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Tournament Arc

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"The tournament is divided into three distinctive rounds: teams, doubles, and singles. Age and school year are irrelevant. In this tournament, the only attribute being tested... is skill."
Dr. Oobleck, RWBY, "Round One"

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 is being used for something sinister behind-the-scenes, 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; in which case they're probably in a Plot Tailored to the Party. 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 & Manga 
  • Dragon Ball is well-known for its Tournaments, having several over the years:
    • The most famous is the Tenkaichi Budokai,note  or the World Martial Arts Tournament in the anime dub, and is one of the earliest examples. Unlike many other examples, they are built directly into the storyline; characters often meet up for it after time skips, and for a good while the format was to alternate between a "normal" arc and a Tournament arc. All are important to the series as they teach the characters that there are always stronger opponents than them, which remains into the Z portion even after the Tournament format is dropped.
    • The second Tournament that appears are the Cell Games; however, the format is rather different: each opponent takes on the founder, Cell, and if they are all defeated he destroys the Earth. It turns out to be a farce however, as Cell uses it more to flaunt his seemingly bottomless power to the heroes and later destroys the ring when he's put in a bind.
    • The Other World Tournament provided filler between the Cell Arc and the Buu Arc, although it was basically the Tenkaichi Budokai in heaven, where Goku fights the best dead fighters in history from across the universe.
    • The Tenkaichi Budokai returns for the Buu arc in Dragon Ball Z; however, it gets interrupted and half the combatants leave to take on the newest villain, so the format is changed on the fly to a battle royale for the title. At the very end of the story, Goku similarly bugs out with his opponent Oob, taking him in as a student. The tournament appears twice more in Dragon Ball GT, once as part of a Breather Episode, and again for the Generation Xerox Distant Finale that mirrors the end of the manga.
    • Dragon Ball Super resurrects it with the Champa Saga where Universes 6 and 7 fight it out. Right after that tournament ends, the Top God of all 12 universes announces that he would held another tournament soon which involves all 12 universes... except not really. The Tournament of Power he and his future self would hold only includes eight of twelve universes, and like the Cell Games, it has a very different format: it's a single battle royale between 80 participants, with each team having 10 people.
  • YuYu Hakusho:
    • The Dark Tournament Arc is probably the most well known in the show, and introduces a lot of minor characters who come back later.
    • There is an early short arc that determined who would get to train with Genkai, and managed to ignite Kuwabara's Spirit Sword.
    • 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 second round of the tournament. The Big Bad Yomi defeats Yusuke, 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 Recap Episode is used to organize them explicitly to the audience.
  • Fairy Tail:
    • The S-Class trials are an elimination-style tournament devised to advance one of a group of candidates to the highest rank in the guild. It's not entirely clear if other guilds have a similar trial process, but Fairy Tail's own trial takes place on their sacred island, which boosts the power of anyone wearing the Fairy Tail mark, and ensures that they can't die. The trials aren't necessarily combat-based, either, as while some fights involve the chosen teams fighting each other, others involve facing off against wizards who are already S-Class or just avoiding fights completely. In the end, the trials get interrupted when Grimoire Heart attacks the island, and are canceled entirely without any member chosen.
    • The Grand Magic Games, which are an official point-based tournament held yearly by the royal family of Fiore to determine the strongest guild in the country. The rounds alternate between random tests of skill and classic battles between organizer-selected contestants, wrapping with an all-out battle royale, with their ranking in each round determining the total number of points they earn for their guild. Fairy Tail decides to enter after being reduced to the laughstock of the kingdom so they can restore their reputation. This time, the tournament proceeds to its conclusion, but there also turns out to be a government conspiracy behind the tournament, which overtakes the focus of the arc after the victor is declared.
  • Dragon Half uses an at-times slapstick tournament as an opportunity for Mink to meet her idol, Dick Saucer.
  • Kengan Ashura
    • The main story of Ashura revolves around the Annihiliation Tournament, where 32 representative fighters (originally 33, but 1 got disqualified before the tournament begins) battle in a series of matches to win the company they are representing the right to nominate the Chairman of the Kengan Association.
    • The sequel Omega features a tournament between the Kengan Association and a rivaling underground fighting ring, the Purgatory. Unlike the prequel, the Kengan Association vs. Purgatory arc is a 13 vs. 13 battle, with each fighter fighting only once, and the point of the matches isn't to find the single best fighter, but which "side" is stronger. The losing side is to be absorbed by the winning side.
  • 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 final tournament mainly served as promotion for Kaibaland and Kaiba had no ulterior motive this time, and the winner of the final match is allowed to duel Yugi in the grand finals.
  • 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. And was more treated as a side plot in the end of the season.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds has its first and last major arcs as tournament arcs: the Fortune Cup and the World Riding Grand Prix (W.R.G.P.).
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL has the World Duel Carnival, which covers about 2/3 of the first half of the series.
  • 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. Later, we get the Friendship Cup which is held in the Synchro Dimension. In the end, we get another the recreation of the MCS's Junior Youth Championship which is mostly the continuation of the one that was cancelled earlier.
  • 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. In a variation, the prize, promotion to chunin, doesn't necessarily go to the winner, as the very fact they got in the finals proved they had the physical requirements for the promotions, but to the ones who proved they had the leadership and smarts to hold the higher rank. Winning and advancing in the tournament rounds simply gives you more chances to show off your skills to provide a stronger case for your promotion, but in theory everyone who made it to this point could become a chunin if they impress the observers sufficiently, and equally likely no one will if they aren't. Indeed, the only one to gets promoted is Shikamaru, who surrendered in his first and only match as he was about to win, as both the way he fought an objectively superior opponent and his surrender because he was tired proved his skills.
  • 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 in 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).
  • Rank wars from World Trigger consist of multiple rounds of three or four way fights between Border B-ranked teams to reset team ranks and to train. The top two teams will obtain the right to take the test to become A-ranked teams. This arc is used to introduce B-ranked teams that will become the rivals of the main characters as well as fine details in weapon mechanics.
  • Pokémon: The Series 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.
    • A sad trend with these, however, with the exception of a select few, is that Ash and his companions always lose them. This changed with the Alola League, where Ash outright became Alola's first champion.
