Debate Tournaments


Ready Set Debate virtual debate tournaments offer the experience of a formal interscholastic debate tournament, but compressed into a single day. Debaters compete in at least three preliminary (“prelim”) debates, and based on their performance in these debates, some are selected to move on to the elimination (“elim”) debates. The tournament champion, finalist, first speaker, second speaker, and third speaker all receive awards, which are mailed after the event.

Teams and eligibility

Debaters may compete solo or in teams of two. Students aged 12-17 with experience in Ready Set Debate or in other debate formats are eligible to register. Younger students will be considered on a case-by-case basis; please contact for more information. 


Each team must bring their own volunteer judge (available to judge up to two debates) or pay for a judging waiver (see “registration fees” section). Volunteer judges do not need to have special expertise in debate, but they must be fluent in English and be a high school graduate or beyond. For finding volunteer judges, we suggest asking a parent or other adult family member or family friend.


Debates follow the standard Ready Set Debate format

Registration fees

The registration fee for the tournament is $35.00 USD per debater. Debaters who are not bringing a volunteer judge must purchase an additional judging waiver for $35.00 USD (solo debaters) or $17.50 USD (debaters who are competing as a member of a two-person team).

Tournament schedule (all times in Central Time)

Prelim 1 – 9am
Prelim 2 – 10am
Prelim 3 – 11am
Prelim 4 (if needed) – 12pm
Elim 1 – 12:30pm or 1:30pm
Elim 2 – 1:30pm or 2:30pm
Elim 3 (if needed) – 2:30pm or 3:30pm
Elim 4 (if needed) – 3:30pm or 4:30pm

Upcoming tournament

The next Ready Set Debate tournament is the Winter Classic, which will be hosted on Saturday, February 10, 2023. The resolution will be announced in early January.


Tournament resolutions are determined by a vote of current Ready Set Debate club members, choosing from a list of resolutions set by Ready Set Debate coaches. Typically, members will practice with the tournament resolution for the two club meetings leading up to the tournament. 

In the event that no members from a given team show up for a round, that team will be considered to have forfeited the round after 15 minutes. Forfeits are not eligible for refunds. 

Our tournaments are all optional, but it’s fun to test your skills against members from other clubs. As a debater, tournaments are an important activity that should be experienced at least once!

You can arrange with another member of your club to be partners, or ask for assistance from your coaches in finding a partner. If you do request our teaming assistance, please list all members you would willing to partner with.

Once you know which specific partner you are debating with, or if you know that you will be debating solo, visit the “How to Register” section of this page and use the form to register. Partners should register separately and note their intention to partner on the form.

During the preliminary rounds, you will not debate a team from your own club, and we will endeavor to avoid this happening in the elimination rounds, but depending on the number of teams registering from each club, and their success during the preliminary rounds, we may not be able to avoid situations where members from the same club debate against each other.

Yes. All registrations must be received and paid for by the end of the Thursday prior the tournament. We may close registration earlier if we feel we cannot manage the number of entries. (So, don’t delay.)

Hopefully it’s as simple as, “I need to provide a judge for my next debate tournament on Saturday, April 10th. Would you be willing to consider being the judge I provide? The judges don’t need to have any prior experience with academic debate, and everything is explained in the judge’s orientation packet you’ll get. You wouldn’t actually judge any of my debates. You would be judging other students – one or two debates total. You can choose any two 1-hour time slots between 9am and 4pm Central. The debates are only about 35 minutes. The extra time is so you can complete a ballot with your decision of the winner.”

If you can’t find an adult family member or family friend to volunteer for judging, you may instead purchase a judging waiver that will allow us to pay for non-lay judges. If you would like to take this option, simply select it on your registration form.

If your volunteer judge does not show up, you will be charged the judging waiver fee plus a $25 penalty.

It is recommended that you arrange for a high-quality connection for the event. If you have difficulty with your video connection, consider moving closer to your router, or connecting to it directly. We have also seen excellent success with Powerline Networking Adapters, which transmit your router signal through your home wiring right to your power outlet. It can be a good idea, if your connection is a problem, to also use the phone-connection option when signing in.

If you are on a two-person team, be sure you have all of the debating material from your partner in a shared document, in case one member has connection issues and you need to take over for them.

You should set up a phone connection and shared document with your partner for communication during your debates.

You may not personally watch a debate team that you may face in a future round. However, members from your own club can share their experiences with you, of the teams they debate. Spectators, like friends and family, can also watch and give you their observations.

Club members who are not participating in the tournament are free to watch at no cost.

Anyone aged 12-17 who has been preparing to debate the tournament resolution is encouraged to participate.

Yes. We ask that spectators keep their cameras off and remain muted, except in special circumstances (see next question). They should rename themselves to something like “Kevin Johnson’s spectator” so we know to move them to where Kevin Johnson is debating. Unidentified spectators may be removed from the meeting.

It is unlikely that we will record every debate. We will endeavor to record all of the debates in the main rooms, but not in the breakout rooms, where some of the debates will occur. Also, see next question.

Yes. At the tournament, debaters and identified spectators may request of the meeting host, before a debate begins, that they be allowed to video record a debate. Sometimes, the host is busy and may not see chat messages. It is recommended that an audible request be made before the debate begins.

Results from the preliminary rounds will be released after all of these rounds are finished and tabulated. For elimination rounds, results will be posted as soon as available. Judges’ ballots will be provided to debaters after the event.

After each debate, the judge completes a written ballot that indicates the winner and assigns speaker points to individual debaters. Commonly, the judge(s) will include written feedback for the debaters about their decision. The level of detail in written feedback often varies between judges.

Awards are announced via email and mailed in the weeks after the tournament. There is no live awards ceremony.