Plot arc consisting of the character in direct competition with other characters in a generally organized fashion rather than a "fight of the week" situation. The fighting can be whatever relevant competition exists for the show, whether it be martial arts or bread making. It can even be The Tourney, the original tournament. If the tournament sponsors are up to something sinister then this is Not Just a Tournament. From a broadcaster's point of view, tournaments are extremely useful as filler to avoid catching up to the source material and can be used to give Character Development to otherwise underused characters. They can also allow a writer to introduce a substantial number of new characters very quickly, some of which potentially may become regulars if they gain a sufficient fandom. Another benefit is that it can be used to showcase otherwise impossible fights (such as ones between two members of the same team). However, because they are easy to make filler with, tournament arcs can get stretched dangerously long for quite arbitrary reasons. If other plot-points are put on hold too long or too much in favor of tournaments, it could upset the show's pacing and alienate what attracted people to the story in the first place. Also, when used as filler it tends to get the butt-end of the budget, and tourney episodes will suffer from really obvious camera tricks and costcutting in an attempt at balance along with its time stretching. Usually not the case in a manga though, as the reader still enjoys incredibly detailed and attractive fight scenes and character development. Tournaments are almost always single-elimination; the characters will not face the same opponent more than once. Proper seeding will be entirely ignored, and yet even so the hero will always find himself facing tougher and tougher opponents every round. His final opponent will probably be The Rival or a Big Bad (Possibly even the tournament sponsor himself after his plan is revealed) or his Dragon (in case the work is in the fantasy genre, it might even be an actual one, perhaps even in both senses of the word). Sometimes, other characters will get A Day in the Limelight to focus on their fights. Often this will be an ally of the main protagonist but it may also be The Rival or a sympathetic Anti-Villain. If the hero is the only focus of the Tournament Arc he will often be distinguished by his unwillingness to seriously hurt his opponent or violate Flexible Tourney Rules, and sympathy for his opponent's situation no matter how violent or nasty they may seem to be. The hero's final opponent, on the other hand, may actually kill opponents, often "by accident", even if the tournament is not supposed to be to the death. On the other hand, it may be an anything-goes, Bloodsport type of deal, and the hero may be a Combat Pragmatist who kills if it improves the odds of him living. If the tournament is a sub-plot in a video game and not the focus of the story it is the Inevitable Tournament. See also Rescue Arc, War Arc, Not Just a Tournament. Compare The Big Race.
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Anime and Manga
- The various Tenkaichi Budokai tournaments in Dragon Ball. Note that despite being a literal Tournament Arc, the Budokais fit almost nothing else in the description on this page, except the Other World Tournament. Then there's the tournament that Cell organizes, along with the various World Martial Arts tournaments that take place in both the first Dragonball and Dragonball Z. The various Strongest Under Heaven tournaments are one of the (if not the) earliest examples of this trope, with the difference being that in this case they were built directly into the storyline and in fact were the main focus for a long time. It fits the whole theme of the characters constantly trying to become stronger, and the story actually ends in the middle of a new Strongest Under the Heaven where the main characters kids and grandkids get to fight.
- The Dark Tournament from YuYu Hakusho. Also an early short arc that determined who would get to train with Genkai, and managed to ignite Kuwabara's powers, and the final tournament to decide who would rule the demon world (heavily abbreviated in the manga). The anime version of this final tournament subverts the usual formula. The main characters and villains aren't placed on opposite sides of the bracket and end up facing each other in the quarter finals. The main villain defeats the main character, but expends so much energy doing so that he loses to some no-name in the next round, allowing a minor character to come from behind to take the win. This tendency was Lampshaded in Yu Yu Hakusho Abridged by Koenma.
Koenma: Tournaments like this don't happen every three sagas.George: But sir-Koenma: Nope, tournaments like this are rare indeed.
- Revolutionary Girl Utena bases most of its 39-episode plotline around a single grand tournament with three distinct phases or sub-tournaments. It was less formally-structured than usual, so the show's first Re Cap episode is used to organize them explicitly to the audience.
- Fairy Tail has the S-Class Trial and the Grand Mage Games.
- Dragon Half uses an at-times slapstick tournament as an opportunity for Mink to meet her idol, Dick Saucer.
