The world's geekiest tournaments

From magic cards to BattleBots, we race through the world's dorkiest contests

"Rock-Paper-Scissors World Champion" and other dubious honors…

We humans are competitive creatures. We compete over food, money, mates and social status. In fact, we're so competitive that when we run out of serious things to compete over, we start competing over trivial nonsense. Most often, such trivial nonsense tends to fall on the geekier side of the spectrum – in other words, anything involving elf mages, killer robots or alien warlords is likely to inspire a pointless competition somewhere at some point in time. In this slideshow, we'll examine the seven geekiest competitions out there today, from battling robots to competitive hand gesturing.

Magic Cards:

Magic Cards: The Gathering are basically akin to Dungeons & Dragons in card form. Playing different cards gives you different powers to damage your enemy in different ways – for instance, you can attack your opponent using dragon armies, fireball spells and so forth. The cards seem like an inexpensive recreational habit at first, until you realize that all of your opponents have shelled out $50 for a Special Deluxe Demon Lord Card and you'll have to pay $50 for such a card if you hope to remain competitive. At any rate, the Magic World Championship :_The_Gathering_World_Championship is held once a year in various cities around the world. It provides a nifty bonding experience for people who spend the majority of their disposable income on pieces of paper with pictures of dwarf princesses printed on them.

Segway racing:

Segway racing: Back in the 1950s, manly men proved their mettle during their teen years by engaging in dangerous drag races that frequently ended in horrific crashes – after all, nothing shows the ladies what a tough guy you are by having your face covered in third-degree burns!

The modern-day equivalent isn't quite so cool. In fact, it's about as lame as they come since there's really no way to look cool while speeding down a trail on a Segway. All the same, Segway races have become somewhat popular in Britain, no matter how silly they look. On the plus side: We aren't likely to hear many weepy rock ballads lamenting the pointless loss of young life due to deadly Segway crashes.


BattleBots was at its heyday in the early part of the last decade when Comedy Central aired five seasons' worth of homemade remote-controlled robots hacking, bashing and zapping one another into submission. But while BattleBots is no longer being broadcast, the tournament is still ongoing, with the next big event occurring in San Francisco this November. So if you're got a vacuum cleaner hanging around that you're just itching to duct-tape to a power saw, you know where to take it.

Rock-Paper-Scissors World Championship:

Rock-Paper-Scissors World Championship: Yes, there really is a world championship that rewards people for randomly throwing out different sets of fingers at one another. Amazingly, the person who wins the most matches of this timeless game gets $10,000 for being lucky enough to not go "scissors" when their opponent goes "rock." Of course, I could be wrong. There really could be a dedicated strategy to "Rock, Paper, Scissors" that I'm not aware of. I can say, however, that I am far too apathetic to do any actual research on it.

The Quidditch Tournaments

The Quidditch Tournaments organized by high schools and colleges are just like the ones you've read about in the Harry Potter books… except the brooms can't make you fly… and there isn't a teeny little ball with wings zipping around you and… OK, so it's basically basketball played by people carrying around brooms with them. But it does look like fun all the same!

The Madden Challenge:

The Madden Challenge: Give the people playing Quidditch credit – at least they're getting real exercise. The same can't be said of the geeks who enter the Madden Challenge every year and duke it out with one another on a virtual football field while playing the Madden NFL videogame. So even if you can't throw like Peyton Manning, run like Adrian Peterson or catch like Randy Moss, you sure can pretend you can by pressing some buttons on a keypad. And unlike real-life football, you can be successful while slugging down Mountain Dew and stuffing cheeseburgers in your mouth. What's not to love?

Star Wars costume contests:

Star Wars costume contests: What would a slideshow about geeky competitions be without the ultimate Nerd Pageant: a Star Wars costume contest? There are multiple such costume contests held every year, with one recent example hosted at MagicCon in Alabama this past May. As for the costumes … well, let's just say that most people don't look as cool wearing Jedi robes and carrying light sabers as Mark Hamill did.

We want to hear from YOU! Have you ever entered any geeky tournaments? Are there any we left out? Let us know in the comments!

Related stories: