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Splatoon™ 3 Rulebook

The 2023 - 2024 Splatoon 3 Rulebook for High School leagues

Updated this week

Important: The 2024-2025 Rulebook and Match Instructions updates are underway. Check back here in the future for more information! Once finalized, all changes will be communicated to our community through a separate Summary of Changes article. Thanks for your patience!

The Overall High School Competition Rulebook can be viewed here.

Introduction and Purpose

These Official Rules (“Rules”) of the PlayVS High School Esports League apply to each of the teams who have registered and met the requirements for the 2023-2024 school year, as well as their head coach, assistant coaches, vice principals, athletic directors, Starters, Substitutes (collectively “Team Members”), and other members.

1. Game Rules

1.1 Definition of Terms

1.1.1 Game. An instance of competition that is played until a winner is determined by one of the following methods, whichever occurs first: (a) completion of the countdown timer or objective achieved, (b) Team Surrender, or (c) Team Forfeit.

1.1.2 Match. A group of series (or "sets"). The winning team will either receive a win tally in a league format or advance to the next round in a tournament format.

1.1.3 Phase. A section of scheduled league play that comprises a season. There are three distinct phases: preseason, regular season, and playoffs. Each phase has its own league format.

1.1.4 Season. Scheduled league play that will occur over an approximately three-month period of time.

1.2 Roster Requirements

1.2.1 Roster Submission

Team members must be eligible to compete on behalf of their school as listed in Section 2 of the High School Competition Rulebook.

In Splatoon 3, each team may have a maximum of eight (8) players, broken down into four (4) starting players on the Roster, and four (4) substitutes on the Bench. No individual may simultaneously hold two or more roles as listed above. All players and coaches are expected to be present physically or virtually for all official PlayVS matches. Both the Roster and Bench must be finalized before the Roster Lock Date, as listed in Section 3.3 Roster Submission.

1.2.2 Substitutions

Players on the bench may be used for any match their team is competing in within their assigned league. Only the players shown on a team’s Bench before the start of the match can be used as substitutes in an official PlayVS Match.

Once a Game of Record is established, substitutions are not allowed. Once the game is complete with results recorded, player substitutions may be made before the start of the following game.

If a player on the starting roster cannot compete in the match and there are no available Substitutes, competition may continue without that player as long as it does not put the opposing team at a disadvantage.

1.3 Game of Record

A game of record (“GOR”) in Splatoon 3 is established under the following conditions:

1.3.1 When players are launched onto the stage

Once GOR is established, game restarts are only allowed under limited conditions, as listed in Section 7.4 of the High School Competition Rulebook.

1.4 Stoppage of Play

1.4.1 Directed Pause

At any time, League Officials may order the pause of a match at the sole discretion of League Officials. Teams may complete the current game and finalize the results.

1.4.2 Game Disconnection

If a player disconnects from the online match during a game, the player should attempt to reconnect to the match as soon as possible. In the event of a disconnect, the game will continue with the current players found in the lobby. Please provide a screenshot for all disconnects as proof of when the disconnection happens.

You may NOT fill the spot of a disconnected player with a different player in the middle of a game. You must wait until after the game to substitute the disconnected player for another player. Rosters are locked for each game once the game begins and a “Game of Record” has been established according to section 1.3.

If an entire team disconnects from the online match during a game, the disconnected team must share a message in the match lobby chat to notify the opposing team. If the team cannot reconnect in a timely manner, notify PlayVS Support immediately for further assistance.

Rosters are locked for each set once the game begins and a “Game of Record” has been established according to section 1.3. If the disconnected player, or their coach for the team, has not shared any updates in match lobby chat within the 5-minute window, please pause the match and submit a ticket to the Customer Experience team immediately for further assistance.

1.5 Match Format

Format: Best-of-Five (“Bo5”) Games

Mode: Alternating

  • Game 1 - Turf War

  • Game 2 - Rainmaker

  • Game 3 - Splat Zones

  • Game 4 - Tower Control

  • Game 5 - Clam Blitz

Team Size: 4 Players

Settings: Recon: OFF (Default), Primary Gear Abilities Only: OFF (Default)

Each team will compete in a match consisting of Bo5, with the winner of each game determined by one of the following methods, whichever occurs first: (a) completion of the countdown timer or objective achieved, (b) Team Surrender, or (c) Team Forfeit and the winner of the match determined by the team to win three games first. If a single team reaches three game wins before the start of the fourth game, then the fourth game will not be played.

In the event one of the below game modes is deactivated by the publisher, play should continue in the intended game order above.

For weapons and gear, anything a player has unlocked may be used, except that Splatfest Tees. Any player wearing a Splatfest Tee may result in an automatic loss for their Team at PlayVS’ discretion.

This format applies to all four phases within a PlayVS season: Preseason, Regular Season, Playoffs, and Finals.

1.5.1 Preseason

This phase consists of each team enrolled in the league competing in the official preseason weeks. Results of this match will not be recorded however this match is strongly recommended in order to properly test equipment and player game connections.

1.5.2 Regular Season

This phase consists of each team within a state or region competing in a season format against opponents within their league. Ranking in the league will be determined by each team's win-loss ratio.

1.5.3 Playoffs

This phase consists of eligible teams competing in a single-elimination tournament until only two teams remain. Winning teams will advance to the next round of the Bracket while losing teams will be removed from the competition.This phase is limited to two Splatoon 3 teams per qualifying school. Each match will be a Best-of-Five (BO5).

Playoff Eligibility, Bracket, and Tiebreaker information can be found in section 5.2.3 Playoffs of the High School Competition Rulebook. More information about Tiebreakers can also be found here.

