Best Finals Format for Group Match Play - What Say You?

Fast ladder finals is what I use - top 8 go through botttom 4 play, then top 2 of that play 3 and 4 then top two play 1 and 2 and then it’s the winner. It’s buolt into matchplay.



Whatever your exact format, I tend to agree with those who suggest retaining the general format of the event if at all possible. If the format was X strikes leading into the finals, stick with that. It drives me a bit crazy if I’m playing a 4-strikes tournament, I make the playoffs with 0 or 1 strike, and then get knocked out while someone who had 3 strikes advances. Yes, of course, play better… but in that situation, just getting to choose a game or bank doesn’t feel like enough reward for my superior play in the previous 8 or so rounds.


I would like to propose a new format with Direct Comparison in focus.

4-player groups, 3 games.

The main idea is this: Any player that has, in direct comparison, won at least twice over at least two other players, qualify.


If both game 1 and game 2 happen to end with the exact same player order, the 3rd game is not played at all, since direct comparison already is complete.

After 2 games, any player which has placed 1st+2nd or 1st+1st qualifies, and don’t play the 3rd game.

Similarly, any player which has placed 3rd+4th or 4th+4th is eliminated, and don’t play the 3rd game.

So, the 3rd game is played by 0, 2, 3 or 4 players. In the case of 4 players, it is possible that you will need a 4th tiebreaker game, which will always be between 3 players. Those 3 players will have won (twice) over each other in a circle. How they compare to the 4th player (either qualified or eliminated) doesn’t matter.

One main advantage with this method, is that no-one will play the 3rd game just to help decide which of the other players qualify, which is the case with 3-2-1-0 etc.

Another advantage is that tiebreakers would be much less common than with 3-2-1-0. The total number of games played in a match will be 8,10,11,12 or 15. With all 4 players being the same level, the average number of games would be about 10.5. Efficient.

The obvious drawback is that it is a little more complicated. I think it might be worth it.

What do you think?

This trips my rule #1 about finals formats, so I’m automatically bound to hate it :slight_smile:

My rule of thumb is that if you can’t explain your format in two short sentences it’s too complicated.

In my experience players are not interested in mathematics or probabilities. They are very interested in having simple and clear rules for how they advance in a tournament. So group elimination/PAPA brackets are great: “You’re in a group of four players and you will play 4 games with 7/5/3/1 scoring. The two players with the most points advance.”

Perennial red flags for me: Variable amount of matches or group sizes that change between rounds.


That could be a good rule. How about this:

Play until two of the other players either are beaten by you twice, or have beaten you twice. If both these things happen in the same game, play tiebreaker.

Curling uses a page playoff for their finals. Basically, 1 vs 2 winner advances to final, loser plays winner of 3 vs 4 for the other spot in the final. I have always thought this would be a good system for pinball when the qualifying was significant. Each match I would make best 2 of 3 or something.


Yes, pin-curling, I like it.

I imagine like…one player plunging a ball for a skill shot and their teammate aggressively rubbing novus 2 ahead of the ball somewhere on the upper playfield.


“I imagine like…one player plunging a ball for a skill shot and their teammate aggressively rubbing novus 2 ahead of the ball somewhere on the upper playfield.”

HARD… HARD… :wink:

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Curling aside, I like the idea of this format if you want to weight qualifying position more than just pick game/bank (top two seeds could potentially win in two matches, seeds three and four can only win in three matches, and the loser of the one and two opening match gets a repechage). I’m not sure how it would work if you took more than four people to the finals. Is there a system for an eight or more player finals with or without byes?

And as a spectator there is the very real possibility that the top two seeds would play more than one match–very exciting.

The format you’re describing is the same as the last four players in a double-elimination bracket. #3 and #4 are in losers’ bracket, and must win to advance to play the loser of #1 vs #2. The difference is that the final match is only a best-of-1.

You could then expand this format to 6, or 8, or 12, or 16 players with the same setup; place the top half in the winners’ bracket and the bottom half in the losers’ bracket.


So if you take the top 8 to “A” finals, are you saying that the top 4 would be in the “winners bracket” and positions 5-8 would be in the “losers bracket”?

Yes, that’s right. Players in the top half could lose their way to the bottom half but cannot be directly eliminated.

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I might give this a go…

7-5-3-1 scoring is the worst.
Yesterday was the second time I have come in second place for winning 2 out of 3 games in a finals round.


The more I think about it the less I like 4,2,1,0. For league sure, but not a finals at a big tournament. Gives less weight to that third game.

With 7,5,3,1 or 3,2,1,0 you need to perform in all three games or else it can kill you. Even if the chance is remote, the chance is there.

Can you explain what you mean here? All games are weighted equally.

The situation above specifically for one. Had it been papa scoring they were guaranteed at least a tie for first with winning the first two games.

In pinburgh or ifpa scoring, you’d have to get at least third to get that same guarantee. This is assuming that the first two games have to fall where they need to.

Again, not a common occurrence, but it can happen.

I’ve yet to use 7-5-3-1 scoring for Finals, but several people in the post hinted at using that scoring format. Can you elaborate on this a little more as to why it’s the worst? My quick math comparing the two formats shows you placing 2nd in the 7-5-3-1 format, but using the 4-2-1-0 method you at least tie and force a tiebreaker? This is assuming you got 1st, 1st, and 4th.