Pinball! Pinball! Pinball! Tournament report and format discussion


Yeah I agree, we’re going to do this at the next two tournaments I am running as well and I think the other bonus to that is the more casual folks get guaranteed play time (and lots of it) and don’t have to be in for the ‘long haul’ that most of the more season players/WPPR hunters look for. So you can get a good % of TGP up front and then grade it close to 100%/+ with your playoff format…


This was the first one I ran using matchplay
And the 2nd one at the location

Check out the amount of noobs and low rated players at the event…We had repeat players from the first event and they brought along friends.

It was a prepaid event that sold out and a bunch of people at the end of the event talked to me and wanted to sign up for the next one which was 6 weeks or so away and not registered yet. Unheard of.

There are so many other monthly tournaments here and they are OK for getting 1 or 2 new players each time, but having almost half the players unrated I think is good for growing the local scene!

If you have some super serious players you want to retain then make the Frenzy a little shorter and give the top 4 some finals at the end.


Hey Ryan, when you say “Both players entered their own results”. Is that through their phone on Matchplay live or through a common computer were both players walked to after the game to add their results?

Then whoever gets to play again (winner if first win or 2 players from queue if the winner already won) is in charge to get the player from queue and get their next match going?


Yes, there was my laptop hooked up to a 42" TV, and people just scrolled down to their game and choose who won.
Matchplay then pops up on the screen telling you who is next.
The people in the queue hung around the TV anyway, and the software shows you your position in the queue on your Phone, and at the top of the default screen being displayed on the TV,
So if you are next, you know when someone is approaching the TV you are up.

Only crappy thing is that 3 or so times people accidentally clicked out of the screen, and when you go in it shows the current results, so some people knew how they where going in the middle of the tournament

But yes you can play in the tournament yourself, but I would only do it if a good percentage of people have played before, and if the machines are solid.


Also you said you hid the standings - have you found that to be a better practice or is it better to show the standings? Any other folks have thoughts on that?

If it’s hidden it can help to reduce shenanigans like ‘oh i might have to play someone good so i’ll take a long dump and get skipped once’ to play someone ‘weaker’ etc. :poop:


If someone doesn’t show up for their match, they should be marked as “player not present” in Match Play. This moves the player to the back of the queue AND credits them with a loss. (Their opponent does not get an automatic win, but instead plays whoever is at the front of the queue.) There’s nothing to be gained by going missing.

Hiding the standings certainly can help prevent other kinds of shenanigans, though.


The first one I ever ran was using a spreadsheet with the standings shown.
I think 2 or 3 people left the event early because could see how bad they where doing against everyone else.

Not knowing the standings I think adds to the excitement but also make a lot of nervous players play better.
How many times do people put pressure on themselves saying ‘If I just make this shot, I win the game and win the tournament’ and absolute fail.

Like LCM said, if a player doesn’t rock up they are getting a loss and back of the queue. So you need to make the queue long enough that people can go outside for a smoke break if needed or quickly go to the toilet. If you have enough machines and the queue is too short, you can just manually take out a machine. If someone leaves early, don’t manually create a game, just add the person that was meant to be playing them back to the queue. Otherwise the queue gets too short and its impossible for the software to adjust.


Cool yeah the toughest thing we had was people wanted a really short queue but it was so short that if you had a person taking a :poop:, that would take longer than the queue time so we didn’t really want to give them a loss for not being there since that’s a natural thing you need to take care of :joy: -

I guess a super extreme version could involve Depends


We ran into the same situation . . . either that or players asking if they had enough time to run to the bar to get a drink. We also had some players concerned about the lack of socializing with all the playing going on.

Ultimately I think with the more ‘casual’ nature of this tournament format, it’s important to have a queue that’s long enough to ensure that players have some chance to relax, run to get a drink, use the bathroom, have a conversation with another player, before getting thrown back into the chaos. The location certainly appreciates making sure the players had time to reload on their drinks as well.


how would you guys use final standings for tie breaker? For Matchplay events I use the “most amount of 1st then most amount of 2nd… and if needed, higher ranked in previous round or if still tied the round before” which guarantee not having to play tiebreaker that stress the schedule of our tournament.

for FF (example would the winning ratio (W / L) be a good tie breaker metric? Someone with 15/8 would win over someone with 17/10 for example…

I would not want to push for a metric that motivates people to throw games or try to fudge the system…

Hiding the standing is something I am still not sure about?


We submit those positions as being tied. Only a tie for 1st place would be broken via a playoff for us.


ah, i may not have been clear enough. my goal is to top top8 into a 4player group knockout finals :slight_smile: So I need top8 to be clear without having to go through another 20-30min tie breaker game (It has happened…).


One ball playoff for the win!


Seconded! We’ll be doing top 4 finals in January and will use the one-ball playoff where needed.


haha @dbs favorite method but I would rather use metrics from 2.5 hours of qualifying than one random ball that could invalidate 2.5h of hard work :slight_smile:


I ran one of these over the weekend and we had record turnout for the venue (21 people):

Some random observations:

There’s a lot of confusion about the exact nature of the format. Matchplay implements this a certain way and that’s what I went with, but I did mangle the rankings (W-L differential not just overall Wins) explanation. I’ve totally written up a spiel for the future so I can explain all the rules correctly. I like that Matchplay lets me use fewest losses as the tiebreaker instead of most wins.

The queue management system provided by Matchplay is huge. Putting the big screen view up on a TV at the venue really helps.

It’s quite difficult to put this on as one person show. Everytime I had to make a ruling / open a mchine to get a stuck ball / etc it could/would slow the queue down. I ended up adding “stoppage time” of 15 minutes to the end of the tourney.

