Pinburgh Round 10 "Diversion"

I would like to begin this thread with a “disclaimer” of sorts.

Escher and I love ReplayFX and Pinburgh. It is our favorite show and tournament of the year. Always has been. Always will be. As such, we absolutely appreciate all the efforts of everyone involved in helping to make this event so awesome every single year. We show our appreciation by not only spending our vacation time and money to travel to the show and tournament each year, but we tell everyone else who we play pinball with in Colorado how awesome it is and help spread the Gospell (this year, I believe we had a record number of Colorado players come and play in Pinburgh (over 20) and I would like to think we had something to do with that…). Having said all that, let’s get to it.

I was not a fan at all of the new seeding approach to Round 10 on Friday Night. For those that missed the “nuance” this year (and it was easy to miss because no one, and I mean no one, besides the TDs knew about this change ahead of time as far as I could tell. The website was not updated and it was not mentioned in any “new to Pinburgh this year” info, etc…)…

So in the previous six years of Pinburgh, Round 10 was the culmination of a 5 round division-only seed “convergence” with the top four players in the division up to that point played each other in the top group (1,2,3,4) and then the next four made the next group (5,6,7,8) on down the list. For those in the first group, it was a round to determine who got a double bye and/or who won the top qualifier money. Groups of (13,14,15,16) and (17,18,19,20) were all in the thick of playing for a single bye. And with the thin margin of wins between seeds 21 and 81, most of the other groups for the top 100+ players were locked in a battle for who would make the cut, and who wouldn’t. Those seeded in Round 10 just north and south of the cutline (37,38,39,40) and (41,42,43,44) could almost assuredly know that the top two finishers in their group would make the cut, and the bottom two finishers would probably miss out.

And therein lies the perceived “rub”. If all four players in one of those bubble groups all decide to “group collude” and come out of the round with 4, 6-6 records, then all four players might make the cut without actually having to play “for real”. And that would suck.

So to avoid this potential “group collusion”, @PAPA_Doug and his assistant TDs decided to back off on the full seed convergence for Round 10 this year and go instead with a 1-32-33-64, 2-31-34-63, etc. groupings with the reasonable assumption that now you would have someone leading the group who is probably already in, two players fighting for the cutline, and one player who is probably nearly out unless they pull off a miracle 11-1 or 12-0, which the other members of the group most certainly wouldn’t agree to. Nowhere would you find a group where four, 6-6 finishes would be desirable.

So here is why I did not like this change at all:

Firstly, I don’t believe that “Round 10 group collusion” is a problem that needs fixing because I don’t believe it would ever occur for real. I was told by a TD that someone was heard “offering” his group the 6-6 “solution” in last year’s Pinbrugh Round 10, and that player was DQ’ed from the round. Awesome. The current system works as intended! No need for change. Certainly not radical change! Even if that player had not been overheard, what are the chances that the other 3 players would have agreed to the terms ? I would love to think that those chances would be nearly NULL. And even if through some amazing luck, all four players are willing to “fake it”, we’re talking about perhaps a single group out of what, 20 groups * 4 divisions * 7 years = 560 Round 10 groups with a “chance” over the years…

So now we all have to take our shoes off in perpetuity because some asshole tried to blow up a plane with a shoe-bomb once ??! This just stinks.

Secondly, as @keefer alluded to in a different thread, when you are in the hunt, those Round 10 matches are EPIC! In an awesome way. With everyone trying their best. After two incredibly long and arduous days of playing up to that point! Your playoffs start NOW. Two in, Two out. Get it done. Not this year. There is nowhere near the gravitas of the situation when everyone around you in the seeds are all spread out all over the convention center! I’ve played now in 140 rounds of Pinburgh match play and I can remember a few here and there but I can ABSOLUTELY, and will ALWAYS remember my epic Round 10 battles with the likes of JOE, @multibrawlr, and @Smack847. Those were my best (and most disappointing!) rounds ever, but I worked so hard in the previous 9 rounds to get to that point. And maybe, if I knew what was coming with the Divergence this year, I could have been better prepared, but I was incredibly disappointed that I didn’t face 34,35,36 with my 33 seed this year.

