These past few years have seen a technological revolution in Ultimate, with a number of web applications popping up that have made life easier for coaches, players, and tournament directors alike. At Skyd, we recently got a chance to take a look at one of those tools, a new web-based application specifically designed for managing hat tournaments, known as, well… you guessed it: HatTournaments.
HatTournaments is the brainchild of Giovanni Lion, an Italian Ultimate player living in Hong Kong. Charged with a task of organizing the 2012 Hong Kong Beach Hat, he wanted to improve the hat tournament registration and management process, which has previously been dominated by Google Docs forms or clunky homebrew solutions. Gio decided to go beyond the needs of the tournament and create a general-purpose website that could be used by other hat tournament organizers as well.
Follow on below to see what we concluded when taking the product for a test drive.
Administration, Communication, and Marketing
HatTournaments offers administration options for all standard features for hat tournaments (start and end dates, cost, descriptions), as well as some nice addons: tournament directors can set player fees and accept payments through PayPal (HatTournaments takes a 1% administration fee, which is the only cost), highlight sponsors by showing their logos and linking to their websites right from the tournament page, and link the tournament to a Facebook event.
Where HatTournaments really shines, however, is their player administration. As players sign up, they fill out a unique form (designed by the tournament director) with a myriad of selections: food preferences, gender, and skill level (based on a one to five rating in five categories: throwing, catching, defense, speed, and offense), as well as any other information the TD would like to collect. Then, via a slick interface, the TD can generate a number of teams, dropping players into boxes, while a bar indicating team strength updates in real time, allowing easy verification that teams are equally matched. One missing feature we did expect, however, is an option to generate teams automatically based on player strength, making the tournament more like a true hat and less like a fantasy draft. However, Giovanni explained that the reason this option is not available is because the data can be biased (for those not familiar with hat tournaments, a typical strategy is to “sandbag” your player ratings, or rate yourself lower so you are placed on a higher-ranked team and have a better chance of winning). He has considered several solutions to this problem, the most likely of which would allow fellow players to peer-review their teammates’ ratings, putting more pressure on players to rate themselves honestly.
Another nice option for player administration is the waiting list, which is sure to solve many TD headaches when trying to organize around player cancellations. It takes a given player limit for the tournament and automatically add any additional registrations to the waiting list. Should any players drop out, the players in the waiting list are immediately registered for the tournament and notified by e-mail.
Another neat administration feature is “Decisions”, a poll system that asks players questions about tournament preferences, allowing tournament directors to make decisions based on player interest. A sample question might be if players are interested in buying tournament gear if it was a certain cost, providing the TD with an easy survey to determine if selling gear is economically viable.
Finally, each hat tournament page is assigned it’s own unique URL (tournamentname.hattournaments.com), allowing for easy linking and distribution, and eliminating any need to find web hosting for a tournament website.
The Social Aspect
Registered players are displayed on the players page of each tournament, and players can link their HatTournaments profile to their Facebook profile, which will automatically pull their name, gender, and Facebook profile photo for display.
More social features are planned for the future, including better player profiles and deeper Facebook integration.
HatTournaments is still in its infancy and has a number of new features planned including post-tournament interactions (collecting photos, posting results, rating teammates anonymously), tournament schedule generation, and the aforementioned deeper social media integration.
Gio told us that HatTournaments is, and will remain completely free (aside from the 1% administration fee for PayPal billing, which is optional) for the time being, which makes it an attractive option for any TD currently managing a hat manually.
Overall, we were very impressed by this tool, and given that it’s completely free, we can’t think of any reason not to use it. As more and more tournaments jump on board, we’re excited to see HatTournaments grow and add more features. Anyone interested in using the tool can create their event right away using the following link: http://www.hattournaments.com/directors.
To get the latest scoop on new features and updates, follow HatTournaments on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hattournaments. Any questions or comments can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.