The majority of my work around event technology has been specifically around simplifying the process of getting tournament data to players. RTools connects with tournament software to grab tournament data, and PlayerLink Online provides a web interface for this information to be provided to players efficiently.
But, what if none of that website tech is available? What if all you have is the default tournament software, RTools, and the web? You can still put together a process and infrastructure for your players to get pairings online, and also potentially gain some social media followers in the process.
1: A method to extract pairings into a CSV.
If you’re running your tournament in WLTR, this is easy – in the same place you would print pairings by name, you can also export a CSV of the pairings, or just have them copied to your clipboard.
If you’re running your tournament in WER, this isn’t as easy. To just make this as simple as possible, RTools 3.5 comes (or will come, if you’re reading this before it comes out) with a new option when you print pairings, which will allow you to export the current-round pairings as a CSV file.
2: A method to post the table quickly online.
Some of the people reading this may have their own website for their store or organization. This site might be built on WordPress, or Crystal Commerce, or another platform. Odds are that you haven’t thought too much about how the server behaves in high-traffic situations, or your estimates are based around e-commerce levels of traffic.
Online pairings is a completely-different type of load on a server. The head judge announces that “all results are in, and pairings will be posted shortly.” You now have half of your tournament taking out their smartphones, loading the pairings page, and refreshing it. And refreshing it. And refreshing it. At peak load, your server will receive the rough equivalent of your entire tournament field refreshing that page every two seconds. Running a 500-player tournament? That’s 250 requests/second; your e-commerce server likely starts having issues at 10/second.
So, let’s take advantage of Google’s infrastructure here. Specifically, we’re going to to combine Google Sheets and Google Sites to create a portal for players which we can easily update.
Before the event, you want to:
- Create a Google Sheet, which will be hosting your pairings. For now, this can just be a blank sheet.
- Create a Google Sites webpage, which will be where you direct players to.
(if you’re having a hard time finding Google Sheets or Google Sites, you can access them from drive.google.com, under this menu:
The Google Pages page can be setup to look more fancy than this, but to get us up-and-running quickly, just do the following:
- Customize the title to be your event name.
- Double-click in the blank space underneath the title, which will bring up a circular menu.
- Click “From Drive”, which will bring up a sidebar. Select your Google Sheets document from earlier.
- If you want to change the size of the embedded sheet, just click on it and you’ll get anchor points.
- Click “Publish” and give your site a public URL. You may want to give it a URL that is easy to disseminate to players, and is easy to type.
Now that you have that page setup, when you have pairings ready to publish online, you just need to:
- Copy the pairings to your clipboard.
- Clear out the old pairings, then paste the new pairings into your Google Sheet at A1.
- Click on the entire “A” column, then go to “Data > Split text to columns”.
You’ll be left with a well-formatted pairings table, ready for players to look at.
3: A method to disseminate the location of your posting to players.
This is a place where you can simultaneously get your information disseminated to players, and also potentially increase your social media presence. Because for this example, we’re going to use Twitter as our dissemination vehicle. This is because of two major reasons:
- Twitter provides a simple workflow for posting from a store or event account.
- The URL to tell people to go to should be simple, just twitter.com/[the account]
- Using Twitter allows you to encourage your players to follow your account, by posting “Pairings for Round _ are up here: …” tweets, which notify your playerbase.
- You can leverage those follows later with targeted advertising.
So, once you’ve updated your pairings, you can post to Twitter that your new pairings are posted, which will notify the players that have followed you.
One additional recommendation: if you are posting advertisements for the pairings page at the event site, I would highly-recommend also adding a QR code to the printout, directing players to the site. (I’ve found that players will tend to see these codes, and treat it as an excuse to remind themselves how that works on their cell phone)