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How to Write Rules for Online Tournaments

Sep 21

Written by:
9/21/2011 8:29 AM  RssIcon

This article is going to dive into writing game and match play rules for online tournaments. This article is not going to cover terms of service and/or rules of participation agreements. I am going to assume that the process is already finished when they signed up. The next step is to set up the rules to be more individualized for the tournament itself. Every tournament has to have very specific and ironclad rule set for match play. This protects your tournament from problems, deviations and interpretations. Allowing the participants to argue, because of your oversight, could take up valuable time. They may even be right. This is where your good intentions to provide the community something noteworthy with your valuable time can go off track.


Below are important sections and explanation of areas to add to your rules.

Conduct Rules

In the first rules of the tournament, it is important to stress good sportsmanship/conduct in the lobby and games. Remind them how much any bad conduct will not be tolerated towards anyone at anytime doing the tournament. This could be held against them. I rarely disqualified players or teams due to conduct but it has happened. The rule was made to be a reminder and a deterrent. Cheating will never be tolerated and mention any extra patches, anti cheat measures, or additional software necessary needed . I reminded them to take screen shots and players may be monitored at anytime through spectator modes. As a tournament host, you reserve the right to disqualify anyone at anytime for shady behavior.

Scheduling Rules

The next step in the rules process is to set up scheduling. The scheduling of rules should have the dates, times and the place. The tournament place should have detailed instructions where and how to get to the tournament location. I was always concerned with scheduling the first round matches because many users sign up and forget to show up. On the rules I listed a clear times with dates and I required all members of a team to be present for the tournament in some cases. This check-in process allowed me to see who is present. Then I was able to direct the teams or players to each other for the required bracket match. I always allowed 15 minutes for the team or player to show up to participate before they were counted out due to forfeiture. As a tournament host, the first round normally has the most forfeits in an open external community tournament. I covered the topic of open and closed tournaments in a previous article.

Match Play Rules

Under match play rules it is important to have any and all configurable settings set and posted. Even the obvious settings. The settings should cover the server hosting. For example. Be sure to write How the color, starting side of a map picked, and who is home team for matches. Figure out how the games will alternate if no neutral server is available. You should be writing the game mode, game type, team size, map rotations, scoring rules, and how a team wins a match. Will a match last best of 3 games on 3 maps or best of 5 on 3 different maps. Players and teams want a good chance to win a tournament. Provide a good set up rules for a big enough length where it feels rewarding to the winning and losing team. Matches shouldn't last forever but they should feel compelling.

Under the match rules, it is important to detail how you want the matches reported. I sometimes required them to report all the matches through a website and post in the chat lobby the scores.

(if applicable)

The report page also had details where to send all the screen shots of the matches.

This solves two purposes.

1 I was able to get an accurate representation of the match

  1. 2. I was able to gather screen shots to post for a tournament update.

Final World

It is important to spend a lot of time on the settings and attention to the details of the tournament. Make sure you understand the game completely, have a solid understanding of game mechanics and understand common match play scenarios. As tournament host should act like a conductor and go with the flow. It is very important to be patient and be prepared for the unexpected. Have a backup plan ready for potential issues. Tournaments should be fun. A good tournament experience will bring them to come back for more future tournaments.



Below is a sample of the PC Ghost Recon Island Thunder Launch Tournament Rules. Notice the detail in the setup. It just happens that this PC expansion launch tournament launched 9 years ago this week.

Basic Rules:

1. Maximum number of Teams - 128 Team entries can sign up. No Duplicate Entrys Allowed Duplicate Clan Entries!
2. Single Elimination - 4 vs 4 Teams
3. Basic Bracket system - 1 Game per Round Single Elimination
4. Prizes will be awarded to top 2 Teams (4 Winners Only Per Team)
4a. Prize allocation
1st place Team- Ghost Recon Island Thunder Expansion Pack and Ghost Recon Game of the Year Edition
2nd Place Team- Ghost Recon Island Thunder Expansion Pack Game

This Tournament is Open to North American Residents for Prize distribution.

Server Settings:

1. Maximum players per server = 9 (4 per team and 1 *observer if needed). Always set games to "9" in case of emergency, the Administrator may need to join for judging and rules enforcement.
2. Arcade Mode "OFF"
3. Threat indicator: "ON"
4. Time set to 5 minute games
4a. Best of 3 rounds on selected map.
5. Game Mode: "Last Man Standing"
6. Map will be determined prior to each Round. The Map will be Desert Siege Maps Only.
7. Re spawn: "No Re spawn"
8. Insertion Zone: "RANDOM"
9. Available Kits: "NO SENSORS"
10. Password will be assigned to each game session prior to the match

ALL Replays Must be Saved during ALL Matches. If Host fails to record the match, the host may forfeit his or her game.

*Observers may be used during high profile matches likes the championship game. Tournament Admins Choose whether they want to watch the match or not.

No observers from any matching teams are allowed in the game.

Each Map is determined on Tournament Day. Each Rounds map may be different.

1. The Winning team Advances to the Next Round that wins 2/3 on the scheduled map.

1. The team with the fastest connection hosts. If no one can agree the Tournament Administrator may pick someone to host. If a clan owns a dedicated server that may be used if agreed to by the other team. The CWN, Platoon or Ubisoft is not providing dedicated servers for the event. Please Remember that REPLAYS MUST BE SAVED.

1. Each Team is to assign 1 Member who is scheduled to play in the match to take charge of reporting duties. This person is to report his/her win in the Tournament Report rooms on Ubizone set up by the host. When reporting the match the Clans name, number and bracket number wins over Clans Name and Number.

Brackets and Match Setup

The Match bracket URL was posted here.

The Rounds are breakdown is 128-64-32-16-8-4-1

There will be more then 1 bracket because of the volume of teams signed up. Each Clan Will be put into a bracket. And a Number next to there name.

Match Schedule

Each Round the Player will have a designated time to arrive. Determined by the table below
Schedule is as follows: (Subject To Change and Times to To Be Announced)
Round 1 - Friday, September 20, 2002 at 8pm EST
Round 2 - Saturday, September 21, 2002 at 6pm EST
Round 3 - Friday, September 27, 2002 at 8pm EST
Round 4 - Saturday, September 28, 2002 at 6pm EST
Round 5 - Sunday, September 29, 2002 at (Championship Match- TBD:

Each Round Will Last 1 Day Possibly 2 Rounds in 1 day depending on entrants. The later rounds especially will play 2 games in 1 day opposed to the beginning rounds due to the volume of entrants in the beginning.

Please Note that the tournament may last longer depending on the sign ups for the tournament. This schedule can change at anytime. Please keep checking this page for changes or additions.

Copyright ©2011

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