Esports project management – Budget & Cost of a tournament

In my latest post, I’m going to give some quick insights into some additional esports project management tips with budgeting & costs of a tournament. I’m not going to discuss revenue generation at this time. That’s for another post.

In part 1 of my tutorial of project management in esports, there was a considerable of planning and what to think about when thinking about doing an event. Now we’ve identified the key individuals or who we need, what we need and how much (hopefully) and we need to forecast a budget to see costs. Live event costs are on a completely different level than online. I’ll try to go through both and discuss what you potentially need to look out for.

A lot of this is going to come down to experience and being comfortable with knowing what costs you can and cannot get away with. As a tournament or event organizer in esports, the majority of your costs are going to come down to a few line items which are prizing and staff.

Here’s a sample cost for a theoretical event and some estimates. Please note these are just ESTIMATES. They can vary from actual quotes.

  • Prize pool – if you’re attracting international teams, this will more than likely be in USD. There is a good chance this will be the biggest or second biggest line item depending on which game you’re organizing.
    • We’ll put $150,000 USD for this item.
  • Venue – Are you getting a venue comped or are you going to pay for one? Depending on size or how many seats you need, you may be looking at anywhere from $5,000 / day – $30,000 day depending on size. For simplicity, we’ll take a middle of the road venue at $10,000 / day. For 6-7 days of setup + teardown + event you’d be looking at $70,000 or so.
  • Flights – flights aren’t cheap. Teams may ask for business class or premium economy flights. Are you going to offer it to them or simply give economy class? It’s a decision you need to make as a tournament organizer and varies from game to game. For example, some esports titles teams fly their players in.
    • If you’re going to fly some international teams + staff in. You could be looking at around 70 flights at an average of around $1300 USD. This line item can amount to around $91,000 USD. We’re going to use Dota 2 as an example where 8 teams with 5 players + 1 coach each.
  • Hotel – Here’s another big one. This could potentially be offset with a sponsor. Chances are they’ll give a discounted rate but not free at all. You may have to single book some rooms and double book others if players are comfortable. This entirely depends on the game & team norms. If a LAN is 4 days teams should get there roughly 2 days prior for a total of 6 nights. Location is important as you may need to figure out transportation for teams if it’s too far away from the venue where you’re playing.
    • 70 people * 200 USD per night * 6 nights = $84,000
  • Car transportation – This can be optional if your hotel + venue is close by. If not, you’re going to have to pay for this. It’ll probably be in the range of about $7500 USD.
  • Food – You need to feed staff and teams, you’ll need to figure out how many meals you’re offering. Let’s say breakfast & lunch for 6 nights for 70 people. Estimate around $14,500.
  • Staff – OK, here’s a big one coming up. This varies wildly by event.
    • Broadcast talent – This entirely depends on their day rates. Some can be $500 and anywhere from $2500. For simplicity, I am going to say it’s $1000 per day for 10 talent.
      • 10 talent * 5 days (if you fly them in before the day) * $1000 USD day rate = $50,000
    • Production crew – OK, they need to build the sets, test the lights, produce the event, work the cameras etc. You’ll want someone competent for this. Quotes vary wildly but you can expect to pay around $100,000 USD for 4 days + setup.
    • LAN admins – you’ll want some competent staff here. You can estimate you’ll need 5 staff on rotation at around $500 – 750 day rate.
      • $500 * 5 staff * 5 days = $12,500
      • You’ll also want a lead admin who is more expensive. Let’s say their rate is $750 / day for a total of $3,750.
    • Observers – depends if they’re included in the production crew budget or not. Popular observers can range from $3000 – $5000 for the 5 days.
    • Translators – are you going to do interviews with teams? If so, you’ll need some translators. Sometimes team managers can do this but only if they’re comfortable. Expect to pay around $1500 for a solid translator.
    • Social media – $1500
    • Photographers – 2x = $4000 – $5000
    • Merchandise helpers = 2x = $2000
    • Project Managers – $4000
    • General volunteers / help –
      • This can be free but do not exploit their labour. Make sure you treat your volunteers with respect and show them a good time!
  • Trophy, other assets, etc
    • $5,000
  • Oh shit fund
    • $30,000
  • PC Equipment (try to get this for free or sponsored)
    • $30,000 USD (8 teams practice PCs, stage PCs, chairs, monitors etc for 6 days).

Esports tournament organization isn’t cheap. It’s high risk and high reward. There are a ton of costs in a live event and what I’ve described is fairly bare bones. This doesn’t include any augmented reality setups, vendor booth costs (hopefully the sponsor is paying for it), fan extras, thank you packages etc.

The total costs would be roughly – $667,750 USD. There are obvious ways you can reduce costs by sponsorship’s and other partnerships but this is just to give an idea. You can also estimate upwards for a higher quality LAN as well. Roughly $1,000,000. The sky’s the limit honestly.

Hope that helps, let me know of any questions.

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