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DjJoe's Rants

Prize Support For Local Tournaments

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Alright, here's the deal, before I get into details:

The store we hold local tournaments has the following prices:

$4 for any pack of Pokemon. They stock one box at a time, but quickly replace empty boxes. Currently stocking HS Triumphant, with refusal to stock more than one box at a time. Black & White took too long to sell, while HS Triumphant was in high demand.

$5 for Platinum, until it runs out.

$5 for league play (It's more like a venue fee per player)

$5 for tournament entry. Current prize support is 1 pack of what's in stock per player. TO to distribute prizes from that point.

Here's the problem we're facing:

1) Our prize support is too minimal, but without support from the store (we've tried. Repeatedly.) we cannot change those rates.

2) When we run tournaments, we distribute prize support among the divisions equally based on Participation. Meaning, if we have 6 Juniors, 2 Seniors, and 8 Masters; The prize support will be 4-2 for Juniors, 2-0 for Seniors, and 6-2 for Masters. In some cases, we may just do first place prize for each division.

3) Given the above, we sometimes have 1 person in a bracket. As any math person can tell you, now that one person basically is paying $5 for a $4 pack the chance to screw up someone's record in the tournament. Financial opinions say, this person will more than likely not play over just buying a pack and playing games or trading on the side.

4) Additionally, the players in the tournament are now getting discouraged. Let's say the Seniors have 2 and the Masters have 10. While yes, the Masters do get "more" prize, their tournament is MUCH more difficult in that the skill is higher, and there may be more rounds. We've had complaints that a Master who unfortunatley had to play the Winning Senior in Round 2 now has no chance of 2nd place, due to Opponent's win percentages. A 2nd place person will be the one with 2 wins and 1 loss, all in Masters, over someone who has a win over a senior.

5) In the past we have tried "Overall" standings of 1st/2nd/3rd, but we were repeatedly finding Masters holding all 3 positions, and the same group of roughly 5 at that. Parents of younger children are just not willing to pay for someone else's cards, in the sense.

So, Pokegym, given our situation, what can we do?

And no, for now "Find a new store" is not an option. We are looking to find new ways to manage our prize support, keep our players not only happy, but also willing to come back.



  1. Prime's Avatar
    Sounds like a rough situation. Are the players adamant about having tournaments, even if the attendance for some age divisions is lacking?

    When a scenario comes around when there is only 1 or 2 in an age division, perhaps those players would need to play in a higher age division. Yes, it is against tougher opponents but their chances of getting a prize rises and they can learn a lot from tougher games.

    Parents need to be briefed that their child is not guaranteed a prize and that if nobody paid an entry fee to the tournament, there would be no prizes to give out. A long time back, Pokemon used to charge money to play in all of their events, and 90% of the players walked away with nothing.

    I think some of the numbers or packs for first seems a little high. 8 players and first place gets 6 packs? 2 packs for second? I think it'd be more fair to award the top 4. Perhaps 3 packs for first, 2 packs for 2nd, 1 pack for 3rd and fourth. The last pack is randomly given to another player in 5th-8th as a participation prize (or best spirit of the game). This wider spread of prizes can motivate more players to participate in the tournaments since it'll be easier to break even and possibly get 2 packs or more.

    I don't think you need to find a new store. What you have setup is better than what some areas have (nothing).

    Good luck!
  2. djjoe227's Avatar
    Well this really stems towards two further problems.

    First being that it's not the players, it's the store. The store is basically "requiring" that there by league and tournament (We do them Saturdays and Sundays respectively) to open the store and so forth. I believe that had we not be there the store would be closed or at least have a restriction of Magic:The Gathering only (It's what the store specializes in- Comics, Pokemon, and Video Game tournaments are a side thing). So to reserve the store and keep it an appropriate atmosphere (Because let's just cut to the chase- the MTG players and VG players are all over 20 and their attitude and presentation are just unacceptable) Pokemon needs to have attendance, participation, and support.

    This bleeds into the other problems, because everyone would rather just play (for free, mind you) but they feel as thoguh they are practically forced into paying, under threat of store closing its doors to them. Again, this store is a MTG orientated store, and would much rather close and save electricity than to be open for unpaying unwilling customers.

