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Professor 101: It's Tourney Time! - How to Create and Run A Pokemon Tournament

Darrin Cole

Professor 101


Hello, Dead Drawers! Welcome back to Professor 101. This time we are going to break down how to create and run tournaments at your new Pokémon league. To get started, make sure you have received your Professorship and have the Tournament Organizer Basic qualification. If you’re not 100% sure how to go about getting your Basic TO certification, you can jump back to the previous Professor 101 articles for a step-by-step guide at this <link>. If you have your Basic certification or higher, you’re all set!



The first step to hosting a TCG or VG tournament for your league is creating it. To do this, head on over to your Play Pokémon Dashboard (OP Tools) at Poké and find the Organizer Information tab.

From there you can click on the “Create a Tournament” option. This will take you to the sanctioning screen. Fill out all of the applicable information for your tournament's location and proceed to page two.


On the second page you will find a lot of options. Many are self-explanatory, but one of the options here is worth going over. The Premier Event tab is a little special. Under this tab you will be able to find your special tournaments that you have been approved for by Pokemon. Specifically you can find Prereleases here! If the store that hosts your League is approved for Prereleases and you are to Tournament Organizer that they have chosen to run it, the tournament will drop down as an option in this tab.

One other thing to note is that the Format tab will be where you can change between Standard, Expanded, Limited (Prerelease and sealed), Unlimited, and Other (fun, made up tourneys, "Only Grass Pokemon" for example).

If you are looking for where you can sanction League Challenges or even Cups, those have recently been moved to your League Page. If you are approved for these events then a blue button will appear about half way down the page. It can take months of timely reporting and no issues before League Challenges come your way. Cups are something you will have to apply for on the Professor Forums after you have successfully held some Challenges. In the mean time, you should hold some "Other Format" tournaments to get the hang of things and practice up for the real deal.




 For some tournaments you will want (or maybe need) some staff. that's why you should find another Professor in your area with a Judge Basic certification (or convince a friend to become a Professor!) If you don't have a second Professor available, you can still hold tournaments on your own. I highly recommend completing the Judge Basic certification if you plan to run and judge a tourney by yourself, just so you are more familiar with rulings and proper penalty assignments. 


A few things you will need include:

  • Pens/Pencils for completing Deck Lists/Team Sheets
  • Access to a printer for pairings, Match Slips 
  • Extra paper!
  • Blank POP IDs
  • Extra damage counters/markers for new players or kids who may attend
  • Water or a snack - TO'ing can really take it out of you!




TOM is short for Tournament Operations Manager. This is the program required by TPCI for any sanctioned event you run as an Organizer. TOM can be great to use, but can also be frustrating. In an effort to hopefully avoid some of that frustration, let's walk through your first time using TOM. 


First, You will need to download the software. Head back to your Play Pokemon Dashboard, click on the Organizer Information tab and scroll down to Tournament Software. There, you can download the latest version of TOM. You should always check for a new version before an upcoming tournament (and then also check the Professor Forums to make sure the newest version of TOM isn't broken.)

After that, you will have to create a User Name and Password. This is only saved locally to your computer and is used by TOM to differentiate between TOs using the same computer. Your info isn't saved online, so if you use a different computer you won't have your presets or player database.

*Pro-fessor Tip: If you forget your password for TOM, instead of creating a new account you can look up the TOM file in your C: Folder and find your username and password in a text file there. Huzzah!)

Next, we need to start creating the tourney in TOM. You will need to go to your Play Pokemon Dashboard and scroll down to the event you sanctioned earlier. There will be a Sanction ID number there that you will need. 

TOM has several options for common tournament types. Otherwise, you can create a custom tourney. Once this page is filled out you will get a tutorial prompt.

*Pro-fessor Tip: These tutorial prompts never go away on their on, but can be turned off in your options! 

Now you're getting into the thick of it. This is the part where you enter in your players. When you set up your tournament, It's a good idea to collect player names, IDs, and birth dates when they register. It's a good idea to provide a sign-up sheet that asks for all of these things. Once a player has been entered into TOM, it's saved for any future tournaments! One thing to note is that for any tourney to successfully launch, you will need at least 8 players. once you hit that number, you're almost ready; just one set up page to go.

