League play - groups & playoffs

I’ve played in leagues for a while now, and have been researching how other leagues operate, in order to try some new things and make the leagues both more fun and as fair as possible. We have both house leagues and a location league - each league is usually around 20-24 players in size.

Playoffs / Finals - how many leagues determine a winner based on playoffs vs. just using regular season standings?

The challenge with playoffs that I’ve observed is some players can’t make the date even if announced well in advance. So an entire season of good performance can go for naught. Any suggestions on how to deal with this?

Another big question - how do you select player groups each week for your league? We’ve tried both the FSPA ladder system and tried rotating to play new opponents each week. The latter is tough to pull off given absences and such. Any good systems / software that helps to maximize group rotation?

Thanks for your input!

We use FSPA league manager. We have eight weeks of group matchplay, then two weeks of finals. A semi-finals, then finals. To satisfy IFPA rules, we include A division finals results in the overall results reported. The B and C divisions reported results are where they stand after the eight weeks. B and C still have playoffs, but it’s only for the cash prizes.

If a player can’t make the finals that is unfortunate, but it does happen from time to time.

The Pittsburgh Pinball League uses random draw for matchups every week.

Schedule is announced at the start of league, gives people plenty of time to try and make it work, but it does happen where people cannot make finals.

Cleveland Pinball League runs as 8 weeks of match play with 1 drop week. The first two weeks are randomly grouped, then weeks 3-8 are based on current standings. We play at 3 different locations, so players have the option to mix it up or play the same place every week. IFPA standings are based on the final standings at the end of 8 weeks, then we have a finals day broken up into divisions for trophies and cash.


NKY pinball league uses Matchplay for the groupings. I do balanced groupings so it attempts to pair people with previously unfaced opponents. What i like about Matchplay is I can just wait until the day of league, see who’s there, deactivate the no shows in the software and then run the groups.

We play 6 sessions (can drop two) and have finals on the 7th session.


Thanks. I’ll definitely consider matchplay for the groupings to help maximize rotation. Do your finals count for “all the marbles” with respect to final standings?

I’ve seen where some leagues have “finals” that determine some or all of the prizes, but standings for WPPRs use just regular season results. True playoffs provide more excitement / fun, but if not all the top players can make it then it really stinks. No good way around that from what I can tell.

Yes our finals is for all the marbles. The 6 sessions leading up determines seeding for the finals bracket (A and B divisions). Then finals is best of three double elimination head to head.

We try to be strict on making the finals. If they cannot commit to finals (known at least 6 months in advance), we ask that they let someone else play that season that can make it. Things happen though, but we’ve had good luck with this and people rarely miss finals.

I run 6 weeks of match play with 2 drops, use matchplay.events to try and balance the groups (tough with ~20 so players each night) and we play finals on the 7th week. There are usually a few no shows in our B group but I don’t think we’ve had someone miss an A finals in 4 “seasons.”

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I run a 6 month league. Best 4 out of 5 scores count with the finals on the 6th month.

As all of the games are scored against each other I don’t bother with forcing the groupings, as it doesn’t matter for the results whether you play alone, with the best players or the worst players. Each game is ranked against all of the games on that machine.

As all meetings are held on the last Monday of the month it’s easy for people to plan around it.

As for the finals,
I split all of the players into 4 player ‘divisions’.
If you can’t make the final it’s just unfortunate, and I record you as finishing below whatever division you had qualified for.

i.e. If a player finished 6th, they should have been grouped with players 5th, 7th & 8th, to play for positions 5, 6,7 & 8.
However they would be ranked 9th, while players 5th, 7th, 8th & 9th, play for positions 5, 6, 7 & 8.
That way you’re not dropping too far below your positioning from the 5 months play.

In 4 seasons I’ve never had someone not able to attend the finals who had made the A-Finals

The Crabtowne Pinball Club does this as well. I played there one season looking for something different, and I didn’t care much for that system. It created situations where a high-ranked player could end up grouped with beginners, which was a total mismatch. That felt bad both for the beginners who were getting stomped, and for league leaders who felt an opponent was basically getting a “free” week.

One league I help run groups players into 8 player divisions for finals. Ladder format, so everyone plays on finals night, top four in each division play a three game match to determine final position.

Season groupings in a 32 player league example are done 1-9-17-29, 2-10-18-30, etc. So less skilled players get to watch and discuss strategy with higher skilled players. We choose two banks of five games, 16 people compare scores on each of the five games in the bank.
Here is a link to our Google Sheet used for scoring: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1ml4I1oq8nmu-F38bNqHmxvKX4ajATH-55g8ghddwnuY/edit?usp=sharing

Feel free to ask any questions.

It actually tends to average out over time and players have told us they actually like the experience of playing with top level people.

We don’t split into divisions until our finals so everyone is in the same group pool until then.


Sounds like pretty much the same system. Different strokes for different folks I guess.

Most leagues around here submit final regular season standings for WPPRs. Finals is a one night tournament with all the league dues on the line as prize money (also medals/trophies sometimes).

I like it this way because if someone can’t make the finals, they can still place high for WPPRs. It also gives more winning conditions. Did well in the league but bombed in the finals? Oh well, you did well and got your points. Underachieved in the regular season? You can play well for one night and win a medal.

(Generally I’m against “everyone gets a trophy”, but that’s not what this is, and the more chances I can give to lower ranked players the better - I want them coming back!)


Thanks for all the input!

I enjoy rotating groups to help keep it more social and get to know all players better, and encourage new players.
Then for the final playoffs we can split into divisions to give everyone something to play for.

Also with the current FSPA ladder system it is almost impossible for someone who starts out very low to make the A division in a 7 to 8 week season, no matter how well they do. Maybe there are ways to adjust this, but I’m leaning toward not determining divisions until the final playoffs.