Thirdly, it seems pretty unfair, that the 64th seed at 64 wins has to play in a group with the #1, #32, and #33 seeds, while the 65th player at 64 wins anchors a Round 10 group with the 96th,97th, and 128th seed. oooof. Considering that seeding among ties is random, that’s a pretty harsh cutoff at 64/65!! So the 64 seed gets a player in their group with a record of 86-22, and the 65th player with the same number of wins gets a player in their group with a 60-48 record. That seems terribly unfair, where before, 61,62,63,64 would all be 64-44 and 65,66,67,68 would also all be 64-44. I personally feel this seems WAY, way fairer than the new Divergence, and I would absolutely be willing to “risk” all that alleged group collusion around me, in order to play against the players who have most closely matched my own play up until that point.

Fourthly, I would humbly offer that the most obvious explanation of why historically there have been more four way 6-6 endings in Round 10 is that all four players by that point are perfectly matched in that moment and 6-6 is the likely outcome for all of them playing their best. And, you won’t see the same 6-6 finishes at the bottom for groups “out of the hunt” because those players have been playing inconsistent all tournament long, which explains why they are on the bottom, and you can’t expect them to suddenly play to the mean.

Patrol Round 10 extra diligently! Interview all groups that turn in a sheet where all four players have between 5 and 7 wins to make sure that it’s legit. You think a random group of four players can all agree to collude in Round 10, and then be able to get all their stories straight to explain how that happened and get away with it ? Meh. Give us back our 1,2,3,4, 5,6,7,8, … Please!

Thanks for all you do. And I’m sorry I care about this stuff TOO much. After being the first player officially eliminated in A last year in Round 7 (yikes!), I was really, really looking forward to my Round 10 battle from the 33 seed, and not at all expecting to have to play @sk8ball instead!

Escher’s Dad


I just wanted to highlight that I know for a fact of at least one occurrence of this last year, which probably explains the timing of this change.

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Divergence got me my double bye so I’m in favor of it. The movie series is average at best :slight_smile:


I totally agree with you 100% Adam.

Just you wait until next year when i’m actually good at pinball!


As a fellow player in the “Goes 2-10 in the last round club” I co-sign everything Adam says 100% :wink:

One of the most annoying parts of this change was that it put the thought in my head that “Maybe I should have given up some more points in the round 7-9 groups so I could have had a better group going into this.”

The other annoying part was that suddenly every player was playing with different motivations and different levels of “care” which dramatically changed strategies.

In my round 10 group (Seed 9 v Seed 24 (Me) v Seed 41 v Seed 56) we end the EM game with top seed getting a 3, bottom seed getting a 0 and being virtually eliminated from the tournament.
I see the top seed player let out a huge sigh of relief and I think to myself “ah phew. Now that he’s qualified I’ll probably be playing someone who doesn’t care as much as I do.” Nope, stupid me, wasn’t prepared for what would happen. Top seed decides to press for AS MANY POINTS AS POSSIBLE. Attacking Super Jackpots on Terminator 2, attacking Black Knight locks on hard settings. I start to melt down because I’ve been playing ultra-conservative stay-on-pace-for-the-cut-line pinball all day and suddenly the games are going in a way different direction. Huge credit to the other middle seed who did exactly what I didn’t realize I needed to do: beat me, and fight for 2s and take 1s if they’re not there.

Bottom seed apologizes to me after the Early SS game when I fall <1000 points short of his score on Black Knight because I need the point way more than he does. My fault for doing stupid things like trying to shoot the light lock loop when I really just need to ignore the top seed and play to beat the other middle seed. Send it up top, don’t get cute, grind out points, hope I can scrape together a 7 against middle and bottom seed while top seed runs away with it.

Would it have been better for me to go into round 10 at 63 wins rather than 67, taking into consideration my current skill level? On the surface, maybe not… who wants to fight for more points later on? But there’s a new strategy here. Can you press early and secure enough points to make your opponents who are virtually eliminated disinterested in Pinburgh? Is this going to be the way Pinburgh is run in the future? Will I know about it?

Probably a long enough post for now. Still thinking about suggestions and ideas for this. If you want the later rounds of Pinburgh to diverge, I don’t think wider, snake-ordered tiers are the answer anymore, and I think the bigger problem is sandbagging in round 5, rather than collusion in round 10.


I was the chump in 2-31-34-63, ha-ha, real funny, guys! Not that playing those guys wasn’t good fun; I was a real gentleman and only hogged two points.

