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HSEL General Tournament Rules

Article author
GenE Cory
  • Updated

1. Definitions

1.1 Participants   

1.1.1 School Team Players

Students currently enrolled in their school's team and on the roster to participate in a current High School Esports League. Players can participate in both the Major and Open tournaments with their respective schools   

1.1.2 Free Agent Players

Students participating on a Free Agent Team during an High School Esports League Open Tournament. These students do not need to attend the same school or be enrolled in the same (or any) team in order to participate on a Free Agent Team’s Roster.  Free Agents may only participate in the Open tournaments.

1.2 Staff

1.2.1 Team Administrator

Team Administrators are teachers or other faculty members who oversee the operations of the school’s team and act as a point of contact between the school and HSEL Administrators. 

1.3 Teams and Rosters

1.3.1 Teams

Schools registered with HSEL must form an esports Team, which is composed of students from the same high school. In order for team members to participate in HSEL events, the Team Administrator will create rosters from team members for the respective games and enter them into tournaments.

1.3.2 Rosters

A group of students from the same high school team, participating in specific game during an HSEL tournament. The size of a roster will vary depending on the tournament entered.

1.3.3 Free Agent Teams

Teams formed of students from different high schools competing in an HSEL Open (Winter and Summer) Tournament. Unlike School Teams, free agent teams do not have a Team Administrator, invitations, roster creation and registration are handled by the team’s creator and captain. Rosters created within a free agent team compete in the same divisions as school team during open tournaments. Free Agent Teams are not permitted to participate in HSEL Major (Fall and Spring) tournaments.

1.4 Matches

1.4.1 Official Match

An official match is any match taking place during any HSEL Major or Open tournament. Regular Season, Playoff, and Final matches qualify as official matches.    

1.4.2 Unofficial Matches

Any match that takes place outside of any HSEL Major or Open tournament. These matches include, but are not limited to, Scrimmage (Scrim) matches and HSEL Community Events. 

1.5 Tournaments

1.5.1 Major Tournaments

A Major tournament (Fall/Spring) is an HSEL tournament in which the players must form a roster with other players enrolled in their school team.

1.5.2 Open Tournament

An Open tournament (Winter/Summer) is a tournament run by the High School Esports League, the participants of which may be players that satisfy eligibility requirements. Teams for an Open tournament may contain players that do not currently belong to a team or belong to the same school.

1.6 Tournament Stages

Tournament stages are the designated rounds in which differing rules such as match length, new player/team registration, and match scheduling take place.

1.6.1 Regular Season

The regular season stage of a tournament, which may also be referred to as the “Group" stage, is the main stage of a tournament. New players/teams will not be permitted to enter during this stage (teams may still be changed to add new players during this stage). During this stage, players/teams compete for the highest placements to move on to the postseason.

1.6.2 Playoffs

The playoff stage of the tournament is a single elimination tournament among the highest placed teams/players from the regular season. The size of the playoff pool varies depending on the game being played. Playoff tiers include the per-quarterfinals, quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals/3rd place match. 

1.6.3 Finals

The Finals stage of a tournament is the final match in the previous single-elimination bracket that consists of two teams. Open tournament finals should follow standard playoff match length and rules unless otherwise specified.

1.7 Match Format

1.7.1 Best of X

In a “Best of” match, teams/players play a series of games until a winner is decided. The match winner will be the first team/player to reach the required amount of game wins. HSEL “Best of” Matches may be comprised of the following settings.

  • Best of 1
  • Best of 3
  • Best of 5
  • Best of 7
  • Best of 9
  • Best of 11
  • Best of 13

For the specific match format for your game, please consult the specific HSEL rules page for your game. 

1.7.2 Home/Away

A home/away series will always consist of two games, in which there is a possibility for players/teams to tie the series with no winner.  

1.8 Time Zone

The official time zone of the High School Esports League is the Central Time Zone, designated (UTC -6), or 6 hours behind Coordinated Universal Time. All High School Esports League broadcasts, announcements, and web pages regarding High School Esports League competitions and scheduling will always display time in the Central Time Zone unless otherwise stated.

1.9 Disciplines

The games that are currently offered by the High School Esports League are:

  • Counter-Strike:Global Offensive by Valve Corporation for PC
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops - Cold War for PC, Playstation 4, and Xbox One
  • Overwatch by Blizzard Entertainment for PC, PS4, and Xbox One
  • Hearthstone by Blizzard Entertainment for PC and Mobile
  • Rocket League by Psyonix for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch
  • Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege by Ubisoft Entertainment SA for PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Playstation 4, and Playstation 5
  • NBA 2K21 by 2K Sports for Xbox One and Playstation 4
  • Chess by for PC
  • Valorant by Riot Games for PC

Please note that all titles and platforms on this list may not be available as competitions at all times at the discretion of High School Esports League administration.


