipment. If you plan on streaming the event, you’ll need to consider all of the technology involved in doing that successfully. 

You’ll need to consider how to gather all of the equipment whether you purchase or borrow it or do a combination of both.

Question #3: Do You Want to Monetize the Event?

Monetizing an event could include all sorts of things like:

  • Sponsorships
  • Ticket sales
  • Concessions
  • Video streaming
  • Bets
  • Prize money

You’ll need to make decisions about how to collect money and how to pay out the prizes, and automating the process can make it much easier for you.

Question # 4: Will You Have a Traditional Tournament or Change it Up?

Consider switching things up and offering a tournament or add-ons like:

  • Fastest players who finish a particular game
  • Skills competitions
  • Endurance competitions

Question #5: What Games Will You Play?

Choose games wisely and consider those that are popular and will draw a larger crowd. 

Some games don’t lend themselves to a traditional bracket-style tournament, so you may want to avoid those particular games.

Question #6: What Kind of Help Will You Need?

Without a doubt, you’ll need some help. With so many details to attend to, it’s doubtful you can do it on your own.

Knowing what kind of help you need will help you know if your family and friends can share the load. If your needs are more technical or complex, you may need to pay some professionals to help you with specific tasks.

Step 3: Start Small — Don’t Jump in Too Deep

If this is your first rodeo, you may want to start small. Jumping in before you’re ready to host a large event could result in failure — a lot of time and money wasted on an event that did not work out the way you expected.

Here are some ideas for how you can keep your first event small and simple:

  • Run a tournament at your house and do what you can to make it enjoyable for yourself and those who attend.
  • Borrow equipment from reliable players.
  • Consider the cost and keep it low by offering no prizes or donated prizes. 


Step 4: Look At Your Budget

The budget could possibly be the most important item on your list of steps to perform when planning your eSports tournament. 

You’ll want to consider your budget carefully so you don’t overcommit yourself with inadequate funds. You’ll also want the budget to match the size of the event.

Begin by asking yourself the following questions:

  • How much can I afford to spend on this event?
  • What is my objective?

Consider your goals and determine what is reasonable to spend on the event and make your budget obey.

Things that you may want to include in your budget include:

  • Marketing
  • Venue costs
  • Streaming services
  • Concessions
  • Technological and equipment costs
  • Registration software or service
  • Prizes
  • Staff costs like electricians, videographers, game monitors/judges, etc.

The costs for the event don’t need to only come out of your own pocket. 

Consider these ideas to bring in revenue to cover some of the costs:

  • Registration for players
  • Entrance fee for audience members
  • Sponsors
  • Vendors
  • Hardware partners

If cost is a concern that makes you nervous, let ZenSports take care of it all. 

ZenSports offers its own eSports tournaments which are unique and can be accessed and viewed all from the ZenSports app. Click here to find out more.

Step 5: Pick A Venue

Esports tournaments can be held in a variety of locations, but all locations are not equal.

Depending on the tournament and your needs, some venues may not be able to provide what you need. Additionally, some venues may have certain restrictions that limit what your event can include.

So, scope out the different venues available to you, ask questions, and consider the following factors when making a final decision:

  • Size – Is it big enough for your estimated registration and audience?
  • Cash Prizes – Does the venue have proper licensing or do you need a gaming license to pay out cash prizes?
  • Cost – How much is it and what does it cover? Are there any extra charges?
  • Concessions – Does the venue have specific regulations regarding food and drink?
  • Internet connection – Is the internet connection strong and reliable?
  • Generator – What if there is a power failure? Does the venue provide a generator?
  • Location – Is it easy to get to, and is parking affordable? In an urban area, is it close to public transit?
  • Bandwidth – Is there enough bandwidth for streaming?
  • Venue atmosphere – Is it inviting, are restrooms available, is the seating adequate, and is it safe?
  • Equipment – Are there enough electrical outlets and room to set up equipment?

Community/Rec Centers

Community centers are a great choice for eSports events because:

  • They are usually less expensive than private venues.
  • It allows the community or rec center one more avenue to reach and serve their community members.
  • It maximizes the use of the facility and brings revenue to the local community.


Colleges and schools can be excellent venues, especially if you are a student. You already have an “in”.

It should be pretty easy and straightforward if you contact the right person. Cost may also be minimal.

Private Venues

Private venues may be ideal for those organizing large-scale tournaments. The price may be heftier than other venues, but registration costs for a larger crowd should be able to cover some of the cost.

If the venue is a local favorite, marketing your event may be a little bit easier because of familiarity.

No matter what venue you choose, some best practices to consider are:

  • Communicate well. Ask lots of questions and get clarification when you need it.
  • Be polite and take care of the facility. You’ll be more likely to use the same venue the next time around if they know they can trust you.
  • Leave the place as you found it and return items to designated places. Again, this will increase your chance of using the facility for future events.

Step 6: Market Your Event to Others

Forget about newspaper and radio ads for marketing. They are old school.

Social media is likely the most popular and most effective mode of advertising in the 21st Century, and for this reason, it should be your #1 go-to when advertising for your event. 

Consider using the following social networks to market your eSports tournament:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Major eSports portals

When you advertise your event, think about what information you want to include and how you can make it appealing. Include pertinent information like:

  • Registration information
  • Fees
  • Logos
  • Photos and videos
  • FAQ page

Plan to start marketing 6 to 8 weeks ahead of your event. Reply promptly to emails and other messages you receive.

How Do I Create an Online eSports Tournament?

You create online eSports events by focusing on details such as:

  • Booking a venue
  • Creating a registration page
  • Marketing your event
  • Recruiting players
  • Choosing games
  • Providing prizes
  • Gathering equipment
  • Hiring specialty staff

Your registration page should be easy to use and be one where registration and transactions can be tracked easily.

When recruiting players, think of ways to incentivize them. Prizes, cash payouts, and popular games are all ways to lure players to your event. Think of ways to make it fun for all the players, whatever their skill level.

How to Organize an eSports Tournament with ZenSports

Does organizing an eSports event sound like a big job?

It is.

Though you can choose to host one by yourself, ZenSports has begun hosting our own eSports tournaments. We call them ZSTs.

Our tournaments are unique and not like traditional tournaments.

Here’s what makes them unique:

  • They are bracket-style tournaments accessed with the ZenSports App. Everything is found in one place.
  • Viewers and fans can watch our official Twitch broadcast.
  • We offer peer-to-peer betting on ZenSports sponsored tournaments.
  • Did I mention everything is available in the ZenSports app?

Click here to learn how you can run your own eSports app online.

Download the ZenSports apps