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Tournament vs. Competition: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 7, 2023
A tournament is a series of contests within a sport or game, while a competition is a general contest or rivalry between parties.

Key Differences

A tournament is a structured series of competitive games that often involves multiple rounds, where participants or teams play against each other until a champion is determined. A competition, more broadly, refers to any event where individuals or groups vie to win or achieve a particular objective, not necessarily structured into rounds.
Tournaments are typically associated with a specific sport or game, such as a chess tournament or a tennis tournament, and follow a clear set of rules leading to a final match. Competitions can be less formal and include a wide range of activities, from academic contests to cooking competitions.
In a tournament, there is usually a progression from initial matches to quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals. In competition, the structure can vary widely, and there may not be successive rounds or a single culminating event.
Tournaments often award titles or trophies and have a ceremonial aspect, highlighting the prestige of winning. Competitions can be for the sake of participation and improvement, sometimes without material rewards.
The word tournament comes from the medieval practice of knights competing in a series of jousts, whereas competition comes from the Latin word for "striving together", indicating any situation where parties are trying to outdo each other.

Comparison Chart


Series of rounds to a final match
Can be a single event or series


Specific sport or game
Any contest or rivalry


Eliminations to a final winner
May not have eliminations


Often high with ceremonial aspects
Can be casual or for improvement


Medieval tournaments of knights
Latin "competere" for striving together

Tournament and Competition Definitions


An organized contest in which many participants compete.
The golf tournament was held at a prestigious club.


A test of skill or ability.
The math competition challenged students from all grades.


A competitive event with a clear bracket.
The chess tournament attracted international players.


An event in which participants try to win.
She entered the competition hoping for at least third place.


A series of matches determining a single winner.
The annual basketball tournament is the season highlight.


A contest for a prize or title.
The baking competition showcased amazing talent.


A knockout competition.
He advanced to the finals of the karate tournament.


The rivalry between parties.
The competition between the two tech companies was fierce.


A series of sports contests.
She won the tennis tournament.


The act of competing.
There is stiff competition for the scholarship.


A series of contests in which a number of contestants compete and the one that prevails through the final round or that finishes with the best record is declared the winner.


The act of competing, as for profit or a prize; rivalry.


A medieval martial sport in which two groups of mounted and armored combatants fought against each other with blunted lances or swords.


A test of skill or ability; a contest
A skating competition.


(historical) During the Middle Ages, a series of battles and other contests designed to prepare knights for war.


Rivalry between two or more businesses striving for the same customer or market.


A series of games; either the same game played many times, or a succession of games related by a single theme; played competitively to determine a single winning team or individual.


A competitor
The competition has cornered the market.


(graph theory) A digraph obtained by assigning a direction to each edge in an undirected complete graph.


(Ecology) The simultaneous demand by two or more organisms for a limited environmental resource, such as nutrients, living space, or light.


A mock fight, or warlike game, formerly in great favor, in which a number of combatants were engaged, as an exhibition of their address and bravery; hence, figuratively, a real battle.
With cruel tournament the squadrons join.


(uncountable) The action of competing.
The competition for this job is strong.


Any contest of skill in which there are many contestents for championship; as, a chess tournament.


(countable) A contest for a prize or award.
The newspaper is featuring a competition to win a car.


A sporting competition in which contestants play a series of games to decide the winner


The competitors in such a contest.
The new stain remover was ten times more effective than the competition.


A series of jousts between knights contesting for a prize


The act of seeking, or endeavoring to gain, what another is endeavoring to gain at the same time; common strife for the same objects; strife for superiority; emulous contest; rivalry, as for approbation, for a prize, or as where two or more persons are engaged in the same business and each seeking patronage; - followed by for before the object sought, and with before the person or thing competed with.
Competition to the crown there is none, nor can be.
A portrait, with which one of Titian's could not come in competition.
There is no competition but for the second place.
Where competition does not act at all there is complete monopoly.


A business relation in which two parties compete to gain customers;
Business competition can be fiendish at times


An occasion on which a winner is selected from among two or more contestants


The act of competing as for profit or a prize;
The teams were in fierce contention for first place


The contestant you hope to defeat;
He had respect for his rivals
He wanted to know what the competition was doing


Do all sports have tournaments?

Many do, but not all sports structure their contests as tournaments.

Is a marathon a tournament?

No, it is a competition, not structured as a tournament.

Can a single game be called a tournament?

No, a tournament involves multiple games or rounds.

Can competitions be friendly?

Yes, not all competitions are high-stakes.

Can anyone enter a tournament?

It depends on the tournament's rules and qualifications.

Are competitions always athletic?

No, they can be academic, artistic, etc.

Is a debate a tournament?

It can be structured as one if it involves successive rounds.

Do competitions require physical activity?

No, they can be intellectual, like a spelling bee.

Can a tournament be a competition?

Yes, a tournament is a specific type of competition.

Are tournaments always for individuals?

No, teams can also compete in tournaments.

Can a science fair be a competition?

Yes, it's a competition of scientific projects.

How do you win a competition?

By meeting or exceeding the set criteria for success.

Do tournaments have judges?

Yes, in many cases, especially in sports.

Is a music battle a competition?

Yes, it's a competition between musicians or bands.

Do tournaments award prizes?

Yes, they often award trophies, titles, or other prizes.

What is a round-robin tournament?

It's where each participant plays every other participant.

Can a tournament have multiple winners?

Typically, there's one overall winner, but there can be divisional winners.

Are competitions only for amateurs?

No, professionals and amateurs alike can compete.

Are all tournaments public events?

Most are, but some may be private or invitation-only.

What's required to host a competition?

Organizers, participants, and a set of rules or criteria.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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