- About half of the Yu-Gi-Oh! arcs: Duelist Kingdom, Battle City, Battle City Finals, KC Grand Prix. The main parts of Duelist Kingdom and Battle City, despite being technically set at tournaments, were really more unorganized fight-of-the-week events by the nature of the rules, rather than being bracketed tournaments.
- The sequel Yu-Gi-Oh! GX didn't pick up this trope until its second season, despite that said tournament was named after the series.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's has its first and last major arcs as tournament arcs: the Fortune Cup and the World Riding Grand Prix.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL has the World Duel Carnival.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V has the Maiami Championship (MCS), which runs three sub-tournaments silmutaneously: there is the Youth Championship, the Junior Youth Championship and the Junior Championship.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series follows suit as well.
- The Shaman Fight in Shaman King, to determine who will get to channel God (basically).
- Mobile Fighter G Gundam revolved around a fighting tournament with giant robots where the winner's nation was awarded political control of the Earth.
- The various Street Fighter series, based off the video games of the same name, revolved around several street-fighting tournaments and the shadowy figures of good and evil involved.
- The Pro Exam in Hikaru no Go.
- The Seven Deadly Sins Meliodas, Ban, King and other characters participate in a tournament to regain Diane's weapon.
- The chuunin examination arc of Naruto was a formal Tournament Arc that is actually cut short.
- The Hunter Exam and the Heaven's Arena arcs from Hunter × Hunter. However, the final stage of this exam is a subversion of the more typical Tournament Arc is several ways: the winners don't advance to see who is the only one to pass, the losers advance to see who is the only one who doesn't, you can't just beat up or kill your opponent, you have to convince/coerce/force them to surrender without killing them (or you're disqualified and everyone else passes), and it's ended only five matches through when Killua kills one of the other contests (it isn't even his fight).
- Pokémon basically revolves around the protagonist trying to earn the right to enter a region's championship tournament with the actual tournament capping the Story Arc. Later with the introduction of a new type of competition called Pokémon Contests, the female protagonist has her own separate quest that leads up to a separate tournament. The tournament arcs, ironically, are extremely short when compared to similar shonen storylines, going for as little as six episodes. Considering that other anime have tournaments as side stories that can drag on for 20 episodes or more, one has to wonder why Pokémon limits the point of its show to only six episodes per every three years. There's also Hearthome Tag Battle tournament during the Sinnoh saga and the Club Battle, Clubsplosion and Junior Cup tournaments during the Unova saga.
- Roughly two-thirds of the entirety of Beyblade is one giant Tournament Arc. The second season was largely devoid of it, but the last few episodes returned to that format.
- The Fall Tournament in Eyeshield 21, which makes up the bulk of the plot, actually making most things not in the Tournament Arc to be filler. And before that, of course, was the Spring Tournament, where the Devil Bats only played two games before losing. The White Knights, the Gunmen, and the Nagas were still introduced in this tournament, and the loss played a very important part to Sena.
- The latter portion of Flame of Recca is a tournament arc.
- Nearly two-thirds of MÄR is focused on a twisted version of this. After terrorizing most of the planet MÄR, the evil Chess Piece group organizes a War Game where the remaining good guys may team up and fight their most skilled members from each rank. To the higher-ranking members of the Chess, it's nothing more than entertainment, until Ginta defeats their team captain, Phantom, in the final battle of said War Games. They've apparently let the protagonists grow in strength, and it ends up biting them back in the ass, big time.
- Soon after it started, Last Order, the Oddly Named Sequel of Battle Angel Alita, became a Tournament Arc that's still ongoing.
- While not so much an "arc" as a "two-parter", Hayate the Combat Butler has one of these. As you can probably guess, it was a Battle Butler tournament, which was just as silly as it sounds. Klaus and Tama don a Paper-Thin Disguise, only to lose when Hayate catches Klaus' necktie (removing a butler's necktie means defeat), after Klaus shows off his power.
- The Mahou Sensei Negima! manga has the Mahora Budokai tournament during the school festival super-arc. It's basically the point at which the genre balance tips from Harem Comedy to shounen action, and also manages to finally kick off the previously stagnant Myth Arc. (Fun fact: The author determined the initial matchups for it by rolling dice; this explains how some of the first round matches are where the quarter-finals or semi-finals fight would be in other series. Namely who Negi fights in the first round.)