2. General Tournament Rules

2.1. Liability

All participants are expected to know and uphold the rules while associated with the High School Esports League. Participants will not receive  refunds or compensation for inability to play as a result of incurring a penalty due to violation of High School Esports League rules and regulations. Participation in official tournaments constitutes acceptance of these rules. 

2.2 Administration List

  • Connor Alne - League Commissioner
  • Beau Hughes - Community Leader
  • Cory Heysham - Tournament Expert
  • Mariusz Lis - Head of Customer Support
  • Jacob Taylor - Customer Support Agent
  • Jeremy Broomhall - Customer Support Agent

2.3 Rule Changes

The High School Esports League reserves the right to add, remove, or otherwise amend all rule sets without prior notice. However, High School Esports League will use its best efforts to provide reasonable notice prior to any significant rule changes.

2.4. Confidentiality

The content of emails, support tickets, or any other correspondence with High School Esports League administration is deemed strictly confidential information. The publication of such material is prohibited without express written consent from the High School Esports League.

2.5 Match Broadcasting

All broadcasting rights of the High School Esports League are owned by High School Esports League, LLC. This includes, but is not limited to: IRC Bots, audio streams, video streams, match recordings, or television broadcasts.

2.5.1. Award of Broadcast Rights

The High School Esports League has the right to award broadcasting rights to one or multiple matches to a third party or participants themselves. In these cases, broadcasts must be arranged with High School Esports League administration or broadcasters prior to the start of the match. The High School Esports League reserves the right to play, broadcast, and distribute all match recordings during a High School Esports League tournament.

2.5.2. No Right of Refusal

Players and participants cannot refuse to have their matches broadcasted by a High School Esports League authorized broadcast, nor can they choose what manner in which the match will be broadcasted.

2.6 Player Details and Eligibility

2.6.1 Enrollment

All students participating in a High School Esports League Tournament must be currently enrolled in high school (grades 9-12) and at least 13 years of age. Homeschooled students are welcome to participate with a local school team in their district, as long as they meet the grade and age requirements. 

2.6.2. Grade Point Average

All participating players in High School Esports League tournaments must maintain a minimum of a 2.5 GPA on a 4.0 scale, which is approximately equivalent to an 80/100 or a C+ GPA. Participating teams may enforce their own higher GPA standards.

2.6.3. Home Country

All players must reside in the United States of America or Canada.

2.6.4. Proof of Enrollment

When requested by High School Esports League administration, players are required to submit all or requested information for verification, including, but not limited to: full name, contact details, date of birth, school address, proof of enrollment, and grade point average. Legal documentation of this information may be requested. When requested, players must provide proof of enrollment in the form of any of the following:

  • A dated school report card
  • A school ID from the current year that includes the player’s name
  • An email from a teacher or school administrator using their school email

Players may be suspended from play and prizing may be withheld from the team until proof of enrollment is provided.

2.7. Participant Accounts

2.7.1. Clean Accounts

The High School Esports League defines a clean account as an account that has not received any form of game ban in the past 365 days (not including competitive mode cooldown penalties), is clear of vulgar or inappropriate content, is at least 15 days old (exempt for the first 2 weeks of each event), and owns a valid account for a High School Esports League discipline that will be used for tournament participation. Players who have unclean accounts are prohibited from participating in all High School Esports League events, even on alternate accounts.

2.7.2. Game Connections

All players taking part in High School Esports League tournaments are required to have an active game account for the tournament they’re participating in, connected to their varsity esports account. All game connection information shown on a team’s roster must match with the accounts in game, players using different accounts or those not officially on the roster are prohibited from playing in matches. Only one account connection is allowed per game, if a player needs to add a different account or update their current game connection they will need to do so at least 24 hours before their next match. Game connections may not be changed during the Playoffs portion of any event.

2.7.3. Participant Profiles

All player names or profiles are prohibited from including:

  • Gang Affiliation
  • Drugs (including alcohol and tobacco)
  • Sexual Material
  • Offensive Material
  • Politically Charged Symbols/Images
  • Slander of The High School Esports League, Generation Esports, Varsity Esports, students, or its Staff

2.8. Teams

2.8.1. Team Names

No two teams participating in the same tournament may use the same team name. Team names cannot be changed after the season officially begins.