Double check the information here matches up with what you want. you can adjust the time of each round and a few other things at your leisure (within guidelines of course ;) ) If everything is correct, hit "Verify". There are a couple more quick options that flash by, and then you're on to the main event! 



 This is the prep screen to make sure everything is correct before pairing.  Try to do any player adds or drops here. Once you're ready hit the "View Pairings" button near the bottom right. A page is generated that you can print with the pairings. for larger tournaments you should definitely do this. for smaller tournaments feel free to save paper and just call out the pairings for your players. Once everyone is seated and ready to start playing, go ahead and hit the "Start Round" button. This is it! Let the tourney begin!

*Pro-fessor Tip: It's extremely easy to forget to start the TOM timer, so always use a secondary timer for your rounds. I personally use my phone and have my judge also start a timer as a second back up.

 Now let's fast forward to the end. Once your tourney is complete you will need to save and upload the tournament file. In the bottom Right hand corner your pairing button will change to say "Save Upload File As.." Prereleases may have the option to finish or pair the next round based on attendance numbers. You can click on this button to save the tournament file to a location where you can find it later. It's also a good idea to save this particular file with a reminder that this file is complete and ready to upload. I usually add the word "FINAL" to my file name.

You're almost done! The last thing you need to do is submit this file to Pokemon. You should do this the same day of the tournament if possible, but if you cannot, make sure you don't wait too long. It can be really easy to forget if you wait!

Go to your OP Tools Dashboard and scroll to the bottom. Once there, find your tournament listing and click on the link. There will be a tab that says "Upload File" near the top of your screen and click on it. Once there, you can submit your .tdf file by browsing for it. The submission process can take anywhere from 2-30 minutes.

Often there can be an error when uploading. If this happens to you, double check that your tournament is totally completed in TOM, since that is the most common issue. If you can't find the problem, you will have to submit a support ticket. 

Once your tourney is successfully uploaded, you can go back to the main tourney screen and there will be new tabs available near the top. Here, you can see some of the information from your tourney, but more importantly, this is how you can give your staff some credit. Simply click the Staff tab and enter the player IDs with the proper staff title for each Professor who helped you.

If you have made it to this point with no problems, you're done! Congratulations on completing your first tournament! 


Being a Tournament Organizer can be stressful and sometimes difficult, but it can also be very rewarding and often very fun! I personally love running tournaments, maybe even more than playing. Probably the best advice I can give you is to just dive in! Let yourself make mistakes and learn from them. Don't be afraid to ask your fellow Professors for help, too. If you don't have any Prof's in your area, the Professor Forums are extremely helpful, And I'm always willing to help out, too! Just email me at

I hope this TO guide was helpful, and thank you so much for helping our Pokemon Community grow. See you next time!

Professor DC

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  • MissTeri on

    Great info! Thanks so much for taking the time to write this up with all the screenshots.

  • Bullados on

    3 additional things that will dramatically speed up your tournament and make you look like a champion.

    1) During tournament registration, there’s no need to click on each field as you need to type into it. You can hit tab to get to every field, and enter when all the fields are filled out. After hitting Enter, the cursor will automatically go back to the Player ID field, so you can start entering in a new Player immediately! So, do something like: PlayerID First Name Last Name Birthdate . Doing that will dramatically speed up your data entry, and it will make you look like an all star Organizer!

    2) If a player has played in a previous tournament that you’ve run on that computer, then you can quickly enter that player into a new tournament. Just type that player’s ID number into the PlayerID form on the upper-left hand corner, then hit Enter. That player just got added to your tournament!

    3) Invest in a barcode scanner. You’ll notice that the Match Slips all have 3 barcodes on them. TOM has a quick-entry function that will take the inputs from a barcode scanner and automatically record the results of a match. Once you start the tournament, it’s the icon 4th to the left along the top row. Click that, and you’ll get your Fast Entry mode! You can even use it without a barcode scanner, as long as you’re quick on a keyboard. The Match Slips have little numbers under each option. Just type these numbers into the field, and TOM will automatically record the result. You can find a good, portable barcode scanner on Amazon for less than $20.

    And finally… TOM needs a little massaging if you’re going to use it on a Mac computer. You’ll need to download Java Runtime Environment and Java Development Kit at minimum for TOM to function correctly on a Mac machine.

    Good luck, Organizers!

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