- There's another tournament later on during the Magic World arc, though few of the matches are shown in any detail. Until the final battle against Jack Rakan.
- Averted during the sports festival. Despite coverage of the contests being the main attraction, Kotarou thinks they are so powerful at this point that they should sit on their hands and let someone else have a chance for a change.
- UQ Holder! has the Mahora Martial Arts Tournament Preliminaries, which is a tournament arc where the winners gain entry to the main tournament for free.
- The Deadmen in Deadman Wonderland hold deathmatches called Carnival Corpse for the amusement of bettors and to keep themselves occupied. While not a Story Arc per say, they're very important to the plot.
- Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo has a tournament arc, but it's just as crazy and silly as the rest of the series, including the fight against Sambaman. It ends up getting interrupted after only a few battles, though, due to the new Big Bad launching their assault.
- Dakki springs one on the heroes near the end of the Soul Hunter manga, pitting them in one-on-one matches against some super-powered demons.
- The Prince of Tennis is basically a huge tournament.
- Attack No. 1 (volleyball)
- Kino's Journey has a two-episode tournament storyline about halfway through in which Kino unknowingly travels to a country that forces newcomers to participate in a series of battles: whether they win or lose, travelers either become permanent citizens of the country (and, unbelievably, make up a new law of their choice) or lowly slaves. While an excellent fighter (who is matched only by Shizu, her sword-wielding male counterpart), Kino doesn't seem entirely too pleased by how the tournament works.
- All sports and games anime, such as the aforementioned Prince of Tennis and Hikaru no Go, tend to rely on a tournament structure. Given that this is the way *real* sports are organized, this is unsurprising. Most such anime does not suffer from the negative effects often attributed to a Tournament Arc.
- Kujibiki Unbalance has the Kujibiki tournament to determine the next student council.
- Yakitate Japan is literally one Tournament Arc after another. On the other hand, besides Cooking Duels, you can't do that much with bread.
- Initially played straight with the Shogun Tournament in Samurai Deeper Kyo, but then subverted when it gets to be Kyo's turn and he decides to hell with the one-on-one setup, he'd rather fight everyone at once. He does, and then wins. End of tournament.
- Saint Seiya:
- The series kicked off with the Galaxian Wars, a tournament sponsored by the Kido Foundation, in which fighters from across the globe battled for the right to earn the legendary Gold Cloth. In reality, this tournament was part of Mitsumasa Kido's plot to create a new generation of Bronze Saints loyal to Athena, and have the strongest among them inherit the Sagittarius Cloth he had been entrusted with. It kind of went straight to hell when Phoenix Saint Ikki stole the Cloth for his own motives, its origins and purpose were explained, and the tournament was never finished.
- There was also another tournament that was wrapping up at the start of the series, where Seiya was fighting to just earn the right to be a Saint in the first place. We only see the final match.
- And there's another tournament in Saint Seiya Omega. Following the classic's spirit, it went to hell before the finals even began.
- Ultimate Mop Daisuke DX
- Near the end of Planetes, Hachimaki goes through a series of tournament style tests, in order to join the first mission to Jupiter on the new fusion powered ship, Von Braun. He becomes one of the 18 finalists out of some 20,000 people, and sets out for Jupiter during the conclusion along with his dad.
- Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple has the Desperate Fight of the Disciples tournament. Of course, his masters destroy the infrastructure of the entire thing.
- Katekyo Hitman Reborn! uses a variation of the typical tournament to determine the rightful successor to the title of boss of the Vongola crime family. The two candidates vying for the throne each gather an inner circle of six underlings, and gives them each half a ring. Each one of them then fights one match, against the person with the other half of their ring. Winner gets the complete ring. At the end of seven battles, the side with the most complete rings gets to be in charge.
- Ghost Sweeper Mikami has one early on for the purpose of identifying the next crop of spiritualists fit to be deemed Ghost Sweepers. The main reason Mikami and Yokoshima get involved is that Shouryuuki needs someone to infiltrate the tournament and find Medusa's moles, lest she end up with agents inside the Ghost Sweeper community. As for secondary reasons, suffice to say that this is the beginning of Yokoshima's own spiritual powers manifesting and ramping up...
- Mega Man NT Warrior, the anime of Mega Man Battle Network, had the N1 Grand Prix netbattling tournament.
