Minecraft: The Tournament

An Official Minecraft Novel

Part of Minecraft

Look inside
Hardcover
$17.99 US
5.71"W x 8.53"H x 0.91"D  
On sale May 21, 2024 | 240 Pages | 9780593722459
| Grades 6-8
FOC Apr 22, 2024
A father and son team up to compete in an epic Minecraft tournament in this official novel!

It’s a dream come true. Every year, only twenty-four kids in the entire state are selected to show off their Minecraft skills in the Southwest Regional Tournament. And Jett Warner just got his invitation.

Here’s the catch: Nobody knows the rules ahead of time. Will it be Survival? Creative? A speedrun? Or maybe PVP? The only thing Jett knows is that he’ll need a partner. And he’ll need to expect the unexpected—well, that and a totally sweet all-expenses-paid trip to a mountainside retreat for a week. The winner’s reward? Life-changing. The competition? The best of the best. The partner in his corner? His sister, Dri, a total Minecraft expert.

Wait, scratch that—Dri has a fever, and now Jett is going to have to team up with . . . Dad?! Sure, he taught Jett how to play, but that was years ago. And while Jett’s got his eyes on the prize, Dad’s more eager to hike the trails. As the games begin, the rules are revealed, and the twists keep coming. If the Warners want a chance to win, they’ll need to step up and perform as a true team—before their opponents take it all.

So sharpen those swords, light your torch, and get ready to play. The Tournament awaits!
© courtesy of the author
DaVaun Sanders is an author and editor residing in Phoenix, Arizona. He’s the author of Keynan Masters & The Peerless Magic Crew, the first novel in his debut middle-grade fantasy series. His short fiction has appeared in the New York Times bestselling anthology Black Boy Joy and elsewhere. He continues to expand his work in children’s SFF for kids everywhere who deserve to enjoy inclusive stories. When deadlines are scarce, Sanders enjoys exploring the world with his wife and their twins, cheering himself hoarse for the 49ers, and tackling any DIY project that requires outrageous new power tools. View titles by DaVaun Sanders
Chapter One

All Expenses Paid

Time to put the world on notice. Separate the contenders from the pretenders. Make my mark on the land. Draw my line in the sand. This would all be so much easier if I could just, say . . . hold my breath for an hour.

Who knew greatness would stink so bad?

I’m completely by myself inside Hurston Prep’s greenhouse, a massive white tent sandwiched between our basketball courts, the community garden, and the school’s cafeteria. No one else bothered to show up and volunteer for gardening club after school today, and that should have warned me something was up. I had planned on twenty minutes, easy stuff. My only real task today is transplanting my sprouts, which isn’t going smoothly due to me holding my breath and all. Once that’s done, I’ll get a whole hour free for whatever I want, which never happens anymore. Today that means plenty of time to knock out some speed runs in Minecraft, or maybe tinker with my new Creative build of Marrakech, this cool city in Morocco on my mama’s travel bucket list. I’ve already mined plenty of sandstone, and I could get a fresh palace started before it’s time for soccer practice. Except fresh is the last thing on my mind, because I’m neck-deep in the worst stink I’ve ever experienced: mulch.

There’s a mound of it at the far end of the greenhouse. The foulness is worse than socks left to marinate in my soccer cleats! “Nothing to it but to do it,” I say to myself. Saying the words out loud helps get me in motion. Or at least get me breathing again.

So my plan’s officially crispy cooked since I’m solo. It’s fine. I can still do things. Sometimes work is easier that way. Plenty needs doing, that much is obvious as I walk through the greenhouse. The plastic bubble is big enough to park my dad’s Explorer with room to spare. The side shelves are stuffed full of seed packets, all sizes of transplant pots, and racks of tools and gloves. I pull on my favorite pair—the green-and-blue ones with no holes in the fingers, which I keep tucked in the back where no one else sees them. First things first, water our winter-planted greens outside, then snap a few selfies for my school’s social media and upload them to the garden club’s shared drive.

Happy selfies! Mr. Alvarez always pleads. Smiles mean new toys! New seeds! Say cheese!

One thing’s left between me and gaming time, the part I’m secretly dreading. My sprouts are yellowing. These are supposed to be peppers, and I’m mystified why they’re not thriving. Probably the reek. Gardens are so much simpler in Minecraft. Bone meal. Water. Light. Done! No dirt under my fingernails, no bugs nomming down on our lettuce. I should let the whole project go, start with something else while there’s still time. More tomatoes or lettuce. But I really, really want to intern with the Environmental Stewardship Alliance, and being a leader in my school’s garden club will get my application noticed. When my granny’s home was flooded in last fall’s huge storm, the ESA helped her when no one else could.

Plus, Mr. Alvarez, our garden club’s teacher-sponsor, says this project will put me on the right track for college, whatever that means. Plus, he’ll write me a recommendation letter. So an hour of smelliness is worth it.

