Tournament software for PCs

Recently I played (for the first time) in a couple of tournaments. For both tournaments, the tournament organization (deciding which team plays which team, on which piste, for each round of the tournament — and then deciding who the winners were) was done using printed paper forms.

My impression was that using paper forms to organize a tournament can be quite easy, or quite difficult, depending on what kind of tournament system is being used, and how many teams and pistes are in play. And as a computer programmer I could see that such tournament organization tasks are ideal candidates for automation. The rules are clearly defined. The calculations can sometimes be challenging for a human, but a computer can do them quickly and without mistake. And in our Web-connected age, electronic data exchange would be possible and easy, if that might be something that one wanted.

So I began wondering what kinds of software might be available for organizing petanque tournaments. I went to Google and started looking.

screenshot_SPORT_tournament_softwareThe first high-quality commercial product that I found is called SPORT and is available from a German firm. Their URL (web page) is SPORT is designed to handle tournaments in different formats (round robin, single elimination, double elimination, Swiss system, etc.) and in several different sports. It supports several different languages, including French and English.

As of July 2014, the list price is 80€. The interesting thing is that the FIPJP itself uses SPORT for the World Championships, and has negotiated an arrangement with the vendor for a 50% price discount.  40€ is quite a reasonable price. According to the FIPJP web site, the way to get the discount is to place the order for SPORT through a national federation, which for American clubs of course means ordering it through the FPUSA. I think that means ordering it through the FPUSA National Sport Director — currently Ernesto Santos.

The software is written in Microsoft Visual C++ and runs on Windows. That means that SPORT should be able to run on any laptop running Windows. So it should be easy to bring a laptop running SPORT down to the tournament location.

After finding SPORT, I continued using Google to search for “tournament organization software”. I got a lot of hits. Here are the ones that I thought looked most interesting.

  1. TioPro (free)
  2. Since my original post, several commenters (see below) have recommended Challonge, which is free and web-based. It also has a Facebook page.
  3. Tournament Planner (€150)
  4. Tournament Time ($180 annual license)

Of the three that I originally found, TioPro most impressed me. It seems to be genuinely free, not just a free trial. It has a good, clean, easy-to-use user interface. It has a LOT of features — I think it probably has all of the features that anyone would want for a petanque tournament. It seems to be actively maintained and developed, with good support via an online Linux-style forum. And there is a very impressive list of video tutorials that are hosted on YouTube — I watched THIS and THIS.

One thing that impressed me was that TioPro correctly handles the organization of the consolante in a double-elimination tournament. Here is a screenshot from one of the YouTube tutorials. I’ve added a red arrow to the screenshot to show how TioPro automatically (and correctly) moves losers from the concours to the consolante. (Click on the image to see a larger version.)
Click to see larger image

In a helpful comment (see below) Uzero Metreize points out that, if you’re planning to use a laptop to run a tournament, you will also need to plan on using an AC electrical outlet and a printer.

Some other options might be to connect the laptop to a large flat-screen TV, and display the tournament results that way. If the laptop had internet connectivity, updated tournament information could be uploaded to the tournament’s web site in real time, and the results could be viewed by anybody with a smartphone. (TioPro can do this. With built-in Twitter support, it can tweet tournament results as they come in.)

Imagine. You don’t even need to go anywhere near the bulletin board. You can go back to your hotel after your last game of the day, have a nice dinner, and then before going to bed check the web site to see who you’ll be playing the next day! I’ve never been to Marseilles or to the World Championships. But for such big tournaments, they surely must have some kind of set-up like this.


11 thoughts on “Tournament software for PCs

  1. Many petanque clubs in the USA and Canada use the German software package successfully; however, there are some factors to be considered when it comes to running a tournament using software.

    Firstly, an AC electrical outlet is a must, especially if running a large tournament or it can turn into a fiasco if the computer battery is exhausted before time.

    Secondly, the computer does not eliminate the paperwork; charts must be printed and displayed for all participants to read, therefore, a printer is also needed.

    Some may say that there is no need for a printer; participants can look at the computer display. Well, that might be fine for a small group of leisure players but, when one deals with serious competitors there is a lot of information that they want to know, for example: a seasoned competitor looks at the charts in order to determine what points differential they need to stay at, or advance to a certain position in their bracket, or if they suffer a loss, how many points must they score to stay in their bracket, etc. So, with that in mind, imagine running a tournament like the Amelia Island Open, with 128 teams gathered around the computer.

