PAPA scoring schemes

Continuing the discussion from World's Worst Scores!:

Isn’t accuracy a very subjective concept in this discussion? Person A might examine a set of tickets and the resulting standings for a scoring scheme and say “yeah, that looks right” while person B might examine the same tickets and standings under a different scoring scheme and say “that one looks right”. Neither is objectively correct.

That suggests that the scale running in the opposite direction might be better to allow for infinite scaling, with low points for first and increasing points as you do worse. 0,6,10,13,15, +1 per place or something like that. You then have no ‘zero’ score to much things up.

I agree - Though, I think emotionally its easier to think about wanting to gain qualifying points. Reversing the scale might feel weird or be less “fun.”

Sailing/yachting uses a low-points scoring system for all regattas—except the ones on TV. Sailors seem fine with it, though it helps that their system is all linear except for first: 0.75,2,3,4,… means that you get points equal to where you finished, which has a nice emotional resonance to it. It’s also dead-easy to explain to new folks for the same reason.

Pinballers (seem to) like having a big gap for the top few places, which makes that line-up harder.

Specifically why I said in my opinion :slightly_smiling:

From what I saw, the higher the scale used for this type of qualifying, the better the fidelity to which each entry was graded against other entries.

In smaller scales with more zeros being given out, the less granular the qualifying becomes.

I got curious as to when Kevin changed the Pinburgh scoring back in the day to what it is now . . .

Looks like Pinburgh 2002 scoring went down to 1 point for 45th place. A division had . . . 22 players! (Look out!)

Pinburgh 2003 introduced the new current system down to 1 point for 88th place. A division had a 30% increase in player count, up to 28 players OMG! :slightly_smiling:

Looks like I didn’t qualify in 2002, so obviously that scoring system was bullshit from the start. Qualified in 6th for Pinburgh 2003, so I’m definitely in full support of the current scheme!

If PAPA does change the scoring system, I reserve the right to express my opinion after I see whether I qualify or not the following year :wink:


I can understand the purpose of expanding the scale to analyze data-we have already seen examples of inequity among the zero scores.

However, I think there is a nice aesthetic and ease of comprehension to the viewing masses examining 5 scores on a 100point scale. If someone is the 300s at PAPA, we know that is very impressive. (Maybe previously with fewer people that number was higher).

This year, a score of 209 qualified which is an average of about 42 points per game. In other words an average of 46th place on each of 5 games was sufficient to make it to the finals of The PAPA World Championships.

Looking at it that way, I agree with Bowen’s comment about not needing to differentiate between below average scores and super below average scores. How much tweaking needs to be done if currently an average of 42 points per game on a 100 point scale gives a player a shot at the title.

There’s always new ways to look at the data and play with numbers, especially with more players becoming involved. Most of us are inclined toward mathematics it seems anyway, so it’s fun, particularly since it is tied to pinball. The system now, maybe from a strictly analytical viewpoint is not perfect, but in general I think most people agree it is a fairly accurate metric for finding the best players.

How many entries are submitted per game? I have no clue, but maybe it’s 400, and then averaging the 46th best score is pretty damn good.

And even if it isn’t 400, you’ve got many, many entries that aren’t submitted at all, but yet any submitted score is still competing against those entries.

Lets make sure we look closely when the scale gets larger. It doesn’t make it easier to qualify. It doesn’t make it easier to get meaningful points.

What it does do is more accurately represent how good your score on a game is relative to the other competitors and scores on that game. It simply more accurately represents your entry.

Everyone gets more “points”

I disagree with Bowen’s comment.
Currently under this system at papa 18, we are seeing 113M and 12M on cftbl both treated equally in qualifying. A gap of 101M and a difference of almost %1000.

At the same time, We value 129,252,930 As 13 points, and 129,452,200 as 14 points. A gap of ~199k and a difference of ~0.1%.

I like real world examples, so here’s one:

From PAPA 18, Here’s ticket A

Space Station…3,313,040…27…61
The Walking Dead…250,433,230…14…74
Monster Bash…44,341,200…90…0
Total Points: 186
Finishing position - tied for 26th place (missed the cut by 2 points)

Here’s ticket B

Space Station…618,370…208…0
Total Points: 212
Finishing Position - 18th place (made the cut by 24 points)

So it’s pretty “simple”, really :smile: which is a “better” PAPA ticket ? Under the current scoring system, ticket B is better because it’s worth 26 points more than ticket A. So the current system values “3 bombs and 2 goose eggs” over a “five solid, above average scores”

However, if you were to expand the scoring out to 125 or 150 instead of 100, ticket A becomes much stronger (because it’s two “zero” games will begin contributing points to the ticket almost immediately whereas ticket B’s two goose eggs will continue to be goose eggs in any scoring system and will bleed away to obscurity…).

