Guide to Video Game Tournaments

Video game tournaments, also known as esports tournaments, are events put on to host competitive video gaming. These video game competitions allow single players, or teams of multiple players, to play specific games against each other for a chance to win. Teams and individual players typically play for cash prizes. 

If you’re a gamer and feel pretty confident with your skills, there’s most likely an esports tournament out there for you. Here’s what to know about video game tournaments.

Types of Video Game Tournaments

From huge in-person events to a friendly battle between friends, several different types of video game tournament formats exist.

In-Person Competitions

Similar to conventions, certain video game tournaments hold large, in-person meetups at auditoriums, convention halls, or even real sports stadiums. These events are often paired with workshops, special guests, and vendors to round out the experience. You can find some of the more popular in-person competitions streaming on Twitch or Youtube.

Virtual Competitions

Virtual competitions are the most common type of video game tournaments. This means your esports team doesn’t have to be in the same room, or even in the same state. You’ll be communicating with players and competing from your at-home computer. These competitions tend to be more casual—but that doesn’t mean you can’t win big cash prizes. For example, Drop-In Gaming hosts a wide variety of online tournaments and matches. The fees are low and the payouts can be massiv—and you don’t even need to leave your chair.

Traditional Bracket Tournaments

Most esports tournaments use the traditional bracket format. 

Single Elimination

This type of bracket format is straightforward, with the qualifying team moving onto the next stage and the loser eliminated during each round. The final two teams will play to be the winner of the entire tournament.

Double Elimination

The double bracket elimination format uses two brackets to progress teams toward the final face-off. The first stage is similar to single elimination, but instead of the losing teams being completely eliminated, they move into a lower bracket. Once they lose again from the lower bracket, they are completely eliminated without a chance to compete in the final face-off.

Kill Race Tournaments

Another type of esports tournament is a kill race tournament. In a kill race tournament, players or teams are matched using skill-based matchmaking (SBMM) based on their stats and history. Once the match begins, teams are allotted a certain amount of time (usually two to five hours) to get as many kills as possible. Teams submit their final scores and are compared against the other teams scores to find the winner. Kill race tournaments may also use bracket formats as long as the teams are fairly matched using SBMM.

[Related: Becoming a Professional Gamer]

Are Video Game Tournaments Legal?

Winning money just by playing video games—that must be illegal, right? Wrong. Video game tournaments aren’t considered gambling, and they are completely legal. 

In order for something to be considered gambling, you need to have three things: prize, chance, and wage. Basically you must pay to qualify, have some sort of prize on the line, and the outcome must be determined by chance. Since video game tournaments depend on skill rather than randomization with dice, cards, or numbered balls, they are legal in the majority of U.S. states.

Most Popular Games for Video Game Tournaments

Although you can probably find a competition out there for most of your favorite games, several games pop up as the most popular ones to play in tournaments, including:

  • “League of Legends”
  • “Dota 2”
  • “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive”
  • “Fortnite”
  • “Starcraft II”

Drop-In Gaming offers tournaments and matches for the following games:

  • “Call of Duty: Warzone”
  • “Fortnite”
  • “Apex Legends”
  • “Rocket League”
  • “Splitgate”
  • “Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War”
  • “Madden 21”
  • “NBA2K21”
  • “FIFA21”
  • “NHL21”
  • “PGA2K21”

How to Compete in Video Game Tournaments

So, how do you get involved in video game tournaments? This depends on the type of tournament you’re interested in joining. An “open tournament” means that anyone can join, as long as they can provide their information and follow the rules. Most virtual competitions are open, such as the tournaments and matches we have going on Drop-In Gaming.

Larger tournaments and in-person competitions may be considered “closed tournaments.” These are invitation only, or require players or teams to meet certain qualifications. 

[Related: Video Game Tournament Glossary]

Video Game Tournament Rules

Rules for video game tournaments are going to be specific to the organization that’s running the competition, and the type of tournament you’re competing in. For example, kill race tournaments are going to have different rules than single player bracket elimination tournaments, and these all can vary depending on whether or not you’re competing in person or virtually. Most esports tournaments have general rules, such as assigning a team point of contact or leader, providing authentic statistics, etc.

To read and review the rules for Drop-In Gaming’s tournaments, find the tournament you’re looking at on our website and click “View” and then click “Rules.”

Video Game Tournament Prizes

Many video game tournaments offer lucrative prizes; you can win some serious big money and some awesome gear and accessories from sponsors. Currently the tournament with the highest prize pool is The International, a competition for the video game “Dota 2.” Their prize pool is crowdfunded with 25% of all tournament revenue returning to the pool. As of 2021, The International’s prize pool was $40 million dollars.

Virtual competitions more your thing? Don’t worry, you can still win big. Drop-In Gaming has tournaments offering cash prizes up to $1,000 with buy-in fees as low as a few bucks.

[Related: Biggest Video Game Tournaments Worldwide]

Upcoming Video Game Tournaments

The next big in-person esports tournament this year is the 2021 PGL Major. This “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive” tournament will be hosted on October 23rd through November 7th, 2021 in Stockholm, Sweden, with a $2 million dollar prize pool. Check out their YouTube page to stream the event.

As far as open virtual tournaments go? Join our awesome gaming community! Create an account with Drop-In Gaming and view the dozens of tournaments and matches happening every day.

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