Hosting Guidelines

Last updated: September 18, 2021

Table of Contents

Bidding to host ACF tournaments

If you would like to host an ACF tournament in your region, email the Site Coordinator.

For details about the bidding process and policy specifically for ACF Nationals, see Details about bidding for ACF Nationals.

Regions according to ACF

For the purposes of selecting ACF tournament sites only, ACF generally considers North America to contain these regions:

Region Name Areas
Northeast Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut
Upper Mid-Atlantic New York, New Jersey, Eastern Pennsylvania, Delaware
Lower Mid-Atlantic Maryland, District of Columbia, Virginia, North Carolina
Southeast Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina
Florida Florida
Great Lakes Michigan, Ohio, Western Pennsylvania, West Virginia
Midwest Illinois, Missouri, Indiana
North Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin
South Central Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kansas
Mountain West Colorado, Utah, Wyoming
California California
Northwest Washington, Oregon, British Columbia, Idaho
Eastern Canada Ontario, Quebec

Ideally, every tournament will have at least one site in each region. However, actual sites may differ slightly, based on increased or decreased interest, or if the best hosts are at opposite ends of adjacent regions. ACF recognizes that state and provincial borders do not capture the full complexity of regional circuits, and may place tournament sites slightly differently than the regions above. Teams are permitted to attend whichever site is most convenient for them.

When there is more than one bid in a region, the Site Coordinator will choose the host based primarily on a combination of two factors: who they expect to attract more teams, and who they expect to run the best tournament based on past hosting performance and present staffing and resource capabilities.

Timeline of tasks

Approximate time Task
12 weeks before tournament Bids received for tournament
10 weeks before tournament1 ACF announces sites for tournament
Hosts publish announcements on Forums and Database
8 weeks before tournament First packet submission deadline
2 weeks before tournament Deadline to contact Site Coordinator to provide trophies for site
Deadline to contact Site Coordinator to opt out of Undergraduate or Division II trophies
ACF notifies hosts of which schools’ packets used in set
1 week before tournament Deadline for Site Coordinator to approve tournament format
24 hours after tournament Hosts publish statistics
24 hours after last tournament Hosts may publish recordings of games
1 week after tournament ACF Treasurer bills hosts
8 weeks after tournament Deadline for hosts to pay ACF

1 If no viable bids are received for a region, it may take longer to decide sites for that region. Site announcements may be staggered.

Host requirements



Hosts must use the posted fee schedule for ACF tournaments. However, hosts may provide additional discounts, provided that they are subtracted from the amount of money the host receives and not the amount that ACF receives (see Financial breakdown between hosts and ACF).

Hosts are responsible for invoicing each team that has registered for their site. Hosts will have access to a spreadsheet of teams attending their site, and should invoice each team as soon as possible after the team registers. Hosts are required to use payment tracker spreadsheets, which will be provided by the Treasurer, to track how much each team owes, which teams they have invoiced and when, and to indicate which teams have paid. Hosts must communicate with the Treasurer if they need to make changes to e.g. buzzer and staffer discounts.


Sites in countries that do not use the United States Dollar (USD) must work out an appropriate payment structure with the Site Coordinator and Treasurer.


See Payment from Hosts to ACF.

Mirror announcements

ACF will endeavor to finalize hosts 10 weeks before a tournament, at which time hosts should publish their announcements. Hosts must announce their tournament on the Quizbowl Resource Center Forums, add their tournament to the Quizbowl Resource Center Database, and contact local teams in a timely fashion. Hosts are also encouraged to advertise their tournament via social media.

ACF will provide an announcement template to hosts. The title of announcement should be in the form of “[Year] ACF [Tournament] at [Site].” The announcement should explicitly state, at a minimum, the date and day of the week of the tournament (which will normally be Saturday, but can be Sunday in some cases); instructions on how to register; and the link to official ACF information on packet submission.