    • In Pokémon Journeys: The Series, the entire series was a tournament arc with Ace Trainers, Gym Leaders, and all the Champions all over the world coming together to determine the World's Best Warrior with Ash Ketchum successfully becoming the very best, like no one ever was.
  • Season 1 and Season 3 of Bakuten Shoot Beyblade are each one giant tournament arc. The second season was largely devoid of it, but the last eleven episodes returned to that format. The manga, from which the three seasons are derived, is a single tournament arc, but with other stuff happening in-between that makes it less obvious. Rising represents another tournament arc, which is more akin to how the anime handles it.
  • 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 has taken most of its run.
  • 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 Negima! Magister Negi Magi 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.
    • The sequel 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 se, 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 Hoshin Engi, pitting them in one-on-one matches against some super-powered demons. Shockingly enough, Taikobo dies in the tournament, though this allows Oh Eki to collect his soul, reveal to him that they were parts of the same being and finally merge back into Fukki.
  • The Prince of Tennis is basically a huge tournament where the competitors face off in tennis matches.
  • Attack No. 1 is a volleyball that has nunerous tournamnet arcs.
  • 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 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.
    • At the start of the series, Seiya, to just earn the right to be a Saint in the first place, is fighting in a tournament-or what should have been one, as, of over a hundred candidates, most have been killed or otherwise incapacitated by the tasks to earn the right to try out for Sainthood, leaving Seiya to fight (and defeat) a single opponent.
    • And there's another tournament in Saint Seiya Omega. Following the classic's spirit, it went to hell before the finals even began.
  • 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.
  • Reborn! (2004) 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...
  • MegaMan NT Warrior, the anime of Mega Man Battle Network, had the N1 Grand Prix netbattling tournament.
  • Parodied by Sonic X in a two-episode tournament. Most of the matches were rather short or took place mostly off-screen and were played for laughs. Only the last two matches were played straight, and only the final one was fully shown.
  • The plot of the Future GPX Cyber Formula series revolves around the Cyber Formula Grand Prix, where the competitors have the chance to be the world champion.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid 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 loss of the main characters even more shocking.
  • 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 determine the next god.
  • Baki the Grappler 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:
    • The Long Ring Long Land arc features the Davy Back Fight, which 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 set in Corrida Colosseum to win his deceased brother's former Devil Fruit.
  • Deconstructed in Ramen Fighter Miki: 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 eligible 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 D×D 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 Food Wars! 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.
  • The sports festival of My Hero Academia features a tournament made up of the top sixteen first years from the earlier events to give them a chance to show their stuff in front of the pro heroes. In an unusual twist compared to most tournament arcs, the main character Izuku Midoriya loses in the quarterfinals, where most arcs feature the protagonist losing in the finals if not winning; the final match ends up being between Todoroki and Bakugo, with the latter winning.
  • The manga remake (and the anime adaptation) of One-Punch Man has a martial arts tournament in which Saitama enters in place of Bang's injured disciple, who was taken out by Garou (and to earn money), and while he makes to the finals and wins against returning champion Suiryu, he loses due to a technicallity which forbids impersonation (thanks to Garou). Given that the Monster Association attacks several cities during the tournament, it ends up being crashed by said monsters after the finals in search of new monsterized recruits.
  • Black Butler has a cricket match happen smack in the middle of the Weston College Arc, which is treated as Serious Business by everyone involved.
  • Dr. STONE has a tournament arc for the hand of the village priestess, and more importantly for the heroes, a gigantic stash of alcohol which they need to make an antibiotic for said priestess. Unusually, the main character enters for the sole purpose of stacking the deck in their odds, having no intent of actually winning. Ironically, he's the one who comes out on top by the end of the arc and winds up married to the village priestess along with getting the booze prize he wanted; only after seeing that the priestess has little time left to make the antibiotic and not wanting any part of the celebration that would eat into the time left needed to make the antibiotic: he simply divorces the priestess and runs off with the alcohol back to his lab.
  • Black Clover has the Royal Knights Arc. The Wizard King hosts a competition between randomly assigned teams of Magic Knights to decide which among them are worthy to become the Royal Knights, a special task force to deal with the Big Bad's group.
  • EDENS ZERO has the Mildian Arc, though it's more along the lines of a gauntlet of challenges where each of the four main fighters must defeat an opponent in exchange for information from the oracle Xiaomei. The "arc" barely lasts more than two chapters (and, in the anime, a single episode), with Shiki taking out his opponent a single page from the word go, Rebecca and Weisz's battles making up both halves of the following chapter, and Homura concluding it with a full-chapter swordfight against a robot copying her Badass Teacher. It's later revealed that Xiaomei arranged each battle to foreshadow the events of the following arc and offer hints for Rebecca that help her awaken her Ether Gear.
  • Gundam Build Fighters has its series based around the 7th Gunpla World Tournament, which pits Gunpla Battlers across the world against each other.
  • Gamaran:
    • The first manga opens with Naoyoshi Washizu hiring the Ogame Ryu to represent him in the upcoming Great Unabara Tournament, a clash of martial arts to determine which of the Daimyo's 31 sons will ascend to the throne. When they (technically) complete the second round, it's revealed that the entire tournament was a ploy of Kurogane Jinsuke to take control of Unabara and enlist powerful fighters in his Muhou Ryuu.
    • Sequel series Shura has the Shogun open a tournament to determine who's the strongest in the country, divided in three main parts. This time, there's an underground conflict between the Bakufu and its agents and both the remnants of the Muhou Ryuu and the Suruga faction lead by the Shogun's brother Tadaie Hiramatsu.
  • In Futaba-kun Change!, the school clubs hold a crazy Martial Arts and Crafts tournament to decide which club the title character's female persona would join after she "transfers" in. Contestants include conventional martial artists, a sumo wrestler, a gardener who has a giant Man-Eating Plant as his proxy, a ninja manga artist, and Futaba's love interest representing the swim club. It's cut short when an underhanded contestant clears the field by dosing everyone's drinks with a laxative, and Futaba winds up joining the Pro Wrestling club when she addresses the club leader as "Captain" out of habit, which he takes as a sign she decided to sign up.
  • ST☆R: Strike it Rich: When Nozomi can't decide whether Hina should fight Yuzuha or one of the Sera sisters, she gets the idea of organisating a tournament between the four of them, with the winner gaining the 5 million yen. The first round pits Hina against Riku and Riko against Yuzuha.

