Pinball! Pinball! Pinball! Tournament report and format discussion


Moreover, 3/4 of the top four finishers didn’t even play one another directly.

I don’t think this is due to the random nature of matchups - it’s due to the current matchplay implementation. We started the tournament with something like 8 players in the queue between us and never made it forward or back far enough to play one another.

Unless there is significant variance in game duration across games or throughout the tournament, the overall player position in the tournament will stay close to static when you’re using the current matchplay system with the game-game-queue setup. The traditional flipper frenzy format where players may play one or two games before returning to the queue mixes things up more.


Excellent point! That explains why everyone faced a repeating “set” of players.


We’ve run a few of these with Spreadsheets, but we finally ran one with the MatchPlay software a few weeks ago.

MatchPlay made the event run very smoothly and was a lot less chaotic, which allowed me to actually enjoy the format and focus on playing as opposed to mainly being focused on the logistics of the event itself.

People seemed to enjoy hiding the standings and we’ll continue doing that in events moving forward. Creates some mystery until the end of the event when you can do a big reveal.

The venue where we host has a mix of older solid states and newer modern games. Previously we kept it to the faster games but then you would have situations where a person would end up on KISS Bally four times in a row while someone played a longer game of AFM in the same amount of time. We found the way to mitigate this is to have more venues than groups, and that you get bounced around machines moreso that the original rules of staying on the same machine two games in a row.

We also turned ALL tilt warnings off for all games in the event. There’s certainly still a game-time difference between older and newer, but it allowed us to include games that would have otherwise been ignored in a short-format event like this.

Arena Play count Avg. duration
Attack From Mars (Remake LE) 12 plays 05:39
Batman 66 (Premium) 11 plays 08:13
Fathom 11 plays 04:39
Firepower 16 plays 04:50
Iron Maiden 12 plays 08:05
Kiss (Bally) 12 plays 03:57
Kiss (LE) 13 plays 07:04
Medieval Madness Remake 10 plays 09:21

Fathom and KISS had to be disabled for part of the tournament (one for repairs, and one because there was a non-tournament player who had driven to the venue specifically to play KISS so we freed up the machine for him for a bit).

Because the focus was on “fun event” and not “ultra-competition to find the best”, we also did some door prizes for anyone who didn’t finish in the money. There’s also stuff we did in the past like giving away a globe for most games on AMF, or giving a prize to the person who finished exactly in the middle.

Overall, I love this format and the software from @haugstrup has made running this format 40x easier than how we were doing it previously.


please add variance and std dev (if not too much work). also, would be interested to see how player match ups worked out. I didn’t play every player in the tournament, but I definitely played most of them.


You have the ability to pause the tournament. If a ruling required more thought or required you to seek out advice from other people I would simply pause the tournament. The clock will stop and the people currently play will continue to play. Once you have your ruling, resume the software and any matches that have completed, you can then assign the other matches that are waiting.


I was using the data provided by the MatchPlay Admin interface. I copied and pasted raw match data here if you want to have a go with analysis:


Hiding the standings is an interesting idea, I might try that at the next flipper frenzy I run where the average skill level is lower than yesterday…

Stats from 1/27 event (3h queue + 15 min stoppage):
29 players, 10 machines
Longest machine: Deadpool (10:55 avg), 19 plays total (fewest)
Shortest machine: Meteor (04:56 avg), 40 plays total (most)
Avg time in queue: 06:32 (a bit short?)
Avg games/player: 19.1
Most Games: 22
Fewest Games: 16
Winner played 17 games

Some of my thoughts/observations after having run 2 of these in the area (SoCal), get ready for a long read:


  • Setting up machines (like modern Sterns) to be harder is probably a good idea for this format, even if it just turning down/off ball save and tightening tilts / removing debounce/warnings, etc.

  • It’s definitely better to set the queue (manually if you have to) to a # where there’s one free machine so people don’t go back to the same machine. That being said, part of the appeal of this format is that it can handle machines going down. (More of an issue at my other location than the one @jay manages). I tested and Matchplay would extend the queue manually if a machine goes down. You can also activate a “new” machine and have a created on it / create a game on an unused game if available. (Matchplay is smart enough to put the people playing at the head of the queue if a machine/arena malfunctions.)

  • One issue is on Matchplay the manual queue size only goes up to 10, which means it wouldn’t have been possible yesterday (29 people!) to set the queue to ~11-12 people which is what we needed. I hope this gets added in the future? (I believe there’s a Matchplay thread somewhere, I will go post up there, need to tag @haugstrup as well right?)

Better Queue management

  • Explain to people they will be playing two games before getting back in line, and that coming from the line you are always P1.

