This'll be my guide to competing in a Minecraft tournytime PvP match. It will give you tips based on my personal experience in an attempt to somewhat level the playing field.
Before the match
You might want to read up on enchanting and experience first via the Minecraft wiki. They're pretty essential to being competitive in the matches with the new no diamond weapons or armor rule. It's a complex topic, one which I might fail to properly explain in this guide.
Preparing for combat
So, let's get right in to it. The very first thing to do is knock down a tree, and get yourself a stone sword, pickaxe, shovel and axe. You'll probably want extra cobble for a furnace or just to have blocks. This comes to 16 cobblestone, total, so aim to get this much with your wooden pickaxe. You might want to cut down some more trees in case you can't find coal later.
After this, the first day is about getting the necessary food to survive the entire match. Cows are the perfect animal: Plenty of meat and leather, which can eventually be used for enchantments. Also don't forget about reeds! Secondary objectives should be getting a general idea of the area, keeping an eye out for players looking for caves, and looking for coal, but on your animal-slaughtering escapades, you will do this without knowing (except maybe the last thing). Plains or tundras are the easiest biome to do all these things. You can easily see caves, unlike in forests or taigas; they're easy to navigate, unlike mountains; and animals actually spawn, unlike deserts. Also, it's easy to walk across, unlike an ocean.
Start looking for caves as a primary objective when the sun starts setting. Animals are now a secondary objective. If you don't find one, just dig a hole. Try to settle in the side of a hill, so that people don't notice you're there by the random dirt block amongst grass. You're looking for a cave, since they're the easiest way—by a large margin—to get iron, so dig a staircase down. Listen out for cave sounds (water, lava, mobs) on your way down, because you're not guaranteed to find one. If you don't find one, go back up to near the top and dig another stair case.
Now those logs might come in handy if you didn't get and can't find any coal, cook them up in the furnace, and you've got charcoal.
Once you find a cave, don't worry about finding a way back up: This caving session will be your last one. Aim for about a stack and a half of iron (for armor, weapons, and an anvil), about 8 or more flint for arrows and a flint and steel, and five diamonds. Kill as many mobs as you can and mine as much coal as you can see, because you can use their experience for enchantments later.
Once you've got three diamonds, make a diamond pickaxe and mine four obsidian. What do you mean "there's no lava around"? You found those diamonds at lava level! Well, there might be a surface lava lake if you're lucky. Once you get another two diamonds, make that enchanting table.
Now, I used to be all hip with enchantments, but I'm a little rusty with all these new features: I've never tried the books in a PvP match, let alone in normal, survival Minecraft. I just tried them in creative and have read up about them, so I'm going to tell you what I know.
There are two ways you can enchant stuff: Directly at an enchanting table, or by combining enchanted books (which you can, coincidentally, enchant at an enchanting table) with stuff at an anvil. I've mainly used the former method in the past, because the latter was not a feature when we first started matches, so I wasn't used to it. Now I think the latter method is more efficient.
The first time you enchant an item, you should do it directly via the enchanting table. Aim for "Protection I" on all your armor (try again if you got "Projectile", "Fire" or "Blast Protection"), "Sharpness I" on your sword and something on your bow. Make sure you only use one level to enchant these, using two or more has a negligible difference considering the cost differential.
Let me just explain something first: If an item and a book both have enchantment X at level A, you can combine them at an anvil to get Enchantment X at Level A+1. This costs three levels when A = 1 (when the enchantment is only level 1). Combining level I and level II will not work: combining two enchantments with the same level does not double the level, it only adds a single level. For example, combining sharpness II and sharpness II does not get you sharpness IV, it gets you sharpness III.
Now, if you've got levels and books left over, enchant a book with a single level. If it's the same enchantment you've already got on a tool, combine them at the anvil to increase the level of the enchantment. Note that combining them costs levels, so only do a single book at any one time.
Do this until you're out of levels, grab everything and head on to the surface to hunt. The best place to do this is around the border of the world, around naturally-generated structures (e.g. NPC villages), or near the center of the map.
I can't write a prose narrating the perfect combat situation, because they depend almost entirely on circumstances that vary a lot from battle to battle. So I'm just going to give you some tips that I like to employ:
- Make sure you have your hot bar optimized.
- I recommend a sword, a pickaxe, a shovel, a bow, a flint and steel, blocks, a bucket of water and food. I prefer a flint and steel over a bucket of lava, but that's up to you to decide. You've got enough room for both based on my recommendations, but I usually put an axe in the extra spot.
- Put these in the same order each match: You can use the number keys to quickly get to one of them in different scenarios (e.g. you're on fire, they've placed stone)
- When the enemy charges you, be ready to use your flint and steel (or bucket of lava) on blocks that are in their trajectory. Back-pedal until they're on fire, then melee them. Be ready for them to use the same tactic: Get ready to use your water bucket.
- Do not back-pedal during melee combat if they're still hitting you. The way latency works, it could result in them being able to hit you and you not being able to hit them. I can't veritably offer an alternative to back-pedalling, but I'd imagine sprint-hitting them and just running might work.
- It's better to be on a block lower than your enemy during melee combat: You will be able to hit reach their feet, whereas their arms might not be able to reach your head. Avoid getting yourself in to one of these situations.
- Always quickly look around you while in combat, and take note of any escape routes or hazards should you need to retreat.
- During a prolonged team bow fight, build your team some battlements for cover.