    Comic Books 
  • DC had Arena.
  • Avengers Arena was a Battle Royale-like survival game orchestrated by Arcade, putting teen heroes against each other.
  • Marvel did this thrice with its Contest Of Champions miniseries. Each of them involved cosmic players fighting through teams of superheroes.
  • The Marvel Versus DC crossover could also count as a tournament arc.
  • Iron Fist: One arc of the Immortal Iron Fist revolves 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.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics): The storyline "Champions", which adapts Sonic the Fighters in the middle of its Sonic Unleashed storyline.
  • Wizards of Mickey: The basic structure of the first arc, with the second arc being Mickey's fights against the Blot after winning the tourney.
  • Wonder Woman: In Wonder Woman (1942) and Wonder Woman (1987) Wonder Woman earns the right to be the champion and ambassador of the Amazons and their Technical Pacifist accepting and loving ideology through a tournament where she proves herself against the other Amazons competing for the position.
    • The Origin of Wonder Woman: The first full telling of the contest involves Diana hiding her identity behind her entry number (7) and a Domino Mask, fighting a series of quirky Amazons and then facing off against her friendly rival Mala for the right to become the Amazon Champion.
    • Wonder Woman: Earth One also involves it, with Hippolyta outright refusing to let Diana take part because her demi-goddess nature means she'd easily win. Diana enters anyway, in disguise.
    • The Contest details a tournament organized by Hippolyta to find the best Amazon to act as Wonder Woman after she had a premonition that seemed to foretell her daughter's death, which Artemis wins.