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I have a funny story about this - as I was mulling over the implications of the new format and wandering around near my bank in the process of taking a ZERO on game one of round 10, I asked @pinwizj what he thought of the new format and how it would affect things (like the cut for the top 40) heading into the finals and I was completely headed down a dark rabbit hole - his response to me was ‘just win the next game.’ Because that’s all we, as players, could control, I guess that is what it comes down to - as players, we should focus on the things we can control. It really doesn’t matter if they change the format. Just win the next game.

The organizers are dealing with things like collusion/sandbagging so that we can focus on the Pinburgh experience. I think they did a fantastic job, and rounds 9 and 10 still felt like playoffs to me even though I was unable to play the people right next to me, because I still had to play my way into the finals.


A couple more points here.

Just to be clear, please do not think this is a case of “sour grapes” in any way because I went 2-10 in the final round. Even if I had gone 7-5 or better, I would have posted the exact same thing today about Round 10.

[My Round went to shit, btw, not because of the seeding, but because I was unlucky with my “bank” of games for the round. Because of work on the stage, they had to reassign six or so groups to “banks” made up of all replacement games along the back wall. The TDs will tell you these all played just as well as all the games in the bank, so why should that matter ? Well, in thinking about it afterwards, it actually mattered a fair amount to me because in every other round, once I knew what my bank was, I would always go and talk to someone who had already played the bank to get some “reads” and “insights” about how the games played. I also told many others about the banks I had already played when they asked me, but for Round 10 I had no idea how the games played and no list anywhere to tell me who had played what to ask. I played poorly, and that’s absolutely on me (although I will be replacing my Jungle Queen t-shirt next year with a nice, new picture of Band Wagon!, lol), but it was rotten luck I had to play the entire round on that back wall. I also don’t accept that these games where in any way “just as good” as the games in a bank. A bank was played by three groups every round, and so any issues with any of those games would be quickly captured by someone. The replacement games were played haphazardly by groups making up already other malfunctioning games, and so there would be a lot less reporting and solving of issues. But I truly digress…

The other point I wanted to make about this topic, was that I spoke to Will Mckinney in the bar on Friday night and going into Round 10 in the B Division, he was in 4th place, only three wins off the pace for top qualifier and he was very much looking forward to playing 1,2,3 in his group with a chance to end up as top qualifier, but because of the new seeding, he didn’t get that chance. He ended up going 7-5 in his new group, and was passed by the 6th seed, Jason Boker, who went 10-2 in his last group to snag the top spot. It really seems to me that the top seeds should get an oppurtunity to battle one another for the top spot considering there is significant cash associated with it.


Collusion in Round 10 can, does, and has happened multiple times. I have clear evidence (which will not be released – you can choose whether or not to trust my judgment as a tournament director @Adam). I will not tolerate collusion when there are means to stop it.

Suggestions for improvement are welcome but I will not accept putting four players in a group where all four can agree to slowplay one another and all four make finals.

[[last part edited, not useful discussion]]

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No. These players can also collude to keep the #1-4 spots and earn the double byes, which is worth significantly more money.

[[last part edited, not useful discussion]]

well, technically, the tournament rules online stated that the 64th seed would play round 10 with the 61st, 62nd, and 63rd ranked players after Round 9, but I see what you mean.

How about “unbalanced”, is that word ok ? Does 61,62,63,64 all with the same win-loss record seem more “balanced” for a final round grouping, than a 1-32-33-64 all with different win-loss records. Especially when in Round 9 the 64th seed actually did play against 57,60 & 61…

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[[first part edited, not useful discussion]]

If you have suggestions for improvement, please make them. Patrolling Round 10 diligently is not an option when there are 200 groups and 5 tournament directors.

I had a polite and positive conversation with Damien Charlety about this issue, and he had some positive suggestions for improving the quality of opponent selection while still addressing the issue of collusion.

This was an error on our part and we were about to apologize for it while posting about the reasons for the change. The official printed rules had the correct information, and somehow the website was overwritten or not updated; this will not happen again.


While there may have been agreement within the closed circle… I don’t know why you are taking it so personally when people react negatively to significant changes made without any announcement, transparency, or even way to know about it until it happened.

