For Your Consideration: A Proposed SCS/PCS Format


Completely agree. That’s Pinball…play better. If not, you deserve to lose.

What…are we going to start handing out participation trophies too?


I love my participation medal. Thanks @JSwain


In Pinball? No. Because we often see Double Elimination Head-to-Head -or- Group Match Play. Double Elimination gives a “road to redemption” after an early loss, and Group Match Play at least advances two people from a group of four, giving some kind of “cushion”.

The structure I proposed above is essentially Double Elimination, except the best you can do in the Consolation Bracket is 3rd.

In other sports? Wresting is the main example I can think of where it’s one-on-one AND commonplace that if you’re out of the main you can still fight you way up to 3rd.

Lots of competitions use Double Elimination, most notably Little League and College World Series, in addition to EVO as mentioned by @BuffaloATX above. At this point, I’m not even suggesting Double Elimination, as you still have to “win it all” in order to be the State Champ.

To me, Double Elimination, Group Match-Play, and the proposed “Wrestlebacks” structure serve similar means. You’ve had the chance to go up with at least two unique opponents.

I would absolutely agree with this. You played three unique people. Conversely, to that end the other Country Championships (that I saw from the IFPA website) are all four-player group play match-ups where if you’re in the bottom two you are out. I think that this also falls under “you played multiple unique people”.

I think that this is also a fair outcome. INDISC is a singular event taking place in a short weekend. Everyone has a view of the standings as they are happening, and people can plan and jockey for specific positions right until the “closing bell” of qualifying.

My view of what the differences are for State/Provincial Finals are that:

  • You are spending an entire year across many events attempting to build up points to try to qualify for what will be the biggest money event most people will play in for the year.
  • You often won’t have a clear view of your potential opponents until the dust settles and selections have been made. I don’t know who my potential opponents might be, and I don’t know if playing in end-of-year events are going to hurt or help my standing.
  • Perhaps because of my location within the state vs. where Finals often takes place, there’s an cost/benefit evaluation of the utility that I would out of the event get based on format. Do I want to take the weekend to drive cross-state, put up money for hotel, gas, and food where there’s a probabilistic chance that I play four games of pinball in 15 minutes and it’s all over? If there’s a built-in-path to redemption (even if that path tops out at 3rd), it makes it more appealing and more easily able to justify costs and expenses to have that available. I know of several local players who have qualified but have elected not to attend Finals because of the travel time and cost associated in conjunction with the format. These same players will go hog-wild and easily make that same cross-state trip for a marquee event like PAPA or Pinburgh where there is lots of pinball fun to be had within the context of a singular event. Again, this may just be because of the geography of my state (or any state where there are multiple geographic “scenes”). (Quick Edit: I will add that the good people of Pittsburgh do make sure a fine slate of events is put on during SCS weekend aside from the SCS itself, so thank you to them for that.)

I’m certainly not asking for participation trophies or some outcome where we have 16 State Champs and everyone sings kumbaya while playing Groot Multiball; I’m inquiring about tweaks to the set-up that I think would add value to the larger player base. Did you lose your first round match? Too bad, no State Champ for you, but here’s a path where you can try to win $275 dollars for 3rd.

Not sure if you can prevent all rematches (especially if a player makes it deep into the tournament), but you can design the position of where someone ends up in the Consolation bracket to try best to avoid rematches early on. If you’re cutting the Consolation bracket to top out at 3rd, then the winner of the event never has to even think about rematches.


Not a terrible idea. Just have all the positions play it out. Imo, you’re out round one, you are not entitled to anything better than 9th. Out second round? You’re not entitled to anything better than 5th.

So. Have the first 8 out play 2 groups of 4 one game round, top two advance. Repeat for the remaining 4.

For spots 5-8, one four player game to decide.

For 3/4, same as always. For 1/2, same.

However if the payout structure is the same amount for 5-8 and then 9-16, then no need to play out those positions except just for fun.


