The Ultimate Guide for Your First Gaming Tournament

  Your first tournament will be your entry into the world of esports and competitive gaming. No matter the game, testing your strength against pro gamers is exciting, but it can also be nerve-wracking.

In 2020, the worldwide eSports audience size reached 495 million people. Knowing that all eyes are on you can make you feel uneasy. However, there’s no reason to let your nerves and uncertainty hold you back. If you want to be at the top of your game for your first gaming tournament, check out this ultimate guide.

Getting Mentally Prepared for Your First Gaming Tournament

No one can blame you if you are feeling a bit intimidated. Gaming tournaments can be really intense. Because of this, mental preparation is key.

No matter how well-prepared you are, you will make at least one stupid mistake. Prepare to forgive, forget, and move on.

The night before the competition hit the hay early. Try to get enough sleep.

Uncertainty: Will the chair be what you’re used to? How about the table height? Will there be enough space for you to comfortably use your mouse and keyboard? Is the venue bright or dark?

No matter the sport, there is always uncertainty. Golfers have to make drives even when it’s windy, and soccer players have to play even when it’s snowing.

The way you manage the uncontrollable and unpredictable says a lot about you as an athlete. If you don’t excel at handling uncertainty at the moment—don’t worry, it is a skill that gets better over time with repetition and practice.

Doubt: Maybe you think that you are not ready yet and that you need a couple more months to practice. Unless you face such thoughts, they can hold you back for years.

Still, you do need to have at least some level of self-doubt—just the right amount. You can easily underestimate your opponents if you are too confident or cocky.

Don’t Make Any Significant Changes Before Your First Gaming Tournament (Unless You Absolutely Have to)

Don’t start sleeping half as much and playing twice as much. Follow the schedule you follow and keep doing what you’re doing. Big changes to your routines can really throw off your rhythm.

Minor tweaks and changes to how you play are okay, but anything bigger can leave you feeling less than optimal when you kick off your first gaming tournament.

And go easy on the coffee and energy drinks—before and during the tournament. You don’t want to get the jitters when you are playing.

Still, you do need to implement a practice routine, so there are some healthy changes you may need to make. For instance, if you are used to playing past midnight, but the tournament starts at 9 in the morning, it’s a good idea to change your practice schedule.

A month before the tournament, try to wake up early each morning, have a nutritious breakfast, and start gaming at 9 AM.

Get Well-Acquainted With the Rules

When signing up for their first gaming tournament, many gamers neglect to check the rules and then try to use ignorance as an excuse when problems arise. That won’t play.

If it’s your first time attending a gaming tournament, some rules may surprise you. For example, some venues don’t allow hats.

Even if you are signing up for an online tournament, you need to make sure you know how things work. Online gaming tournaments may be more lenient, but they still have far stricter rules than amateur gaming servers.

Familiarize yourself with the rules before you sign up. If you find something to be confusing, or if you have some questions about the rules, it’s up to you to contact the organizers to get the answers.

Don’t rely on the organizers for everything. It’s a good idea to bring your own controller (it’s probably best to bring a spare one as well).

If you don’t sign up online, be prepared to deal with a lot of paperwork at the venue. For instance, you may need to sign photos and video releases. So that you won’t miss anything important, such as a changed playtime, listen to the announcements over the intercom carefully.

Get acquainted with the tournament fees, tournament structure, and prizes upfront. In some tournaments, the winner takes it all, and in other competitions, such as land-based slot machine tournaments, top players share the prize pool.

Be as it may, don’t count on the prize being your ticket back home. Make sure to bring enough money so that you can cover all the costs.

Since it’s your first tournament, you probably don’t have a sponsor, so you’ll need to pay for your hotel room, food, and travel costs. If it’s a weekend tournament, the costs can easily set you back a thousand dollars.

Set Realistic Goals

You won’t become a pro after your first gaming tournament, so don’t set your expectations too high. Your goal should be to sign up and participate—nothing more.

No matter who you are, whether you are a pro or a noob, your opponents will come at you with everything they’ve got. No one is going to give you a break.

And, among those opponents, there will be some who have more experience in competitive gaming than you. Chances are, you will lose in your first gaming tournament—and that is completely fine.

When someone does everything they can to beat you in a game, it’s a sign of respect, so don’t beat yourself up too much if they succeed.

Don’t think you must win. Instead, focus on learning as much as you can from your opponents. Take the opportunity to make some friends and connections in the eSports industry.


Gaming tournaments are supposed to be fun, so make the most of it. You probably won’t be taking photos with your fans and breaking world records, but you will be soaking in a new experience, meeting new people, and learning a lot. Treat your first gaming tournament as preparation for future competitions.

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