I replant my sprouts into bigger pots and sprinkle in some mulch with the potting soil, just a pinch. I set them all on the table at the far end of the greenhouse where the light is brightest. That’s that! Fingers crossed I salvaged them in time.

“Didn’t take too long, either.” I return my gloves and hose my hands off. I’ve got enough time for something quick in Minecraft before soccer starts. I pull out my handheld and log in to the game. What to do? I decide on a random world seed. Lately I’m loving Icarus speed runs—my friends aren’t as into them anymore, but zooming around on an elytra is one of my favorite things. And my parents promised if my grades stay strong this year, they’ll let me start creating content. That has me way excited—except I don’t even know where to start. There’s a hundred different things I love to do! I’m getting better at speed runs and figure they’ll be a good place to start. I’m nowhere near the record, but I’m pretty sure I’m good enough to get close with enough tries.

I dive in, already loving this seed. There’s a village cradled just above a cave where lava’s winking at me from the depths as I fly over, but I ignore that for now. A coastline tugs at me from just beneath the rising sun, and I swing toward that ocean and plunge below the surface. Bam. Shipwreck. Straightaway I loot iron and gold and fly up from the depths before my breath is gone. I swoop back toward the village, loot bread and carrots—and some flint: clutch. Bam again!

“Thanks, villagers!” I murmur, even though I’m by myself. Always thank your villagers, my sis says when we play together. Least we can do for the free food.

A ruined portal is nestled between a snaking river dotted with sugarcane and the base of a mountain covered with cherry trees. The chest coughs up gold pants and breastplate. There’s just enough lava for me to work with bubbling up around the netherrack. I make quick tools and my bucket. Dig out space and make my cobblestone cast. Slap water from the river and lava together to create a completely fresh portal . . . and it’s Nether time. That’s got to be the fastest I’ve made this kind of progress—and it only gets better. I find my first bastion in less than a minute, right on the edge of a crimson forest. I am feeling seriously lucky today—ignoring the awful mulch encounter, anyway. Maybe this is a seed I can use over again—the stuff I need to finish my speed run spawned so close together that I could probably do a classic run and improve my times way faster. Like my soccer coach says, it’s all about muscle memory.

Hmm . . . still no Nether fortress. What’s taking so long? I got turned around, and double back around a lava flow. I skim too close and lose some hearts. Shoot! More precious seconds tick by as I’m forced to stop and nom down some bread. This is the absolute top thing that makes me nervous about streaming. I get stuck between decisions, and sometimes that means I make a super basic mistake. Who wants to get roasted over something like that? Could I make a joke in time? Laugh it off? I’d rather bury my console in the manure! Don’t read the comments section is what my sis would say, but easier said than done. I even dread the thought of a video where I’ve got to edit out all of my mistakes. One of my favorite creators said they spent ten days editing ten minutes of tutorial. Ugghh! No thanks.

Hisssss. Shoot! Where did that ghast come from?

FLUM!

I got distracted, and now I’m on fire.

Time to bail. I can squeeze in one more try before soccer practice. Just before I reset the seed, Mr. Alvarez bursts into the greenhouse, panting like he got caught yoinking Principal Ridgley’s gummy worms in the teachers’ lounge again. “Jett! I’ve been looking everywhere for you! What are you doing hiding out in here of all places? You’re gonna get a headache breathing this stench in for too long.”

“Umm . . . getting some gardening inspiration?” That’s how much I love this game—I got used to the funk! I shrug guiltily, looking at my handheld. “Sorry, it was quiet, and I got distracted.”

“Never mind that.” Mr. Alvarez keeps his dark hair in a glorious man-bun and has matching dragon tattoos wrapped around his wrists. He’s always cracking jokes unless he’s teaching, then I’ve heard he’s serious enough to make Principal Ridgley seem like a toddler eating sand at the playground. Mr. A is going to be my geometry teacher next year, so I’m kinda glad I got to know him now and see the fun side first.

Right now Mr. Alvarez is a weird mix of serious and jokester, a breathless grin and intent eyes. “Kid, you gotta start checking your email!”

“What? Why?”

“Just do it please! Responses are going out.”

I snatch my phone from my back pocket, heart rattling under my ribs. There’s a new message, sure enough, from the Southwest Regional Tech Fair’s Student Minecraft Tournament. I entered it a few months ago at the last minute—mostly because Mr. Alvarez kept bugging me to do something with it once he found out how much I love the game. He plays dirty—he even recruited my sister to harass me until I turned in some gameplay for the contest. Then I immediately forgot about it. We’ve had so much going on at home—between my granny coming to stay with us after the mess with her house, soccer getting more serious, my sister working her first part-time job, my mom traveling more for work—some random tournament I’ve never heard of before was easy to forget. Besides, I never win big stuff like this.