2.8.2. Player Counts

Teams are required to have the minimum player count (as stated in each game’s rule set) present on the team at all times once a season begins, or they may face automatic match forfeitures. This does not include players that are pending to be placed on the team. Teams may not have more than the maximum of double the minimum player count minus one on the roster at any time, for example Overwatch rosters many include up to 11 players (6 starters and 5 substitutes). Single player rosters may not have more than the minimum required players on their roster.

2.8.3. Multi-Teaming

Players are prohibited from participating on more than one roster for the same game in a specific tournament, regardless if the game is offered on multiple crossplay consoles. 

2.8.4 Roster Changes

Roster changes may be made at any point during or in-between seasons except once a match has been made, during live matches and after the end of the regular season. No roster changes will be permitted during the playoffs.  Roster changes are prohibited for single player and partnered (duo) game tournaments.

2.9. Prizing

If the minimum of 32 tournament registrants is not reached, prizing for that tournament may be revoked.
All prizing will be distributed once all teams that have earned prizing submit the necessary information needed to verify the eligibility of the players on the team and all pending payments are completed. If a team or player is missing any required criteria for verification or payment, the prizing will be held for 30 days after the conclusion of the applicable High School Esports League tournament. If a team or player fails to provide the required information or payments within those 30 days, they may forfeit all prizes from the tournament. Prizing will take between 3-6 weeks from completion of the tournament to be fulfilled. 

2.10. Withdrawal

Teams may choose to withdraw from a tournament during the season and may rejoin at a later date if they choose to. Players or teams that choose to withdraw from a tournament will not qualify for refunds or receive compensation for their withdrawal. Only a Team Administrator may submit a request to withdraw a player or team from a tournament. 

2.11. Matches

2.11.1. Match Times

Each week, teams will choose one day and time from the available schedule to participate in their match. Team members will join a team lobby on Generation Esports and queue for the match once all participating members are present. The system will match their team against another team of an equal skill level, and both teams will play their game immediately and in accordance with the game’s rules. The winning team must report the outcome of the match. 

The queue lobby will open at the designated time, and close Five minutes after the scheduled time. In the instance of a match not being found, teams will be awarded a bye win and will be moved into a priority queue for the remainder of the tournament. Only a single game per week may be played; once a team plays their match, the other days and times will become unavailable. Playoffs and Grand Final Matches

During the playoffs (including grand finals), special rescheduling rules are in place. Without prior approval of High School Esports League administration:

  • Playoff dates may not be rescheduled
  • Pre-quarterfinal and quarterfinal matches may have their times rescheduled, but not their dates
  • Semifinal and Grand Final matches may not be rescheduled

2.11.2. Contacting Opponents

Communication will begin once teams have been matched together through the queue. Teams must use Match Chat to communicate and share information regarding the setup of their match. 

2.11.3. Match Results

Matches must be reported by the winning team immediately following the completion of their game. Players/teams are encouraged to document proof of match results in the event that they are needed to verify the legitimacy of a match score report. Match reports must include the round score(s), and all results must be reported by 11:59 PM of the match day. After this, matches will be locked, and their scores will be uneditable. Points will not be awarded for matches whose scores were not submitted before 11:59 PM on the match day.

2.11.4. Match Disputes

Match disputes must be submitted no later than the end of the match week (Saturday 11:59pm CDT) during the Regular Season. During the Season Playoffs and Finals, disputes must be submitted on the day of the match. Sufficient and undoctored evidence, including, but not limited to, screenshots, match recordings, match replays/demos, or stream VODs must be submitted per the request of the High School Esports League official handling the match dispute before any decision regarding the dispute will be made. All match disputes should be submitted at the following link:

2.11.5. Unplayed Matches

Any unplayed Regular Season match will be treated as a loss against the team’s overall match record at the end of the Regular Season. 

2.11.6. Playoff Qualification

Teams must compete in and complete 75% of their Regular Season matches in order to be considered for playoff qualification. Teams who do not meet this requirement will be removed from qualification consideration regardless of their final record. 

2.11.7. Playoff Seeding

For all tournaments, postseason matches will be seeded depending on the tournament size and number of players/teams actively participating in the regular stage, at the discretion of High School Esports League administration. Teams will be seeded into the playoffs based off their overall match record during the regular season. If a tie occurs between multiple teams, a tie breaker system will be run in order to determine the placement of the tied teams. Tie Breakers

The tie breaker system will be run as a tiered protocol that will be used if multiple teams finish the regular season with the same overall record. 

