PinFest Tournament 2019 - A Stern Pro Circuit Event


Delayed reply on this one.

Before the Circuit, in the immediate time before I was involved in PinFest there was a:

  • One-Day Friday Event (generally Classics)
  • One-Day Saturday Event

When we moved to the Circuit in 2018, we expanded the Main event to two days, but wanted to keep a Friday-only event for those who could only be at the show on Friday. So, we ran a Match Play event with games on the floor. We did something similar at the York show in 2017. However, it didn’t go well at PinFest 2018 so we decided that if we were going to do a Friday-only event, we should have it be on games that were part of the tournament bank.

So, the idea came about of a limited qualifying event which tried to achieve the following:

  • Set bank of five games
  • Play each game once
  • All games count
  • 100% TGP

We ended up with 6 games, counting 5.

The queue was starting at Game #1, and then you would go to Game 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. We pivoted where we could in the five hours of qualifying, dealing with virtual queues, cranky machines, and smashed playfield glass. 81 people participated in a 100% TGP Best Game event that took eight hours end-to-end, and we had a number of people who wanted to play that were locked out of qualifying because of time constraints of the show. Not perfect by any means, and lessons learned for the next time we try this format.

The “Gauntlet” name came up based on the idea that it was an every-game-counts format, as if you were “running through a gauntlet”. Probably also inspired by the recent use of gauntlets as it applies to the Avengers films. Apologies if there was any branding confusion on “Gauntlet”, as I have not attended any events in the Philadelphia area that were time/objective/pingolf based nor was I familiar with the use of the name elsewhere.


Gauntlet in the traditional sense is where you say ready set go, and one player tries to complete a simple task on a bank of games as fast as possible. Their place in the standings is their time spent to complete the tasks. Fun format.


I think we as a competitive pinball community need to be more engaged in these types of posts when they’re created. The post was created on 2/14 and only @SyracusePinball questioned the $10 per entry. No one in this thread criticized the 4 free entries or the utilization of the format name “The Gauntlet” . The organizers hit pitfalls that a lot of people on here could of aided with mitigation.

My hope is that folks will read the comprehensive rules when they’re available (months ahead of the event date) and offer constructive criticism and feedback with the intent of making the event better (prior to it occurring).


Why do you object to having a power ball in a game?


We will use the minimum number of games for any one round of play in determining how many meaningful games played get counted, so if someone wants to run best of 3 matches they should be making that choice for the entire bracket.


I think there are enough variables and random action in pinball that changing the ball is unnecessary. One of the few constants in this game is the speed and behavior of a standard pinball. Swapping it out for something lighter that plays faster and more unpredictable is fine for fun games on the side but doesn’t need to be in meaningful games for competition.

Curious what the reasoning was on the part of the game owner / TD to use powerballs in some games. Hopefully something more than just a cute “cue ball” reference for the billiards themed machines.

I recall @dbs posting about his use of glo-balls in some tournament games and listing the reasons why. I can’t remember what they were, but I remember thinking the ends justified the means and while I’d rather not play games with glo-balls, he provided a pretty strong argument for why he chose to go that route. Maybe he or someone else can refresh my memory on that.


That’s for any one format. So if you’re doing a head-to-head bracket throughout, you can’t mess with specific rounds with respect to the length of games in that round.

You can do a head-to-head bracket until the final 4, and then do a PAPA style final. In that case you can do as many games as you want for the PAPA style final (up to 7 I think is our cap).


The power balls are mine. I have them in my EM’s because I want them to play fast and not slow and floaty. As for Eight Ball, partially the cue ball aspect, but also because the game plays fast.

FYI, I have been providing tournament machines to Pinfest and York for the last 3 years, and in every instance I have had powerballs in my games. This is the first time I’ve ever heard anyone say they shouldn’t be there. In fact, last year the same exact Eight Ball was in the Pinfest tournament bank.

I’m not sure I see the big difference as I feel it’s along the same lines as putting lightning flippers on a game or making slings ultra sensitive, etc.


If you did #24-#26 three-player game as one-game round, wouldn’t that be the first round of your group-play PAPA finals?

(#24 v #25 in a one-game head to head makes sense, because that’s your only round of H2H)


The relevant post:


#25 vs. #26 Head-to-head . . . winner player #24 Head-to-Head.

One ball playoffs if necessary :slight_smile:


Sure it’s fun at home when you’re used to how it plays but when you’re stepping up to an unfamiliar game at a tournament speeding up the ball is probably an unwelcome variable for people who care about how they’re playing.

Those are perfectly reasonable ways to make long playing games play shorter. I’ve never known Bally Eight Ball to hold up a tournament.


I think that’s a great point. Also, links to volunteer opportunities.


I think powerballs are fun variants to learn. I don’t see how it’s any different than having to learn the other variables you’re suggesting.


There are much better ways to make your game not play floaty than a power ball. Neither game was floaty with a normal ball and a good incline. On a shallow game with weak, un-rebuilt flippers, lethargic pops, etc, it can make sense but both those games are fully rebuilt

I think a powerball is a much bigger difference. Possibly the biggest change to play you can make short of putting 2" flippers on a game or doing some ‘pinball Olympics’ setup.

Lightning flippers don’t take much adjustment to get used to, and affect your shots less as well. Ultra sensitive slings barely affect gameplay except when trying to play very controlled, which you can’t easily do on classics anyway.

In general (same as the 3 ball EM thing), classics don’t need help with playing quick games. All a power ball in a classic achieves in a tournament is annoying the players. They already have to learn the game set up, shots, bounces, etc on the fly while playing; power balls aren’t a standard aspect of pinball skills and it’s not something I’d expect anyone to be accustomed to

Pretty sure this was on 5 ball?


I’ve played in hundred’s of tournaments including PAPA and Pinburgh 3 times and I’ve never seen a powerball in an EM. If I did I’d be annoyed. :wink:


It’s just my style, that’s all. I like to do things differently and go against the grain. :grin:

And yes, Bank Shot was 5-ball.


As mentioned above, that’s fine for home play, but not the right attitude to take when setting up or bringing a game to a tournament. I brought games and helped set up at CAX for years. What I learned from that experience is that you want to change as little as possible on a game to make it suitable for tournament play. You want the player to think the game plays just like the game they play back at home. As close to factory as possible.

Those three things are very different. All slings should be sensitive. Dead slings make games play long and generally not fun to play. Changing out the metal ball for a powerball or using lightning bats are huge changes and should only be used as a last resort.

When you make huge changes, you will alienate players. If one game in a bank has a powerball or lightning bats, that’s probably ok. But when you make major changes to multiple games, players aren’t going to like that.


That’s fine as long as you’re up front about weird stuff you might do. Clearly some decisions are going to be polarizing, especially for serious players, but as long as everyone has the information before they choose to attend then it’s fine. Ultimately your attendance and feedback from players will tell you everything you need to know.


Powerballs in a tournament would probably be a good breakout topic.

Doodle Bug was also 5-ball. Never drains was updated (to correct the screenshot earlier in this thread) at some point on friday.