- Sonic X has an especially egregious example in its attempts to incorporate the storyline from Sonic Battle into the anime canon. Few actual action scenes were shown, Chris had idiotic "character development" and wangst, and the one fight scene that could pique the fans' interest, between Knuckles and Rouge, takes place under a tarp.
- The plot of the Future GPX Cyber Formula series revolves around the Cyber Formula Grand Prix, where they have the chance to be the world champion.
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Vi Vid has the Dimensional Sports Activity Association's Inter-Middle Championship that Vivio, Einhart, Lutecia, Rio, and Corona join. In something of a twist on the usual formula, all of them get defeated before even reaching the City Finals, since, after all, they're still rookies and going up against opponents with years more training and experience. Einhart in particular gets the truly nasty luck to meet the returning, undefeated champion Sieglinde Jeremiah in her fourth match of the elite class, which goes about as you would expect such a matchup to go. Also, Rio is the only one of the other three who fought against a tournament veteran and one of the favorite participants, Harry Tribeca, so Rio ended up losing in the third match. Corona lost in the third match against Einhart (well, she is more experienced than her). However, Vivio, our Handicapped Badass Clone Jesus and the daughter of the original heroines Nanoha and Fate, ended up losing against the underdog newcomer Miura Rinaldi in the third match, who also defeated another favorite tournament veteran Micaiah Chevelle in the first match. While at least five participants (including Vivio, Einhart and Sieglinde) have ancestral connections to the Ancient Belkan Era, Miura hasn't shown to have something like that, she even started to learn Striker Arts after Vivio. Miura just happens to be one of the most talented disciples of the Wolkenritter. As a whole, the entire season is a big Tournament Arc, that makes the lost of the main characters even more shocking. And it's still going on.
- The entire The Law of Ueki anime is a tournament arc, wherein candidates to become God bestow powers upon High School students and have them fight in order to determinet he next god.
- Grappler Baki has the Maximum Tournament, that it's not about who is the strongest. At most, it's kinda about who is the strongest after Hanma Yuujiro. Out of the tournament, the Underground Arena is also used for other arranged fights. There's also the Raitai arc, the Chinese tournament to choice their next Grand Kaioh.
- Queen's Blade introduces the characters in "fight of the week" fashion in the first season. The Tournament Arc is the premise, and takes up the second season.
- Kinnikuman has had multiple tournament arcs, the first being the 20th Choujin Olympics. Then there was the American Tag Tournament, the 21st Choujin Olympics, the Dream Tag tournament, and finally the Scramble for the Throne survivor series. Being a wrestling spoof and one of the two trope-making examples of the Shōnen Fighting Series, this isn't too surprising.
- Kurogane 2011 being a sports manga usually features these although so far they normally breeze through tournaments save one particular match due to losing that match or via Offscreen Moment of Awesome Montages..
- In One Piece, we have 'Davy Fight Back' arc, which unfortunately, was completely set up in the villains' favor. However, the heroes still won.
- The Dressrosa arc becomes one of these as Luffy enters a tournament to win his deceased brother's former Devil Fruit.
- Deconstructed at Muteki Kanban Musume: at last year's District Sumo Contest Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy Miki won leaving fifty people wounded, including a professional wrestler, with one still missing. This year they simply change it to a non-violent competition.
- In Jewelpet Twinkle☆, the main characters work their way to being elligible to participate in the Jewel Star Grand Prix, the winner of which is granted three wishes. Said competition starts in episode 42 and lasts until the end, with matches taking on such forms as handball, needlework, etc. The last few matches are full-blown fights, however, with the last one putting the world in jeopardy.
- In Subaru, the tournament arc involves preparation for and participation in Prix de Lausanne.
- Eagle: The Making of an Asian-American President portrays the American presidential election in the style of one, to the point where it's basically a shonen fighting manga for grownups. Which makes a lot of sense when you think about it.
- High School DXD has one constantly simmering in the background throughout the series, as Ratings Games are how Devil Kings sort out their pecking order and as heir to the house of Gremory, Rias is obligated to participate and keep her ratings up, bringing her Peerage along for the ride. A more straight example is the Young Devil's Festival, an organized round-robin of Ratings Games that takes a few volumes to complete, thanks to Diodora and the rest of the Khaos Brigade.