  1. If the overall match record is the same, then Head to Head records will be compared
  2. If the head to head record is the same, then overall game win % will be compared
  3. If the overall game win % is the same, then opponent match game win % will be compared
  4. If the opponent game win % is the same, then Number of FF losses will be compared
  5. If the number of FF losses is the same, then number of byes will be compared
  6. If the number of byes is the same, then who received their first loss later in the tournament will be compared
  7. If the first loss received in the same round, then who lost to stronger opponent will be compared
  8. Opponent strength based on game win % will be compared

2.11.8. Multiple Game Series Grace Period

Teams may have up to a 10 minute break between each game in a multiple game series if they wish to do so. Substitutions

In between matches in a multiple game series, teams may substitute a player on their roster for a player currently in the match. Substitutions may only be made in team games; they are prohibited in solo and duo(partner) games. In games with a drafting period before a game, substitutions can not be made after the draft has begun.

2.12. Communication

2.12.1. Team Communication

Players/teams must communicate with their opponents through the match chat on Generation Esports. Third party tools such as Discord and social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, etc) are prohibited from being used when attempting to communicate with opponents. 

2.12.2. Outside Communication

Players/teams may not have any communication with any outside sources, with exception of HSEL Administration while their match is in progress, including, but not limited to: coaches, teachers, and substitutes. Players/teams may only have communication with outside sources during the grace period between games in a series or unless otherwise outlined in game-specific rules.

2.13 Spectators

Spectators are permitted in game lobbies for the sole purpose of streaming their school team’s match to the School’s Twitch or Youtube channel. Spectators streaming the match cannot be another player on the same roster competing in the match. For the specific Spectator rules per game, please review Section 3 on your game’s rule page. At the end of the match, the stream vod must be shared with the other team.

In the incident of a game having a solo spectator position, streaming rights will be given to the home team. For specific spectating 

2.13.1 Student Streaming

Students may stream to their personal twitch or youtube channel if they’re participating in the match. The match may only be streamed from the student’s in game point of view and should have at least a 3 minute delay set to prevent possible incidents of stream sniping.

Students may not at any time stream another player or team’s match on their personal channels.

2.14. Peripherals

Any controllers used in official matches must be the proprietary manufactured controllers for the console in question (including accessibility controllers) and cannot be modified in any way, including, but not limited to: trigger mods, sensitive buttons, custom thumbsticks, and thumbstick tension mods. For fighting games, all standard fight sticks and controllers are permitted. Any hardware with macro functions or on-the-fly profile switching are strictly prohibited.

Controllers may be used for PC games provided that  they meet the requirements above, are an officially supported controller, and the game has native support for the controller in question, i.e. the player should not need to install additional software/drivers for the controller other than those from the manufacturer or included with the game.

The use of a Keyboard and Mouse on a console is strictly prohibited in official matches, regardless of whether or not the game has native support for it.

2.15. Cross-Platform Play

Players may only play on the platform(s) specified for a specific tournament. Doing otherwise may result in disqualification from that tournament.


3. Online Tournament Additional Rules

3.1. Equipment

The High School Esports League will not provide any equipment during an online tournament. The High School Esports League is not responsible for any internet or power issues affecting players/teams.

3.2 Online Connection

The High School Esports League recommends all participants play over an Ethernet connection to reduce the amount of lag they may experience in online matches. 


4. Rule Violations

4.1. Cheating

4.1.1. Programs

The use of the following programs is considered cheating:

  • Multihacks
  • Wallhack
  • Aimbot
  • Triggerbot
  • Colored Models
  • No-Recoil
  • No-Flash
  • Sound changes
  • Macros

The above are just a few examples; other programs may be deemed cheating if they are found to be giving a player or team an unfair advantage. Players who are found to be cheating will be immediately disqualified from all tournaments they currently compete in until their conclusion and beyond at the discretion of High School Esports League administration.

4.1.2. Bugs/Glitches/Exploits

The exploitation of any bugs/glitches that give a player or team an unfair advantage and are unallowed by the game’s developer are prohibited from use in official matches. The following are some examples of prohibited exploits:

  • Pixel Walking in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
  • See Through Smokes in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
  • Coastline Roof Vault Glitch in Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege
  • Outback Top of Red Tent Plant in Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege
  • Champion/Hero Swap Glitches
  • Ability Timer Glitches
  • Illegal/Out-Of-Bounds Spots

The above list of bugs/glitches/exploits is not comprehensive. The use of any bug/glitch/exploit that is deemed illegal by High School Esports League administration will result in punishment for the player/team that used the exploit.

