Maybe you're working solo on your first-ever project. Maybe you're the head of Competitive Ops for a franchised esports league. Maybe you're the producer for a grassroots event broadcast. No matter what role you're playing, or what size & shape your project is, you will need to work closely with your fellow stakeholders: the people who have a stake in your project. They are invested in the project's outcome because they are involved with, working on, benefitting from, or otherwise supporting it. (If you're running a project by yourself, then consider these to be each of the different hats you're wearing!)
Typical stakeholders involved with an event are:
- Competitors (the players/teams competing)
- Competitive Operations aka "Comp Ops" (admins/referees, rules authors)
- Broadcast (production team, talent, stage managers, etc.)
- Competitor Orgs (brands that competitors represent)
- The Competition's Brand/Organizer's Brand (social media/marketing/PR)
- Event Sponsors & Partners
- "The Client" (when you are white-labeling an event)
- Your Audience
This is not an exhaustive list. Some projects have a dedicated hospitality team, a partnerships team, or other important stakeholders. For the sake of keeping a tight scope in this handbook, I'll be focusing on the bolded three because (in my opinion) these are the core of an esports product: Competitors provide the gameplay and generate the story material, Competitive Ops structures the competition & oversees its execution, and Broadcast captures this story of the gameplay, people & overall competition to share it with the world.
Due to how tightly they're coupled, I'll be grouping Competitors and Competitive Ops together.
Being a Leader
What different stakeholders like and dislike about different formats may align or conflict with one another. And that's a good thing! Each role is working hard to make a certain aspect of the event the best it can be, so they'll naturally have different needs. At the end of the day, however, it is ONE team, ONE project, and you will need to arrive at a decision. Who will help the team craft good format options, rally everyone behind one, and prepare them to make the most of it in their respective roles? Here's where you come in.
Even if you aren't a leader on paper (in a position to call the shots), you can still be a leader in service! Your team will benefit from you knowing how different competitive formats impact your role and your teammates' roles. You can speak up confidently in meetings to guide conversations in a productive direction, share helpful information to prop up your teammates and set them up for success, and generally be a positive force for your project.
These format guides, once you familiarize yourself, will assist you in tackling all kinds of format comparisons with your team. For example, what would Competitors, Competitive Ops, and Broadcast each think of Swiss versus Round Robin? For each format...
- Which aspects would present challenges for their roles?
- Which aspects could they take advantage of in their roles?
- Where would different stakeholders need to coordinate with each other, and how?
Before we jump into the specific format guides—which will prepare you to answer these questions—we need to cover a few general format concepts.