Never Drains Classics Circuit

Announcement time: I got the green light from Jim and Karl, so it’s GO for the (prototype) Never Drains Classics Circuit. This will be similar to the present Stern Circuit, with a wrinkle or three. All Stern Circuit events which have a Classics side event are eligible to sign on. Players will qualify via WPPRS earned over all included events. The top 40 will be invited to play in the finals the Thursday of INDISC next year.

At present, there is no per-event funding for a prize pool. If the first year is a success and players are willing to set aside funds as is now done for the regular circuit, we could go that route in the future. For now, the plan is a player entry fee tbd plus any sponsor funds we can drum up. We felt it was too short notice to do much else yet.

We are defining Classics games to be used in eligible events as ones through 1984. Events signing on should select games accordingly.

Playoff format will be a hybrid between the original stepladder and the present circuit final fornat, a bit like Expo. I’ll post the draft plan shortly.

I’m open to suggestions while this is a WIP; our goal is a bit of “PAPA-westness” and the timing of INDISC makes it a natural for a season finale venue. We’d like to create something that people will enjoy and that will last. Thanks!

Bob Matthews, TD


People who know me will not be surprised to hear I am super excited about this! This may actually make me pay attention to more circuit events (not that I expect to qualify, but I would like to try).

TDs, please flag your event as classics eligible so I can plan travel.

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Awesome idea is there anyway we can define and standardize the Classics banks by the following definition from Bob. This is what I have been using for all my Classics tournaments.

Bally: Spy Hunter [1984-10] is the first game that jumped out at me as “different” in terms of feel as a player. Kings of Steel and Black Pyramid just preceding it felt more like what had come before. Post-Spy Hunter games like Eight Ball Champ and Beat The Clock also have a non-Classic flavor.

Gottlieb: Jacks to Open [1984-02] still felt a lot like Jacks Open, but El Dorado City of Gold [1984-10] didn’t feel the same to me as Gold Strike, and certainly Touchdown and Ice Fever felt new. I never saw Alien Star when it originally came out, but I’d now place it in Classic rather than post-Classic.

Stern: all of the old Sterns [1977-1984] feel like Classic games to me.

Williams: Firepower II [1984-01] feels like the change point here. Laser Cue and Starlight likewise were new. Warlok still has that Classic feel. Williams didn’t do many titles in 1983, just Warlok and Joust.

So, the last “Classic” games by company IMHO are:
Bally – Black Pyramid [1984-07]
Gottlieb – Alien Star [1984-06]
Stern [original] – all
Williams – Warlok [1983-01]

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So much yes, Bob. So. Much. Yes.

GMTA; when I was batting the idea around with the guys, we had some of the same observations re which machine titles were the “changeover” points by company. In the end, I wanted to make the cutoff simple for everyone to apply, and doing the calendar year thing seemed the best way to accomplish it. That said, I would certainly encourage tournaments to not use EDCoG, BTC or EBC in their Classics lineups. I just didn’t want to try to post an exhaustive title list. If there’s a strong enough consensus to do so, we could always create one to use in the future. Appreciate the feedback!

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Very excited for this!

We’re hoping to be able to offer some flavor of “Classics” at PinFest this year, so we’ll be in touch with Bob once we solidify our schedule.


Before I lock down the rules, I wanted some feedback on handling events with more than one Classics side tournament. My draft proposal is to average the WPPRS, but a case can be made for either counting all of them or for taking the better of a player’s results. I’m opposed to taking the total, since that gives a lot of extra weight to people who were able to attend that event. But taking the single best result for each player does make sense, since the players did earn those points, and if each tournament was full TGP, why should they count less than others? IFPA used to divide up side event WPPRS, like PAPA Classics, but no longer does so, weighing each event on its own merits. Also, if someone played in just one day’s event of two possible ones for whatever reason, how is their result only worth half that of an event with just one side tournament if both event’s side tournaments had exactly the same format? Open to comments.

Full disclosure, this would impact my standings as well as those of the other finalists in Classics II; indeed, that of anyone who played in either tournament. I’m putting this issue out there to proactively determine what people consider the “most fair” way to deal with it. Thanks!

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I say keep each event as full value. If you can’t make that particular show and miss out on two events in one weekend, so be it. It happens.

I don’t like the average idea for reasons you already laid out.

Each event be its own, but just put a smaller event cap, like best 6 count.


