Papa 20


This is incredibly sad news to hear. I can’t begin to describe how disappointed I am (and Escher, even more so). I started playing at PAPA9, a year after Becker, but I wholeheartedly agree with everything he has already stated. I also haven’t come even close to missing a single year in the last decade and my friggin Wedding Anniversary used to conflict with it all the time! PAPA-style qualifying is so unlike any other format and it is absolutely “perfect” for deciding who should be World Pinball Champion! The strategy, energy, concentration, and nuance…ah… SO. MUCH. NUANCE. is awesome, and unique, and it’s not even a singular or private thing, it’s a collective experience for everyone there who is trying, and sure, you’re trying to beat out all these other incredible players, but at the same time, you can’t help but root for them to when they are on that ticket or going up to play that game that will decide their fate for the whole friggin year, and I can’t believe you would ever want to get rid of something like that and replace it with a SAME OLD, SAME-FUCKING-OLD, Pump N Dump Herb. It would be like replacing the 7 Game World Series with just the home run derby from the All Star Game. Woohoo… Let’s watch everyone swing as hard as they can AT EVERY SINGLE PITCH until someone hits a BIG homerun. Oh look. Another BIG homerun. Swing away, who cares if you miss or not - just get back in line and try again… Now compare that to what Becker tried to describe… The intensity and importance of EVERY SINGLE BALL increases as you do well on a ticket. It’s so much harder to play two good games in a row, then one. Exponentially harder to make it 4-out-of-5. It’s the toughest thing to accomplish in pinball… by a wide margin. And I don’t for a second accept your argument that since you went to 24 players that it somehow got “easier” or “all you need is 3 games now, and you can qualify with 2 zeros on your ticket”. I call BULLSHIT. It’s as hard now as it ever was to qualify, and if care about consistency over 3 bombs - we’ve talked about this before - you just spread the points out to top 150 or even top 200 scores instead of 87 and you’re back to needing 4+ above average games to have even a hope…

And, really, if this is about the bottom line and you don’t want your tournament to lose money, than cut the prize pool. WAY DOWN. I betcha a TON of A players wouldn’t care, so long as you kept the PAPA-style qualifying in place (and that awesome, awesome Martian trophy for World Champ!). And sure, this format absolutely sucks for lesser skilled players and new players… takes years to understand and “master”… So why not go Herb style with B through D and even Classics (didn’t lock my 20 in Paragon on Ball 1 ? I’ll just stop playing now and get back in line and try again til I do, cause it don’t matter, it’s not like I’m on a ticket where I have to scratch and claw for every point of every ball…). but keep PAPA A, the World Friggin Championships of Pinball, PAPA-style qualifying - the most brutal, unforgiving format there ever was at $20 a pop, and I don’t care if we play for 0$ - Just the Martian and a Banner, that’s all I want and need (and I bet I’m not alone in asking)… So if you want to:


like this post and chime in, for the Love of Pinball!

please! please! please!


p.s. Game 5, PAPA-style, when you have a decent ticket going and you only need that last game to get in, is the most intense pinball moment you can have (by a long shot). And I remember EVERY SINGLE moment of every single PAPA qualifying game 4 or 5 that mattered… like WAY more intense than even a finals from a “normal” tournament… Nothing comes close and it should ALWAYS be that way… Pump n Dump requires about 1000th the focus and skill and determination and NUANCE, FUCKING NUANCE, to get it done… PAPA is better than that… please, please, please, be better than THAT!


Interesting, but since understanding the format is a HUGE part of the game, irrelevant to a large extent. Pretty sure the players on the “out” list would have replayed games to at least attempt improvement.


I could not agree more with Adam, except I think the comparison is playing the US Open on a 6400 yard course with no wind and perfect greens, like the Bob Hope Desert Classic. Yawn…


Adam’s unite! :wink:

But yeah seriously 100% what lefkoff said

If this is a monetary thing, lower the prizes pools, hell get rid of the guarantee, just keep PAPA, PAPA.


You wouldn’t void the entry because the entry is just that one game… as long as you have a ball in play you have at least a chance to get a high qualifying score. Once you’re done, anything less than your best game is ‘voided’ anyway…


Not on radar or due to travel arrangements? lol

I was present at all three of the Asylum held PAPA Style tournaments and the workshop Jeff mentioned and we had great feedback to this unique format. New players were very surprised and intrigued by the strategies that were being explained in great detail by Brian and Jeff doing this tournament 101 workshop.