- The final season of Monster Rancher has Genki and the others go through one of these in order to win a magic stone they need to free Holly's father and seal Mou's soul away once and for all.
- The "Fall Classic" in Shokugeki no Soma features an initial "preliminary" bracket of two groups of 30 specifically selected students with the top four students in each group scoring the highest out of 100 for their dishes advance to the main tournament, which is played straight in the elimination style. In a twist, no winner could be declared in a semi-final match-up, thus a three-way final was determined between the protagonist and two others.
- One arc of Marvel Comics' Immortal Iron Fist center around a contest between the Seven Cities Of Heaven and their "immortal weapons" (the individual weapons, such as Iron Fist, Fat Cobra, and the Prince Of Orphans are not immortal, but the position is). They don't compete for the prize; they compete not to lose, each city only appearing on Earth once every ten years...while the loser of the tournament's city can only appear once every fifty. The tournament ends up being played very differently than you might expect- starting with The Hero losing in the first round, and to a completely new character rather than his rival Davos.
- The basic structure of the first arc of Wizards of Mickey with the second arc being Mickey's fights against the Blot after winning the tourney.
- Marvel Comics did this twice with its "Contest of Champions" miniseries. DC had "Arena". The "Marvel vs. DC" crossover could also count as a tournament arc.
- Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog has the storyline "Champions", which adapts Sonic the Fighters in the middle of its Sonic Unleashed storyline.
- The Camoa Cup in The Tainted Grimoire, with the twist that Clan Gully faces Acidwire during the first round after the preliminaries have finished. Also much shorter then expected.
- This is the Spin-Off series of Spyro The Dragon The Grand Dragon Games.
- The last chapters from the first part of the Crack Fic Max Wolf Revolutions involves the main character being part of some sort of a wizard tournament.
- Weiss Reacts has had two of these, one per volume, although the first one was a chapter-long parody of the concept. The second, however, was played straight.
- In the A Song of Ice and Fire prequel The Hedge Knight, the plot revolves around an old-fashioned knightley tourney, until the Genre Shift comes to play. In the main series, the Hand's tourney, while not a Story Arc, is used to introduce several important characters and the chivalric tradition of Westeros.
- Another story in the Dunk And Egg side series, The Mystery Knight, also centers around a tournament.
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is framed by the Triwizard Tournament. In The Film of the Book it is basically the whole story because it cuts out most of the side plots.
- Shows up with regularity in the Apprentice Adept series. Games of skill, strength, and chance are used to decide serious matters rather than forcing the issue into bloodshed (though blood is also regularly shed).
- Deltora Quest has the protagonists take part in a gladiatorial-style one of these when they're dead broke, in the belief that after everything they've fought their way through they can win the much-needed prize. Lief and Jasmine even talk about how to arrange who wins if they have to face each other. Unfortunately the whole thing is a scam.
- The second book of the Tough Magic series, Trenus, has a tournament arc for a while, and the third, Magithral is actually two tournaments one right after the other.
- A Mage's Power: A brief example is the New Scepter Competition. It's opened and closed in a couple chapters. It has the traditional "characters fighting each other" aspect in addition to other forms of compeition, like magical thread weaving and flashy magician stuff.
- Original Character Tournaments are made of this.
- The larger Mexican promotions such as longest runner CMLL get a whole lot of mileage out of tournaments. From Tournaments in tribute to "the father of Lucha Libre" Salvador Lutteroth, tributes to El Santo, to tournaments that pair rudos with technicos, to tournaments for legacy wrestlers, to tournaments for new stars, a large amount of their shows revolve around tournaments and mask/hair wagers, with challenges for a championship belts being a close third. Then there is CMLL's Universal Championship, a tournament only champions can enter to determine just who is the best.
- Another popular tournament in CMLL and other lucha promotions is the "cybernetic tournament". A torneo cibernetico is in fact one very long match with multiple participants on two different teams for an elimination tag that can only have one winner. Should one team be completely eliminated before the other, the remaining team members will then have to continue to fight each other under elimination rules until one remains. To cut back on Loophole Abuse, sometimes a "batting" order is enforced to ensure wrestlers wishing to tag out must do so in a certain order.
- In the USA, audiences are believed to have short attention spans (and with the advent of youtube, that may actually becoming true). If and when it's obvious the tournament is going to lead to a showdown with The Rival in the end, it's considered better marketing to skip the tournament and just hype the showdown.
