I started off by showing the game on-stage on Thursday with a Q&A session and a hands-on part where I taught my co-presenters the depths of aerial combat tactics.
The tournament was on Saturday and Sunday, though we spent a large chunk of Saturday gathering players. The idea was that as the first set of tournaments finished, people could switch over to Airships. But the first tournaments overran heavily, so we ended up waiting until 5 PM to kick off.
We used a double elimination tournament system to make sure everyone got to play at least a few games. On advice from other more veteran organisers, I used Challonge.com to set up the brackets, which was very useful, as double elimination is kind of complicated. Especially to a complete sports ignoramus like me.
Only 13 people participated in the tournament, which was fewer than I had hoped, but then we did ask people to pick up and compete in a game most of them had only just heard about. The ones who participated did so enthusiastically. Strategies developed, and the final outcome was by no means clear. We had a good final battle with players sitting around the screen, discussing ship design and tactics, deeply involved in a game they had only just learned to play.
The tournament winner was awarded a ticket to next year's LAN party, and I also made custom heraldic charges for the top three players:
(Yes, that is a Doge. It's a noble heraldic animal of ancient tradition.)
In conclusion, the players had a lot of fun, and Airships is definitely suitable as a tournament game. Especially because players can work on their ship designs in the dead time between matches.
So I might do an online tournament soon. I'd run the tournament via Challonge, and the prizes would be custom heraldic charges, or perhaps a T-shirt for the winner? Let me know if that rouses your interest.
Meanwhile, I'll be back soon with another Airships beta as we head towards the completion of dev 9...