Personally, I always looked forward to the PAPA Style format for that playing style, increased difficulty and strategic differences. My first PAPA was mind blowing and it fueled my passion to share competitive pinball with other players. I urged and dragged players to Pittsburgh to try their hand at this unique monster. The consistency that is needed to thrive made it fun, stressful and rememberable.

These changes could affect PAPA Headquarters by making itself a lesser place to have to return to or maybe warranting a first visit while competing with all of the local tournaments that can do normal average tournaments. It could be hurtful if PAPA loses more of its character that makes it stand apart.

I believe in change but this feels like a move in the wrong direction.




Well, I think it comes down to a point of view: should a finalist be measured MAINLY by his consistency, or ability to ‘high score’?

In the new format, the qualifying scores will be higher, but for the top players it will be easier to qualify…since there’s no chance to ‘screw up’ a ticket. This means that, like it or not, the pump and dump is the true indicator of who can achieve the highest scores on a pinball machine.

Now if your measuring stick of the ‘best player’ is based on consistency, then the old PAPA format is your indicator, however, you add the element of a ‘lucky run’ where a (slightly) less skilled player has a chance to qualify.

As with video games, it’s much less stressful to be able to ‘save’ your progress when you screw up, rather than starting from scratch…but there is more glory beating the game using only one life, so prestige/bragging rights for winning the new PAPA will go down, but no more episodes of crushed hope and despair at zeroing your last game in a decent run.

Regardless, 4 days of pinball? Sign me up!


If it goes to this format, any banners awarded post PAPA19 should have an asterisk added by their name.

Ok I kid, but I do LOVE the papa format and will add my name to the list of many who prefer the uniqueness of this qualifying format.


Interesting to see how the top players feel about this change. I’m curious to how the feedback to PAPA was based on which categories people competed in. I know I only went to my first PAPA this year b/c the format seemed so intimidating. The reality is that it’s the same for everyone so it’s not technically “harder” per se but rewards certain things over others, and consistency is a big factor that separates decent from good from great players.

Many B or even C level players can put up a monster score here and there, but to do so consistently is hard. I am open to changes to grow pinball so maybe this will be the year it’s tried and fails or maybe it’ll bring about a return to the ticket format. I think almost everyone here can agree that the PAPA crew has done a great job with helping to grow pinball and if this does turn out to be a fiasco, I’m confident they will not be hesitant to bring back the ticket (or some similar) qualifying…


I am very surprised to learn that the PAPA crew would want to deviate from tradition as much as this change in format. And that the evaluation of PAPA 19 would remotely suggest this to be the way to go.

I like the “is it supposed to be fun” comment from Bowen. Made me think up the term “competitively fun”. Or “competitively satisfactory”. Meaning, a tournament is “fun” when you feel you have the circumstances to do your best. And to focus on competing without too much outside annoyance. And to plan your qualification strategy.

A comment on the buzz about line lengths and queue maintenance. For unlimited entry based tournaments having substantial lines, grant the first X entries per player a queue priviledge. Giving any player a shot at it - while having “fun”.


First, PPO uses PAPA qualifying format, but with 4 instead of 5 games. Second, I am sad about the change, like really sad. Third, I have always wanted to see what would happen if nobody was allowed to void tickets at PAPA, my guess is that nothing would change - the same people would qualify, but now I won’t get to see :frowning: . Fourth, I think the same people will qualify under the new format. Honestly.

Everyone will approach it differently, and maybe it will be SoS or bust on Tron (although I don’t necessarily agree), but the same players who can put up consistent tickets are the ones who can score the highest anyway. At least within the divisions. I see Classics being a huge change. My guess is that by expanding to 16 games with 4 counting, the finals will be entirely made up of A players. Without crunching numbers my guess is that you need to average something like 7th across 4 games to qualify (maybe you can dip lower with one or more first places).

If PAPA didn’t mind explaining the feedback that led to these changes, I would be interested. On an unrelated note, will non-tourney games be on free-play with the addition of the $20 door fee?


No they don’t, you’ve got it backwards.

