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  • Louiza Easley

Competing at World University Debating Championships

The aspiration for any debater is to break on to the world stage.

Steps In Making Your Major Tournament Worth It

Step 1: Preparation for World Championships

Six months before the actual tournament, the fight begins. After my partner and I registered for the Vietnam Worlds University Debating Championships (WUDC 2024), we knew that each day leading up to the competition was important. 

For the first two months, we spent our time re-mastering the fundamentals of debating and learning about advanced strategies. We did this repeatedly. Taking comments and criticism from each debater we came up against and the judge adjudicating our training.

The next four months were spent going to multiple tournaments in different regions like Zagreb Pre-WUDC and India Pre-WUDC for us to train our minds to think and analyze on high-level debating platforms. This training also served to train our body; debate is exhausting, and making sure that your body is trained to compete lessens the exhaustion you feel.

Preparation is the hardest part of going to WUDC. It requires intense effort and discipline to train until you improve your debating quality on the world stage.  

Adding to competing in multiple tournaments before majors, you also have to put additional effort into reading and watching important current events throughout the world to familiarize yourself with different contexts that may appear in the tournament.

Step 2: Debating at WUDC

Even after rigorous preparation, the nervousness you feel an hour before round 1 of the tournament gets the better of you.  The anxiety that you will deliver a bad speech in the first round is distressing. This is especially true when you see your team name in the draws for the tournament. You often cannot help but imagine your opponents are giving stellar speeches and outranking your team.

WUDC had nine grueling preliminary rounds. These preliminary rounds are a set of intense matches where teams rack up points to qualify for out rounds, which are the octofinals, quarterfinals, semifinals, and grand finals rounds. 

During these preliminary rounds, where you battle against different teams from prestigious universities, your mindset is the most important thing that defines success. While there may be debaters in your room whom you believe are better than you, the mindset that you have to carry is that you will win. 

While keeping this mindset is easy to say, it is incredibly hard to do. During these preliminary rounds, I also had a moment where I felt that I would lose before the round even started. However, this is not the mindset that a world competitor should carry. In times of hopelessness, I recall the effort and time that my partner and I sacrificed to prepare for this tournament, I recall the help that my friends extended to pursue my goal of winning. This recollection was the only line of hope that I held firm as I stood above my anxiety and fear. 

It may be seen as unrealistic, but it works. Convincing yourself that you can win means that you become more punitive of their arguments, create better arguments and strategies for your team, and improve your overall debating sense.

This is what we did for all nine preliminary rounds of WUDC. We went against various debaters, from the University of Sydney, Monash University, Belgrade, Tokyo University, and even from our very own country. It's this mindset and thirst to be victorious that allowed us to secure enough points to break. 

Step 3: What to do After a Major Competition? 

WUDC may be difficult, but it is also one of my most enjoyable experiences. The comments we received from internationally renowned adjudicators and the speeches we heard from our great opponents aided my growth. To which I am incredibly grateful. 

Apart from debating, meeting debaters you have faced in multiple tournaments is incredibly fun. 

Experiencing their culture and language while building friendships and connections is a gift I will cherish forever. 

My Takeaways

WUDC ended on January 7, 2024. It was one of the most competitive tournaments that I experienced throughout my 3 years of collegiate debating. My team ended our run at the ESL Semifinals. We did not meet our goal of ending with a championship. This outcome has fueled my motivation to improve my skills in debating. I am preparing to perform well and hopefully attain the championship for Asia's British Parliamentary and United Asian Debating Championship in 2024. I know that my performance will be a lot better this time around because WUDC opened my eyes to the fact that I am capable of standing on the world stage.

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