Tournament format and rules

Minimum guaranteed games

All teams must be offered at least 9 meaningful games for Fall, and 10 meaningful games for Winter and Regionals. For online tournaments, all teams must be offered at least 7 games. (Exceptions must be approved by the Site Coordinator.) ACF recommends offering at least 11 games for in-person tournaments. See ACF’s suggested formats and tiebreaking procedures. Hosts should expect that at least 15 packets will be available for Fall, Winter, and Regionals (13 for online tournaments). All tournament formats must be approved by the Site Coordinator one week before the tournament.


Hosts must use the official ACF rules for gameplay.

Tournament results


Hosts must keep statistics for the entire tournament, fully and accurately entering all team, individual, and packet statistics that the program uses (in SQBS, enable “round reports”). Within 24 hours of the conclusion of the tournament, hosts must publicly post all statistics reports to the Quizbowl Resource Center Database. They must also post a link to the statistics report and a brief summary of the results and top scorers on their announcement thread on the Quizbowl Resource Center Forums. If a tournament uses multiple phases, hosts must post reports for the preliminary phase, the playoff phase, and both phases combined. Host should make every effort to make any corrections to and re-upload the statistics report within 24 hours of receiving corrections. Hosts may use any statistics program during the tournament itself, as long as they upload results to the Quizbowl Resource Center Database afterwards. SQBS can be used to keep game statistics, and is available for free. See ACF’s best practices for submitting SQBS reports. Failing to keep, post, or correct statistics in a timely manner, or follow ACF’s best practices, may result in a penalty (see Penalties).

Detailed statistics

Some ACF tournaments require hosts to keep detailed statistics. If so, hosts will be responsible for ensuring that staffers are trained on using online scoresheets and best practices before the tournament. The Site Coordinator will work with the host to provide adequate training resources well before the tournament. On the day of the tournament, the host will be responsible for each staffer having a working laptop with internet connection. Keeping detailed statistics is a substitute for conventional scoresheets, but not for compiling statistical reports and submitting them to the Quizbowl Resource Center Database.


Hosts must provide the appropriate trophies and prizes to teams, as described below. The cost of trophies and prizes, and other tournament expenses, is borne entirely by the hosts and does not affect the calculation of ACF’s share of the entry fees. ACF will provide trophies to hosts at reasonable cost. ACF will pay the trophy provider directly (including shipping to the host site) and the cost will come out of the host site’s share. If a host would like ACF to provide trophies for their site, they should contact the Site Coordinator at least 2 weeks before the tournament.

The top two overall teams will receive trophies in all cases.

The top two Undergraduate and Division II teams will receive trophies if the field includes at least four Undergraduate teams and/or four Division II teams, respectively. If, 2 weeks before the tournament, the host reasonably expects fewer than four Undergraduate and/or four Division II teams will play the tournament, then the host must inform ACF that it will opt out of Undergraduate and/or Division II trophies. The host may also opt out of Undergraduate and/or Division II trophies if they reasonably expect that the entire field will consist of Undergraduate and/or Division II teams. If the host opts out of Undergraduate and/or Division II trophies, but it turns out that the field merited awarding either or both of those titles, the host must make reasonable efforts to award prizes to the winners.

Failing to properly award titles and trophies according to ACF’s finals procedures, including Undergraduate and/or Division II, will incur a penalty (see Penalties).

Hosts of online tournaments are not required to award trophies due to the costly expenses of shipping.

Book prizes

At minimum, book prizes should be awarded to the members of the top two overall teams and the top four individual scorers. Inexpensive used books are perfectly acceptable. For tournaments with more than ten teams, it is preferred that at least the top eight individual scorers receive book prizes. If the field composition merits awarding Undergraduate and/or Division II trophies (see above), the top four Undergraduate and/or Division II scorers should also receive book prizes.

In addition to awarding individual book prizes as specified, hosts of tournaments using detailed statistics may optionally choose to recognize the top scorers in each category (e.g. literature, science, history, fine arts, etc.). Hosts may purchase extra books for this purpose, or may announce the top scorers in each category without awarding extra prizes.