    Fan Works 
  • As Fate Would Have It: The last set of chapters take place during the Pokémon World Tournament, where Nate and Yancy participate in the Champions and World Leaders Tournament, respectively.
  • The Moonstone Cup: The story mostly centers around a prestigious international tournament for mages where contestants from all over the world gather to trade spells and decide which of them is the best magic-user around.
  • The Tainted Grimoire: The Camoa Cup, with the twist that Clan Gully faces Acidwire during the first round after the preliminaries have finished. Also much shorter then expected.
  • Max Wolf Revolutions: The last chapters from the first part involve 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.
  • "Gold, Vine and the Things We Leave Behind" is a Harry Potter/The Worst Witch crossover (set post-Cursed Child and during the 2017 series respectively), where Cackle's and Pentangles' are competing against Hogwarts in the new Triwizard Tournament, with Mildred representing Cackle's while Scorpius Malfoy represents Hogwarts and Elspeth McGonagall (the great-niece of Hogwarts' current Headmistress) represents Pentangles, with Scorpius winning the Tournament overall when Mildred lets him score the final points as she recognises that he needs it more.
  • Dreaming of Sunshine: In addition to the canonical Chuunin Exams, the Konoha Genin who did not get promoted then are sent to the next exams, in the Land of Grass. For the most part, the contestants are who make it to the tournament section of the exam treat it as what it is—a chance to show off their skills and potentially earn a promotion, rather than a series of life and death fights or something that has to be won at all costs. The exceptions are Mubi and Oboro, for whom It's Personal. Konoha dominates the exams, with more of their genin making it to the finals than any other two villages combined and all of them making it to the second round. But the finals end up being between Gaara and Haku, which is portrayed as the best thing that could have happened—Gaara needs to win the tournament to establish his reputation, and Haku needs to stay in the tournament as long as possible because he's the only Hidden Mist contestant left in the exam.
  • In Pokémon Reset Bloodlines, Ash and company compete in a tournament organized in the Battle Dome in Lavender Town, with Ash making it to the finals and ranking second place after losing to Red, and later in a Tag Tournament in Fuchsia City to enter the Safari Zone where he's partnered with Red and wins, though not before he and Red end up at each others' throats.
  • Son of the Sannin has the Chunin Exams as in canon. Unlike in the anime, the finals go on without a hitch until the end (since the presence of the Raikage and Kazekage at the finals forced Orochimaru to push his invasion plans back by several weeks), and Naruto, Sasuke, Hinata and Tenten receive promotions.
  • The Flash Sentry Chronicles: The story War of the Lost City has Flash Sentry and his team selected by the Sacred Light (Springer, Trixie, Soarin, Ruby, and Cold) travel to the Lost City of Faust together, where they encounter the Cult of Shadow, the very same cult that Cold has been investigating for years. Shortly after the two teams encounter each other and battle, they are separated by an unseen force, that forces the two teams to play a "game" against each other where teams of three are selected and forced to fight each other in the city over a hidden orb. The climax eventually reveals that the god Faust was the one responsible for bringing the two teams to the city and forcing them against each other. She knew that Flash and Shadow were destined to clash one day, regardless of her intervention or not, and the resulting clash would be devastating to the land and innocent lives around them. So to cause as little damage as possible, she summoned them to the city where nobody else could get hurt and had them bring the rest of their teams to prevent the two of them from directly fighting each other while also observing the effect the two of them had on their respective teams. The winner of this game would be allowed to keep their powers, while the loser would have theirs sealed away forever. The final battle comes down to Flash and Shadow, with Faust putting the two of them in a pocket dimension so they can go all-out against each other. Flash ultimately wins the fight, and when Shadow refuses to accept this and tries to steal Faust's power for himself, she removes the Corrupted Shadow from him completely, instead of just sealing it away.
  • The Gunslinger Hero: Flintlock: The Sports Festival, an event for the students to compete using their quirks in order to prove their skills to Japan. While the canon events had their own placements, as well as event structure of an obstacle race, a cavalry battle and a final 1 on 1 tournament, there are some changes made to this story’s version.
    • The cavalry battle is replaced by Trooper Elimination, an event where students, in teams, are tasked with eliminating as many Star Wars-themed Troopers as they can, with the event not ending until the boss target of a Darth Vader robot was eliminated.
    • Because of the altered final results of the second event, the first round of the tournament ended up with the following match-ups: Katsuki Bakugou vs Kyouka Jiro, Fumikage Tokoyami vs Hitoshi Shinsou, Yui Kodai vs Pony Tsunotori, Tenya Iida vs Ochako Uraraka, Momo Yaoyorozu vs Toru Hagakure, Neito Monoma vs Minoru Mineta, Tsuyu Asui vs Ibara Shiozaki, Shouto Todoroki vs Denki Kaminari.
  • Pokémon: The Lost Child: Treecko and Piplup compete in a tournament in Chapter 5. The following two chapters play with this in a different way. Prinplup and Grovyle end up discovering there is some corruption involved in the tournament and, along with Magmar, set out to expose it.
  • Nan the Keyblade Master's adaptations of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door have the Glitz Pit chapters serving as these:
    • Sora's Adventure in Rogueport has Mario, Goombella, Koops, Madame Flurrie, Sora, Donald and Goofy entering the Glitz Pit. It has all the fighters from the game along with Lightning as part of the major leagues. Follows closest to canon but The penultimate fight is Sora against Lightning and then when Mario, his group and Lightning confront Grubba, he turns into a Heartless but is still beaten. Lightning joins Mario and the gang after this.
    • Ancient Treasure has Mario, Luigi, their partners and Fairy Tail entering. This time, the fighters are from various franchises such as Little Mac and Cloud Strife. Characters from the Kingdom Hearts-verse take part in it too and Natsu's battle with Captain Falcon is interrupted by Gajeel which ends up becoming Natsu vs Gajeel and Bowser shows up to interrupt at one point. In addition, Grubba has upgraded his machine to affect all of Glitzville and for the final battle, Hades upgrades Macho Grubba to Super Macho Grubba but he still ends up beaten]]. Many characters end up joining Mario and his team after the fight ends.
    • Paper RWBY: The Thousand Year Door has Mario, Luigi, their partners and Team RWBY entering the tournament with the fighters mostly being from Punch-Out!!. While working their way up, Little Mac also registers and starts climbing his way up the ranks himself. Little Mac ends up beating Rawk Hawk to become the new champion while Mario and the gang are busy looking for clues. Mario and the gang beat Rawk Hawk followed by Mario beating Little Mac. Incineroar, Little Mac and Mini-Yoshi go up against Macho Grubba in a turn-based battle and after the battle ends, it turns out Incineroar was recruited by Jolene to help her find her brother.
    • Sora's Adventure in Rogueport Remake has Mario, Luigi, Sora, Koops and Vivian entering the Glitz Pit. This time, The Phantom Thieves are the ones doing the investigation (save for a part where Vivian drops off a piece of paper for the Phantom Thieves to find) and in addition, there's now an Elite Four to fight before Rawk Hawk. The plotlines end up colliding when the Phantom Thieves interrupt Team Sky (Mario and the gang)'s fight with Byleth and knock out the gang and take them and Byleth to the Thieves' locker room. After getting into Mementos and discovering Grubba sees the place as a slaughterhouse and seeing where the Gold Star is, the group escapes. Mario and his team battle the Elite Four with Mario beating Incineroar, Luigi beating Little Mac, Sora tying with Bea (after he nearly fell on her due to all the damage he took and she willingly fell off the ring and Vivian, Mario and Luigi beating Captain Falcon. Team Sky then battles Tifa Lockhart after she beat Rawk Hawk and became new champion. Team Sky, Tifa, the Minor League and Major League fighters end up battling Macho Gubba in the real world, while The Phantom Thieves and Byleth battle Shadow Grubba after the Thieves sent him a calling card. After their victory, Thunderbolt (a brainwashed Lightining) shows up to try and steal the Gold Star, but is thwarted and forcibly teleported back to the X-naut's base. Bea, Aerith and Noire join Mario and the gang after this.