Not everyone will have the solution- but they should still be able to have an opinion on the outcome without fear of the wrath of the staff.


What the hell, @bkerins ? I started this post with an explanation of why I didn’t like the new format for Round 10 and backed it up with four or five reasons why I thought this (I also started the post with a disclaimer about how much we love the tournament etc, but whatever). Where exactly is all my “toxicity” and “disrespect” ?? Because of my shoe-bomber analogy above ? I actually think that is a perfect analogy here because the shoe-bomber is like the guy trying to collude in a pinball tournament, see ? And his selfish actions, are causing you and hundreds upon hundreds of good pinball citizens to have to change their ways for no good reason. Its that guy that I am calling an asshole.

No. I refuse to believe that it’s a problem that needs (or can be) fixed. Also, I am sorry that you find it amazing that I start with the assumption that everyone is trying their best and adjust my opinion from there. That seems cynical as hell to me, but as you said, you know things that I don’t know, but you can’t share them, so there really isn’t anywhere to move on this one.

Sure. If you would like to have Round 10 end with a tier where the groups are 1,32,33,64, 2,31,34,63, etc., then simply converge slower throughout the tournament so that round 10 is just the next progression in the series. It just felt weird to me (and lots and lots of other people I’ve talked with about it, although I won’t name names here) to “expand out” in Round 10 after converging for the first 9 rounds. I will greatly miss the old seeding structure for the many reasons that I presented above, but really, I don’t feel like my criticism here has been toxic or disrespectful at ALL.


It seems that in the case of round 10 seedings rule change, the argument is that the old tourney format encouraging not playing your best in some cases and proof of people doing it is justification for the rule change.

But, in the case of A/B/C/D qualifying, the tourney format clearly begging the question of whether one should sand bag to a large fraction of players, there’s evidence of it happening, yet there has not been a attempt to thwart it.

I’m not saying either decision the TDs have made is wrong, but the rhetoric used to justify each decision on this forum seems far too simple, because that rhetoric applied to the other situation would imply a different decision should be made.

2c from the peanut gallery of someone not able to make it this year :(.

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I understand this was an honest mistake. I think that I would have made different pinball decisions had I been prepared for this situation. [quote=“bkerins, post:13, topic:2966”]
If you have suggestions for improvement, please make them. Patrolling Round 10 diligently is not an option when there are 200 groups and 5 tournament directors.

Introducing the ROUND 10 BONUS ROUND!!!
Tim’s first half-baked idea on what to do with Round 10. (I’ve thought about this for less than 20 minutes. Open to any and all suggestions.)

What’s before Round 10? Round 9. And what’s after? PLAYOFFS. With a coveted 4 Double Byes and 12 more single byes. But we don’t want these players to collude, we want them to BATTLE. How do we do that? By forcing them to fight for every last point!!!

Each of the top 4 (inclusive, round up if needed) players play the lowest seeds in the division. Are you totally eliminated from the tournament? Well it’s up to you to TAKE KEITH DOWN!!! Don’t worry, we’re all counting on you. :wink:

What about the next 12 (round up if needed) players? They’re still in the hunt!!! But they have to prove they’re also able to seize every last point.

And the guys fighting for a top 40 spot? At this point, filling out the rest of the groups starting from the top of the remaining seeds, and adding players 1 point below each previous player removes the 6-6-6-6 collusion potential (unverified and untested) and still gives the players a reason to fight for every last point. Do you dare try to risk it all and jump your Pinburgh peer group to get into the single-bye tier from the 30th seed?

Every incident of throwing games that has been reported to a TD has been investigated and in some cases players have been penalized.

This year zero incidents were reported.

TDs cannot react to a problem if they are not made aware of it.

People claim ‘this person’ or ‘that person’ doesn’t belong in 'X" division. If a player does not meet the tournament restrictions, they are eligible to play in that division.

Pinburgh is a different tournament than the PAPA WC. At Pinburgh players make a division based on their performance, not any perceived skill level. Restrictions for Pinburgh are intentionally more lax than at the PAPA WC.

As the tournament grows we can look at expanding the restrictions.

As always if anyone wants to contact me directly about any Pinburgh related matter I can be reached via email:

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I meant, there has been no attempt to thwart people being motivated to sandbag through tournament format changes, like was done with round 10 changes.