But didn’t I mention I was feeling lucky today?

About

A father and son team up to compete in an epic Minecraft tournament in this official novel!

It’s a dream come true. Every year, only twenty-four kids in the entire state are selected to show off their Minecraft skills in the Southwest Regional Tournament. And Jett Warner just got his invitation.

Here’s the catch: Nobody knows the rules ahead of time. Will it be Survival? Creative? A speedrun? Or maybe PVP? The only thing Jett knows is that he’ll need a partner. And he’ll need to expect the unexpected—well, that and a totally sweet all-expenses-paid trip to a mountainside retreat for a week. The winner’s reward? Life-changing. The competition? The best of the best. The partner in his corner? His sister, Dri, a total Minecraft expert.

Wait, scratch that—Dri has a fever, and now Jett is going to have to team up with . . . Dad?! Sure, he taught Jett how to play, but that was years ago. And while Jett’s got his eyes on the prize, Dad’s more eager to hike the trails. As the games begin, the rules are revealed, and the twists keep coming. If the Warners want a chance to win, they’ll need to step up and perform as a true team—before their opponents take it all.

So sharpen those swords, light your torch, and get ready to play. The Tournament awaits!

Author

© courtesy of the author
DaVaun Sanders is an author and editor residing in Phoenix, Arizona. He’s the author of Keynan Masters & The Peerless Magic Crew, the first novel in his debut middle-grade fantasy series. His short fiction has appeared in the New York Times bestselling anthology Black Boy Joy and elsewhere. He continues to expand his work in children’s SFF for kids everywhere who deserve to enjoy inclusive stories. When deadlines are scarce, Sanders enjoys exploring the world with his wife and their twins, cheering himself hoarse for the 49ers, and tackling any DIY project that requires outrageous new power tools. View titles by DaVaun Sanders

Excerpt

Chapter One

All Expenses Paid

Time to put the world on notice. Separate the contenders from the pretenders. Make my mark on the land. Draw my line in the sand. This would all be so much easier if I could just, say . . . hold my breath for an hour.

Who knew greatness would stink so bad?

I’m completely by myself inside Hurston Prep’s greenhouse, a massive white tent sandwiched between our basketball courts, the community garden, and the school’s cafeteria. No one else bothered to show up and volunteer for gardening club after school today, and that should have warned me something was up. I had planned on twenty minutes, easy stuff. My only real task today is transplanting my sprouts, which isn’t going smoothly due to me holding my breath and all. Once that’s done, I’ll get a whole hour free for whatever I want, which never happens anymore. Today that means plenty of time to knock out some speed runs in Minecraft, or maybe tinker with my new Creative build of Marrakech, this cool city in Morocco on my mama’s travel bucket list. I’ve already mined plenty of sandstone, and I could get a fresh palace started before it’s time for soccer practice. Except fresh is the last thing on my mind, because I’m neck-deep in the worst stink I’ve ever experienced: mulch.

There’s a mound of it at the far end of the greenhouse. The foulness is worse than socks left to marinate in my soccer cleats! “Nothing to it but to do it,” I say to myself. Saying the words out loud helps get me in motion. Or at least get me breathing again.

So my plan’s officially crispy cooked since I’m solo. It’s fine. I can still do things. Sometimes work is easier that way. Plenty needs doing, that much is obvious as I walk through the greenhouse. The plastic bubble is big enough to park my dad’s Explorer with room to spare. The side shelves are stuffed full of seed packets, all sizes of transplant pots, and racks of tools and gloves. I pull on my favorite pair—the green-and-blue ones with no holes in the fingers, which I keep tucked in the back where no one else sees them. First things first, water our winter-planted greens outside, then snap a few selfies for my school’s social media and upload them to the garden club’s shared drive.

Happy selfies! Mr. Alvarez always pleads. Smiles mean new toys! New seeds! Say cheese!

One thing’s left between me and gaming time, the part I’m secretly dreading. My sprouts are yellowing. These are supposed to be peppers, and I’m mystified why they’re not thriving. Probably the reek. Gardens are so much simpler in Minecraft. Bone meal. Water. Light. Done! No dirt under my fingernails, no bugs nomming down on our lettuce. I should let the whole project go, start with something else while there’s still time. More tomatoes or lettuce. But I really, really want to intern with the Environmental Stewardship Alliance, and being a leader in my school’s garden club will get my application noticed. When my granny’s home was flooded in last fall’s huge storm, the ESA helped her when no one else could.

Plus, Mr. Alvarez, our garden club’s teacher-sponsor, says this project will put me on the right track for college, whatever that means. Plus, he’ll write me a recommendation letter. So an hour of smelliness is worth it.

