Pinball! Pinball! Pinball! Tournament report and format discussion

As long as this topic suddenly bubbled up to the top I will offer a brief summary of the Flip Frenzy experience!

I have been running Flip Frenzy weeknight tournaments for about four months now. So far we are the only ones doing it regularly in Florida. Wish others would try it out because it is fun and keeps both the beginners and the experts busy and on their toes.

Tip for the TDs: Use MatchPlay. Do 2.5 hours of qualifying and a 4-player single-round final containing at least three games. With 20+ players and 15+ games available you should reach 100% TGP with no problem, especially if you maintain the tiniest of queues. (We usually have only one or two players in the queue.) One time we tried an 8-player final, and it took WAY too long for a weeknight. We can usually get everyone out of the building by 10 or 11 so they can get a decent night’s sleep.

I also encourage players not to linger long on a game if they are getting crushed by an opponent. Take your loss quickly and move on, since this is a timed event! And when players feel dejected after a loss this format gets them “back on the horse” quickly and they soon forget that last drubbing.

Flip Frenzy has helped bring in a lot of newbies because it guarantees they will compete for a few hours, they’ll meet a lot of new people, and they will get to play a lot of different games. It is by far the most social of all the formats out there because players are not spending too much time sitting on pins and needles waiting for a dominant player to finish their ball.

We created some new SCS competition players this way, and no one has told me yet they are tired of the format. (At this point, I’m afraid to change it!)

As to players lingering and waiting for someone weak to finish up, I don’t permit that. I make the winner come up and announce the results immediately. When many people assault me at once with results(!) I try to mix up the reporting so they will get different players and games.

Has everyone been happy all the time? No! And MatchPlay once did a weird thing on me that resulted in my having to stop the tournament, make a second one, then put the two results together! But in general it’s been a net positive for the community, and I’m happy to have done it and keep doing it.

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Surely this can be seen as open to you picking and choosing who plays who. It should be based purely on the actual time people are reporting their game results.

Both players were returning to the queue after each game, and then a different machine was allocated to the person who was Player 1 (shortly to become Player 2 alongside the person at the front of the queue).

I’ll throw a tip back to you. Our first 2 flip frenzy’s we ran we did the 4 player finals. However, we have since switched to running a 60 minute frenzy final featuring the top 8. It’s so much better, and it guarantees the finals will be over in 60 minutes. With 8 people we had 2 in queue, and we remove longer playing games from the finals. Each player generally get in 7-8 games in 60 minutes.

Everyone just spent 2-3 hours qualifying in “flip frenzy”, why have them play a
completely different format for finals?


To WWJ: I see. It hasn’t been perceived that way, and I never even pay attention to who is in the queue, even if they are just feet away from me! But sometimes people say they “play the same person all the time”, and that’s because all their games are 3 minutes long and they keep losing. Lol. I tell them to do bettr/play longer and then they are sure to catch different people finishing up. There is a rhythm that starts to take hold in this format.

This is intriguing. I choose the different format because it changes the rhythm and forces people to think strategically instead of leaning on the algorithm to pick games and players. I wonder how things would work if Flip Frenzy were the playoff format for a Match Play tournament, etc. Hmmm

It would stink :slight_smile: No way am I playing match play all day, and then thrust into a frenzy.

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Last time I ran a flip frenzy I used the following rules for reporting:

Players must immediately line up together in the results queue (I told people specifically where to line up) once a game has been decided. If there is only one player present, first offense is a warning to the missing player, second offense DQd from the event.

Any player dilly dallying, wandering off or not paying attention, after a game has been decided… first offense warning, second offense DQd from the event. This includes playing out P2B3 in already decided games.

It worked well. Some salty players didn’t really love getting in line after a loss but nobody told me they didn’t think it was a good idea and I didn’t catch anyone trying to game the queue although the players I might expect this from weren’t playing in the event anyway.

As for the perceived imbalance of “schedule,” the more volatility you have in game times, the more it seems like players get mixed up but this is somewhat the nature of flip frenzy. It throws a bit of randomness into an event and I think this lets some players that might otherwise not do as well, feel like they can have some success, and in general, for mostly casual events, I think this is a good thing.


Germany have no experience with this format.
As want to organise in April 2 tournaments with 100%TGP for up to 150 Player in one day from 11am till hopefully before midnight I am thinking to run:
1 Flip Frenzy Modern and Pingolf Classics
Alternative:1 Flip Frenzy Modern and 1 Flip Frenzy Classics
Amount of Machines and Space is no problem in Freddy`s Pinball Paradise
We organised already tournaments with 150 Players there
Tomorrow I will test first time with our league by 32 Players on modern machines.
If I will use 20% for queue tomorrow, will waiting time be similar on 150 player by 20% queue ?
Any experience on Tournaments >150 Player?

Greetings Albert

Wow I wish had experience with 150+ FF haha, I’m pretty sure this will be the biggest FF ever.

Time really depends on the players and machines. Your avg game is what counts towards TGP so it’s not a huge deal if some players play long games, but you want in general people playing short games to get to 25+ avg. I think 10h+ should be good, we’ve hit 16+ using 2.5h and ~40 people so…

As mentioned before, FF qualifying + basically any sort of Finals is also an easy and efficient way to hit 100%.

