As the Smash community continues to grow at a record rate, many TOs have been caught biting off more than they can chew, often overloading their own tournaments with multiple games and events without the appropriate preparations. This creates a logistical mess and an unpleasant experience for attendees. Before even thinking about hosting a multi-game tournament, TOs should learn how to manage time for a one-game tournament: these are simple and mostly boil down to analyzing the time required to complete each isolated event.

In the first of this two-part article, I'll discuss how to manage time specifically for a

Think about some of the following expected values for your double-elimination bracket. The answers to these questions will serve as the parameters for your time estimate.

1)

2)

3)

--

Here's an example.

1)

2)

3)

Our parameters are as follows:

16 entrants

16 setups

10 minutes per set

A double-elimination bracket can be deceptive in that the time required to complete it is fairly fixed. It doesn't matter if you have a million setups or the best TOs in the world running things; the queueing nature of the double-elimination bracket lends itself to a minimum running time that plateaus after you hit a "critical value" of setup resources. If you're unfamiliar with basic queueing theory, look closely at a double-elimination bracket and ask yourself, "can this losers bracket set happen before this winners bracket set happens?" for several different parts of the bracket.

This example is pretty much as simple as it gets. Note that the number of sets available to play at any given time does not exceed the number of setups, so you can assume all sets in each round can be played concurrently. In fact, there are at least 8 unused setups at any given time in this case. Also, the total number of players involved is very low, which offers a relatively easy time managing brackets and downtime; you can probably get away with assuming a number as low as 10 minutes per set here, if this is a typical local with typical Smashers and typical TO staff manpower.

Break it down by round:

WB1 | 8 sets | 10 minutes

WQ + LB1 | 8 sets | 10 minutes

WS + LB2 | 6 sets | 10 minutes

WF + LB3 | 3 sets | 10 minutes

LQ | 2 sets | 10 minutes

LS | 1 set | 10 minutes

LF | 1 set | 10 minutes

GF first set | 1 set | 10 minutes

GF second set | 1 set | 10 minutes

Assuming our parameters of 16 entrants, 16 available setups, and 10 minutes per set, the estimated time required for this event is 90 minutes, or

--

Let's do another example.

1)

2)

3)

Our parameters are as follows:

64 entrants

16 setups

15 minutes per set

Things get trickier this time.

The first thing you should notice is

The second thing you should notice is that

Again, break it down by round:

WB1 first half | 16 sets | 15 minutes

WB1 second half | 16 sets | 15 minutes

WB2 | 16 sets | 15 minutes

LB1 | 16 sets | 15 minutes

LB2 | 16 sets | 15 minutes

WB3 + LB3 | 16 sets | 15 minutes

WQ + LB4 | 12 sets | 15 minutes

WS + LB5 | 6 sets | 15 minutes

WF + LB6 | 5 sets | 15 minutes

LB7 | 2 sets | 15 minutes

LQ | 2 sets | 15 minutes

LS | 1 set | 15 minutes

LF | 1 set | 15 minutes

GF first set | 1 set | 15 minutes

GF second set | 1 set | 15 minutes

Assuming our parameters of 64 entrants, 16 available setups, and 15 minutes per set, the estimated time required for this event is 225 minutes, or

--

Food for thought:

* Of course, there are ways to estimate running time in a quick-and-dirty fashion, aka a formula that uses the three mentioned parameters as an input and produces the estimated running time as an output. I've purposely excluded any kind of formula like that here because I feel that there are too many intangibles within a double-elimination bracket to take a generic shortcut like that. Every Smash tourney is different, whether it's the venue or geographic region or composition of turnout, and as a TO you should account for all those factors independently.

* Another reason against a formula: other considerations definitely come into play with respect to time management. You might want to record all of the late winners bracket on a single streaming setup; if so, then it's not necessary to play late winners bracket rounds concurrently as illustrated above. You might want to upgrade the final few sets to a best-of-5; if so, then increase the set length of later rounds accordingly. This article is intended to provide a foundation where you can make those adjustments yourself.

* All the above calculations assume zero downtime between sets. This is obviously unrealistic when it comes to Smash tournaments, which are often filled with players who don't report to their matches on time or take unpredictable breaks between sets. So before proceeding, it's advisable to add a few minutes to your set length parameter to account for the overall timeliness of your attendees and any outside circumstances surrounding your tournament.