4.1.3. Acts of Disruption

Players acting on and/or conspiring to cause any disruption to the match will also be treated as cheating. Acts of disruption include, but are not limited to:

  • DDoS Attacks
  • Disconnecting with the Intent of Reseting a Game
  • Mic Spam
  • Sabotaging Equipment
  • Intentionally Delaying the Start of a Game

4.1.4. Third Party Tools 

The use of any third party tools is prohibited in official tournaments. The list of third party tools includes, but is not limited to: 

  • VR Audio Programs
  • Graphic Drivers
  • Overlays 
  • Custom Skins
  • Custom Overlays
  • UI Modifications  

4.2. Doping

The use of performance enhancing drugs is prohibited.

4.2.1. Prohibited Substances

The List of Prohibited Substances and Methods created by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) applies to all High School Esports League events. The full list can be found at Any unprescribed use of these substances is considered doping.

4.2.2. Prescribed Medication

If a player has an active prescription for a substance included in the WADA list, they must notify and provide proof to the tournament administration prior to the start of the tournament.

4.3. Using Alcohol or Drugs

The use of alcohol or illegal drugs, including tobacco and cannabis, during an official match is prohibited and will be punished.

4.4. Betting

No participants may be involved in any form of betting or gambling, associate with betters or gamblers, or provide anyone information that may assist betting or gambling, either directly or indirectly, for any High School Esports League matches or tournaments in general.

4.5. Match Fixing

Match fixing is defined as the act of arranging the outcome of a match prior to it being played or during its play. Examples of match fixing include, but are not limited to:

  • Intentionally Losing Matches
  • Offering/Accepting Any Form of Payment to Influence the Outcome of a Match
  • Negotiating or Deciding the Results of a Match Before, During, or After Completion

4.6. Unsportsmanlike Conduct

4.6.1. Insults

All insults occurring in connection with the High School Esports League will not be tolerated. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Profane Insults
  • Slurs relating to Race, Ethnicity, Culture, Gender Identification, Game Presence, Religion, Political Affiliation, Military Service, Age, or Any Other Protected Category 
  • Behavioral Toxicity
  • Targeted Attacks
    • Sharing/Revealing Personal Information
    • Directed Abuse/Harassment Against a Specific Person
    • Doxxing

The High School Esports League aims to provide a respectable environment for Esports while facilitating competition. Therefore, friendly trash talk and banter is allowed.

4.6.2. Inappropriate Language

All participants in High School Esports League or Varsity Esports sanctioned events are prohibited from using inappropriate language in all text and voice channels, regardless of context. Inappropriate language includes, but is not limited to:

  • Excessive Profanity
  • Pseudo-Profanity (i.e. replacing letters in profane words or phrases)
  • Racial/Ethnic/Cultural Slurs
  • Sexual Innuendos
  • Drug/Alcohol References

4.6.3 Harassment

Harassment of players, teams, team administrators, and HSEL staff is prohibited, both in game and on official and unofficial channels/social media sites.

4.6.4 Public Accusations

Publicly accusing a player or team of violating the rules will not be tolerated. If you suspect another player, or team has committed a rule violation, please file a match dispute as soon as possible so HSEL staff can open an investigation.

4.6.5 Incorrect Match Results

Intentionally reporting incorrect match results will result in removal from HSEL Tournaments. 

4.6.6. Deception

Any attempt to mislead or deceive other participants or members of High School Esports League administration will be penalized.

4.6.7 Coercion

Any attempt to manipulate a match or outcome through threats or intimidation of other participants or members of High School Esports League administration will result in removal from HSEL Tournaments.

4.7. Knowledge of Rule Breaking

Disciplinary action will be taken against players who have knowledge of teammates or other participants violating the official tournament rules and do not report the violations to High School Esports League Administrators.

This includes but is not limited to having knowledge of:

  • Hacking
  • Abusing Exploits
  • Using Prohibited Peripherals
  • Using Prohibited Scripts/Binds
  • Depiction/Coercion of another team or player
  • Match Fixing

If you have knowledge of a teammate or other player violating the rules please submit a report here. 

4.8. Tainted Accounts

During an official match, if a player’s account receives any form of game ban, the match will immediately conclude, and the player’s opponent will be awarded the win.


5. Participating Regions

The following regions are permitted to participate in all High School Esports League online events.

5.1. United States of America

All states and provinces of the United States of America are permitted to participate in High School Esports League online events.

5.2. Canada

All provinces of Canada are permitted to participate in High School Esports League online events.







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