In this post I thought I would reflect on hosting our most recent tournament and lay out what things we had to think about from an organisers perspective.
For those who aren’t aware, back in August we as a club held only the second ever Buhurt League challenger event in the UK, and what an event it was! (if we do say so ourselves).
Now before we get into much, I want to preface this by saying it was one of the most stressful things I have done in recent years. I’d much rather be in there with the simplicity of fighting than have the stress that trying to pull this event off brought, however looking back, it was one of the most rewarding experiences.
You want to host a tournament, so where do you start?
Before you make any moves towards a tournament, you need to establish exactly what it is that you want to achieve with the event. Originally for us, we wanted to just hold a 5v5 tournament to prove we could do it. After some further discussion and thought, we quickly moved towards wanting to include it in the trial elements of the first UK League season. This meant not only holding the tournament for the sake of holding a tournament, but also a certain level of expectation on the running and organisational aspects of the event.
Choose your venue wisely!
A cautionary tale here, choose your venue wisely. We went out, put the leg work in and secured a great venue with the outlook for this tournament, which was Allerton Castle in North Yorkshire. The problem we had however was Covid. As relaxations in social distancing and legal requirements for events happened, we quickly realised that private venues could and would still insist on safety measures far in excess of the legal obligations, which in this particular instance made the tournament untenable. So we needed a back up plan!
Castleton Primary School saves the day. We already used the school to hold our outdoor training sessions and they have always been supportive of the sport. Then in steps my lovely wife Mary and manages to get access to the massive gated school field, toilet blocks, showers, off street lockable parking and camping availability for those wanting to camp. It turned out to be an ideal venue after all the issues with our main venue and has become our primary outdoor venue for training and future events.
Public or Private Event
Now we knew what the tournament format was going to be, we needed to decide whether we wanted it to be a private event or one open to the public. We decided to make it a public event as we had the additional aim of raising funds for the school who were kind enough to allow us the use of the field and facilities.
This brought with it a few considerations such as; do we ticket the event for entry?; how do we set up the event for safe public access?; do we need additional stewards to manage numbers?.
We were able to effectively separate the public from the action without compromising safety in this instance and our efforts on the day raised £420 for the school which went to benefit some children in the nursery classes. It also provided for a good amount of spectator engagement which was reflected in the feedback we got.
Insurance – the dreaded word but something that you need!
When putting on any type of event, insurance needs to be a key consideration. As I understand it, all members of HMBGB teams must have individual insurance for public liability. Most clubs get this provided through C3 (country club cover) as the most cost effective solution. The issue with this however is that membership with C3 only covers the individual and does not cover the holding of events or demonstrations organised by the individual or club. Therefore if an axe breaks and hits a person outside of the list, the individual fighter who’s axe it was is covered, the event and the organiser would not be for claims.
As a club, Honour and Arms carries different levels of insurance cover as follows:
- Student insurance which covers individuals under my tutelage whilst in the club.
- Public liability and Events cover which covers the any events we put on.
- Professional indemnity insurance which covers anything resulting from bad advice/service
- Employers liability which covers any staff working for us paid or not.
- Volunteers liability which covers anyone working particular events as a volunteer.
As an aside, my sports promotions company also has insurance dedicated for sports promotion to cover any events we choose to promote as a separate entity.
The key take away is to make sure you have suitable insurance for the whole tournament, not just for the individuals taking part. Damage to property and injury to spectators could happen and you wouldn’t want to be personally liable if that happened.
This is something that cannot be underestimated and will take out a lot of stress from the organisation of your event. Get your event support staffing sorted well in advance!
Being brutally honest, we struggled on this one. Despite numerous posts and requests for help we only had a few people volunteer to help in advance. The mains things to consider are marshals, event secretary, video management (for the stream), commentary, first aid as well as general helpers to help with the logistics and list.
A big shout out in this section to Dave Brown, Alistair McGregor, Alex Noble, Ewan Cronin and Antony Lamsdell for marshalling help. Simon Sidd, Mike Wilde, Michael Stewart, Lisa Robertson and her 2 lads for help setting up the lists and dismantling them afterwards, as well as Jonathan Nordin and Gavin Stewart for helping with the stream and commentary throughout the day I apologise if I forget anyone else.
The list – It’s quite important don’t you know.
For us, we chose to use our own list that we made for outdoor training sessions which we usually hold at the school. We made it specifically with 5v5 & 12v12 in mind such that it is circa 15m long and 10m wide which affords plenty of room to work,
The big concern for us with the tournament was whether of not it would be sufficiently strong enough to withstand piles of bodies and heavy weight and pressure against it. This concern was born out of the fact that I made the list specifically to be demountable and portable for travel and transportation. Luckily for us it was strong enough and held up really well on the day.
Not something that’s required for every tournament, however as we advance the level of our tournaments it will be something that becomes more prevalent. We only had a requirement to video record the fights but I chose to do what I could to stream them on the day.
Note that you could just choose to stream using a mobile phone direct to Facebook, YouTube, Twitch etc. You do not need a full set up.
My chosen set up for streaming was as follows:
Predator Helios 300 Laptop – Plenty of power in this laptop for gaming and streaming. https://www.acer.com/ac/en/GB/content/predator-series/predatorhelios300
Logitech C922 PRO – Streaming camera for the video feed which offers 1080p resolution at 30fps as well as built in microphone capabilities.
Samson C01U Pro Studio Mic – Good quality microphone suitable for indoor and outdoor use. Use the option wind cover for outdoor use.
Streamlabs OBS – My choice of streaming software. This allowed me to set up the skins/overlays for the stream easily, adjust levels and manage the stream. It also allowed advanced link to our YouTube channel to create the link for the event on the day.
The final consideration is your connectivity. Wi-Fi is going to be best but 4g and 5g are also suitable. As we were in a field on the day, I streamed everything via my 4g connection using my phone as a hotspot. The big key to this is making sure you do a speed test on the morning of the stream, half the upload speed number and set that as your bitrate to ensure a smooth, continuous stream. Pro Tip: Plug your phone in at all times and set it to no screen lock such that it does not auto disconnect the hotspot.
Buhurt League Registration
We decided to get BL registration for our event to make it even more worhtwhile for the BL teams attending. It meant points were on offer.
This was very simple to achieve and probably the least stressful part of the process. For a Buhurt challenger event you need to contact the Buhurt League secretary and ensure a minimum of 4 Buhurt League registered teams. Couple that with just a video recording to the fights and you have yourself a Buhurt League event.
Sponsorship and Prizes
Let me start by saying this is not something that is necessary for any event (and I am saying that as someone who has done pretty well at getting sponsors). Why isn’t it necessary? Because just having a tournament on UK soil should be enough for most, but sponsorships can also add added pressure to the event organisation which is/can be unwarranted.
One thing to really discuss with your sponsors before the event is what they want in terms of exposure and coverage. After all they aren’t giving you things out of the goodness of their hearts, it is a business relationship you are building.
- Are they happy with just Facebook posts and some photos?
- Do they want specific banner placement and shout outs?
- Are they expecting coverage on the streams and or video?
- Is the value of sponsorship proportionate to the exposure they get?
We were lucky enough to get sponsorship from Buhurt Tech, Medieval Extreme, Soft Warrior Sparta, Armour Workshop Pavlo Kozak and Mad-Ax for this event and had sponsor posts, photos, banners and even sponsor recognition on our video edits to make it worthwhile.
We did also have Titan Bladeworks on board but Mary and I paid out of pocket for those prizes as we wanted something unique and special for the MVF fighters on the day.
Finally, the fighting!
Tournament organisation for the fighting these days is relatively simple. Anything more than 10 teams and a group stage would be the best idea. Our tournament was 5 male teams and 2 female teams so the round robin format was the simplest and easiest option. Having everyone well aware of the fight order and teams called out to ready in advance meant that on the day we ran ahead of schedule smoothly. We managed to cram in the whole day starting at 10:30am and finished by 4pm inclusive of the 12 v 12 fights.
Whilst there were a few injuries (with the most serious being a fractured arm) the fighting on the whole was at a great level. Both the Men’s and Women’s fights were of a great standard and really showed the sport as it should be.
Reflections – How was it for us then?
All in all, Mary and I take great pride in what we managed to achieve on that weekend.
The feedback we got was that it was a good tournament. It ran smoothly and the stream and commentary really made the experience for those watching at home. We also got some great feedback from the public, from the local news and also from the media elements we managed to put out after the event which was very encouraging.
I did however say to Mary never again! There was so much that had to go into getting everything right on the day that it was not easy at all and the stress was much worse than only having to worry about fighting.
Having had some further time to reflect since, we will be doing it again with our next tournament scheduled and put out there. This time we aim to be bigger and better, with more to offer the public and make it a true event for all to come and see. We also know well in advance what works and what doesn’t work and which was is best to go with the event as a whole.
Ultimately, for the UK League scene to grow we do need to see improvements, mainly on the support side of the sport. More marshals and willing support participants to help with tournament logistics are needed greatly. That being said, as long as every individual and club are pulling in the same direction the future only looks bright for the sport in the UK.
See you in the lists soon!
Daniel & Mary