  • Chrysalis (RinoZ): After being kidnapped by Golgari, Anthony is forced into a deathmatch tournament against other monsters. The purported aim is to strengthen the eventual winning monster, by letting it gain the experience and biomass from all the others. Anthony is actually being forced into it because one of the Golgari has a grudge against him and is pulling strings to get him killed.
  • Tales of Dunk and Egg:
    • In 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, 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 competition, like magical thread weaving and flashy magician stuff.
  • The "Phantom Bullet" arc of Sword Art Online volumes 5 and 6, much like Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, is framed by a tournament arc, specifically the Bullet of Bullets. Unlike most examples, it fulfills this trope in only the most basic description, as the entire tournament factors into the story. Kirito himself specifically enters a shooting tournament within the new game "Gun Gale Online" to investigate a mysterious case of shootings within a game killing people in real life. You can never have fun, can you Kirito?
  • Way of Choices gives us this in the Grand Examination Arc, which also contains demonstration duels during the Ivy Banquet before the Tournament.
  • A Darker Shade of Magic: The bulk of the plot of the second book of the series,A Gathering of Shadows, centers on the Essen Tach (Element Games) a gladiatorial-style tournament for magicians, meant to entertain and keep healthy relations among the participating countries. Participants are required to wear masks and armor that breaks off in 28 pieces - the participant that loses 10 pieces of armor loses the round. In the finale, the armor is made up of 38 pieces, and all pieces must be broken off by the winner. Of the main characters, Kell, Lila and Alucard participate. Kell and Lila do face each other, Kell throws the fight in order to avoid being unmasked. Lila loses at a later round however. Alucard makes it to the finale round and wins.
  • Outside the main plot, the second half of Super Powereds: Year 4 is dominated by the intramurals between the five colleges with a Hero Certification Program. Each school nominates three competitors, except for the hosting school, which gets an extra competitor to even out the numbers. Anybody who's anybody in the Hero world wants to see the intramurals, since it's the best of each school fighting it out in elimination tournament only a few weeks before graduation, but few are able to get in due to the secrecy and the security concerns. Competitors are allowed to observe other fights, which is how they can learn what the other students' powers and capabilities are, although it's common for students to hold back in the first couple rounds in order to keep an ace or two up their sleeve. The biggest shock is Chad losing in his second round without even throwing a punch. On the other hand, the guy who beats him is the best in his school, and he then proceeds to beat Alice as well, although it takes him a lot more effort. In the end, it's up to Vince, who advances to the final round by beating Shane, to take him down. This is also where Lander's competitors demonstrate why they're already nicknamed the Class of Nightmares: partly it's because they're an unusually strong class, but they're also the most determined as well, such as when Alice blows out her own eardrums in order to neutralize her opponent's debilitating sonic attack, or when Vince leaps through a wall of fire in order to deliver a blow on his opponent (it helps that everyone gets healed up in-between fights.
  • Cradle Series: Being a Spirit Cultivation Genre story, there are lots of these.
    • The story starts with the lead-up to the Seven Year Festival, where the clans of Sacred Valley compete against each other. As a fifteen year-old Unsouled Lindon will be competing in the Foundation matches... where he will be the oldest by at least three years. There's really no upside here for him; if he sweeps the matches easily, he'll be beating up children, and if he fails (because he has never fought in a real duel without cheating in his entire life), his entire family will become the mockery of the Valley. There is, however, an exhibition match where the winner of the Foundation matches can fight a Copper disciple; if Lindon does well in that fight, he can earn some honor. Instead, he pisses off his clan Patriarch and is set against an Iron disciple, two full stages higher, in what is expected to be a humiliating beatdown that Lindon will be lucky to escape with his life. Due to meeting Suriel, Lindon suddenly gains a much stronger determination to advance, and manages to cheat his way to victory and then leverage that into joining a prestigious school, and then uses that to escape the Valley.
    • The Uncrowned King tournament is a tournament between the Monarch factions where their young Underlords compete on the world stage. It is a showcase of the factions' future military might, an opportunity to make valuable international connections and trade agreements, and also to take prizes from enemies—every victor of every stage wins a prize from a faction besides their own, so the more from your faction who make it higher, the less you have to pay. This year, with the stirring of the Dreadgods, the tournament is bigger than ever, and Northstrider himself decides to judge the tournament, with defeated combatants resurrected on death. Yerin, Lindon, Eithan, and Mercy all get in, with Yerin in particular salivating at the chance to reach the top eight and become Uncrowned, because that's as far as her master got. Unfortunately, the favorite to win is a gold dragon who personally hates Lindon, and if she wins her faction will destroy his homeland as a side effect of a much larger project. Yerin and Lindon are forced to fight each other in the top sixteen, and then the Abidan descend from Heaven to offer an even greater prize. Yerin wins the tournament, and uses the prize to kill the dragon Monarch.
    • Shortly before the end of Wintersteel, Lindon finds the Akura trapped by dragons in a mockery of the Uncrowned King tournament, forced to fight for their amusement. Lindon, identifying it as a game, proposes a prize: The winner gets to take everything the loser has on them when they enter the ring. His opponent, of course, removes all her most valuable treasures before stepping into the ring. He consumes her life, madra, and spirit. For some reason, they aren't willing to play after that.
  • Reign of the Seven Spellblades: The main plot of Volume 2 revolves around a sword arts tournament among the first-years, organized by Tullio Rossi, an Ytallian student with a (mostly imagined) rivalry with main character Oliver Horn. Each participant is given a medallion and duels others to take theirs, with the students with the most medallions at the end of the week advancing to the playoff round. The tournament is aborted before the playoffs when fourth-year student Ophelia Salvadori is consumed by the spell in an unrelated incident and kidnaps several of the participants.