- The original JWA once held the World Tag League, which eventually became the J-Cup/G1 Climax for New Japan Pro Wrestling and the Worlds Strongest Determination Tag League for All Japan Pro Wrestling (or when they're being cheeky, The Real World Tag League), as well as several other minor ones.
- 'Tag League The Best' was the premier tournament of Zenjo, due to their first big, non foreign stars being the Beauty Pair, as well as due to the legacy of the Crush Gals and Jumping Bomb Angels. After Zenjo's closing in 2005 JWP continued it.
- The King Of the Ring, originally held in June, was once one of the WWE's main pay per view events. It fizzled out after 2003.
- Wrestling Superstars Uncensored had an annual tag team tournament called "King And Queen Of The Ring", which became "Queen And King Of The Ring" after it became a women's promotion.
- One of Combat Zone Wrestling's biggest events is its annual "Tournament Of Death", while rival IWA Mid-South has its "King Of The Death Matches" (derived from IWA Japan's King Of The Death Match Tourney). In an effort to diversify shows in the former's case and to move away from the Garbage Wrestler image in general for the latter, "The Best Of The Best" and "Strong Style" Tournament. The Ted Petty Invitational is also traditionally among one of IWA M-S's highest drawing events.
- The International Wrestling Cartel was long known for a "cursed" Super Indy Tournament (where someone who entered it with a title belt would lose it, especially if it was the Super Indy Title itself). The curse was finally broken by RJ City.
- All Pro Wrestling's has had two tournaments successful enough to be spun off into their own promotions, King Of The Indies and ChickFight. Though the later would eventually go back to APW, Dave Prazak cites its success as one of the motivations for SHIMMER, which ended up hosting "the ChickFight" itself. King Of The Indies would meanwhile find a home on WWN live.
- Ring of Honor's Field Of Honor and Round Robin Challenge events were inspired by the many round robins done by All Japan Pro Wrestling.
- Pro Wrestling Guerilla's biggest event is its annual Battle Of Los Angeles Tournament.
- CHIKARA annually has their Young Lions Cup Tournament, with the previous champion vacating the title, and their King of Trios Tournament.note
- Unusually, TNA began experimenting with this with their Bound for Glory series. Not an actual tournament, per se, but more like an actual league with points for wins and with matches on TV and at house shows counting towards each wrestler's standing. The eventual winner receives a title shot at the Bound for Glory Pay-Per-View. Additionally, TNA tried this before with their contendership ranking, though they made the mistake of allowing fan voting. Predictably, the IWC voted up Internet favourite Desmond Wolfe and others instead of the supposedly more popular wrestlers they were pushing at the time. Kurt Angle, notably, pulled himself out of the rankings, declaring that he had not earned his place and vowed to defeat the entire top ten, one by one until he reached number one or he would retire making this a good example of this trope.
- Dramatic Dream Team: DDT48 and King of DDT are two of their big annual events.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! East Academy has one right off the bat.
- Strangely out of place, but one does pop up in The Answer of Persona 3. Wherein Aigis and her sister proceed to beat the living crap out of the rest of the cast over a Plot Coupon.
- In Shin Megami Tensei IV:
- The RxW Smacktacular has human hunters challenging demons on live TV.
- The Hunter tournaments have you confront enemy summoners and/or demons. You have the option of sparing them or executing them on the spot when you win over them. Sparing them makes the crowd very angry at you.
- The Neutral path has the biggest Tournament Arc in the game: The Champion Tournament. You and other Hunters compete to become the top Hunter in Tokyo by completing Challenge Quests. Completing the necessary quests brings you to the top position, bringing hope to the people of Tokyo as part of your quest to resurrect Masakado at his full power.
- Knights of the Old Republic has this as an early sidequest on Taris.
- Jade Empire has this as one of the possible paths you can take in the Imperial capital to attract the attention of the Lotus Assassins, formatted similarly to the KotOR example.
- Every mainline Street Fighter game is set in a tournament run the the final boss of the game. The original Street Fighter tournament was organised by Sagat, Street Fighter II by M.Bison, Street Fighter III by Gill, and Seth was running the show in Street Fighter IV.