  • Other location doesn’t have the luxury of space, but making the top 4 actually be close by is a good idea. Some people are better at this than others.

  • Need to tell people that the time to get a beer, quarters/tokens, and go to the bathroom is when you are at the END of the queue/line, not in the top 3-4 slots.

  • Need a queue for reporting scores. I might bring gaff tape to put on the floor to indicate the beginning of the line. It’s not fair to (inadvertently) “skip” people because of how certain people can shout/run to the TD.

  • Stoppage time is a good idea esp if it’s a one TD show. Basically I start a stop watch if I have to go to the bathroom or deal with an issue and I add in stoppage time (rounded up to nearest 5 min increment) at the end. I did this when we got to 15min left but in the future I am just going to wait until the queue hits 0. I know you can pause the queue but my #1 fear would be I forget to un-pause the queue (I can totally see this happening for like X minutes with how chaotic the format can get)

Concessions / Forfeiting

  • I allowed concessions if someone feels they are behind and cannot catch up. In every case this has been on ball 3. Are there “official IFPA” rules about concessions? One of the top players pointed out to me that I should only allow concessions on ball 3 or else people will/could concede to high ranking IFPA / “good” people before they even play, thus giving them a quick win.

  • What are the concessions rules other people have used in this format? I am thinking you can only concede on ball 3 and you have to plunge out the balls if you are player 1.


  • Majority seems to think there should probably be playoffs and that it does seem like the top X played better than the field, I’m not sure the #1 seed is truly “the best”. I’m thinking of making the playoffs be random arena/machine but choose position based on seed order? People have thoughts on this?

  • Honestly the people who do not want playoffs are people who would most likely * not * play in playoffs anyways so we’re probably going to do playoffs (top 4, 3 rounds, PAPA style scoring) in the future. The people who do want playoffs are the people finishing around top 4 so…

  • I would also like to hear the argument for why tiebreakers should be most wins vs. fewest losses (what I normally do).

  • A short break (30min-1h) before playoffs is a good idea, even if only top X players are coming back. Playing for ~3H “straight” and then going right into playoffs seems like an unnecessary endurance test.

Entry Fees

  • I definitely agree that a lower entry fee is probably good since coin drop is higher.

  • That being said, adding playoffs will add even more rounds / time to an event, so maybe winner take all $2 entry isn’t the best for this? Some people yesterday were like “it’s a lot of ‘work’ for winner take all” haha

  • At my other location I’m still keeping $5 and 50/30/20 split even with playoffs because the venue can probably only handle 20-25 people, if 30+ people show up there would be a problem with space I feel.

TDs playing

  • I think it * IS * possible to have everyone playing and still run this, but you would need like 4-5 people who can work the software so that at any given time there’s 1-2 people in queue who can run things. It’s tough and I don’t think I’d ever have such a case in any of my events, but other people might. I know other people have done this with success? How has that gone?


I prefer this for finals in this format because it keeps the spirit of qualifying, but gives slight reward to higher seeds. With so much volatility in the seeding I don’t think they should earn too much advantage in playoffs with game choice.


Fewest losses is the same as tie-breaking by highest win percentage, so fewest losses make the most sense to me. The highest wins is the opposite.


@coreyhulse forgot to mention that he used one central computer for players to put in their own results, since it’s just a matter of two mouse clicks (maybe some scrolling). Basically both players would head to the computer to confirm the submission, with player 1 finding out their new opponent and new machine.


This is exactly how we did it in Auburn with Gene X running it. Every pair of players went back to the laptop and reported their own results. Not really a need to assign a worker to the computer.


I’ve increased to presets to 20 players. :slight_smile:


Minutia here, but want to be sure I’m doing this right.

With WPPR 5.5 the new rule for Flip Frenzy is to submit “average games played” - obviously that is not actually going to be a round number most of the time.

Are we supposed to round to nearest, up, or down? 4% on one event is probably not going to get anyone in or out of SCS but the rule is ambiguous and my player base complains about these things.

For reference(until the page is updated, anyways):


It’s standard rounding rules. Here’s a link to the MatchPlay calculation from our last Flip Frenzy:

Average was 11.6, which we round up to 12 meaningful games played.

If the average was 11.4, we would round that to 11 meaningful games played.


“Standard rounding rules” - I should start using that in my code reviews. Heh. If only everyone assumed the same thing.


“standard mathematical non-accounting round”


We’ll just refer to “round to nearest” as the “standard Sharpe round”.


What if it was 11.50? Round up to 12?

Also, if there’s 3 round playoff after FF ends, do those games get added at all?


Yes to both


Standard rounding applies. Five and over goes up, under five goes down.