* Setups are everything. In the above example, if the number of available setups was reduced from 16 setups to just 8 setups, the bracket would require an extra 105 minutes (7 extra rounds * 15 minutes per round) to complete given the same assumptions/parameters. Hopefully this gives you a better idea about why TOs are always so adamant about attendees bringing setups; every one counts.

* Well, every setup counts up until you reach the "critical value," or the point at which extra setups no longer help the bracket run faster. This is typically half the number of entrants in the bracket. For example, in a top-32 bracket, 16 setups is the critical value; it accomplishes maximum efficiency because the number of available sets to play at any given time will never exceed it. This number should be your setups goal during the planning phases of your tournament.

* A lot of variance is involved with set length, or average time required per set. In my experience, and for the sake of simplifying things for Smash tournaments, it's fair to assume a typical bell curve distribution for set lengths. In other words, unusually long sets will be balanced out by unusually short sets at the end of the day. Focus on obtaining extra setups to reduce the effect of bottlenecks.

* It should come as no surprise that the number one tournament-killer is downtime between sets. This is usually what separates tournaments that run on time from those that run behind schedule. If you have the staff and resources available, focus on reducing downtime to as close to zero as possible. After a tournament begins, the setup count and attendees count is pretty much out of your control, but you have plenty of control over how to reduce downtime.

In the second of this two-part article, I'll discuss how to manage time for round robin pools.

--

In the first of this two-part article, I'll discuss how to manage time specifically for a

**double-elimination bracket**. This is the most common format at Smash tournaments, or at least the most common endgame format when preceded by round robin pools (we'll talk about how to estimate time required for round robin pools in the next article). A double-elimination bracket offers two chances for players to lose before being eliminated; while this sounds great taken at face value, the logistics must be tackled with efficiency in order for the tournament to run on time.Think about some of the following expected values for your double-elimination bracket. The answers to these questions will serve as the parameters for your time estimate.

1)

**Entrants:**How many entrants do I expect to participate?2)

**Setups:**How many full setups do I expect to be available?3)

**Set Length:**How many minutes do I expect the average set to require?--

Here's an example.

1)

**Entrants:**16 entrants for singles2)

**Setups:**16 setups available throughout3)

**Set Length:**10 minutes per setOur parameters are as follows:

16 entrants

16 setups

10 minutes per set

A double-elimination bracket can be deceptive in that the time required to complete it is fairly fixed. It doesn't matter if you have a million setups or the best TOs in the world running things; the queueing nature of the double-elimination bracket lends itself to a minimum running time that plateaus after you hit a "critical value" of setup resources. If you're unfamiliar with basic queueing theory, look closely at a double-elimination bracket and ask yourself, "can this losers bracket set happen before this winners bracket set happens?" for several different parts of the bracket.

This example is pretty much as simple as it gets. Note that the number of sets available to play at any given time does not exceed the number of setups, so you can assume all sets in each round can be played concurrently. In fact, there are at least 8 unused setups at any given time in this case. Also, the total number of players involved is very low, which offers a relatively easy time managing brackets and downtime; you can probably get away with assuming a number as low as 10 minutes per set here, if this is a typical local with typical Smashers and typical TO staff manpower.

Break it down by round:

**Round | # of Concurrent Sets | Time Required**WB1 | 8 sets | 10 minutes

WQ + LB1 | 8 sets | 10 minutes

WS + LB2 | 6 sets | 10 minutes

WF + LB3 | 3 sets | 10 minutes

LQ | 2 sets | 10 minutes

LS | 1 set | 10 minutes

LF | 1 set | 10 minutes

GF first set | 1 set | 10 minutes

GF second set | 1 set | 10 minutes

Assuming our parameters of 16 entrants, 16 available setups, and 10 minutes per set, the estimated time required for this event is 90 minutes, or

**1 hour 30 minutes**.--

Let's do another example.

1)

**Entrants:**64 teams for doubles2)

**Setups:**16 setups available throughout3)

**Set Length:**15 minutes per setOur parameters are as follows:

64 entrants

16 setups

15 minutes per set

Things get trickier this time.

