Creating and Running a Trainer Battle PvP Tournament

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The long awaited Player vs Player mode has been added, and trainers are excited to finally compete with each other. Communities are rushing to host tournaments, both online and in person. New virtual communities are forming just for the purposes of battling.

Tournaments are a great way to battle while building your community… and are surprisingly easy to put together! This guide will cover all of the basics as well as some logistics you may not have thought about.

The Silph Arena

It’s difficult to have any conversation on competitive PVP without starting with Silph Arena. The leaders of Silph Road have created their own software, competitive format, and rules. The Silph Arena boosts a ranking methodology that will allow trainers to compete in “World Champion”-ish events in the summer at Go Fest or a Safari Zone. Here are some details:

  • Competitive/ranked matches are Great League only

  • All trainers bring 6 Pokemon to the tournament. They can use any 3 in any game, but cannot use TMs in between games or matches. You see your opponents team of 6 before picking your 3

  • Matches are played best of 3 (first player to win two games wins the match)

  • Swiss matches, so everyone plays a set number of games whether they win or lose

  • Silph Arena will have month Cups with modified rules. The January cup is Boulder League. Trainers may only use Rock, Fighting, Ground, or Steel types. Cup matches count ten times higher towards your ranking than regular tourneys

  • Browser-based software is offered that pairs tournament participants each round. In addition, it makes it very easy to see and share your team with your opponent.

Silph Arena is not your only option for tournaments. Other software may be more versatile for running an event, and your local community may prefer Ultra or Master League. However, the PoGo community as a whole has seemed very quick to adopt Silph Arena, so it is what many players will be expecting.

Tournament Basics

What League?

  • Master league is awesome, but the high resource entry barrier may hurt your attendance

  • Ultra league has a bit of a Giratina problem, but generally is enjoyed by players. It’s worth noting that the starters are a popular, cheap, and viable option in this format which does help draw in some trainers.

  • Great league is the most accessible and has a few dozen viable Pokemon. In addition, Silph Arena makes its so easy to run, and Great league can be ranked.

  • While it’s not the intended purpose, Silph Arena software can be used for Ultra or Master league tournaments. Have your trainers enter a max CP of 1500, and the tournament cannot be ranked.

Making the Rules

  • Allow one of each Pokemon at most, or allow people to enter with as many as they want

  • Set a tournament team. Will players use the same 3 throughout the tourney? Or can they use anything? Maybe 6 choose 3 like Silph Arena

  • Will matches be best of 1, 3, 5 or anything else?

  • WIll the tournament be single elimination, swiss (everyone plays a set number of games, best record wins), swiss with smaller single elimination for the top trainers, round robin (everyone plays everyone else).

  • Are any Pokemon banned or restricted, such as no Legendaries

  • If the tournament fits Silph Arena rules, is it ranked or unranked

  • Are you planning to give a prize? Will there be an entry fee?

Location, Location, Location

  • Expecting less than 20 people? A restaurant, bar, or mall food court is a great option. Warm day? Try the park you visit on Community Day.

  • Larger tournaments may require a rented space. Consider a restaurant back room at an off peak time, a library, or VFW hall. If running a larger tournament, be prepared to offer smaller side tournaments as well

  • Allow roughly 20 minutes per round, but the tournament will move more quickly than that.

  • This is a great opportunity to do something good. Maybe run a food or clothing drive, or ask for small donations to help a cause

  • Be aware of “Niantic Standard Time” when planning an in person event. Niantic loves to use Community Day hours for events, often announced with minimal lead time. Nobody is going to show up if you are competing with a hypothetical Rayquaza raid window

  • Wherever you host, please leave it as clean as it was when you arrived. You want to be welcomed back

Taking the Tourney Online?

  • One benefit of an online tournament is that it can last multiple days. For example, give players 24 hours to complete each round. This makes it easy to coordinate a time that works for both players.

  • Consider creating an “online league” within your Discord/Facebook/etc group. Build a grid on a google doc to list friend codes and track friendship increases for those who want to participate. It will take around a month for everyone to be Ultra friends, and then you can host regular tournaments. This is a great way to host a “Round Robin” event too!

  • Building friendship with many people is taxing, so consider capping the number of participants in a league. Perhaps start new divisions to accommodate more players

Don’t have enough local interest in PvP but want to plan? Online leagues such as this one are forming. There is a heavy commitment to build friendship with 19 strangers, but it offers an awesome way to play in tournaments without leaving your house.

Administering a Tournament

Silph Arena software is a godsend. The tournament is so easy to set up, and the web portal tells players who their next matchup is with. It creates an easy way for players to see their opponents teams and sets clear & easy to follow rules. The tournament almost runs itself, which is why this guide so highly recommends the software (even if you need to fudge some CPs to use it for Ultra or Master league).

A few other things to keep in mind:

  • Someone must be in charge of the tournament and be responsible for addressing any conflicts that occur (most common being network issues). Ideally, a few other people can help the main coordinator too.

  • Encourage players to screen record their matchups. This can be a fantastic way to settle any conflicts!

  • Allow plenty of notice for a tournament, and encourage players to register in advance (there was a bug with dropping players on Silph Arena that has since been fixed)

  • Aim for regular tournament times such as each Tuesday night at 7, or 1 hour after every Community Day ends. This makes it easy for players to know when/where to find tournaments

  • Initial data shows very low tournament turnout as a percentage of the player base. Be patient, it will grow. Run awesome tournaments people will start telling their friends to come.

Finally, this last piece of advice is for coordinators and players. Have fun! While we have competition, remember that we are not trying to win a Superbowl Ring or World Series of Poker payday. Try hard to be the best, but don’t lose sight of what you are batting for and why we are playing this game.