To really do this well I feel you would need 2-3 people so someone can always be entering results and directing people if necessary. Then the other 1-2 people can be dedicated tech or rulings person.

This is a really great format for venues since it increases coin drop. If it’s a barcade, more people will buy drink/food as well. The players I talked to seem to really like this format too, regardless of skill level. Everyone seems to like less downtime and “no elimination”. I can see why this is popular haha.

The major disadvantage of this format is it’s more complex to setup/run/execute than other formats. Once that queue starts you better know what you are doing as a TO/TD. Also, I do agree the TO/TD shouldn’t be playing though I guess if there were like 3-4 TO/TD that could work as some people have stated.

The format does indeed handle machines going down for issues well, which is great for the venue I run events at.

I did not run a playoffs, but in the future I’m considering it. Opinion on this was pretty split, since my queue time was 2.5 hours (really like 2.75 with stoppage time). Some people felt that they’d played enough while others wanted a playoffs. I think a playoffs is probably in order since the higher skill players seem to want a playoff and they’d most likely be the ones playing heh.


So, I have now run two of these tournaments in Portland using Matchplay. I like the format a lot, and was waiting for something to come along make it easy to run. Matchplay is great and easy to use for this format. I’ve found it easy enough that I’ve played in both tournaments I’ve run, one with 34 players and one with 18 players.

A few thoughts: when I had major/catastrophic malfunction that required moving players to another game Matchplay handles this by putting both players at the top of the que. I didn’t initially realize that If I had an open machine that I could, right away, start those players on another game. It messed me up for a bit until I figured it out because removing people from a game without assigning them to another game made my que two people longer. On the flip side this works just as well if you don’t have any open games. The players are at the top of the que and play the next available matches.

I messed up a ruling that I probably would have made correctly if I wasn’t trying to move things along so I didn’t keep people from playing more games. I don’t know if other people have run into this, but I’d be interested to hear what TDs thoughts were on making decisions quickly VS making them absolutely correctly in this format.

An odd thing I ran into with this format was that, because I didn’t have a lot of games to use, my 34 person tournament with a 14 person que was worth about the same WPPRS as my 18 player tournament with a 4 player que. The 34 player tournament only averaged 9-10 games and the 18 player tournament averaged 16 games. It’s the only format I can think of where more players could potentially hurt how many WPPRS it’s worth.

On que length, no one complained about the 14 player que that averaged about 15 minutes. I did get some complaints about the 4 player que that averaged 4 minutes being too short. I might try to play with the que length to get it around 7-8 minutes and see if that is the happy spot.


Also on coin drop, I didn’t get any complaints at 9-12 games but I did get some grumbling at 16-20 games. These games probably averaged fifty cents. Some at quarter, some at fifty cents, and some at seventy five cents. None of this was, to the best of my knowledge, where people would not play the format again. But $10-plus in coin drop for a small tournament might be where the grumbling starts especially if you’ve dropped that much and are not near the payout.

I like this format for the non-elimitation aspect, but, that has to be balanced with coin drop and time.


I played in one of these for the first time last night. @Binkley ran it (and did a great job) but I definitely have some thoughts on the format and a couple suggestions for others running it in the future.

First, if at all possible, have more games than players playing games. If you have 10 active players with an 8 person queue, use 7 or 8 games. If you use the same number of games as you have players playing, everyone plays the same game twice, which is a bit much. And as the tournament progresses, some people will end up playing the same game over and over. I ended up playing 9 of 19 games on Metallica. That’s a lot of Metallica in a 10 game bank. Plus, a couple games were acting a little squrrely and as the guy that keeps things working at the location, I didn’t have time to try and fix them and pulling one out of the lineup wasn’t an option with the number of players/games the event started with.

I think it’s been said before, and this applies for almost all tournament formats IMO, but try to make the long playing games not play as long. I changed the tilt debounce settings and it helped but a couple people still blew up deadpool and maiden and we had one player with 16 games while a few had as many as 22.

I don’t love that the format encourages you to quit and hope you get a win with a big lead. I know there were a couple times when I had a big lead that I just wanted the game to be over so I could get back at it and hopefully get more games played.

The format puts a lot of pressure on everyone to keep things moving quickly so if you have a lot of people, I’d reccomend identifying a few assistant TDs. The person running the queue is being hammered with players finishing and starting almost the whole time, and there will inevitably be those moments when 7/10 games all finish at once. And when an assistant TD is playing, there’s nobody to deal with game issues without holding things up.

I think there should be a playoff in this format. The games that end when a player hits the top of the queue seem quite random, so taking X number of players and running a short final is preferred IMO. I finished second but felt as though I had a pretty easy path through the event so my second didn’t “feel” second to me. I don’t think I played more than two of the players that finished in the top half of the pack all night. That’s no good IMO. A playoff will help balance this out somewhat.

In general, I can really see why this might be catching on. I love that the format keeps everyone playing but also gives everyone short breaks. For the most part, it seems players like that they play a lot and don’t get eliminated early. It’s also great for coin drop if that’s a consideration. Keeping the entry fees low is probably smart and will reduce cost complaints if that’s an issue in one’s community.


For any comp that is more on the competitive end of the spectrum vs casual end of the spectrum, I wholeheartedly agree with a need for a finals. In the one Flip Frenzy I’ve played, I ended up taking first place with a net win difference of 1 between 2nd place (@Law) and me, and I never faced @Law finisher during the entire comp. Primary cause of this is the random nature of the match-ups.