Is Tournament diversity: Good or Bad?
Disclaimer: Being a resident and active competitor in Ontario I cannot speak about other countries or provinces. This article is entirely based upon my observations of tournaments in Ontario and Quebec. I am in no way endorsed by any tournaments or organizers, nor am I promoting any tournaments for profit or personal gain. This article is not intended to offend any organizers, or deface any tournament in any manner.
Anyone who has been involved in the BJJ scene in Ontario for the last few years be able to attest to the growing number of tournaments that take place here each year, as well as the growth of existing annual tournaments. We now have a wide variety of tournaments in the region, from the massive Ontario Open, to the fantastically run round robin Grappling Industries events, and to smaller events such as the Submission Arts United with their submission only and double elimination format as well as countless other tournaments run by the OJA, OGA, Naga, and Grapplers Quest. Often there are tournaments every 2-3 weeks in either the GTA or Montreal. But is too much of a good thing bad? And what constitutes too much?
Before I address those questions I want to discuss the benefits of this abundance of tournaments. This most obvious benefit is that competitors have more options as to which tournaments they can do and this leads to more people competing and growing the sport as well as more opportunities to fight new people and gain experience. This isn’t the only advantage though. An increased number of tournaments also influences promoters to offer more and larger prizes, including fantastic medals, trips, and prize packages, which is a huge benefit to the competitors. Most importantly it allows the sport to grow and encourages new practitioners to start competing.
Now on to the first question I posed earlier, is too much of a good thing, namely competitions, a bad thing? Well first we need to examine what would happen if the amount of tournaments surpassed the demand for competitions. If this happened we would see tournaments overlapping each other, or running too often, which would reduce the number of competitors in each tournament drastically. This would lead to less experience and less matches for the money, thus lowering the likelihood of competitors showing up even further. The lack of competitors would reduce the amount of money the promoters take it, effectively reducing the amount of trips or prizes that they could give away, which would in turn lower the amount of competitors showing up at the events. Based on this it’s easy to see that an over-saturation of tournaments would negatively impact the competition scene and the competitors.
So we must ask, what is the threshold? How many tournaments is too many? Unfortunately I can’t answer this as a specific number such as one a week (though I would estimate that more than 24 medium to large tournaments a year is possibly the limit). Personally, I feel that as long as there are enough competitors attending each tournament we should continue to grow each year. When attendances start to decline on a regular basis the number or tournaments should be considered and possibly reduced. To prove that this point has yet to be reached, the most recent Submission Arts United tournament ran in Montreal on April 6th and had about 150 competitors. The next Saturday Grappling Industries had their Italian Edition tournament in Toronto and while the exact number was not available, There were upwards of 275 competitors, and over 375 with a double count for Gi and NoGi. With these two tournaments being so successful just one week apart, it shows that the market is not yet over-saturated.
The reality is that both of these tournaments can be successful so close together because they operate in separate niches. The SAU for Example, is a smaller tournament organization (this was just their second event), lacking large trips or cash prizes (they did offer dozens of rash guards, gis and other great prizes), however they offered a fresh and unique format. Their double elimination Gi and NoGi is nice for competitors looking for experience, and the NoGi submission only was certainly an interesting and enjoyable format. Grappling Industries was able to attract such a large turnout due to the fabulous prizes they offered, as well as the very strong reputation the have built using their enjoyable and well organized round robin format. Having competed at both of these events I have nothing but kind words and praise for the organizers and the events. They both had very different approaches to running a tournaments, and both pulled it off very well, delivering quality events with good turnout. While it has yet to happen (it’s scheduled for mid may) The Ontario Open and GrapplersQuest are massive tournaments, offering amazing prizes and attracting vast numbers of competitors from all over. If the numbers from last year are any indication these tournaments will be some of the largest tournaments of the year in Canada. This shows that multiple tournament organizations can all exist and be successful, as well as attract a large number of competitors.
In my personal opinion as long as tournaments continue to have as many competitors as they are attracting now, and the quality of events can be maintained, then the amount of tournaments being held should continue to increase. As long as the organizers can run successful, profitable, and well organized tournaments, we should offer competitors as many chances as possible to compete and test themselves.
Words By Joey Boretski