1.5.4 Finals

This phase consists of a final match between the top two teams from the league as decided by the Playoffs. The Finals will be a single Bo5 match. The first team to achieve three game wins will be awarded the match win and will be declared the League Winner. If a single team reaches three wins before the start of a fourth game, then the fourth game will not be played.

The team to achieve three game wins will be awarded the match win and will be declared the League Champion.

1.6 Special Rules

1.6.1 Stage Selection & Pick Order

Teams may choose any stage during stage selection, as long as they fall within the appropriate game mode for the current game round. If the incorrect game mode is selected for a round, players should send the game back to the lobby before play begins and choose the correct game mode.

Lobby leader is in charge of ensuring that the correct Game Mode + Stage is selected for each Game Round before starting the game.

Game Mode

Stage Selection

Turf War

Stage 1 Pick ➤ Home Team


Stage 2 Pick ➤ Loser of Stage 1

Splat Zones

Stage 3 Pick ➤ Loser of Stage 2

Tower Control

Stage 4 Pick ➤ Loser of Stage 3

Clam Blitz

Stage 5 Pick ➤ Loser of Stage 4

2. Player Equipment

2.1 Equipment

Each player on the Starting Roster must have access to school-provided equipment or must be permitted by the school to provide their own equipment in the following categories:

2.1.1 Nintendo Switch System

2.1.2 Monitor/Television

2.1.3 Headsets and/or Earbuds

2.1.4 Table and Chair

2.1.5 USB to Ethernet Adapter

2.1.6 One Pair of Nintendo Switch Joy-Con controllers, Nintendo Switch Pro Controller, or any Nintendo Switch compatible controller with no turbo mode availability.

2.1.7 Active Nintendo Switch Online membership

2.1.8 Splatoon 3 game

For the avoidance of doubt, each team is required to acquire four (4) Nintendo Switch systems, four (4) controllers, four (4) Splatoon 3 games, and four (4) Nintendo Switch Online memberships. Equipment may be acquired through the school or, if permitted by the school, by players supplying their own.

2.2 Supported Equipment

Players must compete using an official Nintendo Switch system in all PlayVS games. PC or laptop and tablet use are not permitted. Any team found in violation of this rule will receive a forfeit for all matches in which PCs, laptops, or tablets were used.

2.3 Internet Connection & Latency

Teams are expected to be connected to an internet connection using a wired connection method with their Nintendo USB to Ethernet Adapter. Using a wireless connection method or internet hotspot can lead to latency issues while competing in an online arena environment.

If latency issues exist during a match and a team is found to be using a wireless connection method, League Officials may require a restart, reschedule, or issue a loss for the game, set, or match.

2.4 Internet Connection Disputes

In the event that a match is affected by internet connection issues, please review and complete the steps in the help article for Internet Troubleshooting For Gameday Issues.

If the steps provided do not resolve your connection issues, submit a support ticket with the type of connection issue you are running into along with the requested screenshots from the article above.

Once connected with a representative, a PlayVS Admin will be sent to your match lobby chat to confirm the information submitted and address the situation. All disputes are addressed on a case-by-case basis, and rulings may require a restart, reschedule, or a loss for the game, set, or match.

If a single team’s connection issues persist throughout the season, matches may be resolved at League Officials discretion to ensure the season continues to move forward.

3. Match Process

3.1 Pre-Match Setup

Teams must adhere to Section 6.2 Pre-Match Setup as they prepare to join their match. Before the match, PlayVS will let the coach and players of both teams know who is responsible for hosting the match, setting up the games, and inputting the results.

3.2 Match Setup

3.2.1 Create Lobby

A team member of the home team must add a member of the opposing team to their Nintendo Switch Friend List in order to send a Room invite.

Important: Do not skip this step, as adding players after lobby creation will cause a connection error for everyone already in the lobby and cause the lobby to close.

  • From Splatsville, press X to open the menu

  • Select Lobby in Stage Selection

  • Press Y to Create a Room

  • Enter a Password and share in Match Lobby Chat

  • Hold Y to send a broadcasted Room Invite to all Nintendo Switch friends

  • Confirm the following settings are OFF:

    • Recon On/Off: OFF

    • Primary Gear Abilities Only: OFF

3.2.2 Game Mode & Map Selection

The Lobby Owner will ensure that the proper game mode and stage is selected prior to the start of each game, as listed in Section 1.6 Stage Selection & Pick Order.

3.3 Match F.A.Q.

3.3.1 Spectating

In order to avoid giving any team an advantage, spectators should be removed from spectating unless both Coaches have agreed to allow for a spectator by following section 7.7 Match Spectating from the High School Competition Rulebook.

3.3.2 In-Game Content Updates

Splatoon 3 is a live-service multiplayer game that may release new and/or updated content while the season is occurring.

Any characters, items, or game modes currently disabled in-game by Nintendo will not be available for use during official PlayVS matches. All PlayVS matches will occur on the most up-to-date patch, and any available characters, items, or game modes, as listed in section 1.6 are eligible for use in PlayVS matches unless otherwise stated by League Officials.

3.3.3 In-Game Requirements To Join

Players must have completed the in-game tutorial and played at least one (1) online initial turf war match to get the prompt to create a Player ID and join custom lobbies. If a player has not completed these in-game steps, they cannot join a custom lobby as needed to participate in a match.

4. Post-Match Process

4.1 Results

If the match is completed using PlayVS Match Assistant tool, then results will be recorded at the conclusion of each game using the tool.

In the event that the PlayVS Match Assistant could not be used, then the match results would need to be submitted manually within 1 hour of match completion. Players should take screenshots of the match results and share those with their coaches.

In the event of an error, coaches must contact PlayVS directly.


V1.1 // 9/8/2023 - Updated 3.4.1 Spectating

V2.0 // 1/19/24 - Reformatted to match PlayVS Resources Style Guidelines

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