I replant my sprouts into bigger pots and sprinkle in some mulch with the potting soil, just a pinch. I set them all on the table at the far end of the greenhouse where the light is brightest. That’s that! Fingers crossed I salvaged them in time.

“Didn’t take too long, either.” I return my gloves and hose my hands off. I’ve got enough time for something quick in Minecraft before soccer starts. I pull out my handheld and log in to the game. What to do? I decide on a random world seed. Lately I’m loving Icarus speed runs—my friends aren’t as into them anymore, but zooming around on an elytra is one of my favorite things. And my parents promised if my grades stay strong this year, they’ll let me start creating content. That has me way excited—except I don’t even know where to start. There’s a hundred different things I love to do! I’m getting better at speed runs and figure they’ll be a good place to start. I’m nowhere near the record, but I’m pretty sure I’m good enough to get close with enough tries.

I dive in, already loving this seed. There’s a village cradled just above a cave where lava’s winking at me from the depths as I fly over, but I ignore that for now. A coastline tugs at me from just beneath the rising sun, and I swing toward that ocean and plunge below the surface. Bam. Shipwreck. Straightaway I loot iron and gold and fly up from the depths before my breath is gone. I swoop back toward the village, loot bread and carrots—and some flint: clutch. Bam again!

“Thanks, villagers!” I murmur, even though I’m by myself. Always thank your villagers, my sis says when we play together. Least we can do for the free food.

A ruined portal is nestled between a snaking river dotted with sugarcane and the base of a mountain covered with cherry trees. The chest coughs up gold pants and breastplate. There’s just enough lava for me to work with bubbling up around the netherrack. I make quick tools and my bucket. Dig out space and make my cobblestone cast. Slap water from the river and lava together to create a completely fresh portal . . . and it’s Nether time. That’s got to be the fastest I’ve made this kind of progress—and it only gets better. I find my first bastion in less than a minute, right on the edge of a crimson forest. I am feeling seriously lucky today—ignoring the awful mulch encounter, anyway. Maybe this is a seed I can use over again—the stuff I need to finish my speed run spawned so close together that I could probably do a classic run and improve my times way faster. Like my soccer coach says, it’s all about muscle memory.

Hmm . . . still no Nether fortress. What’s taking so long? I got turned around, and double back around a lava flow. I skim too close and lose some hearts. Shoot! More precious seconds tick by as I’m forced to stop and nom down some bread. This is the absolute top thing that makes me nervous about streaming. I get stuck between decisions, and sometimes that means I make a super basic mistake. Who wants to get roasted over something like that? Could I make a joke in time? Laugh it off? I’d rather bury my console in the manure! Don’t read the comments section is what my sis would say, but easier said than done. I even dread the thought of a video where I’ve got to edit out all of my mistakes. One of my favorite creators said they spent ten days editing ten minutes of tutorial. Ugghh! No thanks.

Hisssss. Shoot! Where did that ghast come from?

FLUM!

I got distracted, and now I’m on fire.

Time to bail. I can squeeze in one more try before soccer practice. Just before I reset the seed, Mr. Alvarez bursts into the greenhouse, panting like he got caught yoinking Principal Ridgley’s gummy worms in the teachers’ lounge again. “Jett! I’ve been looking everywhere for you! What are you doing hiding out in here of all places? You’re gonna get a headache breathing this stench in for too long.”

“Umm . . . getting some gardening inspiration?” That’s how much I love this game—I got used to the funk! I shrug guiltily, looking at my handheld. “Sorry, it was quiet, and I got distracted.”

“Never mind that.” Mr. Alvarez keeps his dark hair in a glorious man-bun and has matching dragon tattoos wrapped around his wrists. He’s always cracking jokes unless he’s teaching, then I’ve heard he’s serious enough to make Principal Ridgley seem like a toddler eating sand at the playground. Mr. A is going to be my geometry teacher next year, so I’m kinda glad I got to know him now and see the fun side first.

Right now Mr. Alvarez is a weird mix of serious and jokester, a breathless grin and intent eyes. “Kid, you gotta start checking your email!”

“What? Why?”

“Just do it please! Responses are going out.”

I snatch my phone from my back pocket, heart rattling under my ribs. There’s a new message, sure enough, from the Southwest Regional Tech Fair’s Student Minecraft Tournament. I entered it a few months ago at the last minute—mostly because Mr. Alvarez kept bugging me to do something with it once he found out how much I love the game. He plays dirty—he even recruited my sister to harass me until I turned in some gameplay for the contest. Then I immediately forgot about it. We’ve had so much going on at home—between my granny coming to stay with us after the mess with her house, soccer getting more serious, my sister working her first part-time job, my mom traveling more for work—some random tournament I’ve never heard of before was easy to forget. Besides, I never win big stuff like this.

But didn’t I mention I was feeling lucky today?

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