    Live-Action TV 

    Pro Wrestling 
  • 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 tecnicos, 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.
  • Rikidozan's Japan Pro Wrestling Alliance held several tournaments that were influential in the business, the most notable being the World Big League (later renamed to simply World League),an annual tournament where wrestlers from all over the world participated making it the closest thing to a World Cup of Wrestling at the time, featuring big name participants throughout the years ranging from Rikidozan himself, his students Antonio Inoki and Giant Baba, Lou Thesz, Gene Kiniski, Freddie Blassie, The Destroyer, Abdullah the Butcher and Gorilla Monsoon. JWA held the tournament from 1959 until 1972 as the JWA folded in 1973. It had been one of the most important pro-wrestling tournament of its time, because it was one of the very few (and for some years after its creation the only) pro-wrestling tournaments of its time to be considered representative of the entire pro-wrestling world.
  • Another major tournament the JWA held was 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.
  • 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 CZW'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 has had two tournaments successful enough to be spun off into their own promotions, King Of 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 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. On a related note, ROH itself was modeled after KOI, building itself on the first two tournament winners Christopher Daniels and Bryan Danielson, as well as second King Of Indies runner up Low Ki.
  • 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 
  • Inspired by ECWA's Super 8 and the aforementioned KOI, Alex Shane and Doug Williams called sixteen promotions to Liverpool in 2007 for a King Of Europe Cup £500 monetary incentive for whoever had the match of the night, decided each night by fan brackets. A prize fighting element was also in effect when voluntary fan donations added to the daily prize. There were also polls taken for non tournament matches as wrestlers were gradually eliminated from KOE.
  • The twenty fifth anniversary of Hijo del Santo's Todo x el Todo promotion featured a Relevos Suicidas tournament where the winners dropped out and the losing parejas advanced. The team that lost in the final round then had to wrestle each other, with the loser giving up their hair or mask, as is standard in relevos suicidas.Hijo del Santo unmasked Pentagón Black.
  • 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.
  • Progress Wrestling has The Natural Progression Series which is a tournament done throughout the year to showcase new talents and The Super Strong Style 16.
  • New Japan Pro-Wrestling:
    • The G1 Climax is a grueling round-robin style tournament which takes place over the course of several weeks. 20 wrestlers are evenly split between two blocks and wrestle everyone else inside their respective blocks once to earn points; 2 points are gained for each win, 1 point goes to both competitors in a draw, and no points are earned for a loss. The top-ranked competitors of each block then fight each other in the tournament's final night to crown a champion. Since Kazuchika Okada won the 2012 iteration, he implemented a new rule: the winner would be granted a shot at the next Wrestle Kingdom for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship against whoever the titleholder is at the time, but must defend their contract as if it were a title until then; should they lose, the contract is transferred to whoever manages to beat the previous holder. Notably, the champion himself participates in the tournament, and potentially winning it is more of a statement of how dominant he is than anything else, with an "unofficial" rule being that they get to choose who to challenge instead.
    • There's the aformentioned World Tag League for heavyweight teams, the Best of the Super Juniors for junior heavyweights and the Super Junior Tag League for junior heavyweight tag teams. While they don't have the briefcase set-up as the G1, they also usually supply the winner with a title shot against the title holders of their respective divisions. Because of the tournament's timing, the title shot for the World Tag League winners usually lands on the next Wrestle Kingdom as well. The Best of the Super Juniors tournament would normally set a defense up for Dominion (NJPW's second largest show of the year), but since a schedule change forced in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the title defense between the tournament's winner and the champion has since shifted to being at Wrestle Kingdom.
    • The New Japan Cup is a simpler single-elimination 16-man tournament where the winner gets a shot at either the IWGP Heavyweight, IWGP Intercontinental and NEVER Openweight titles depending on their personal choice. Unlike the previous examples, the titleholders of those belts do not participate in this tournament. Changed its format in the 2019 iteration, where the winner of the 32-man field now challenges for the IWGP Heavyweight championship directly. The larger field of competitors expanded the scope of the tournament to include junior heavyweights and the other singles titleholders for the first time.
    • Then there is the irregularly held Super J Cup, which features super juniors from all over the world.
  • WWE
    • Both the first WWE World title holder Buddy Rogers and the first Intercontinental Champion Pat Patterson were claimed by the promotion to have won them in tournaments in Rio de Janerio. The question of if either tournament even happened is up for debate.
    • WrestleMania IV played host to a tournament to determine a new WWF Champion after the title was vacated as a result of crooked officiating. Randy Savage would win the tournament.
    • When the Ultimate Warrior defeated Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania VI, he ended up holding the World and Intercontinental championships at the same time. The WWE's rules at the time said that the same wrestler couldn't hold both belts at once. Warrior kept the World championship, but the Intercontinental championship became up for grabs in a tournament. The eventual winner was Curt Hennig, AKA Mr. Perfect.
    • The King of the Ring, originally held in June, was once one of the company's main pay per view events. It fizzled out after 2003.
    • The 1998 and 2015 editions of Survivor Series held one to determine who will win the vacant WWF/E Championship. It was respectively won by The Rock and Roman Reigns, who ironically are cousinsnote  who also happened to defeat celebrated Garbage Wrestlers in the finals (Mankind and Dean Ambrose, respectively). Unfortunately, in the latter instance, Roman lost the belt in a screw-job at the hands of The Authority and Sheamus, rending the tournament All for Nothing.
    • The company held the Cruiserweight Classic tournament on their WWE Network as a way to jumpstart their revival of their cruiserweight division, as well as lead into their WWE network exclusive cruiserweight show 205 Live. It was won by T.J. Perkins.
    • 2017 saw the first United Kingdom Championship Tournament, intended to crown the WWE's first UK Champion (the belt had just been created that year); Tyler Bate ended up winning the belt.
    • To promote the expansion and heightened focus on their Women's Division, WWE also held the first-ever Mae Young Classic in 2017. Kairi Sane was crowned the inaugural winner, while Toni Storm won the second. Both were subsequently called up to WWE NXT later in the respective years they won.


