The Disadvantages of a Ladder Tournament

a ladder image by timur1970 from

Like sports tournaments, video game tournaments can be organised using a number of structures. Each tournament structure has its own inherent strengths and weaknesses. Ladder tournaments often are used for individual sports and so lend themselves well to video game tournaments where individual players compete.

Before organising a ladder tournament, though, potential problems can be avoided if you understand the problems that can arise from the tournament's structure.


The nature of ladder tournaments means they can go on for long period. If the tournament needs to end by a certain time, some players may feel shortchanged if they are not able to play all the people they feel they should. It is possible to extend ladder tournaments over weeks, if necessary, but this can bring up problems with organisation and some players being able to play more often than others.

Large Groups

In ladder tournaments, players organise their own games by challenging other players. Since there is no strict structure to the system of challenges, chaos can reign if the group of players is very large. Fights over who is playing whom next may ensue. If the group is very large, a fair amount of officials will be needed to help the challenges and overall tournament run smoothly.

The Bottom

Players are ranked before the tournament begins on their ability. Since players can only challenge players just above them in the rankings, it is not possible that someone who is severely under-ranked to challenge a player at a much higher level and prove they are worthy of a much higher ranking. In other words, ladder tournaments can be severely flawed if the initial ranking system does not correctly rank players. Using past game performances can be a good way to ensure this does not happen.