Qualifying for ACF Nationals

ACF Regionals serves as a qualifying tournament for ACF Nationals (see ACF’s procedures for determining which teams qualify for ACF Nationals). As with any ACF tournament, failing to play off or award any applicable Undergraduate and Division II titles at Regionals will incur a penalty (see Penalties). In the event that a host’s failure to play off or award Undergraduate and Division II titles precludes awarding Nationals bids normally, ACF will handle bids on a case-by-case basis.



Teams registering for ACF tournaments will be asked to sign a media waiver. Hosts are welcome to record games at ACF tournaments, if that game’s players and staffers all consent before the game, and consent is not revoked during or after the game. ACF asks that hosts refrain from livestreaming games (including final games), or uploading recorded matches until 24 hours after the last mirror has concluded, to avoid question content being revealed to other sites.

Environmental impact

ACF encourages all hosts to run their tournaments digitally in order to be environmentally responsible and save on the time and cost of copying paper packets and scoresheets.

Details about finances

Financial breakdown between hosts and ACF

This section is subject to change. In-person mirrors of 2021 ACF Fall will use the Base fee, New to quizbowl discount, and Shorthanded discount listed for online tournaments instead.

For in-person tournaments

Fee type Team fee Host share ACF share
Base fee $150 $80 $70
New to quizbowl discount −$100 −$30 −$70
Shorthanded discount (1–2 players) −$75 −$45 −$30
Packet submission discounts/penalties ± amount as applicable n/a ± amount as applicable
Travel discount1 −$10 per 200 miles traveled one-way −$10 per 200 miles traveled one-way n/a
Buzzers2 −$10 per buzzer −$10 per buzzer n/a
Staffers3 −$15 per staffer −$15 per staffer n/a

For online tournaments

Fee type Team fee Host share ACF share
Base fee $120 $60 $60
New to quizbowl discount −$80 −$20 −$60
Shorthanded discount (1–2 players) −$60 −$40 −$20
Packet submission discounts/penalties ± amount as applicable n/a ± amount as applicable
Staffers3 −$25 per staffer −$25 per staffer n/a

1 Travel discount applies to at most one team per school. 2 Buzzers must be functional. 3 Staffers must have functional laptop and internet connection. All staffers, including moderators, must register with ACF in advance.

Hosts must pay a minimum of $25 to staffers (including logistics staffers) who staff all essential rounds (not counting finals or tiebreakers). This may either be paid directly to staffers, or may count for a competing team’s staffer discount (if the staffer is affiliated with that team). Hosts are not required to pay in-house staffers (i.e. staffers affiliated with the host), as it is generally expected of members of clubs to staff the tournaments they host in order to raise money to attend events.

The new to quizbowl discount is intended for schools that did not send a team to any mainstream collegiate academic tournament (not counting exclusively novice tournaments) before September of the competition year prior to the current one, and which have no players who competed in non-novice collegiate tournaments during that same period. Hosts do not owe ACF any money for teams receiving the new to quizbowl discount. Any money they do pay is the host’s. Normally, such teams will pay around $50. ACF asks for the cooperation of tournament directors in welcoming new teams into quizbowl by taking significantly less money from such teams.

Host teams (also called “house teams”) do not owe ACF anything and are not required to write packets. However, they have the option of writing a packet for the host team to save money. If the host team (or any combination of the host team and host-provided staff) writes an acceptable packet by the no-penalty deadline, then they will receive a $50 discount from the total amount that they owe to ACF.

ACF does not expect hosts to lose money by allowing a team into their tournament. In the unlikely event that a strict reading of these guidelines implies that the hosts owe ACF more money for a particular team than that team actually is supposed to pay the hosts, then the amount the hosts owe ACF will be adjusted downwards.

Financial viability

Based on past tournaments, hosts can expect the average ACF event to attract 8 to 12 teams and bring in a gross amount of $1500. Hosts should expect to spend about $200 on prizes and other logistical costs. Of the remaining $1300, hosts should expect to pay $650 to ACF, and keep about $650 in profit. Obviously, these numbers can vary significantly in any direction depending on the circumstances of the host’s particular tournament, but generally hosts have found hosting ACF events to be a positive contribution to quizbowl as well as a good way to raise money for their own tournament-attendance schedule.