    Video Games 
  • Assassin's Creed: Odyssey has two examples:
    • The Battle of a Hundred Hands, which the Eagle Bearer can enter with a potential love interest. At the end, the Eagle Bearer has the choice of killing her, or convincing her to turn on the competition's manager.
    • The decidedly much less serious Trials of the Minotaur in Pephka, which is both ineptly run and staggeringly corrupt (and an example of Not Just a Tournament).
  • 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.
  • BoxxyQuest: The Gathering Storm has "Fight Night", an underground tournament held at the Battle Arena during the events of Chapter 4. It’s actually an optional and easily missed sidequest, since you’re being told to go explore in the opposite direction. But if you do participate, then you get to fight in seven back-to-back matches against new, unique opponents, some of which have gimmicks not seen anywhere else in the game.
  • 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.
  • EXTRAPOWER: Attack of Darkforce: A brief one occurs for a festival in Iwate prefecture. Seeing the similarities between humans' professional wrestling and the Star Lore of his planet revitalizes Sharkungo, who is excited to participate. Sadly, it only goes a few rounds before being interrupted by the Monster of the Week.
  • 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.
  • Flip Dimensions: The Hippocampus chapter consists of a tournament where Kazuki and two party members of his choice have to fight against several rounds of old foes before facing off against the Dark Lord Konton.
  • 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.
  • The "A Thousand Reasons" event in Granblue Fantasy focuses on the melee-oriented tournament set in Albion. As such, a special quest requires a party made up of only melee proficiency characters, against other melee proficiency contestants.
  • Guilty Gear: The first game takes place during the Sacred Knights Tournament, but it turns out the contestants are to be used by Testament as blood sacrifices to revive the Commander Gear, Justice, responsible for a recently-ended war that lasted over a century. Averted in later games which use more complex plots.
  • Inazuma Eleven: Football Frontier and Football Frontier International, befitting a game about (magical) football. Holy Road in GO!
  • 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.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Some of the games 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.
  • 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 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 said 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 Igniz, who wanted to become a god. In 2003, XI, XIII, it was the mysterious group "Those From the Past" who were involved, brainwashing people into hosting the tournaments for them (Chizuru in 2003 and Rose in XI & XIII). An exception was in XIV whose host, Antonov, was just hosting the tournament out of love for the series and to show the world how tough he is, so of course the next threat (Verse) shows up and causes havoc. 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.
  • Klonoa 2: Dream Champ Tournament has Klonoa and friends competing in a race/obstacle course tournament hosted by Garlen for the title of Greatest Hero. However, it turns out that Garlen is only holding the tournament to turn the competitors into gears for his Mechanical Empire.
  • Knights of the Old Republic has this as an early sidequest on Taris.
  • LBX: Little Battlers eXperience features several LBX tournament, most prominently Artemis.
  • The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night: There's a very strange one 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.
  • Mega Man Battle Network 4's has no less than three tournaments, which get so much focus that the actual plot of the game — a potentially world-ending asteroid hurtling toward Earth - has almost no screentime. Parts 3 and 6 have Tournaments of their own, but at least they didn't take up the whole game.
  • Mortal Kombat was once like this until 3, onwards (and even II actually operates under Not Just a Tournament). Mortal Kombat 9 revisits the original Tournament Arc but since it covers everything between the first and third games, it only dwells on this for the first third and a portion of the second. Mortal Kombat X drops it yet again.
  • Octopath Traveler: The second chapter of Olberic's story has him participate in a tournament so he can talk to an associate of Erhardt to find his whereabouts.
    • In the sequel, we get Hikari being set up to participate in one in Montwise by one of his allies in his second chapter.
  • 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.
  • Pokémon: Ironically, outside of the real-life metagame, actual tournaments are only present three times in the series: the Battle Dome in Pokémon Emerald, the Pokémon World Tournament in Pokémon Black 2 and White 2, and as a replacement for the Elite Four in Pokémon Sword and Shield.
  • Puyo Puyo! 15th Anniversary's story mode has your selected character participating in a tournament where they face various opponents in puyo matches. Once they win, they are brought to a medal that grants them one wish.
  • Quest for Glory V:
    • The Rites of Rulership are something like this, 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.
    • The arena is 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.
  • Richman 8 has the Richman Tournament as its main plot in Story Mode, making characters old and new to participate for their own motivations such as searching their lost grandpa, fulfilling their dreams to build a boat and sail around the world, or paying their debt after failing a bet. Behind all this, however, is an international criminal trying to steal a legendary diamond, and the tournament itself is part of his plan.
  • Sakura Wars (2019) has the Combat Revue World Games, a biennial tournament between the Combat Revues of the world. The Imperial Combat Revue, facing the possibility of dissolution unless they can reverse their fortunes, is determined to win the games to remain in service.
  • 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.
  • Most of the Street Fighter sub-series are set in a tournament run by 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, Seth was running the show in Street Fighter IV. Street Fighter Alpha and Street Fighter V are the exceptions (none of the Alpha games depict an ongoing tournament, nor does V).
  • Summon Night: The first Swordcraft Story game is set in a tournament arc.
  • Super Mario Bros.
    • The Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance iterations of Mario Golf are golf Role-Playing Games where the entire plot entails the player entering golf tournaments, with the hopes of being invited to a tournament held in the Mushroom Kingdom and a chance to surpass Mario himself.
    • Just like with Mario Golf, the GBC and GBA versions of Mario Tennis are effectively Tennis RPGs, though in this case, there is much less focus on tournaments, with the bulk of the plot being rising through rankings at a tennis academy, with the inter-school Island Open Tournment being the climax of the story. The GBA game adds another tournament directly after, the Peach Tournament, played in the Mushroom Kingdom with the Mario cast.
    • Chapter 3 of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door involves Mario fighting in a tournament held in Glitz Pit Arena as the champions belt has the next Crystal Star for a buckle. A few fights in, however, Mario starts getting strange text messages, fellow fighters are disappearing mysteriously and the Crystal Star turns out to be a fake, and by the end you've thwarted a conspiracy to steal life force. Once you've gotten to the top and beaten the chapter boss, Mario retires and his information is erased, letting you fight your way back to the top as a Sidequest.
    • Chapter 6 of Super Paper Mario had another tournament arc, in which King Sammer insists that you win the Duel of 100, defeating 100 Sammer Guys, before he gives you the Pure Heart. Then it gets subverted, as less than a quarter of the way through the 100 fights you run out of time and the void destroys the world, leaving an empty, white void. However, once you restored the world, you can continue the rest of the fights.
  • 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 Smash battle; but regardless of who wins, the tournament gets interrupted by the Subspace Army. Princesses Peach and Zelda are present in the audience but it isn't known if they also competed in the tournament or not and no other competitors are shown.
  • Tekken centers on "The King of Iron Fist Tournament" with the current iteration being reflected by the game's numerical title. Follows a straightforward "win the tournament, win the company, host the next one" format (although 5 has some weirdness there). The whole shebang is just one big stage for the Mishima family to air their Big, Screwed-Up Family laundry and rope about 40 or so other characters into it for whatever reason they find to show up.
  • Way of the Samurai 4: On the third day of the story, the Big Bad announces his plan to hold a battle tournament in Amihama, with the arena set up overnight so the tournament occurs on the story's fourth day. The tournament happens to be the alignment lock of the game, as you then proceed to enter on behalf the faction you've helped the most in previous story missions, unless you've been ignoring and/or doublecrossing them in which case you enter independently. After the tournament, you either go into the endgame for the faction you're representing, get the neutral ending if you aren't representing any, or learn this was Not Just a Tournament and get Stewed Alive by the Big Bad, who truly wanted to just kill a bunch of people For the Evulz.