So really, it comes down to whether you want your 5-games-per-ticket scoring system to value a run like ticket A more or ticket B more, and for most players, it really won’t matter an iota because they will still qualify no matter what system you use. And change is hard, and different, and scary, so it’s always easier to stick to what you know, but I can tell you that my approach to a PAPA ticket would change a lot if the scoring system changed, because right now, there’s tremendous value in having a couple of top 20 bombs on your ticket and you can definitely get in with just 3 out of 5 big games, whereas with any deeper scoring scale, playing all 5 games above average becomes essential.

Personally, I think that @Sanjay’s Ticket A was more deserving of a place in the finals of PAPA 18 than my own ticket B (I don’t subscribe to @pinwizj’s what’s-best-for-me-is-best-for-everyone’s philosophy :wink:), and that the PAPA scoring system should definitely increase it’s fidelity to keep up with the volume of games being played in qualifying. #MakeAllFiveGamesCount!


Bullshit! :slightly_smiling:

You say that now that PAPA 18 is over, but I guarantee Lefkoff & Associates would be suing for emotional damages over the changed scoring system.

Just to prove that’s correct, I went into Steinman’s time machine, took a trip back to alternate universe PAPA 18 and captured this picture after you failed to qualify by 2 points.


You guys are hilarious! Truth is, PAPA qualifying has always been about the bombs OR the consistent ticket. You can get in with either one.

Actually these scores by JonR and Ben brought up a discussion in the waiting lines at PAPA. Right now, any score 88th or below is worth 0 points. This means a score of 580M on GoT, and score of 2M on GoT, were both treated equally. Yet, both of those scores could have been part of tickets where the players were nearly tied, but clearly one player had a better GoT game. Only top 88 players get points is historical, from when this system began, and we barely had more than 100 plays on a machine. But now with number of plays exceeding 150 for almost every machine, and in some cases in the 200s, is it time to revamp the points? Maybe top 150 scores should get points? Suppose 1st place was 200 points, then we could even have a scale that still is top heavy, but doesn’t have that big drop when a score gets knocked from 1st to 2nd or 2nd to 3rd, but only single point drop after 3rd. E.g. 200, 190, 185, 180, 176, 172, 168, 164, 160, 157, etc. Once we get to about 20th, then single point drop all the way to 150th or so. How would that change who qualifies and who doesn’t? And assuming it does result in changes, is it for the better? Right now the player with three high scores and two zeros sees their score bubble up, whereas a player with five very good, but no excellent scores will fall like a rock. I don’t know what the right answer is, but I do agree with JonR that maybe it’s time to give a score of 500M more points than a score of 2M.

The Kidforce league up in Cleveland has adjusted to this. I think when I was last involved, their point system might’ve been 145, 135, 130, 127, 125, 124, 123…There were maybe 120 players that season. Now the points are probably something different.

@jdelz Do you know how Joe matches up the game points with the number of players involved?

The effects of a zero score are pretty interesting.

In looking at the PAPA 19 qualifying scores, the 2 players on the one point bubble this year would not have benefitted from an awarding of points from, let’s say 200 to 0.

Cryss S, had no zero scores in his best run, but still just missed the cut. Recalibrating does not really help him. Escher L. was tied with Cryss, but had 2 zero scores. However, the 2 zeroes were not near the upper end of the scores that awarded zero points. So it was not a case of “all that work for nothing.” Recalibrating the scale probably would not have helped him.

This to me is the interesting case: A little farther down the qualifying list is Johnny M. who missed the qualifying cut by 5 points. However, his GoT score of 509 MIL on his best entry ticket was one of the top 10 zero scores out of 84 zero scores.

Looking at other qualifiers in A who made the cut but had a zero on their best A ticket for GoT were Andy R. and Jason W. Comparing: Johnny’s GoT score was considerably better than Andy’s and Jason’s scores on their best A ticket: Johnny 95th, Andy 125th, Jason 150th.