I would recommend being very organized, and enforcing Jay’s rule about having both players come up to report results.

Also, I’ve been using “Pick Winner” button at the top right in Matchplay and it helps for 30+ people, I would imagine for 100+ people it’s completely necessary because scrolling through all the matches takes forever.

If everyone is tech’d up and your computer has a webcam, you can also try “Scan Winner” with QR code but in my experience there’s some % of people who don’t have their Matchplay QR code handy, or the camera is janky, etc. Pick Winner is much quicker despite what you would think.

Thanks will have finals after Tyebreaker beginning best 16
Great tried “Pick Winner” Thats fast!
I tried to scan but it did not work:

If you’re using MatchPlay, you’re going to want to use whatever the fastest entry option ends up being. Note that with ~60 matches, it will probably be easiest either to get Scan Winner working or to have the players use “Pick Winner” and make sure you have a keyboard available.

My experience in 35-player versions of this tournament is an average of 2 or 3 people in line waiting to select the winner at the computer. I wonder if this will translate to a 10 to 15 person line at the computer, if it will somehow be less, or if the queue for the PC will continue to back up and grow throughout the event.

for first time will take 20% to see if people have ebough time to go out and smoke a cigarette or have drink.

No one will have time for a smoke break or a bathroom break. This format is ridiculous fast paced. Unless you have super long playing games, people are going to be in the for about 3 minutes. You literally do not have time to go to the bathroom with only 3 minutes.

Biggest I’ve run is 50 people. 10 people in queue. Average wait was 3 minutes and 10 seconds. Here is a sampling of average game times used for this tournament.

AC/DC Pro - 6 minutes
Comet - 5:45
Dr Who - 5:53
Iron Man - 5:44
Metallica Pro - 6:57
No Good Gofers - 7:08
Paragon - 5:38
Stars - 5:21

Even with 30 people in queue, games are going to end at a rapid pace, sometimes you will have 10-12 people standing in line waiting fo give results. Good luck, and please don’t underestimate the speed of Flip Frenzy.

I’ve ran about 8 Flip Frenzies now, and every time during the announcements I let people know they will have ZERO time to step out of line/queue for food, bathroom, etc. and most of the time they shrug it off. After we stop for a break, those same people eventually come back to me to tell me they were blown away at the pace of play and had no idea that wouldn’t have time for any of those things.

A FF comp with 150 players, 30 people (20%) in the queue will need 60 machines available to play simultaneously!
10 hours is WAY TOO LONG for this format, you’ll probably max out TGP after 3hrs, 4hrs definitely.

I’ve organized a 101-player Frenzy and a 94-player one.

This is really at the edge of what the system can handle as it is limited to one computer.

Here are some takeaways:
-I had only the winner come up to register scores. That way, if something is wrong, it is their fault and the line isn’t as crowded. They also registered themselves. Then there is no miscommunication with the person registering.

-With this many people at a location with 90 games set up, it took longer for people to find games, and it is definitely better to have people go to the game as soon as the match is assigned.

-We had 10.4 games as average for 2.5 hours. We then took top 16 through to four-player quarter, semi, and final on three machines per round. Average time in the queue was 5:16.
(with the 94-player one, we had 12 games played on average and 3:10 in the queue, but that time we had fewer players new to the location, so they knew where machines were. We also had an easier PC mouse set up. With the larger tournament, we, unfortunately, used a Mac and the mouse was too sensitive, so that drained valuable seconds each time).

I’m also a proponent of hidden standings as some players tend to give up otherwise. I have seen this several times. However, opinions vary on that.

Frenzy is not the best format because of the luck factor of opponents and games and having four-player matches for the finals rounds removes some of that imho.

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@wizcat has done some testing with a program that equalizes games played, machines played, time in queue and opponents specifically for FF - not sure it’s ready for being shared yet?

Yeah it was a monte-carlo simulator based on the argument that because your opponents are randomised, there is a chance player A gets a really weak selection of opponents, compared to player B and so on. We wanted to see how it would work if the player selection was more balanced.

So when we’re ready for starting a new match, instead of taking the player from the queue who has been waiting longest, we instead select a player from the queue who hasn’t been paired against that opponent before (or the player who has been paired least).

This was fantastic at balancing the opponents, but now the randomness is added to the queue time instead, so some players would join the queue and be selected again barely 20 seconds or so later, whilst other times you might be in the queue for 10-20 minutes (compared to 5 minutes when always taking longest)

The upside is that it didn’t radically affect how many games people played on average (there was still a spread, but it was no different to the spread seen due to some games taking longer than other games). The downside is the randomness in queue time is more awkward for the players to handle. They don’t know if they can take a five minute refreshment break or whatever.

The code is messy (c# console app) but I can add it to github if anyone wants to play with it. It’s really only useful for running simulations quickly - (it completes a 6 hour FF tournament in 3 minutes or so, then reports the results to log files)

The simple fix for this is increase the que size. Time for a break between game can be a feature or a bug. Depends on your crowd.

We do this by design. No desire to increase the queue. Our 3 Frenzies average 25 games played and that’s the purpose of this format, to play a lot of pinball in a short amount of time. We split the 3 hour session in half and take a break in the middle. Also, this is just something we do a few times a year as our bread & butter is 4 player match play.