If you get knocked out round 1 at SCS, we should start giving these out, lol:image


Oh, Jebus… that was probably the funniest thing I’ll read today…


At the risk of derailing the conversation, if Poop trophies are in demand, there are options:

A $13 option:

A $5 option (which includes a spinner):


@coreyhulse If the first round was four player groups with the top two advancing, followed by an 8 person, single elim, best of 7 bracket using original seeding…would that satisfy your concerns?


You get to play three unique opponents in the first round, so it would. Can’t get top 2 in a group of 4? You’re out.

Apparently the type of tournament I’ve been calling “wrestlebacks” is called a “partial double-elimination repechage bracket”:


It’s interesting the having more unique opponents somehow satisfies “losing appropriately” regardless of the actual amount of pinball played.

For the Circuit Final a player is playing 3 games before being eliminated. The original format you played ONE GAME with the loser being eliminated.

For SCS you are playing at least 4 games, with the opportunity to play up to 7 games before being eliminated.

Are you saying “One Game in a Group of 4 > Seven Games in a Group of 2” as a more fair way to eliminate a player from a tournament?


That’s exactly how we do it except instead of one game it’s a 4 Gabe 7-5-3-1 scoring. Everyone plays multiple rounds of multiple games for the day but like you said, out first round no better than 9th. Second round no better than 5th


Group play gives you more head-to-head matches. Granted, those matches are simultaneous within the context of a Single Game, but it’s still You vs. P2, You vs. P3, and You vs. P4.

[One Game in a Group of Four] - No - You’ve played three head-to-head matches
[Three Games in a Group of Four] - Yes - You’ve played nine head-to-head matches
[Four Games in a Group of Four] - Yes - You’ve played twelve head-to-head matches



Any time (provided it’s once a year in November :wink:)


Can they still win the top prize? Yes… and that’s what I mean by equal shot. Once you lose in a situation with a losers bracket IMO you shouldn’t have a shot at 1st vs the person who didn’t lose.


[One game with all 16 players - High Score wins] - You’ve played fifteen head-to-head matches :slight_smile:


Alright team, pack it up! Make it a one-ball game on Stars and it looks like we’ve got ourselves a State Championship.

Your first post has me thinking about the various different “attributes” that make up various finals formats and values of those variables, and then making some assumptions on the expected “utility” for those involved based on what they value.

  • Number of Games Played
  • Number of Opponents
  • Number of Distinct Game Titles (i.e. a best-of-seven with a variety of games vs. best-of-seven on the same game)
  • Other factors I’m sure I’m not thinking about at the moment

Certainly not just in relationship to my personal perspective on State Championships, but broader to events we put on in the local scene to make sure that people not only have a good time (regardless of outcome) and want to come back to the next event we put on.


Newbie SCS format-related questions and I apologize if they’ve been discussed at length before or derail this thread at all: How does the SCS qualifying work for out-of-state players? Is there a minimum number of tournaments that you have to play in that state?

With the increased payouts next year, is there any concern about “state-sniping” or experienced players traveling to states where the pinball scene is just starting out to have an easier path to winning an SCS? Feel free to chuckle at the question if this is just an accepted strategy.


No minimum.

I think the sharks will follow the money if anything. New states will probably not have that much money in the pool to make the sharks want to swoop in. We will see I guess.


This already happened with the current (soon-to-be prior) SCS rules. However, because of the likely correlation between the level of competition in a state and that state’s SCS $$$ pool, there may be less incentive for players qualified in multiple states to select the state with the perceived easier competition.

Also, keep in mind that IFPA-sanctioned events are “open.” Meaning: you can’t restrict someone who lives outside your state from competing in your state’s events. Thus, it follows that you can’t prevent someone who lives outside your state from qualifying in your state’s SCS finals. Establishing a minimum # of events in which a player must participate to qualify in a state’s SCS is a slippery slope to no longer being open, and further, as discussed in other threads, constraint/rule is easy to overcome. The best way to “protect” your state from long-distance players is to PLAY MORE PINBALL. The more events you hold and more WPPR’s that get earned make it more difficult for a player to do well in only a few events and still make the cut.