Payment from Hosts to ACF

ACF uses a system in which hosts collect payment from teams, and then ACF collects payment from the hosts. After host sites are confirmed, the treasurer will contact each host to provide ACF’s payment information, and to identify any possible stumbling blocks in the payment process (such as vendor or other tax forms that must be filled out). Hosts are responsible for invoicing teams attending their site promptly after they register (see Fees). ACF will make every effort to bill hosts for the cost of their tournament within 1 week of the event. Hosts should remit payment to ACF within 8 weeks after the tournament. If payment is not remitted within 8 weeks, ACF may assess a $50 penalty fee (see Penalties).

Details about bidding for ACF Nationals

The bidding process for ACF Nationals occurs over the summer immediately following the previous ACF Nationals. ACF’s goal is to announce a site no later than September 15, so that teams may have the entire academic year to plan their trips before Nationals occurs in April. The primary factors in choosing a Nationals site include the need to rotate the tournament to different areas of the country over time, and the need to staff a tournament of 40 or more teams.

For ACF Nationals, the host school will receive $25 per team in attendance for use of the rooms, $15 per staffer provided, and the right to enter one host team for free. If the host team would normally be required to write a packet, then they must do so by the no-penalty deadline. Additional host teams will also be free, but will be allowed only if the tournament has adequate staff, and still must write packets by the no-penalty deadline if required to do so under the packet guidelines.

If ACF Nationals is officially designated as being “co-hosted” by multiple teams, then the other teams, besides the one at whose school the tournament is physically occurring, will also receive $15 per staffer provided.

The rest of the entry fees for ACF Nationals goes to ACF. ACF will provide staff meals, and cover other normal tournament expenses such as printing.

Penalties for egregious hosting violations

Violation Penalty
Fewer than 10 meaningful games offered1 to each team (or fewer than 9 for Fall, or fewer than 7 for online tournaments) $10 per team affected
Host has delay in paperwork causing egregious payment delay $50
Host fails to play off or award titles and trophies (including Undergraduate and Division II), despite having enough teams to award any of those titles $50 for each title not awarded
Host incorrectly plays off or awards titles and trophies (including Undergraduate and Division II) $50 for each title not awarded
Host fails to keep or post statistics $20
Ineligible team plays tournament without prior permission $100, or ineligible team’s entire registration fee, whichever is larger
Site is run in egregious violation of or ignoring the official ACF rules or hosting guidelines $50, and possible ban from hosting

1 No penalties will be levied if teams elect to leave early on their own volition, causing schedules to drop below the minimum number of games. Hosts may not, however, encourage teams to leave early.

At the treasurer or head editor’s discretion, first-time violations may result in a warning instead of a monetary penalty. Hosts should talk to the head editor of the tournament, or the ACF treasurer, to bring up any potential issues with the above penalties before they arise. The editor/treasurer may exempt hosts from requirements if it benefits the site.

Safety and misconduct

ACF’s mission is to provide the best possible experience for players, coaches, and staff. Therefore, issues of safety and misconduct must be dealt with fairly and promptly.

ACF strongly recommends that hosts explicitly designate one or more individuals to whom players, coaches, or staff can confidentially address any concerns about safety and misconduct during the tournament, and make the process for doing so clear at the opening meeting. (The designated person or people could simply be the tournament director(s), though ACF recommends having one male and one female person in the role.)

Hosts should, of course, be familiar with the official ACF rules, but they should pay particular attention to Section I, “Ethics and Conduct.” In particular, note that “the use of malicious or disrespectful language toward another participant in the match, or the use of epithets insulting a participant’s race, gender identity, sexual orientation, nationality, etc.” constitutes misconduct, for which you are empowered to eject players from a match. If you encounter a case of misconduct serious enough that ACF should be made aware of it (if, for example, there are indications of a pattern of behavior that might be repeated at other tournaments), you may wish to let the victim know they can fill out the Misconduct Reporting Form, and/or you can fill it out yourself. Questions or concerns about misconduct can also be sent to the emails of the ACF representatives listed on the form.