Playoff seedings question

I wanted to ask your opinion on a couple of ideas.

In a tournament where the playoffs are in groups of 4 (Like Louisville Expo but with fewer qualifiers), normally you take seeds 1,8,9,16 and put them in a group (if 16 players qualified). 2,7,10,15 is group 2 and so on. BUT, what if we rewarded the highest seeded qualifier by putting them in a group of consisting of seeds 1,14,15,16? It’d be 2,11,12,13 - 3,8,9,10 - 4,5,6,7 for the other groups. Would it too big of an advantage for the high seed?

My other suggestion/question goes as follows: In a playoff field of 16 players, what if the high seed got to pick their opponent from seeds #5-16? After that pick, the #2 seed would get a pick, followed by #3 and #4. Then the #1 seed would get to pick a second opponent and so on until we have 4 players in each group.

The inspiration behind this was our Cali State Champs this year, where Zac W as the #2 seed was slated to play Keith Elwin, whom we all know was not a true #15 seed. It would create fairness in skewed fields and reward the top qualifiers. I can see one objection being “the gym class” effect, where people feel singled out (although the last person to be picked would actually be the most feared opponent.) I know this system has been used in European team handball leagues & hockey leagues as well.

In your first suggestion, whether the high seed has too much of an advantage or not isn’t really the issue. The real problem is the absolute chaos this would mean for the lower ranks: Some guy ranked 14-16 is guaranteed to make next round, while the guy ranked 7 will probably not make it. That’s no good at all.

I actually like the second suggestion a lot for situations where the seeds aren’t a direct result of the actual tournament. Like, some players aren’t seeded low because they actually didn’t do well in previous rounds, but just because they didn’t show up to a bunch of unrelated tournaments.

To keep it fair, though, you should do the player picking the same way the normal seeding works: Seed 1 picks first, then 2, then 3, then 4, then 4 again, then 3, 2, 1, 1, 2, …

I don’t agree with this, even though it was the seeding for the NYC-era PAPA tournaments.

The problem is that if the seeding is 1-14-15-16, then one of #14-16 will definitely advance. You want any seed to have advantages; in this case being the #14 seed is better than being the #5 seed, who has to play in the nightmare 4-5-6-7 group.

I don’t agree with the opponent selection, either, it doesn’t give a good impression when someone says “I pick you because I think you suck”.

What I suggest and have suggested to IFPA: play all 16 state qualifiers in group play rounds, like they do for the world championship, then seed a match play bracket with the top 8 finishers based on the group play results.


Qualify better! (Or worse intentionally!)

If I was 10 years younger and had a couple of less kids, I’d definitely invest in making the SCS a ‘longer playing format’ similar to the IFPA WC.

In a parallel universe this may already be happening … But not in this one. 16 years until my kids are out of the house, unless of course we go for baby #3, but I’ll put this on the to-do list for 2032 :slight_smile:


that sure is a long term plan! :slightly_smiling:

Careful, Josh, this is the age of kids staying at home into their working years. :wink:

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There may be another option. If you keep the top half of the seeds intact and re-sort the bottom half by IFPA rank high to low, then the top seed gets to play the “weakest” person in the lower half of the bracket, which is sort of what a normal seeded bracket tries to do. Not perfect (e.g. for seed #8), but may be better than other alternatives.

I’ll just point out here that while you are absolutely correct that was how it was done for early PAPA, that was also a total score over all the groups scenario, so it was definitely NOT guaranteed that one of 14-16 would advance. That is a much more recent phenomenon.

Now, without having access to those old rounds (maybe they’re out there somewhere?), no real way of knowing how often #1 or whoever iced out the rest of their group.

Of course if the proposed tourney is taking 2 from each group, then yeah, one of 14-16 is guaranteed.

True, true! But, it does make it easier on those seeds. I remember absolutely not wanting to be in that mid-tier first round group (which was 5-6-7-8, because the #1 seed got a bye).

[quote=“umbilico, post:2, topic:1342”]
Some guy ranked 14-16 is guaranteed to make next round, while the guy ranked 7 will probably not make it. That’s no good at all.
[/quote]This is true. Didn’t even think of it!

[quote=“bkerins, post:3, topic:1342”]
don’t agree with the opponent selection, either, it doesn’t give a good impression when someone says “I pick you because I think you suck”
[/quote]Well, I think it would work well for SCS finals and other high quality tournaments. However, I agree that it may not work so well for the average local arcade tournament.

yet another reason against the “choose your group” scenario would be that you could introduce a higher chance of collusion among friends (or family members). I’m not suggesting that the pinball world is riddled with unethical players looking the game the system, but at the same time, it might be easier to get a “favorable” match up with your buddy rather than the “randomness” of a normal bracket.

Now, it was a bit silly that KME was the 15th seed in California this year, but I don’t think that anomaly is nearly enough to mess with a ranking system that is used and accepted by millions of different competitions each year as the most fair way to do it…, And really, Keith was like the 38th (?) ish seed in the state last year and there were plenty of players above him who could have played in the tournament so that he didn’t even make the cut, so it was just bad luck for Zac W. I can see wanting to not play against Keith in almost any tournament format (duh!), but actually for SCS, where only the winner moves on, you’re gonna probably have to play him sometime, and if so, the best time to maybe steal a match against Mr. Elwin would be at the beginning of a tournament, anyway, before he’s had time to settle into the games…


Isn’t the whole point of the SCS is to create something that people who are maybe not the “best” players can aspire to by going to a zillion events?

If you’re just going to throw out a year’s worth of effort as soon as you get to the tournament, what incentive does anyone who isn’t in the running for the top 4 have to keep trying for a better position?

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Getting game choice first no matter what all the way through is one reason.

I don’t think it’s that unusual for someone to qualify high but get matched up with a superior player(s) who happened to have a bad day at that tourney. Qualifying at all is nice in itself, especially if your state has tons of events. At that point, the brackets can only be so accurate at making “fair” match-ups, but that’s part of what keeps it fun! If all tournament formats were always somehow set up to truly always determine who was the “best” pinball player in that tournament at that time, the results would eventually become so predictable that it would get boring. It’s a delicate balance between "fair and “fun”, from my POV.

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