  2. I’m currently researching tournament software myself, and there’s another tool that I think may serve your needs even better.

    From what I’ve found, most in the eSports world had been using Tio Tournament Organizer for quite some time for all the reasons you cite. But in the last year or two, it seems that many of them have transitioned to a web-based tool called Challonge.

    It seems to be pretty similar in quality, still free, but it also allows sign-ups online, and it provides a built-in way for participants to check results and position on a website. It even has an API, apparently. The only major limitation I’ve found so far (and what I’m really looking for) is that they don’t yet support matches between more than 2 teams.

    • Yep, that’s the idea. I’m interested in running a swiss tournament for a video game that has 4 independent players in each match, rather than the typical 2. I haven’t found any tools yet that support that scenario. The best I’ve found is that Challonge apparently plans to implement it sometime in the next year or two (based on their feature request page).

      In any case, I just came across your blog in my searching and thought I’d mention it.

  3. Interesting. It sounds like you want to run something like what is called a “panache” tournament in petanque. So if/when Challonge can do what you want, petanque clubs could use it to support panache tournaments.

    A panache tournament is a sort of super-melee. As with a melee, individual players enter and are grouped into teams using some random selection method. But the teams don’t stay together for the entire tournament. For each game, the teams are re-formed by some random selection method. Scores are kept for each individual player. At the end of the tournament, the individual players’ scores are compared and used to determine the individual players who are the tournament winners.

  4. Does anybody know of any piece of free (or commercially available) software than can manage a panache tournament and do the random allocation of players as well? My Grandparents have moved to another country and they play petanque frequently in this ‘panache tournament’ style, but the person who handles the computer has left and took his computer (and software) with him and nobody knows what he was using!

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you

  5. Here on the Costa Blanca, we have a very good computer system called Monrad, this is in Swedish, so we need Swedish operators, This system brings the top teams together, even so far as the same winning points, we play 4 games, to decide the winners, a Final can be added . We have tried to get this translated into English but so far no luck. We pay 50 e for a . The Monrad system is well liked and many clubs here use this, and with often 50 or more teams playing does save a lot of time working out the results.

  6. Roger… thanks for this information! I googled around for “Monrad”. I couldn’t find anything on Monrad software, but (for anyone else who might be interested) I did find a little bit about the Monrad system.

    There is a mention of Monrad in the Wikipedia article on Swiss system.
    The article also says

    In chess, the terms Swiss and Monrad are both used, and denote systems with different pairing algorithms. The Monrad pairing system is commonly used in Denmark and Norway, while most of the rest of the world uses one of the Swiss systems defined by FIDE. In most other sports, only one format is used, and is known either as Monrad or Swiss.

    I also found an article on Swiss system at Project Gutenberg which briefly describes Monrad .
    Here is the entire text of the section on the Monrad system

    A common tournament system in Norway and Denmark is the Monrad system. This is very similar to the Swiss System, but deemphasizes ratings, and bases the pairings on the starting number each contestant has received at random before the tournament. The Danish version is a fairly simple method, players are initially ranked at random, and pairings are modified mainly to avoid players meeting each other twice. The Norwegian system has an optional seeding system for the first round pairings, and within a score group, the pairing algorithm endeavours to give players alternating colors.

  7. The Monrad is also well used in Sweden, but Europeans who have now played this are more than happy, the Swiss involves far more games, which can be a problem, so yes you have found the contact, Wikipedia rings a bell, so its worth looking at.


  8. Thank you for a very informative page.
    Regarding TioPro. It has one serious fault. When running Round Robin in one or more pools – in order to promote teams into the cup game – it calculate this in a incorrect way. If two teams in a pool both has say 2 won and 2 losses – it should be normal procedure to look at the difference in score to decide who is best. TioPro doesn´t do that . Futhermore Tiopro does not tell you in Round Robin which team that should play with what team. (Teamnumber vs teamnumber)
    Regarding Challonge – looks like a fine system – but you are depending on a good internet connection.
    Kind regards
    Tom D.
    Pétanque Odsherred, Denmark

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