Tournaments Organizers are creators. They produce online content, they’re active on social media, most of the time they reach thousands of followers, and they can sometimes be considered influencers. A Tournament Organizer often fits this description of creators: “in many ways, the creator economy consists of people performing their dream job. It gives people a chance to specialize in their passion”.
However, Tournaments Organizers are often excluded when considering the creator economy. The reasons can vary, but may include the fact that esports is an extremely new market, and like any other innovation it needs time to get noticed and to have specific infrastructure or services designed or adjusted to suit its needs.
That is why we created Honeybun, a platform designed to manage prize pools, receive donations and monetize esports content. To develop Honeybun we dug a little into Tournaments Organizers’ habits. Almost one hundred Tournaments Organizers from all over the world filled out the survey, and it turned out that their main concerns are that sponsors are not easy to find, there can be issues defining the rule book, and the logistics of streaming matches.
But first things first.
Tournament Organizer Identikit
The survey was powered by Honeybun. The data have been collected during the first half of 2021 and will be renewed every six months.
We contacted TOs from different platforms, including Battlefy, Matcherino and Toornament. 83.1% of respondents are hosting esports tournaments actively, 10.1% have never organized tournaments and 6.7% would like to organize at least one esports event.
Most respondents were from Europe (40.4%), followed by the 30.3% who were North American. Less than 17% were from South America, and minorities were from Middle East/Africa, Central America, Antarctica and Asia.
50 out of 74 respondents would like to make a living of organizing tournaments and hope to do it as a full-time job. 12 are not sure that they want it to be their profession for life, and 12 would like to keep it as a part time job or as a means to start working in the esports industry.
Which are the most used platforms to organize esports tournaments?
Of those who organize regularly esports events, the majority (28 respondents) use Matcherino, probably due its features, which allow organizers to increase the prize pool through the sale of merchandising, advertising and so on. The second most used platform is Toornament: 23% of TOs prefer it to other platforms. Battlefy and FACEIT were each preferred by 21.6% of respondents. Just 8 out of 79 TOs use Challengermode. Finally, 15 respondents do not use any of these platforms. They prefer Challonge and Smash.gg (50/50). Only one Tournament Organizer uses Challenge Place.
How many tournaments do Tournaments Organizers create per month?
Most respondents organize less than one event per week. While this category is shown as 27%, almost all those who chose “other” specified that they organize one or two events per year, which would increase the category to 51%. In more detail, 7 out of 23 reported that they organize bimestrial events, and 11 create at least one gaming competition every month. Finally, two people declared that they organize 4-7 events per week, so they fall within the category of those who run more than 3 events per week, increasing that category from 14.9% to 17.5%.
The others admit that they have never created a tournament, or that it has been a long time since they’ve run one.
Which are the most popular video games played in tournaments?
Surprisingly, League of Legends is not the most chosen (20.3%). In esports overall, Riot’s MOBA is one of the most popular, but apparently not when it comes to amateur video gaming competitions. Among the titles proposed, it is another one of Riot’s titles that dominates. Valorant, the company’s newest, is also the most chosen in this survey. “Valorant is a free-to-play first-person hero shooter developed and published by Riot Games, for Microsoft Windows. First teased under the codename Project A in October 2019, the game began a closed beta period with limited access on April 7, 2020, followed by an official release on June 2, 2020.” (Source).
CS: GO follows, chosen by 24.3% of respondents. Dota 2, Fortnite and Rainbow Six Siege share the podium with 8.1%.
However, the majority of those who took the survey (52.7%) declared that their choice would be other video games. 15 out of 39 create fighting game tournaments. A minority also named Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, Clash Royale, sports video games, Team Fortress 2, StarCraft II, Granblue Fantasy Versus, Smash Bros Ultimate, Free Fire, Minecraft, Skull Girls and Legends of Runeterra.
What is the average prize pool?
Even though amateur esports are often undervalued by sponsors and it is hard to find money to run events, 43.2% of Tournament Organizers who took the survey pay players more than 100$ in prizes. The percentage of this category increases as all the respondents (except one) who chose “other” said that they pay even more than $1000 for the winners. 2 out of 8 said that the average prize pool is 1000. Three other esports content creators said that they pay more than 200 dollars: one declared to pay “€45 for biweekly, €200+ for multiweek”, one had a prize pool between $350-2,500 and one started from more than $400. One set their prize up to $10k, and one of the respondents even offered $100k for its events. Just one TO said that they use in-game currency to reward their participants.
How does a Tournament Organizer finance his prize pool?
21 out of 74 pay out of their own pocket to reward players who win their tournaments. 27% set a participation fee to join the tournament, 23% found a sponsor and 21.6% answered “other.” Among these, 10 use Matcherino to finance their prize pools, as “the Matcherino platform includes tools to increase tournament prize pools including the ability for fans to buy custom game content (DLC, merchandise) as well as support for click through sponsor campaigns (e.g., like Coca-Cola) to increase the prize pool by $1.”
Two tournament organizers answered that they finance their events through Riot Games, who “provides tournament awards through the community’s tournament program.” Other methods used include crowdfunding, Twitch donations and investors.
How does a Tournament Organizer collect payments?
Of those who set entry fees for their esports competitions (31 out of 74), the majority use PayPal or a custom site with PayPal integration. Matcherino is the second most preferred method. A minority use Smash.gg, pix (a Brazilian payment platform), venom or bank transfer.
How did TOs reach out to sponsors for the first time?
The majority of respondents contact their sponsors through emails, or they reach them through word of mouth. Twitter and Discord share almost the same percentage, while Facebook, Instagram and surprisingly LinkedIn are the least chosen.
9.5% of TOs, all of those who answered “other,” did not even try to contact sponsors.
What are the most troublesome steps of organizing an esports tournament?
As we wrote here “In the early days of esports, sponsorships were exclusively provided by endemic companies that had their core business rooted in the esports industry or the gaming scene. Companies like Intel, Razer, Nvidia and Logitech were investing in the competitive gaming industry, boosting their influence and collecting astounding revenues. Eventually, an increasing number of non-endemic brands decided to join the esports market: Coca Cola, Red Bull, Monster, T-mobile and more. These non-gaming related companies became some of the main sponsors of the industry, supporting notorious teams like Cloud9, Fnatic, Team Dignitas and G2.” However, for amateur Tournament Organizers, it’s not easy to get noticed.
More than half of respondents said that it is very difficult to reach out sponsors, selecting that as the most troublesome aspect of creating a tournament and raising money to run it.
Finding collaborators and community management are respectively the second and third hardest aspects of tournament organizing. Especially when trying to find collaborators, esports are far behind traditional sports, where people are rightly paid for their jobs. In our interview, Ben Garvey said that “You see a lot of shady business practices going on, people taking advantage of the esports scene, people taking advantage of people. For example, people are not paying their broadcasters or production staff: they are giving you six to eight hours per stream, and you do not pay them, or you do not like to give them something in return.
“The typical saying right now is, ‘Oh, come work for us and we’ll get you that exposure or work for us, for the experience.’ But that’s people’s time that they are giving to you and time is invaluable; you got to at least reciprocate with them somehow.” This confirms the reality that esports still have a long way to go.
Defining the rule book, determining the schedule, and collecting participation fees are the easiest aspects of creating a gaming competition. However, the average difficulty of collecting registration fees increases if we consider just the answers of those who set an entry fee for their tournament (39% of respondents). 36% of those set a difficulty between 3 and 5 for raising money from participants.