What it was like hosting my first online League of Legends tournament

 Texas is lacking when it comes to Esports. I have volunteered at every event I could find or did everything in my power to attend as a guest.  My main career goal is to run Esports events either executing or planning the events, both skills I possess after 13 years of orchestra stage management. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find a steady job with hours and pay in the state for the past two years despite my eagerness to learn anything to get me in the field.  

I recently was graced with the opportunity to help plan and execute an online tournament for the organization Nerd Bird.  I first discovered Nerd Bird on Twitter and learned that they were seeking staff.  I reached out to them and they asked me to volunteer for their online Road to Dreamhack tournament.  Nerd Bird used to be a part of my Alma Mater, UTSA, but split off to help foster the San Antonio community beyond college years.The shiny job at Riot Games running League of Legends events now felt possible because I was doing this for Nerd Bird on a much smaller scale.


Game Day

I woke up at 2:30 a.m. the day of the tournament because I was a nervous wreck.  I had never run an online tournament and wanted to make the best impression with the other university we were partnered with as well as network professionally with all people involved.  I  tried to play some ranked games to pass the time until the start of the tournament.

On concert days from college there was always a buzz about the room. I have a strong ability to read people’s body language and know what is critical even if they don’t say it.  The online tournament made me uncomfortable because I couldn’t see people to read their body language.  Internet interactions mask that which makes me even more desperate to be busy.

The week before the tournament I helped create a rule book document, balanced teams based on their ranking, drafted the e-mail we would send to players as well as social media messages to promote before and during the tournament.  I made sure that all documents were organized and easy to follow for public consumption which helped tremendously in the flow of the day.  I was still nervous that something would go wrong.  

When the Dust Hits the Fan

I was determined to prove I was worthy to run the event.  I asked multiple questions leading up to the tournament and wanted to be prepared for any kind of issue.  I had the rule book pulled up to refer to it at any given moment if there was an infraction.  Despite how much I prepared myself, my first obstacle was connecting to the Discord chat server which meant I couldn’t communicate to the admin via voice on what should be done nor could I communicate to players via voice about the check in process.  Horror struck me as I thought people wouldn’t want to return to our tournaments in the future due to admin not understanding how Discord works.  

I connected and disconnected from the server repeatedly to no avail which made me more anxious. Motivated by my anxiety, I moved players to their rooms and typed in the general chat for everyone else to follow suit in joining their teammates. Success!   All the players could hear each other and I was checking entire teams in much quicker.  I couldn’t see the players but through psychology of herd mentality I was still l able to offer control to the situation despite a lack of guidance from leadership.

The tournament completely transformed my mood.  I was cheering for these teams like it was the LCS (This is the tournament that pro players are in to qualify for prize money).  One of the teams had a top lane player get a quadra kill and then a penta kill, which are typically game-winning plays, but their mid-laner was not to be without some showmanship and got their own quadra kill in the same game. These players are gold and silver but were making plays like seasoned pros.

I was tasked with verifying that all the games were in progress and collect screenshots for the official record. I was a little lost about brackets because I was unfamiliar with the 3rd party website they used to host the information, however after a bit of help from the other admins, I ran with it.  Despite my lack of experience with running an online tournament, we ran ahead of schedule with very few issues.  The worst thing to happen was an incorrect score but that was updated quickly after confirmation of the standings from the shoutcasters.  I settled into a groove for collecting scores and releasing social media messages.  The anxiety that controlled my morning was put at ease listening to the shoutcasters get into the games as much as I was into them. I felt empowered and like I could run my own event. After the tournament, I asked the Nerd Bird team more questions about running one and if I could set up the next event in the summer.

A Passion Ignited

This was an excellent first run at being an admin for an online tournament.  My passion for Esports was ignited. Being a fan fanned the flame but running an event became a well-stoked fire.  I felt at ease enforcing the rules as well as comfortable being myself and joking with the casters after the games.  For the first time ever I felt like I had a community to which I belonged.  I felt welcomed into a flock of gamers and created the kind of environment I wanted to live in.  I am an only child so feeling like I have people I can talk to is really important to me.  The gaming community is accepting of all sorts of people and helped me to feel comfortable being myself to make others laugh.  

Helping run this event made me so excited for the future of gaming and also a little dejected that it isn’t my career right now.  I wanted to spread the word to everyone I knew that I found the thing that made me smile.  Helping with the tournament gave me my happiness back.  I want to make a life around helping with events. I care a lot about the gaming community and want to see this organization flourish. Helping gamers of all levels feel united and the joys of competitive play is the state of happiness I want to live in.


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