Pokémon Tournaments Guide

By odnamrataizem, rewritten by darkie.
  1. Introduction
  2. Choosing Rules
  3. Competitors, wins and losses
  4. Logging battle outcomes
  5. Handling disconnectors
  6. Setting
  7. Prizes
  8. Announcing your tournament
  9. Final words

Introduction

Ah, tournaments. What would be of most popular games without competitive tournaments? It's one of the main reasons people like to battle: to participate of a tournament and get to know others who have the same interests, or just to see who's better. This guide will give you tips and directions on hosting good tournaments.

Please note that this guide will not solely cover online tournaments, but will also try to cover real-life tournaments. It's also very important to note that real-life tournaments require a totally different approach from their online counterparts, and this will be explained throughout the guide.

Choosing rules

In order to make your tournament unique, you might wish to adopt unique rules rather than using the same standard set. Offering something no one has tried before will give your tournament a niche that will almost certainly attract competitors. This is not really a must-follow guideline, but it does help.

Tips on choosing rules:

  • Make sure the rule set doesn't shift the standard metagame too much as to overpower certain kinds of Pokemon. If you're a complete beginner and still wouldn't like to go with the standard rules, try hosting an Ubers tournament, or a UU one, as these rule sets are widely known.
  • Never, ever make a rule set with the sole purpose of rendering your most hated strategy unusable. This can be a consequence of the rules, but not their reason.
  • Try to refrain from overloading your rule set with non-standard clauses. Only one or two will suffice, and you won't annoy potential competitors while keeping things interesting.
  • Avoid banning Pokemon or moves outside of standard clauses. This goes hand-in-hand with the first tip.

If you are hosting a real-life tournament, always remember that time is a critical issue. This alone can very much affect the rules you choose.

It's also important to note that real-life battle turns take forever to finish, affecting the decision of your tournament's rules even more. The reason for this is that you can't disable animations nor can you set the message speed faster on linked or Wi-Fi battles. All solutions have their advantages and drawbacks.

Here are some potential solutions:

  • Do 3 on 3 battles. It's Nintendo's standard real-life tournament format. This style greatly reduces the average time of a battle, but they will still last a good 10 to 15 minutes each. However, the competitive community generally frowns upon such a format. You could try and make this valid only for the early matches, but still, this not the best solution.
  • Disallow recovery moves. Some tournaments often use this together with solution #1, reducing the average time of the battles a little more. This rule often takes away from the game play experience, as well as strategy, so this rule is also not a good solution.
  • Use Pokemon Battle Revolution. This piece of software is simply awesome for tournaments! Not only can you enforce time limits, completely solving time issues, but you can also enforce a lot of standard rules. Plus, battle turns are somewhat faster, as the messages are displayed together with the move animations. The downside? You need a good number of consoles to fully realize the potential of this solution, or it won't make much time-wise difference from the standard way. Then again, it's not that difficult to get many Wiis together; the real trouble comes down to the transport of the TV sets, as they are generally too heavy to carry around. Screen projectors seem a good alternative, as they're generally smaller and lighter, but the really good ones are just as accessible as TV sets.
  • Span the tournament across multiple days. Another excellent way of dealing with time, albeit more suited to online tournaments. You need to check, however, the availability of doing such a thing (explained later).

Competitors, wins and losses

If you are a complete beginner, you'll want to restrict tournaments so that you can get the hang of it. Do not try to host a tournament with too many people, or you'll quickly and easily lose control of it. This is especially important in real-life tournaments when you're doing everything by yourself (which will most certainly be your current condition if you're just beginning).

Anyway, the easiest way to host a tournament is the elimination layout: if you lose, you're out. Again, beginners should stick with this until they're better experienced, although other kinds of layouts don't really require much brain to understand and implement. Automatizing tournaments is not required, but helps greatly, especially for Swiss tournaments, where all competitors must play against each other at least once and points are awarded for wins/draws.

Logging battle outcomes

This is mostly for online tournaments, as it's generally more difficult to know who won, lost, or broke rules. The absolute best way of handling this is asking the competitors to submit you Pokemon Online logs, which aren't very hard to forge. Everything is easy if it's done on a forum system, such as Smogon's. In real-life tournaments, pen and paper are obviously your best friends.

Handling disconnectors

If you are hosting an online tournament on a simulator, then you can instruct the competitors to wait until their opponent reconnects or the battle times out if he/she disconnects from the battle.