- The King of Fighters, in which almost every tournament is run by somebody planning something shady. In '94, it was Rugal Bernstein and his desire to defeat powerful fighters (dipping them in liquid metal if they proved unable to beat him). In '95, Rugal was at it again as a cyborg. '96 and 97 were the exceptions, both organized by Kagura Chizuru with the intent of finding warriors powerful enough to help her contain the Orochi threat...so of course that same threat interfered. In '96 it was Goenitz, and in '97 it was the remaining Heavenly Kings and Orochi itself, both times with humanity's continued existence at stake. In '99, 2000, and 2001 it was NESTS and its CEO Ignitz, who wanted to become a god. Later on in the Maximum Impact series, certain characters comment on how everybody hosting KOF is somebody with an axe to grind, and how it would be nice to fight in a tournament in which the fate of the world didn't hang in the balance every year.
- Mortal Kombat was once like this until 3, onwards.
- The first Guilty Gear game uses this.
- ALL of Mega Man Battle Network 4.
- Parts 3 and 6 have Tournaments of their own, but at least they didn't take up the whole game.
- Chapter 3 of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door involves fighting in a tournament while trying to find the Crystal Star.
- Shows up in the second Fable game in the form of The Crucible.
- Ironically, outside of the real-life metagame, actual tournaments are only present twice in the Pokémon series: the Battle Dome in Pokémon Emerald and the Pokémon World Tournament in Pokémon Black 2 and White 2.
- The first Summon Night Swordcraft Story game is set in a tournament arc.
- There's a very strange one in The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night in which Spyro is captured by pirates and forced to compete in tournaments for their entertainment. It serves no real purpose to the plot other than giving an excuse for Spyro to be lost and alone at the White Isle later, and yet that's not necessarily a bad thing, as the tournament and subsequent escape from the pirate fleet is one of the most excellent parts of the game.
- Football Frontier and Football Frontier International in Inazuma Eleven, befitting a game about (magical) football. Holy Road in GO!
- Danball Senki features several LBX tournament, most prominently Artemis.
- Golden Sun features Colosso, a tournament that takes place annually in a town you pass through. Obviously, you take part in it. What makes Colosso unusual is that, while you are forced to partake, actually winning it is optional. If you lose, someone else is declared champion and the plot just moves on.
- Some of the games in the Kingdom Hearts series have battle tournaments. Usually, only a short tournament is required by the plot, but there are many more that open up throughout the game that the player can pause the plot to go partake.
- Super Smash Bros Brawl's story mode, The Subspace Emissary begins with Mario and Kirby fighting each other in the final round of some sort of tournament. The player can choose which one they play as with the other serving as the game's first boss; but regardless of who wins, the tournament gets interrupted by Wario, Petey Piranha, and the Subspace Army. Princesses Peach and Zelda are present in the audience but it isn't known it they also competed in the tournament or not and no other competitors are shown.
- The Rites of Rulership are something like this in Quest for Glory V, consisting of a competition between four claimants to the throne of Silmaria ( eventually whittled down to just the player character and Elsa von Spielberg when the other two competitors are murdered to further the goals of the Big Bad). The player must investigate the assassination of the previous king and solve a number of other puzzles connected to both the Rites and other problems, such as the drugging attacks against the city's resident wizards.
- Played straighter with the arena, where the player character can watch fights or participate themselves. Strangely, each competitor in the arena, most of whom are conveniently ( or not, if they're killed during the Rites of Rulership as this can prevent 100% completion for the fighter) competitors in the Rites of Rulership, each take turns as "champion" of the arena for the week, and must fight each of the other competitors, rather than one character becoming champion and maintaining the title until defeated.
- Kingdoms Of Amalur Reckoning features the House of Valor faction, in which you join to participate in its annual gladiator tournament as team leader of the Crows, a team of fighters made up of the last surviving members of former teams that must fight with a severe handicap of only ever fielding two members in a fight (one of which must be you). In addition to the main storyline quests, you also have the option of participating in smaller fights against large groups of enemies, often with some sort of restriction like a time limit or not being allowed to get hit if you want to win.
