Online Tournament Guide



    This page of NAQT’s online tournament guide details tasks specific to online competition that a tournament director will need to perform prior to the start of the tournament.

    This page glosses over (or entirely omits) a large number of preparatory steps that apply to both in-person and online tournaments. If you haven’t previously run a tournament, feel free to ask for guidance from other coaches, your local quiz bowl association (if any), and/or NAQT itself.

    These steps are presented in rough chronological order.

    Far in Advance



    Familiarize yourself with using Zoom to manage users and create meetings. You should also know all the basic bits of Zoom meeting functionality (like how to change your display name).


    Results and Statistics

    As for in-person tournaments, you will need to tally results to determine the winner, playoff teams, all-stars, etc. NAQT recommends SQBS, a free, quiz bowl-specific statistics program. Scorekeepers can share their online scoresheets with your statistician, and they can enter them into SQBS. Tournaments using NAQT’s registration system can download a SQBS template with all the team and player names, and NAQT can accept the completed SQBS data file at the end of the tournament in fulfillment of most results-reporting requirements. NAQT also has a page of hints about how to use SQBS most efficiently.


    Players should signal by using as a replacement for a buzzer system. You will need to decide whether your tournament can get by with the free version of or whether you want to pay for a premium key ($0.99 per room per day). NAQT recommends paying for the premium keys. You can either email the maintainer of a week in advance to make a bulk purchase, or you can purchase keys one at a time on the day of your tournament.

    If you are using the premium version of, you will need to send each moderator a premium key so they will be able to create BuzzIn rooms.


    • Make sure every coach, chaperone, team, and staff member has your contact information, preferably both email address and phone number. You should expect situations to arise in which a team needs to get in touch with the tournament director.
    • Create a Zoom meeting to act as a game room for each moderator. This should last the entirety of the competition day. (That is, you shouldn’t create a new meeting for each game, just one for all of the games that a single moderator will be handling.)
    • Collect the URLs for the game rooms (Zoom meetings) in a document that is distributed to all coaches and teams (e.g., the schedule).
    • Decide whether you are going to have any “tournament-wide meetings” such as an opening meeting, an awards ceremony, a closing meeting, or anything else. If so, create those meetings and distribute the URLs to coaches, teams, and moderators.
    • On the day of the tournament, make sure each moderator can see a link to the online control room for the tournament from their account homepage on the NAQT website. For question-security reasons, these links will not appear prior to the day of the tournament.
    • If your moderators and scorekeepers are inexperienced with conducting an online tournament, try to arrange a short Zoom meeting in advance of the tournament to confirm that everybody can connect, understands basic Zoom functionality, and has working audio and video streams. If possible, play a few questions (from the tutorial tournament or a sample packet) to give them a sense of the flow of an online game.
    • On the day of your tournament, visit the online control room for your tournament and check to see if any warnings are displayed there. If there are, address them.
    • Set up a chat room in Discord, Slack, or another service and let your staff know how to access it. This will help keep staff “in the loop” with tournament news (and will make it easy for them to report problems in their game rooms to you).