The first thing you should notice is

**the number of available sets to play exceeds the number of available setups during the early stages of the bracket**. Because of this, you have to break down the overloaded round into smaller chunks and treat each as a separate round. In this case, break down WB1 into two halves as indicated below.The second thing you should notice is that

**the sheer volume of players compared to the previous example will almost inevitably create longer sets**. Not only are there 64 entrants, but those 64 entrants represent 128 total people because it's a doubles event. That's 8x as many as the previous example. More time will inevitably be spent finding players, reporting results, counterpicking stages, and so on. As you host more tournaments, you'll find that adjustments must always be made to scale to your turnout. In this case, I've upped the set length parameter to 15 minutes per set to account for the increase in moving parts.Again, break it down by round:

**Round | # of Concurrent Sets | Time Required**WB1 first half | 16 sets | 15 minutes

WB1 second half | 16 sets | 15 minutes

WB2 | 16 sets | 15 minutes

LB1 | 16 sets | 15 minutes

LB2 | 16 sets | 15 minutes

WB3 + LB3 | 16 sets | 15 minutes

WQ + LB4 | 12 sets | 15 minutes

WS + LB5 | 6 sets | 15 minutes

WF + LB6 | 5 sets | 15 minutes

LB7 | 2 sets | 15 minutes

LQ | 2 sets | 15 minutes

LS | 1 set | 15 minutes

LF | 1 set | 15 minutes

GF first set | 1 set | 15 minutes

GF second set | 1 set | 15 minutes

Assuming our parameters of 64 entrants, 16 available setups, and 15 minutes per set, the estimated time required for this event is 225 minutes, or

**3 hours 45 minutes**.--

Food for thought:

* Of course, there are ways to estimate running time in a quick-and-dirty fashion, aka a formula that uses the three mentioned parameters as an input and produces the estimated running time as an output. I've purposely excluded any kind of formula like that here because I feel that there are too many intangibles within a double-elimination bracket to take a generic shortcut like that. Every Smash tourney is different, whether it's the venue or geographic region or composition of turnout, and as a TO you should account for all those factors independently.

* Another reason against a formula: other considerations definitely come into play with respect to time management. You might want to record all of the late winners bracket on a single streaming setup; if so, then it's not necessary to play late winners bracket rounds concurrently as illustrated above. You might want to upgrade the final few sets to a best-of-5; if so, then increase the set length of later rounds accordingly. This article is intended to provide a foundation where you can make those adjustments yourself.

* All the above calculations assume zero downtime between sets. This is obviously unrealistic when it comes to Smash tournaments, which are often filled with players who don't report to their matches on time or take unpredictable breaks between sets. So before proceeding, it's advisable to add a few minutes to your set length parameter to account for the overall timeliness of your attendees and any outside circumstances surrounding your tournament.

* Setups are everything. In the above example, if the number of available setups was reduced from 16 setups to just 8 setups, the bracket would require an extra 105 minutes (7 extra rounds * 15 minutes per round) to complete given the same assumptions/parameters. Hopefully this gives you a better idea about why TOs are always so adamant about attendees bringing setups; every one counts.

* Well, every setup counts up until you reach the "critical value," or the point at which extra setups no longer help the bracket run faster. This is typically half the number of entrants in the bracket. For example, in a top-32 bracket, 16 setups is the critical value; it accomplishes maximum efficiency because the number of available sets to play at any given time will never exceed it. This number should be your setups goal during the planning phases of your tournament.

* A lot of variance is involved with set length, or average time required per set. In my experience, and for the sake of simplifying things for Smash tournaments, it's fair to assume a typical bell curve distribution for set lengths. In other words, unusually long sets will be balanced out by unusually short sets at the end of the day. Focus on obtaining extra setups to reduce the effect of bottlenecks.

* It should come as no surprise that the number one tournament-killer is downtime between sets. This is usually what separates tournaments that run on time from those that run behind schedule. If you have the staff and resources available, focus on reducing downtime to as close to zero as possible. After a tournament begins, the setup count and attendees count is pretty much out of your control, but you have plenty of control over how to reduce downtime.

In the second of this two-part article, I'll discuss how to manage time for round robin pools.

--

*Juggleguy is a national tournament organizer, Melee It On Me team member, and Smashboards contributor. You can follow him on Twitter: @JuggleRob*
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