Fun Tournament Format Suggestions

I’m trying to figure out another format for a pinball tournament, like Flip-Frenzy, where everyone plays and ends at the same time, where I can somehow split the group at some point to allow less experienced players to play at their level. We have an event coming up in April where a band plays at the end, so I want to keep everyone engaged. Any ideas?

Group matchplay, with Swiss style reseeding between rounds.

In each match/round the winner scores 3 points, second place 2 points etc

Tournament ends when any player scores over (eg) 30 points total, or at a given time

I think this is broadly known as ‘great pinball race’ format? It mostly meets your criteria but has a potential for a bit of downtime between matches as players need to wait for all other players to finish before moving to next round

The other option is maybe to run flip frenzy for an hour or two, then split the field in two based on ranking, and then run two flip frenzies in parallel (though that feels more difficult)

That is target matchplay.

Amazing race is when you have a bank of games and everyone plays the first game and the lowest score is out. Keep moving down the bank until only one person is left.


Critical hit Matchplay - nothing is more fun!


Are you looking for formats that have a known end time, or just that all players play through the end?

I’m looking for something where all the players play through, but also some way to split it so that novices and wizards can play together without people walking away bummed. I usually do something in the qualifying rounds like a high-score contest, so that you can win something without getting in the finals but just wanted to hear what other fun things people do. There is a band starting later and I don’t want people to leave - when I do the typical Matchplay with a final tournament it ends up just being the 5 or 8 people and eveyone else leaves - which is good if we want to go home too, and I run a Flip Frenzy once a month, and it is my go-to since it is so easy to run, but i don’t want to overdo it.

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You can run match play without a finals. Bounties for finishing first in your group give everyone something to play for even if they aren’t in the top group

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I would do a Target match play with Swiss pairing. Then add a side raffle to it. So whoever wins the group gets a ticket. We do a buy in, $2 buy in, you get a ticket and then every win gets you another one. Call the ticket at the end and winner takes the cash. I’m sure you could do prizes or whatever else you’d like to do. Swiss makes sure only good players play against good players, target matchplay no finals ensures everyone stays and raffle ensures anyone can win something.

you could consider an objective based pingolf tournament with A and B finals. putting objective based goals is nice for beginners to learn about the game and you can also put the instructions for the goal on the scorecard/machine.

As a side note something I’ve done before to add some value to the post qualifying portion of tourneys is add what I call an “Aspirant’s Final”. I put the top 4 players with IFPA rank 3000 or worse that didn’t qualify for main into their own separate final game and the winner gets a small prize. Gives more novice players a taste of playoff pinball.

I like the pingolf idea with split finals like this. If you want to control the timing more — because better players play less balls and novices can take quite a while to play their balls out, often five balls per hole in the pingolfs I’ve played — score-based pin-bowling is an excellent golf-like format where everyone will only play two balls per hole/frame max. It’s just ten frames with bowling scoring where hitting the target score on one ball is a strike, hitting it on two balls is a spare, and anything less gets pins based on the percentage of the target score: 10% of the target score equals 1 pin down, etc. the hardest thing is making sure people know how to do bowling scoring. And the 10th frame, with the possibility of three strikes on the same machine and frame make it extra exciting! You’d just need to figure out the proper timing for all the players to get ten frames in to suit your schedule.

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@djreddog Let’s try this


Pinbowling sounds fun!

How does it get graded from a TGP perspective? Similar to Pingolf with the PGM calculation?

Yeah. Do the average balls played per game.

I believe technically pinbowling is dealt with on a case by case basis as it is not included in the pingolf tgp rules. Unless something has changed since 5.3 made the change.


I suspect how playoffs are run (head-to-head bowling play vs. another round of just comparing the final scores of all the finalists in each division) will affect the WPPR numbers.

i thought that was the std for any format without a fixed number of balls per game, to make sure it is a full game or to adjust the TGP game by the % of avg balls?

I thought the same thing. However, for Gauntlet at Pincinnati I do not think we can get more than 1/3 game credit for each game since each can be completed in 1 ball, and there is no way to really see the average balls it takes each person to complete each task. so we just say of the 6 game bank, we get 2 TGP per round and I think we do 3-4 rounds. BIG POINTS. haha.

“The TGP will now include games played that are fewer than 3 balls, including timed formats where players are attempting to reach a score or objective as quickly as possible. Any game where it’s possible for the player to finish on the first ball in play, will be calculated at 33% value for TGP purposes. Any games set to 1-ball play will be worth 33% value. Any games set to 2-ball play will be worth 66% value. No games beyond 3 balls will be worth anything above 100% for TGP purposes. For example, if players have a goal of reaching a certain feature in a game as a way of winning that game or match, the fact that it is POSSIBLE for the player to reach that objective on ball 1 means this will count as 1/3rd of a game played towards TGP. The exception to this rule will be the Pin-Golf format, which will have it’s own set of grading rules.”

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