    Visual Novels 
  • 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.
  • Majikoi! Love Me Seriously! 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.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY has the Vytal Tournament, which is mentioned in Volume 1 and actually shown in Volume 3. Team RWBY and Team JNPR participate in the tournament for Beacon Academy. RWBY is disqualified when Yang is accused of breaking Mercury Black's leg unprovoked, in a fit of unsportsmanlike conduct (she was actually made to hallucinate that she was being attacked). Then the entire thing is pretty much cancelled when Pyrrha accidentally kills Penny’s body with her magnetism semblance, with the massive amount of negative energy caused by such an event happening on live TV allowing for an all-out invasion by the White Fang and Grimm resulting in the deaths of Penny, Professor Ozpin and Pyrrha, the destruction of Beacon Academy and the Heroes being scattered throughout all of Remnant.
  • Dungeon Dynamite Invokes this in Episode 5 with the city of Tournament *Ark*, a lawless, fight-happy desert city marked by the presence of a large, broken boat. Needless to say, the plot demands that the protagonists fight in a tournament to obtain 1 million gold pieces of the local currency for the sake of getting Five out of her magical contract. Also, the King’s Knight, Rook, and Bishop are all taking place for the chance to kill the protagonists as well....
  • Season 4 of Minilife TV involves Chris's friend, Abel, competing in the 28th Legondo World Martial Arts Tournament so he could use the prize money to save Minilife Studios from debt.

  • 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.
  • Gold Coin Comics has an entire chapter that is pretty much based on a championship tournament.
  • 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 The God of High School with changing rules each time.
  • Nwain has a tournament arc that starts with fighting on day 1, then moves on to chess on day 2 and go-carting on day 3.
  • Kill Six Billion Demons: Book 4 centers on the Ring of Power, a tournament hosted by the God-Emperor Solomon David whose victor gets the chance to challenge Solomon himself. Should they draw as much as a single drop of blood from him, he will grant them anything that he's capable of giving them, up to and including rulership of his empire. This is exactly what Solomon wants, as the tournament is officially his way of finding a worthy successor so he can continue his journey towards enlightenment. However, it's downplayed in the story itself: only two matches get any focus, and Solomon abruptly makes the tournament a free-for-all after learning that the match-ups are being rigged to ensure Allison will win. Simultaneous with this arc, the author hosted a Ring of Power Original Character Tournament, creating a sort of roundabout spinoff tournament arc.
  • El Goonish Shive has the "Squirrel Prophet" storyline the second and third part of which involves a card game tournament.
  • DICE: The Cube That Changes Everything: A tournament is set up by Mio, with the winner receiving Dongtae. On the surface at least, the actual reason is so Mio could get everyone to stop hunting Dongtae for a bit and keep him safe in the meantime. Unfortunately, a couple of teams catch on very quickly and proceed to go after Mio and Dongtae.

    Web Videos 
  • SMPLive has the Assassin Event, which is an event where players have to hunt their assigned target down until only one is left. Except it doesn't go as planned, and no one wins.

    Western Animation 
  • 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.
  • The fourth season of Ninjago is centered around the titular "Tournament of Elements", where the mysterious Master Chen invites all the Elemental Masters to his island to compete against each other. It turns out Chen is stealing the losers's powers in order to use a spell that will turn him and his cultists into Anacondrai.
  • The second Teenage Mutant 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.


Video Example(s):


Tullio Rossi's Tournament

"Rivals". Tullio Rossi challenges the other first-year students to a dueling tournament, which will last through episode 11, to decide which of them is the strongest in their year. Each student who registers gets a selection of medallions: you lose all of yours, you're out, and those with the most at the end of the week advance to the playoff round. In the process we're properly introduced to Stacy Cornwallis and Fay Willock, who were apparently present for the garuda incident in "Colosseum" but weren't seen because they were hiding the whole time.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / TournamentArc

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