Ways to manage risk at esports events

Hello esports enthusiasts. We previously covered how much do esports events cost, managing an esports event and types of insurance at an esports event. For today, I’ll be covering Risk Management. Risk management is the process of identifying, assessing and controlling threats to an organization’s potential esports event. This could mean financially, physically or externally. There are numerous ways.

Why is risk management in an esports tournament important?

  • Plan for possible outcomes BEFORE they occur
    • Internet outage
    • PC’s breaking on stage
    • Production issues
    • Avoid the “How did that happen”
    • “How did the event go so wrong”

Allows you to save money, time and reputation if there is a possible plan in place for risk

Is all risk negative?

  • NO! Not all risk is negative.  
  • Certain risks can have a positive or negative outcome.  
  • Example 1: If the internet goes out, we can expect a minimum of 1 hour downtown for our event.  We will lose fans, suffer brand damage and our sponsors may not work with us.
  • Example 2: If OBS releases this new feature before our tournament, we can save up to 15% of our planning and production costs by merging two roles together

Context of risk is important!

  • Context is key!
    • Not all risks are equally important given the context of your event.  For example, during an online event, weather may not play a significant role unless there is a major event that occurred in a players region.
    • Whereas a live event, weather can play a major role impacting your ENTIRE event
    • Selection and management of appropriate risks are key

Identification of risk at esports tournaments or events

  • As an event organizer, you want to identify risks  that may occur during your event (within reason)
  • At this stage you’re brainstorming a bunch of risks.
    • Internet outage
    • Player getting sick
    • Hurricane
    • Power outage

Evaluation of risk and how to manage it

  • As an event organizer, you now want to evaluate risk at this level.  How likely is this to occur and what would be the impact?
  • This is called a risk matrix or risk evaluation

Here’s an example below. Severity is across and likelihood is down on a scale. Ie, I think it’s very unlikely that a hurricane will happen at my event in Toronto, but if it does.. it’ll be have major impact.

Risk Matrix12345
1 Sponsor unhappy Sick player
Team doesn’t show
– Hurricane
– Passports confiscated
2Bad PR from twitch chatPacket Loss Internet outage (qualifiers) 
3  Team will not show up unless they get stipendInternet Outage for players area (main tournament) 
4Small production issue    
5 Production team cannot setup (space)   

How do I score these risks or make sense of it?!

  • Score the risks highest to lowest and manage the top ones
    • Sponsor unhappy – 2 (2 severity * 1 likelihood = score of 2) 
    • Team doesn’t show – 4 (4 severity * 1 likelihood = score of 4)
    • Sick player – 4 (4 severity * 1 likelihood = score of 4)
    • Internet outage (main event) – 12 (4 severity * 3 likelihood = score of 12)
    • Team won’t show unless they get stipend – 9 (3 severity * 3 likelihood = score of 9)
    • Production team doesn’t have room to setup – 10(2 severity score * 5 likelihood = 10)

After we score risk, we must create a plan on how to manage it.  This can occur in the following ways:

Risk Avoidance in esports events

  • Risk avoidance is the act of avoiding the threat entirely. Ie, we cannot afford this to happen.  This strategy is generally quite expensive and not always possible due to not being able to avoid risk fully all the time.
  • Ie, I will get 4 backup lines for internet from 4 different providers (3 wired and 1 wireless / satellite)
  • The solution may be extremely costly


  • As an event organizer, we can reduce risk from higher scores to lower scores by reducing their risk of occurrence.
  • Risk can still occur and will likely happen but we are mitigating the impact
  • For example, if we feel the internet may go out. We may say to install a second line for the event.  This will come with additional costs so we’d need to check on budgetary constraints.  If budget were not an issue we could shift this from a high priority risk to something we can just monitor.


  • Risk acceptance is the acceptance of a risk may happen but it may not justify the additional spend to warrant avoidance
  • Ie, I’m in Toronto and there’s a .00001% chance of a hurricane.  Should I buy hurricane insurance?

Shifting / sharing

  • Risks that occur during the event are sometimes shared amongst multiple parties
  • For example, rather than have 1 sole moderator and risk bad PR, we’ll hire a team to share the risk of moderating twitch chat
  • Another example of risk sharing could be 3rd party insurance.  If the risk were to occur, it’d still be a negative event to the event organizer but not a financial one


  • I want to hold on to a risk in the event it could increase my productivity or increase my revenue. Ie, I will retain the risk of waiting for the publisher to patch a workaround we have used in order to save 3 days of planning and development work. If the event doesn’t happen, it’s business as usual and we must plan around it

We now must conduct Risk Re-assessment for our esports event!

In this case, I’ve scored the top risks and assigned an owner to take care of them. I’ve then re-assessed the risk and if it’s still valid or not. Some risks have been eliminated entirely and some have been scored at a lower amount.

Risk ScoreOwnerStatus
1. Internet outage (main event)12  3BillBackup line installed on Tuesday
2. Team will not show up unless they get stipend9AndrewStipends were purchased
3. Production team can’t setup10ShannonSecond room is being investigated
4.Hurricane5AllEvent is unlikely to occur in Toronto
Risk Matrix12345
1 Sponsor unhappy Internet Outage for players area (main tournament)Sick player
Team doesn’t show
– Hurricane
– Passports confiscated
2Bad PR from twitch chatPacket LossInternet outage (qualifiers)  
3  Team will not show up unless they get stipend  
4Small production issue    
5 Production team cannot setup (space)   

There are limits to managing risk at an esports event

  • Sometimes you have to have a blend of strategies in order for the event to work.
  • Ask yourself what the business cost is to mitigating the risk and is it worth it?
  • Ensure proper communication has happened so that everyone is aware of the risk

Let me know if you have any questions! If you have issues managing risk at an esports even or project, feel free to reach out and contact me.

Check out some of my related articles as well.

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