This is not the case on a real-life match, because if the connection between the DSes is disrupted, it'll end immediately without the opportunity of resuming it. There are many, many different views on how this should be solved (I'd personally restart the match), therefore this should be prevented at all costs. However, it's easy to know if the disconnection was on purpose or not: if the competitor has clearly disrupted the link (turning off the DS), then he/she loses. In addition, competitors should be instructed that, on the event of a disconnection, they should leave their DSes untouched, as it helps determine if a competitor has turned off his/her DSes in order to disrupt the battle. This is not so much a problem today as it was a couple of years ago, as nowadays, most battles are connected wirelessly, so there is little chance of a sore loser unplugging a cable.

Setting

It is very important to carefully pick the setting of your tournament: both the date and the location.

Picking a time

Now that you have everything set, it's time to decide whether it's feasible. In other words, you should have sufficient resources (date, time and place, and money to a certain extent) to make it happen. This goes double for real-life tournaments.

Let's start with the first two. If you are hosting an online tournament, you'll certainly want to span it among several days, as it can be made very easy for the competitors to arrange a battle. Single-day online tournaments are a VERY common faux pas, as (1) you force the competitors to stay in front of the computer for a long period of time, and (2) you can't assume every competitor lives in the same time zone as you. Hell, it's an online tournament, and that means every person on the whole planet may very well be participating.

Real-life tournaments are commonly hosted in a single day. Very rarely you'll want a tournament which spans two or more days, and if you do, they should be contiguous. As stated before, tournaments during 2+ days help mitigate time problems, since you may loosen the amount of time the matches should take. You should avoid many-day real-life tournaments (2 days should more than suffice) because they will have to span through weekdays (unless it's on the holiday period, of course).

And most importantly: Don't ever underestimate the power of intermissions. Real-life tournaments are commonly hosted at noon, so don't force your competitors to stay there all the time. Give them around 20 minutes for every intermission so they can take a deep breath from all the battling and go eat something just in case.

Picking a place

You can't have a tournament without deciding first where it should be. The place where the tournament should take place solely depends on its size: 8- to 32-man tournaments may very well be hosted at the comfort of your home.

In case of bigger tournaments, or if you want to host multiple tournaments on a single day, you may want to rent a public space, such as a school gym. Bigger tournaments are commonly hosted as part of bigger events, generally anime- and/or game-related.

You must also make sure to pick a place where other competitors won't be bothered by the extreme cheering of spectators.

Prizes and money

Now then, wouldn't it suck to take part on a tournament, win it, and get nothing in return?

If you're hosting a widely-known tournament and/or you have some sort of reputation when it comes to hosting tournaments, such as the Official Smogon Tournament, it's never a bad idea to think of prizes for the winners (and runner-ups if you feel like it). Be sure to give something worthwhile, like the elusive Japanese Colosseum Bonus-disc. Even real cash works.

Speaking of money, finding and buying the prizes is never easy, and at times you may need to resort to sponsorship, even if you already earn money. Again, it all depends on the size of the tourney and how many people should be prized. Usually a prize for the winner is enough.

Still about money, do refrain from charging fees from the competitors, especially if your tournament is part of another event. You can make something optional, though, e.g. bringing a certain amount of non-perishable food so as to donate them to charities.

Announcing your tournament

Rule set and resources measured, there is just one thing left to do: announce your tournament. For online tournaments, it's fairly simple: you can use forum systems to announce your tournament. However, don't go doing so recklessly: always check the forum rules beforehand, as different forums have different policies regarding tournament announcements, therefore this should also be planned together with everything else.

Real-life tournaments are more difficult to announce due to less accessibility to the Internet. If you want to gather as many people as possible, then you should always plan the worst-case scenario. Sure, you can announce your tournament on the Internet, but do not solely depend on it, as not every Pokemon trainer has access to computers, and if they do, chances are they won't even be aware of the forums you go to. Again, sponsorships will come in handy if you don't have enough resources to announce it yourself. In most cases, renting a public space (especially if it's a part of a bigger event) will suffice.

Final words

As of now, real-life tournaments are very popular. However, the advent of Wi-Fi trading and battling connects battlers from around the world. Even so, there's something in real-life battles that can never be done online: body language. This alone makes battles tough and exciting, as it's very difficult to hide your feelings during a battle, meaning it's strikingly easy to predict every move your opponent may make.

Happy Pokemoning.