In looking at the composite qualifying score, Andy was at 251, Jason finished at 227, (they both made the cut) Johnny at 204, but all had zeros on their best tickets for GoT. If points were awarded for everything and assuming 1 point differentials that far down the list, Johnny would have 55 points more than Jason when comparing their best tickets where the zero exists. Johnny would have only gained 30 points on Andy. So just looking at those scores, Johnny would have qualified much higher than Jason.

Granted, I did not recalibrate every scenario and every ticket, but this particular example stuck out to me as a case of all zeroes are not equal.

I don’t agree. 500 million and 2 million on Game of Thrones are both below-average scores.

My opinion is that any below-average game should be worth zero. I don’t feel that the difference between a below-average game and a super below-average game should determine whether a player qualifies in the PAPA format.

If you want a comparison for a place where this is already happening, look at Classics. The cutoff for 87th is pretty close to the total number of entries on most machines, which gives below-average games some credit. As a result, in Classics you are hit very, very hard for a poor game.

I greatly prefer rewarding players for their good games, with the relative strength of those good games mattering more than the relative strength of below-average games.

An alternative would be to change the scoring system to be “exponential decay” (100-95-95% of that-etc), which I’ve seen in some Euro events. This gives a longer “tail” where you’ll still receive points, but not many – I find this fairer in noting that there is a difference between 60th and 80th but that difference is not as important as the difference between 5th and 25th.

We used to use exponential decay in the scoring at CA Extreme but I think we set the decay too steep. Lots of people ended up with low qualifying totals, and it was replaced with the current PAPA system.


Just to see what happens, I looked at the players down through Trent in 33rd place under various scenarios. Current is the 88th place goes to zero used now. 134 is with a scale going 150-140-135-132-130-129-etc., 184 starts at 200. Sum Ranks is just adding up their positions on each game. Sum percents is doing the sum of their percentiles.

For those near the top, it matters little. What I do see, though, is a few entries where players had all 5 games in the top 88 - - still in the top 1/3, not just 1/2 on the machines played - - yet lost out to others due to the scale used. You can make a pretty good case that Cryss, Julio, Paul and Andy Jr. had tickets that were better than Johan’s or Jason’s,

Player Current (88) 134 Places 184 Places Sum Ranks Sum Percents
Massenkoff 1 1 1 1 1
Elwin 2 2 2 2 2
George 3 3 3 3 3
Davidson 4 7 7 14 9
Z Sharpe 5 4 4 4 4
Gagno 6 13 13 19 16
Kerins 6 8 8 7 11
Hugosson 8 9 9 8 7
Rosa 8 24 24 23 28
Hansen 10 14 14 26 22
Henderson 11 15 15 18 15
J Sharpe 11 5 5 5 5
Belsito 13 17 17 20 19
Stix 14 6 6 6 6
Acciari 15 20 20 22 21
McKinnie 16 19 19 24 29
Genberg 17 25 25 32 27
Werdrick 18 31 31 30 33
Replogle 19 22 22 16 18
Runsten 20 26 26 27 24
Becker 21 21 21 15 17
Stewart 22 23 23 16 12
Sutter 23 10 10 9 8
Birrell 24 32 32 28 26
Stephens 25 11 11 10 13
Lefkoff 25 33 33 33 32
Vicario 27 12 12 11 10
Modica 28 29 29 31 31
Ojamies 29 27 27 25 30
Bowden 30 28 28 29 25
Jongma 31 16 16 12 14
Rosa II 32 18 18 13 20
Augenstein 33 30 30 20 23

1 Like

For reference, the number of non-voided games on the A bank ranged from 171 on GoT to 328 on EBD with an average of 258; only GoT had under 220.

Thanks for doing all that data analysis, Bob. To my eye, given that data, there’s not much reason to change… changing would just move the zero line from one arbitrary position to another arbitrary position.

Bowen’s exponential decay proposal is kinda interesting but personally, I don’t think I want to deal with comparing my score of 214.3791 to someone else’s score of 214.9714… that feels unnecessarily pedantic.

I can’t tell if I went up or down based on Bob’s analysis, but like most pinball related things that I hear about WPPR, if Bob’s changes made me go up, I fucking love it!

If they make me go down, I’m pretty sure it’s the shittiest proposal I’ve heard in my entire life :slight_smile: