First off, I was excited to participate in my first SCS this past weekend, so thank you to both the IFPA and all of the state and provincial-level organizers and players who put in a lot of hard work and effort this weekend. It has been very exciting for me personally to have discovered and gotten involved in the competitive scene the past few years.
I have been thinking about the structure of the State/Provincial Championships and want to put forth a proposal to the community on changes to the structure of the event. Even if it doesn’t resonate with the community as a good structure for State/Provincial Finals, I think it would be an interesting format for a limited-qualifying event.
My biggest challenges with the State/Provincial Championship as it currently exists:
- While there are 16 players in the event, you only directly play against four opponents.
- Because the seeding is based solely on points earned within the State for the year, you may end up with a lopsided bracket and “monster” match-ups early on, meaning a 15 seed may end up with a better path to the Finals than a 13 seed because the out-of-stater World Champ 4 seed who played a single big event in the state last year decided that they had good reason to play here instead of home (convenience, monetary, or otherwise).
My proposal is as follows. This assumes a 16-person finals, with some additional notes below that for the extended 24-person finals that will take place in some areas.
Opening Round: Best Game
Eight Games out of all available games available are selected, and a best-game competition is played out. Each person plays a single game on each machine, and the results are tallied just like any other Best Game competition. The Top 8 move to the Winners Pool, Bottom 8 move to the Consolation Pool.
- Game Selection can be Random Draw of available games, or you can reward Seeds #1 to #8 with a Game Selection from the possible games.
- The Points scale can be a typical PAPA event (100, 90, 85, 84, etc.) or a linear progression (25, 24, 23, 22, etc.)
- Results are collected but not input and published until all competitors have completed qualifying so as not to provide any advantages or incentives for people to tank.
Finals Round: Group Match Play
For the remaining eight, the initial seeds are taken back into account to seed the remaining players #1 to #8, in the following groups:
A Four-Game Quarter-Final is played with 3-2-1-0 scoring. Top Two from each group move to Finals.
A Four-Game Semi-Final is played with 3-2-1-0 scoring. Top Two move to Finals.
Finals is a head-to-head best-of-seven like which takes place today.
The consolation bracket can be structured similarly, but perhaps with less games. Alternatively, a single-elimination best-of-three could also be considered to play out 9th to 16th.
For new Super-States, the field would be expanded to 24, with 12 making the cut to Finals and top four remaining seeds are provided byes entering the Quarter-Final MatchPlay Round.
Potential Positives of This Format
- You indirectly compete against all 15 competitors, while directly competing against five of the remaining seven competitors on your way to a championship.
- You still have to beat someone head-to-head to win your way to Nationals.
- The indirect portion allows a “sifting of the field” of sorts to see how you did against EVERYONE, and not just the person you happen to match up against in the first round because of the way seeding fell because of qualifying points.
- The event still falls under IFPA Guidelines of cutting half the field before Finals.
- TGP is 25+ with this format.
- Seeding still matters: You’re incentivized not only to make the event, but to jockey for a Top 8 position for extra benefits (potential for game choice and byes).
- By grouping Finals into Two 4-Player Groups (and then One 4-Player Group), it makes it easier and simpler for the event to focus on one or two games at a time, which has the potential to make Finals a bit more interesting not only to spectators but also to streamers, media, and sponsors.
- You are guaranteed to play at least eight games of pinball, instead of just four.
Potential Pitfalls of This Format
- Perhaps the “chaos” of a single elimination event is what is desired?
- Format is bound to take longer.
- More moving parts for TDs to successfully execute.
- Ability to have eight games working properly. A potential solution is to have competitors play specific games twice.
- What if a qualifying game goes down? Leeway could be given to TDs to pull machines and either sub-in a back-up or pull results for that game.
I would be interested to see a format that is meant to culminate a year of playing pinball within a state/province be a multi-faceted event that challenges you in many of the common formats that we normally see (Best Game, MatchPlay, and Head-to-Head), especially as prize pools grow.
Certainly open to hearing critiques and thoughts on the above.