This is a common question that comes up on my and also on r/smashbros. Before answering this question, I would like to clear up some misconceptions about tournaments.

1.) “I need to get better before I go”
Regardless of how good you think you are, you will 95% likely get destroyed at your first tournament. Delaying the jump into a competition will only hinder your long term growth.

2.) “I don’t know anyone”
Another reason to go to meet people. Smashers are friendly!

Now that we’ve got that established. I’ll break it down piece by piece.

Before a Tournament

1. Finding a tournament
This should be obvious of course, but how do we find them? The easiest way is to find and join a local Facebook group. Most of the Facebook groups will have a list of events to let you know when the next tournaments are. Alternatively, you can check out to find a competition.

2. Understand the Ruleset
Familiarize yourself not only with the ruleset but also the logistics of a tournament. Registration ends at 2pm? Best that you come there on time, so that you can still register.

Also, familiarize yourself with how to play a set. This includes the following:

Stage Striking
Counter Picking/Bans
Reporting a match

Day of the Tournament

0. The necessities

The list is fairly small, but you should bring your controller and enough cash to cover the entry fees and food. Don’t be a Chu-Dat and bring a $100 bill, or else the organizer will hate you (half-kidding). Other nice to haves include a little baggie to keep your stuff intact and some small snacks. Some tournaments offer a “venue discount” if you bring a setup, but I wouldn’t stress bringing one on your first trip.

1. Breathe!

Understandably, going to an unfamiliar event, full of strangers, can be daunting. Everyone was in your shoes at one point. Fortunately, the Smash community does a fantastic job of being friendly.

Performance-wise, no one will judge you if you get 4-stocked against a random Smasher or do very poorly. We were all in your shoes at one point. It’s part of the growing process.

2. Come Early

This will give you ample time to play friendlies and introduce yourself to new faces. If you’re unfamiliar with the venue location, this will give you some leeway just in case you get lost, make a wrong turn, or can’t find parking.

3. Network

I can’t emphasize this enough. The goal of your early tournaments should be to build your personal network of smashers. This will make your future experiences much more pleasant as you will have friends to hang out with. This can be as simple as saying, “Hi, my name is _____. What’s yours?”

Other great sample questions
What’s your main?
How did you join the Smash community?
Want to play a friendly?
Where are you from?

By meeting new people, they will now be able to associate a face to your name and your Facebook posts. Naturally, this will also put people at ease if you ask to join a weekly Smashfest or host one.

4. Have Fun

It’s easy to forget when you’re competing. It can be stressful when you’re down to the wire with an opponent in a heated set, but, at the end of the day, the goal of your first tournament is to not necessarily win (although that would be nice!), but more so to get familiar with the tournament environment.

5. Ask Questions

This is also an opportune time to ask for advice and feedback from experienced players. Most are more than willing to give advice, so take advantage. Also take note of what you should aim to improve for next time.

6. Hygiene

Although it should be common sense, you need to wear deodorant and shower beforehand. Don’t be the stinker.

7. Join the Post-Tourney Festivities

Although a bit more difficult to do, now that tourneys are packed and end later, but try your best to hang out with other players after the tournament. This is where true bonding happens. If you’re a newer player that’s intimidated, this is a perfect time to break the ice.

That’s all for this mini-guide. I hope this helps ease any anxiousness that may come with entering your first tournament!