Feb 3, 2016

What Makes a Great T.O.

A primer for new T.O.'s (and new retailers), from seasoned tournament organizer Bruce Richard

Feb 3, 2016

What Makes a Great T.O.

A primer for new T.O.'s (and new retailers), from seasoned tournament organizer Bruce Richard

No one really considers what it takes to be a tournament organizer.

I've been running tournaments for a group of young kids at my local community library. It's been going on for over five years now and it's more popular than ever. My player base gets excited about each set and I hit capacity for my events weeks in advance.

Last weekend, I put Jacob, a fifteen-year-old regular, in charge of the Saturday meeting for our Magic club. Watching Jacob run a tournament brought to mind the skills needed to be a tournament organizer (T.O.) and community leader:

Organization Skills

I put in two or three hours of preparation, at least, for every hour of tournament.

Collecting fees, inputting everyone into the computer, quickly compiling results, announcing the rounds in a prompt manner—it's all easier when you're organized.

You also need to inform players of upcoming events in a timely manner. It took only one tournament for me to realize the value of tracking emails. I can quickly send out an email* to everyone in the club to notify them of upcoming events, cancellations, or changes.


It's tough enough to run a tournament without players questioning every decision you make. With confidence, they're far less likely to second guess you.

Your confidence also gives your players confidence. When they feel like you know what you're doing, they have a better experience. When they do have concerns, hearing how you'll address them (rather than how you'll "try") goes a long way toward keeping them happy.


After watching problems come up, I've made a lot of changes: scheduling lunch breaks, altering the prize breakdown, and splitting the players into teams led by experienced players.

All these changes and more have helped me increase attendance because I became more efficient.

Teaching Skills

Sometimes inexperienced players struggle putting together decks and even playing the game. I put the inexperienced players with the experienced players, hoping that would help.

This was a big reason I wanted Jacob to run the club. He's patient and doesn't just show a player how to build a better deck, or make the better play—he explains why it's the better play or the better choice for their decklist.

Remember that tip—and the rest of this article—next time you're running an event!

*Emails must always comply with your local laws regarding email marketing such as the CAN-SPAM Act in the United States.

By Bruce Richard

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