    In regards to the parents- they know that there is a risk of losing equal to a chance of winning. However, they began to feel that there is more of a risk versus that chance. This is what prompted us to switch to a division-orientated prize support.

    The last bit, I like. I like your idea of a larger spread with less per place. It makes sense, and as easy as it sounds I'm shocked we didn't come to that conclusion already. The only thing with that is, the person who comes in first (again, it's usually the same 4-5 people) doesn't want to settle for such a little payout.

    But I guess that's just too bad! :)

    Thank you!!!
  3. Prime's Avatar
    If those same 4-5 players don't feel the settle is enough for their investment, they can sit out and let others earn the prizes.

    It's hard to combat having the same power players every week. It can make other players feel inferior. The sad part is that sometimes those other players aren't willing to improve their decks in order to better compete and the end effect is a nasty circle of loses. But it would be worth your time to try to communicate with those who do actively pursuit improving in hopes of balancing the scale a little bit.

    The switch to age divisions is a good move but sometimes isn't applicable. I believe this even happens at Premier Events where if there aren't enough players in one age division, for some of the swiss rounds, some of the players are paired up against players in the above age division. The truth is that age doesn't completely determine skill level as there are some great young players and some lousy older players. As long as the younger player is still having fun and learning and improving with each win or loss, I don't see any issue with pairing them up if very few players are in an age group.

    The parents need to understand that you are the organizer and you make the rules. Their only choice is whether they want their child to participate or not. It's your choice if their child gets paired up against an older player. It's your rules how many packs a player gets for placing in one of your tournaments. It's your responsibility to keep the parents well-informed so that they feel comfortable allowing their child to participate.

    How could a store limit the area to only one game on certain days? I can feel how tense you could be knowing that one slight mistake and MTG takes over your area and you don't have a place to host the League or tournaments. It just sounds like a rough store owner, and even though you suggested people not to suggest it earlier, perhaps you should look into hosting the league elsewhere.

    I can't imagine having to pay a fee each week just to participate in Pokemon League. Tournaments, I can understand, as the prizes have to come from somewhere, but TPCi provides the materials for the League free of charge. Yes, the owner is providing you space to run the League but you are providing him plenty of customers buying Pokemon products. Most location consider this a fair exchange.

    I think if your players didn't have to pay for League, they may be more willing to spend their $5 to play in the tournaments.
  4. chrataxe's Avatar
    I know you said "change venues" isn't an option, but there are a million places that will let you hold league for free. If I understand you correctly, $5/person/session is ridiculous for league. As Prime said, YOU bring him customers, that should be his incentive. Especially if they sell snacks. So, to go against your asking, I say change venues to ANYWHERE, McDonald's, the Mall, ANYWHERE. Arrange it somehow to where it is free. Take that business away from him and see how willing he is to negotiate better deals for you.

    But, if you are just that intent on staying there: As Prime said, a better spread on prizes would help. Here's the thing: the winner pays $4 to play and gets 4 packs, that is a 400% increase in investment...any idiot would do that. So, even if they don't like the spread, they WILL play. Its a competitive environment they can test in and they can get a good return on their money. And, as previously mentioned, it encourages other people to play. So, even if they do quit playing, you will hopefully get other players to join and have even more playing.

    As for some prize support: I don't know of your financial situation and your ability or willingness to pay for some yourself, but here is an idea: there are Primes and Shinies you can get pretty cheap online ($1 each). Often times, I'll drop $20 on stuff like that and give them away as prizes at local tournaments. There are many places online that you can get trainers and supporters like 4/$1. If you are willing to get some stuff like that and give them away every now and then, it encourages people to play and helps your younger, not so good at deck building kids get cards that will help make their decks better and more consistent, which will allow them to be more competitive for future tournaments, thus encouraging them to play more.
  5. chrataxe's Avatar
    Also, I just realized, why are they charging $5 for a $4 pack for tournaments? Honestly, it just sounds like the store doesn't even want you there, they are just willing to put up with you as long as you are willing to let them rip you off...

    As a LO, personally, I would have no desire to have my players treated that way and wouldn't even want to hold the league there.