What is a tournament admin?
Admins (or esports referees) will record the outcome of matches, make sure that the players are sticking to the rules, and hand out penalties if any are broken.
They will often have to communicate with teams to settle any disputes, keep track of the tournament brackets and offer support to the community where needed.
During live events for example LAN finals, admins will usually keep an eye on the teams, monitor matches and make sure all rules are adhered to, for example that the players are wearing the correct noise-cancelling headsets, and that no foul play is going on.
Admins may be required to help set up, test servers, chase sign ups, sort seeds and make sure everything runs according to schedule. This means you might have to work with the teams and make sure they’re all on time.
Admins are responsible for dealing with any in-game or on-stage issues, for example if a PC freezes or a keyboard breaks mid-tournament. Because of this, they will need to know the game and the tournament’s rulebook inside out, to enforce the rules and avoid any controversies or unfair decisions. They will also want to keep pauses, delays and downtime to a minimum.
What skills do you need?
Communication skills are important. For example, telling a team they’ve been disqualified is not easy, and you’ll want to do this in a calm manner to prevent the situation from escalating.
Aside from good interpersonal skills, you’ll need to remain vigilant, and resolve any issues quickly, efficiently and professionally.
As mentioned before, you’ll also need a thorough understanding of a game’s rules, as well as the rules of the tournament you’re operating. Furthermore, you’ll need to know how the tournament bracket software or website works so it can be updated.
Though its rare, cheating and match fixing unfortunately still happens in esports, so admins will also need to constantly educate themselves on new hacks and exploits that may be emerging, so they can spot them and act accordingly.
How to become an admin
Junior positions are a good way of getting your foot in the door. Tournament providers will be on the lookout for volunteers, and putting yourself forward can help you gain valuable experience.
As mentioned above, you’ll need to understand the rules of the game and the tournament. Read the rulebook, watch matches online, look at examples of where things went wrong and learn from them.
Get to grips with different tournament bracket systems like Battlefy and Challonge, and ask the community for advice.
You can start small – offer to help a friend out with a smaller tournament, for example, and work your way up from there.
Working hours and salary
Hours can vary depending on when a tournament is taking place – you will obviously be required to work throughout live and online events, so it’s not necessarily an obvious 9 to 5 role.
If you’re good enough, you can work your way up to head admin or league operator, and manage a team of admins.
Pay varies, some tournament providers pay £100-£200 a day to live tournament admins.
While there are a few full-time roles available, admins tend to be hired on a contract/one-off basis per event. If you’re looking for a full-time role, you may find more success in the league ops area.
In league ops, salaries can vary from the base level, organising the smaller tournaments such as community cups at around £18,000, while league ops managers can earn up to £30,000 in the UK. We’ll have a separate article published on league ops later in the year.