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion has the Arena faction, which rather than having the plotlines of the other factions, consists of nothing more than a long string of fights (to the death, naturally) the player can participate in for gold, before finally facing off against Agronak gro-Malog, the "Grey Prince" and reigning Grand Champion for his title. After becoming Grand Champion, the regular fights cease, but the player has the option of continuing to fight in weekly exhibition matches against monsters scaled to the player's level. In addition to this, there's also Boethiah's Daedric Quest, which has the player participating in his/her "Tournament of Ten Bloods" where they must traverse a circular arena fighting nine other combatants, drawn from the game's playable races (with the player taking the tenth slot). The reward for winning Boethiah's tournament is his Daedric artifact, the enchanted katana Goldbrand, which is one of the strongest weapons in the game.
- In the MMORPG Aura Kingdom the lvl. 30-40 area Catckara Forest acts as this. You help various dwarves to build or repair their personal robots for their annual robot fighting competition. After ensuring that the competition goes off without a hitch the quest giver Augustus gives you the honor of piloting his own robot. In the ensuing tournament you fight a woodbeast, a stone golem, a giant robot T-rex, and then the reigning champ.
- Final Fantasy IX: There are 2 Breather Episodes disguised as these.
- First, the Festival of the Hunt in Lindblum, where monsters are let loose on the streets; whoever kills the most wins. A fun competition in between the tense action leaving Dali and the onset of Cerebus Syndrome after leaving Lindblum for Burmecia, and an opportunity to receive a prize of your choice (win as Zidane for money, let Freya win for a useful Accessory).
- The second is at the beginning of Disc 3; after the emotionally draining events of Disc 2's climax, your whole party (sans Steiner and Dagger - who have to deal with Alexandria in the wake of Brahne's death) takes a vacation in Treno, with Zidane partaking in a card-game tournament against players from all over the continent. Once again, winning nets you a useful accessory: the Rebirth Ring.
- Fate/stay night. The entire plot IS a tournament. However, while there are rules, and one person functions as a referee, no one actually follows the rules, including said referee, who's also participating. It's more of a free-for-all in practice.
- Maji De Watashi Ni Koi Shinasai has several tournaments, most notably in Tsubame's route. Paired team battle, where the 1st fighter to lose, loses for the whole team. The prize? A chance to fight Momoyo, who isn't participating, because that'd be unfair. But Yamato is! In Wanko's route, she also enters a tournament for the same purpose.
- Hand Command is a webcomic about a Rock-Paper-Scissors Tournament.
- The webcomic Achewood ran a Tournament Arc about a competition called The Great Outdoor Fight, which was not so much a tournament as a gigantic brawl. The competition's tagline was "3 Days, 3 Acres, 3,000 Men." A wiki was created around the same time, which reports the rules and history of the Fight in ludicrously comprehensive detail.
Roast Beef (Talking about Ray's father, a previous Fight champion): [He] threw a beer through Carl Veldt's head... perfect spiral, scientists are still figuring it out... tore off Fancy Mark Clancy's entire middle... no one said it could be done...
- Sluggy Freelance did this as part of its parody of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
- The whole Second Arc of Nectar of the Gods is one big bartending Tournament Arc, which in actuality is a big revealer of secrets to many character pasts.
- Bro-Rangers is currently in a tournament arc which was admitted to be filler by the author from the get-go. Unlike a lot of big tournament arcs in other series, the tournament is just a regular old tournament, and holds no real significance to the plot besides character interaction and development.
- The central focus of Poppy O'Possum's second chapter is one of these, where Poppy gets to abuse her Super Strength a little bit to work off some debts.
- Dragon Ball Multiverse: So far, the whole comic (excluding the special chapters).
- Bits Fair has the Autumn Fair, which, among other things, features something that looks and mostly functions like a tournament, though it's not the usual single-elimination tournament, and one can request extra fights.
- The entire plot of The Boy Who Fell revolves around competing in the Hell Tournament, which our protagonist Atsushi Ren needs to win if he wants to go home.
- There are several instances of the eponymous tournament in God Of High School with changing rules each time.
- The second Ninja Turtles series did this at the end of its second season with its "The Big Brawl" four-parter—one of the more concise examples of this trope.
- In the cartoon Garfield and Friends, one of the episodes in the second season (entitled "Basket Brawl") featured the cast playing basketball with foods such as seven-layer cakes, each attempting to either eat the food (Garfield's goal) or to get it in the picnic basket (everyone else's goal). Naturally, Garfield got all the food.