I don’t like average of available events because someone might be able to make classics 1 for example. I don’t like average played because it might encourage not playing in the second event. It I decide to give up half way through qualifying, I don’t want it to hurt the average. So I like best. I like multiple classics events, so I am ok with giving them a small advantage.


If the idea is that each Pro Circuit event has effectively “one” contribution to the possible points, then for events with multiple Classics, I like the idea of taking the MAX(WPPR) for a given person for said event.

That way:

  • There isn’t a material disadvantage for only participating in one of multiple events
  • Have a bad Day One? No problem! Try again on Day Two.
  • There isn’t a huge advantage given to Circuit events that have the time/capacity/resources to host multiple Classics events, but there is a bit of a reward for doing so by taking the MAX().

That being said, there will be the manual effort required for figuring this out, so you couldn’t have an automatic IFPA filter to look at standings.

If the goal is just to have as many points-focused events as incentive, then you could let each event stand on it’s own and count everything.

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Forgive my naivety, but is there a list of which Stern Pro Circuit events have Classics categories? Or do they all?

The single best result is most likely to encourage more play from the field for events that have multiple single day tournaments so I kinda like that direction but it would certainly benefit me more than each event on its own merit. So it’s probably the wrong choice if the goal is to create the most skilled field.

Good points all, thanks. As said, this is a WIP, although I do need to lock it down before the next event, Texas. While the current Stern Circuit uses uncapped WPPRS, the original PAPA circuit had event count caps. Using a cap offsets some of the advantage that those of us who travel more get, but would allow taking all events at full value. I also like the idea of having a few non-Stern events in the mix, provided their tournaments are of Circuit quality. One of my goals is to raise the profile of Classics and encourage more high quality Classics events. Since the Stern Circuit has 20 events, but not all of those have Classics on the side, there’s room to add in a few other events. Events that have previously been on the main Circuit that aren’t now but do have a Classics side event would be obvious possibilities, as would projected likely future Circuit events. We could have up to 20 total events and take a player’s best 10 results. (I think 10 results was the cap the last year they had one; I’ll check.) I’d think the NW Show (not the same as the NW Tourney) Classics would meet the test, as might Louisville or Atlanta if they still hold their events this year. We could also throw in some European events if there’s enough interest over there. I don’t want to fill it up to 20 just to have 20, though; I’d rather preserve quality even if that means fewer events initially.

Yes, using an event cap could eliminate the need to do either avg or max. Will see what additional feedback is.

One more thing, I’ll guarantee that the finals has a good mix of both dates and manufacturers. I don’t plan to ask that of qualifying events, since they may have more limited choices of games to use.

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Last year there were Classics at these events on the 2019 Circuit:

Yes: Indisc, Expo, Florida, Outer Banks, Pittsburgh (not Pinburgh), Zoo, Texas, NW, Vancouver, Cleveland

No: Magfest, Pinburgh, Pintastic, Pinmasters, Danish (says Side, not Classic, don’t know their plans this year), 24 hour, City Champ, Brisbane (like Danish, says Side, actual tbd), Bat City (side, 2019 tbd), Pinfest (side, tbd).

I know Bat City and Pinfest used to have Classics as their side events, maybe this can nudge them towards restoring them.

So fewer than in 2018 now that I see the 2019 schedule, since we lost Buffalo, Louisville and Atlanta, each of which had Classics. Even more reason to include both ones at Indisc and to add in a few events not on the main circuit. Thanks for the question.


One per circuit event and all count have merits. Average is clearly a non-starter. With a limit makes me lean towards all. Including non-circuit events with a classics division makes sense with a limit.

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Maybe so for Bat City… but we’d need to have a lot more local collectors contribute classic pins to pull this off.

If you are looking for non Stern events YEGPIN would participate as we have a huge Classics tournament at our show.

I would also think about adding a classics event to Pincinnati as we would have no issue getting classics games there.

I looked at all of the larger Classics events from 2018, and some clear possibilities emerged: NYC, YEGPIN and the NW Tacoma show here, and in Europe, at least EPC, Dutch Masters, German, Swedish and Hungarian Opens. Don’t know how interested the Europeans are, given the finals location and timing, but I’m open to their inclusion.

While others have expressed interest, I prefer not to have a brand new event in the mix. I’m ok doing so year 2, for now, if their inaugural event is a success. So go ahead and roll out your events, and if the Classics Circuit itself lives to have a year 2, we’ll figure out who’s in it next time around. If this whole thing gains traction, we’ll probably use a review plan like the Stern Circuit does to choose events long term.