10 Tips to Make the Most of Your First Gaming Tournament
Prepare for Peak Performance

If you love video games and can see yourself making a career out of them, there’s every chance that you’ll need to get involved in the competitive scene. Tournaments are big business, not least because there is no better way to determine who is the best of the best. They’re not the only way to create a professional career in gaming, but they’re undoubtedly one of the best ways to build fame and fortune with games at the centre.

As with anything you’ve never done before, getting ready for a gaming tournament isn’t necessarily easy, and all sorts of thoughts will enter your mind before you arrive. The good news is that it gets easier as you gain more experience – you’ll start to run into the same players and make friends, while also hopefully getting better at your game of choice. There’s only one first tournament and you want to put on a good showing, so try these 10 tips to achieve the best performance possible.

1. Forget any Doubts You May Have

If you experience apprehension about the whole concept of gaming tournaments, we’d like to borrow a phrase from Nike and say ‘just do it’. Everyone has to start somewhere, and it is your skills that matter. Most worthwhile tournaments have qualifiers and if you’ve made it through them, you already know you deserve to be there. Don’t dwell on the fact that you’ll have to meet new people and play face to face. Focus on the positives like the chance to meet like-minded gamers and the often massive prize pool to boost your motivation.

2. Don’t Make Sweeping Changes to Your Routine

The time has come and you’re no longer a casual or an amateur. You’re now a tournament-level player at your favourite game. Don’t forget the schedule that got you there and don’t feel like you suddenly need to treat the game like a job. If you sacrifice sleep and social life to up your practice times, you may end up worse than when you started as the balance is lost. You may need to make some adjustments for more practice and to play with certain other top-level gamers, but the routine that got you there is the one that will keep you in your rhythm.

3. Aim High, But Be Realistic

Unless you’re a star performer in a brand new game, you’ll have an idea of what to expect. Most tournaments are streamed, and the players you’re likely to come up against will stream too. Everyone wants to win, but your competition has been doing this for a long time. In our opinion, once you’re invited, you should plan to show up on time and do your best, with anything else being a bonus. Regardless of results, make some friends and take in everything you can, as if you can qualify once, you can do it again.

4. Adjust Your Practice Schedule to the Tournament

If you’re good enough for tournament play, the chances are that you put a lot of hours into your game of choice. However, one adjustment you might want to make is to get used to playing at certain times of the day. If you’re a night owl that spends most daylight hours sleeping but the tournament begins at 9 am each day, you should adjust your body clock in advance so that your style doesn’t suffer.

5. Work On Your Weaknesses

As noted, if you’re good enough to qualify, then you deserve to be at a tournament. Even then, you can probably work out some holes in your skillset. Rather than playing for the sake of it, consider every hour you spend on the game as a practice session and work to overcome any weaknesses you may have.

6. Give the Tournament a Trial Run

As this is your first tournament, it’s also your only chance to make an excellent first impression on organisers and other players. The last thing you need is to get lost and be late. If the tournament is local, drive to the venue days before it begins so you know the route and how long it will take.

7. Ask About Tournament Specifics

Knowledge is power if you want to perform to your best levels, and the more you know about the specifics of the tournament before it starts, the better. Most organisers will send tournament rules out in advance, and you need to familiarise yourself with them – there is nothing more frustrating than losing due to disqualification, especially if you didn’t know you were breaking the rules! Try to find out what hardware is used too – if there are specific monitors, keyboards, mice and other peripherals, you can introduce them into your practice sessions.

8. Bring Someone Along

The chances are you won’t know anyone at your first tournament or if you do, it will involve conversing exclusively online. If you have a friend with you, they can double as a support mechanism and an assistant. If you’re in the zone, ask them to take care of keeping you on schedule or grabbing drinks and snacks.

9. Take along Your Favourite Snacks and Drinks

Speaking of snacks, you shouldn’t risk venue catering if your food and drink intake dictate your routine. If you need Red Bull to keep you going, make sure you bring some along. In eating something you trust, you avoid your body reacting to unfamiliar foods.

10. Enjoy Yourself

Playing in live tournaments is not the same as beating your friends or even playing at a high level online. Depending on the scope of the setup, these players are some of the best of the best. While you might match them in pure skill, they may have several tournaments of experience behind them and that’s something you can’t train for. If you enjoy yourself, you can start to build knowledge and find practice partners, at which point you can shift your focus from your first tournament to your second, then third and so on.