So you’re ready to jump into the tournament scene as a new (or old!) fighting game player. Well, first of all, congratulations! You’re going to take one of the most difficult steps in your journey towards improving!

Tournaments, no matter where you are or how big they may be, are by far the best way to test your skill. Here are some ways to prepare for your first one!

10. Temper your expectations

Whether it’s to win, to just have a good time, to meet new people, or any combination of the in between, make sure you stick to whatever your goal is! There’s no right or wrong way of participating in an event, but maintaining your goal is key.

9. Hydrate!

Hydration matters above all else. A hydrated mind is a fighting mind. There are countless times where I did not have adequate water and it hurt me during an event.

8. Give yourself time beforehand

Spending time to situate yourself and settle in will help a lot in your tournament day. The last thing you want to do is be called for your first round right as you’re walking into the building.

7. Don’t worry about your placement

Fighting game tournaments are hard, because fighting games are hard. Don’t sweat it too much if you don’t win the whole thing, even if it’s a smaller local. This is in line with tempering your expectations, but it’s extra important to not focus on the result, and put more into the experience(s) overall!

6. Check in with your TO

To the actual event itself, always make sure you and the TO (and/or bracket runner) are on the same page! Your TO is critical to making sure your tournament is ran as smoothly as possible. If you have a problem or concern, make sure you consult them whenever you can!

5. Be graceful, win or lose

No one likes a salty grump, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. That said, try not to project said salt onto your opponents. It doesn’t matter how scrubby their character is, or how you lost to a mashed DP. Conversely, if your opponent winds up doing such, handle it gracefully and let them sulk as you move on to your next round or match.

4. Learn learn learn

Remember, just because you’re at a tournament, doesn’t mean you can’t learn anything. That practice will hopefully come to a payoff, but you’ll also be able to pick up something from a game you played, or a player you’re watching or playing against. Take advantage of this!

3. Ask questions

If you wind up finding a player who plays the same character, or you’re curious about an interaction, ask about it! (But not during a match or immediately after.) Most players will be more than happy to answer, and sharing knowledge helps everyone get better!

2. Hydrate!

Yes, I am saying this again, because seriously, it’s extremely important. Do it in between matches, maybe during matches, when you aren’t doing anything. Keep reminding yourself. You’ll thank me later!

1. Try to leave with a lesson

It doesn’t matter in particular what you take away, nor does what you take away from your experience have to be tangible. If you made a new friend, or landed that combo you’ve been working on, or won a nail biter. All of it matters, and it’s important that you have something to look back on and go, “That was dope!”

Tournaments are so great, whether offline or online, and I think everyone should experience it at least once, even if you aren’t competitive. I hope this list helps you be more confident in joining one. Maybe I’ll see you in bracket!

Anthony Lowry (they/he) is a seasoned TCG, MMORPG, and FPS veteran. They are extensively knowledgeable on the intricacies of many competitive outlets, and are always looking for a new challenge in the gaming sphere.

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