A less skilled player is much more likely to qualify in a pump n dump format since they don’t have to play with any consistency.

A less skilled player will not make it in a PAPA format because the PAPA format is excellent and weeding out the weak from the strong.

I’ve had this exact discussion with other peoplea before. You could give a C player unlimited entries in A division under PAPA format and I guarantee they wouldn’t make the cut.

Do the same thing with pump n dump and the chances are greater they will qualify. Pump n dump is literally the “Throwing shit at a wall and seeing what sticks” format.

Personally I find pump n dumb un-fun, un-inspiring and an example of competitive pinball past that I had hoped was on its way out the door.

The format made sense back in the day when the scene was trying to grow… Now we are seeing much better formats emerge with Pinburgh and any other match play type formats where the focus is the competition and the fun, worrying less about the prize pool.

I obviously have no idea what the numbers are, but there must be someway to continue with PAPA as is by reducing prize payouts.


So, is there a chance of PAPA 20 changing its format back to PAPA 19 or are people just venting and complaining?

I didn’t know if there was a specific # of complaints PAPA was looking for in this thread to revert to the old format.


I will add my disappointment to the crowd. PAPA 19 was my first year, and it was probably my favourite tournament I have been to. Sure, by the end I was depressed and downtrodden with no path to qualifying in B, but that was part of the fun. Take away the stress of a good ticket and some of the magic disappears.

I am sad if this is the end, because I was hoping to try my hand at A one year, with the old format. I already have a sense of where I am in pump and dump. I find it fun, because there is less stress and I can play all day. But PAPA 19 was more thrilling.

@Vengeance so when are you organising the Canadian best card championship to help keep the format alive?


@gammagoat 2017 Apparently

Press Start Arcade Presents the “I miss PAPA” annual tournament.

I’ll get an Alien trophy with a single tear down it’s cheek.


+1 for putting the PAPA back in PAPA-style qualifying. Please.

Lower the prize pool. Anything but changing it to a pump n dump.


Question, what do we call PAPA style, when PAPA is no longer PAPA?

All IFPA Calendar submissions going forward will be denied if they use the “PAPA Format” since I no longer know what that means :cry:


PAPA was by far my favorite tournament in existence. It’s a great shame that the objectively best tournament format is no longer used at the best event in the world. Now we can look forward to a pump and dump with horrendous lines and somehow still no DTM queueing action (unless this is going to change) and an even coin-flippier classics that requires you to grind continuously from open to close to have a chance.

I’ll be the first to say it outright: Where and who is providing this mythical feedback that the PAPA format is bad and that switching to Best Game is somehow going to make everything better? I don’t believe anyone has said anything that would make the PAPA crew think that this is the right path to take. I can see ditching the PAPA format for another match play event or something (I wouldn’t do this, but I can see some reasoning behind it), but not the action that is actually being taken. It’s going to alienate both newcomers / casuals (who we have found in Seattle to HATE Best Game as proven at NWPC, although our tournament manages to expand year after year now) and the core players that keep the lights on year after year after year.

One of the biggest reasons I empty out my savings to come to PAPA every year (my bank account usually has less than 4 digits in it after the PAPA trip after flight+hotel+entries) is because of that great great format. It’s gonna be a lot harder for me to justify that trip now, even though PAPA is like a big family reunion every year. It’s so sad to me to see it tossed aside in order to cater to some imaginary audience that I honestly don’t believe exists. If the numbers are not looking good enough to keep PAPA going as-was then maybe it’s either time to end it or pursue alternative means of paying the bills. I just don’t believe at all that the proposed approach is going to do anything positive.

Please don’t take this as an insult. I love PAPA; it’s probably the tournament that’s had the biggest impact on me as a player in terms of motivation and emotional impact upon good (and bad) results. I just wish it didn’t have to end “like this”. There was basically nothing like PAPA; now there IS nothing like PAPA (at least on a significant scale).

Either way, whatever way you decide to go, thank you for the years of amazing events. The PAPA format is an era of tournament pinball that will never be forgotten and always looked back upon fondly by many.


#notlikethis :cry:


R.I.P. Papa format. Hope PAPA reverts back to it as that what makes PAPA unique and worth attending for me. With the changes I’ll be skipping out as I can go to a Pump n Dump anywhere/anytime and travel less distance and cost.