History of the Tournament

The Tournament of Champions is a high school speech and debate championship tournament held annually at the University of Kentucky at the end of April. It is the most prestigious tournament on the "national circuit," representing some of the most competitively successful debaters from the nation's most prestigious individual debate tournaments. Founded in 1972 by Dr. JW Patterson, the Tournament of Champions has emerged as the premier championship for high school speech and debate competitors who frequently compete nationally in Policy, Lincoln–Douglas, Public Forum, Congressional debate and Individual Events.  The Tournament of Champions represents a wide swath of the high school academic community, from public schools to private schools, including students from across the country, from Anchorage, Alaska to Miami, Florida. 
 
Students qualify to compete at the TOC by earning “bid” legs based on their performance during the regular competitive season at national and regional tournaments.  The TOC’s Advisory Committees decide which of the nation’s debate tournaments will serve as qualifying tournaments, seeking to strike a balance between the geographic diversity provided by regional tournaments and large tournaments that host a truly national draw.