Preferred tournament format?

For general local tournaments that happen about once a month or so, what is the preferred tournament format that most players prefer to play? I’ve only run 3 events so far and I’m still trying to figure all of this out. My 3 events have all been 3 hours of group match play qualifying with top 8 going to A finals PAPA style, the next 8 going to B finals PAPA style and the remainder of the field going to a 2-strike knockout final.

Does one format offer more IFPA/WPPR points than another format?

As long as you’re getting 100%tgp the base value of a variety of tournaments will be the same. Then it depends on number of rated players, then how good they are.

Playing group match play events will get you to 100% TGP the quickest though.

3 strike is the easiest to run but going down that lane is a slippery slope. Delaware could end up like Ohio with multiple 3 strike tournaments every week which, while definitely helping out the prize pool, can go stale pretty quickly for many of the participants.


I currently don’t have any plans to go to a strike out format. I personally don’t enjoy them. I just didn’t know if a strike event awarded more points than a group match play. It’s early still, but so far I’ve been getting 40+ people at each event and several of the events we had to cap due to space restrictions. Everyone seems to be enjoying it but I was just curious if one format was preferred over the other.

I like variety. I’d get bored if I only played strikes tourneys. Or only played timed tourneys.

What you describe is pretty close to my preferred format for small/medium sized one day tourneys. For bigger tourneys I like limited qualifying. Where you pay x dollars and get x number of attempts. But pump and dump is fun too.

My least favorite I’ve played is probably pingolf, I’ve only played pingolf twice and it’s been awhile so I have been itching to play in another.

I really enjoyed the heads up best of 7 format used in the SCS. But it’s not good for TGP. Same with ladder formats. I’ve been wanting to play in one of those. Downsides of these is time management - they go long and there is lots of waiting.

Critical hit was fun, but I wouldn’t want to do them regularly. I love wacky formats too - kinda sad I’ve never got to play a split flipper tourney. Or some of the other wacky formats that are not WPPR eligible.

Usually not until you hit a certain amount of players. With 4 player groups and bottom two receiving strikes, the TGP slapsave site says you need 58 players for 3 strike and 24 players for 4 strike to be 100% TGP. Not sure on the accuracy of that though.

There isn’t really one format that is worth more than others. Even four player matches…yeah, you get twice as many points, but the games take twice as long.

Pingolf might be an exception…because you get full value for an average score of 3 balls per game, but you never have really long lasting games. (Since someone who plays well reaches the goal quickly and then gets to walk away).

Having people standing around waiting for other matches to finish is something that slows down the value of the event.

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What you are doing is the best way for a couple of reasons. That being said, repeating the same thing again and again will likely bore you and the players.

A couple of bullets.

Match play is robost to games breaking down.

Match play requires less administration.

For match play, group-play or round-robin gives better experience for lesser skilled players than strikes. Higher garanteed games played.

If your machines to players ratio is high, 2-player matches is better than 3 or 4. More playing, less waiting and less time it takes.

Find a format that works in the timeframe desired and which is giving players a good experience. Throw away the TGP yardstick.

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Mini-Pinburgh format, i.e. 4-player match play with short playoffs [number of rounds of both match play and playoffs depend on attendance and time available]. That gives everyone lots of guaranteed play; strikes formats send the “losers” home too early to be fun for many of them. Pingolf is frustrating for people who fail to achieve the goal.


This last Saturday was my 3rd event and it ran so smoothly it was surreal. I had 13 machines in the tournament with 2 extra games used for side pots. Dirty Harry died on me in Round 2, opto issue with the trough. Replaced it with T2. I had only one stuck ball and I only had 2 TD rulings to make. One was for playing out of turn and the other was on Dirty Harry when the trough messed up and didn’t launch additional multi-balls. Super smooth.


Do you mind explaining this format in a little more detail?

I’ll generally agree with djreddog’s comments. 4-player matches are the most social, help less-skilled players learn from better ones, and don’t require as many machines at the location to handle [often an issue]. If time is limited but there are plenty of machines available, however, head-to-head provides more games per player per hour. Rather than strikes, though, have everyone play a set number of matches, or play until a pre-set time, so that everyone gets a good amount of play in. For scoring, head-to-head is just wins, with the 4 or 8 players with the most wins making a short playoff, if you choose to have a playoff [recommended]. For 4-player matches, score one point for each player you beat, i.e. winner gets 3, second gets 2, third gets 1 point and 4th gets zero. Add up points over all rounds, again take the top few for a playoff. Playoff can be brief, e.g. one game with top 4 or two games with top 8 where the top two in each group go to the finals. If you use top 8, group them for the semifinals as 1-4-5-8 and 2-3-6-7 seeds. If time permits, playoff can be two or three games per round.

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So basically, keep doing what you’re doing :slight_smile:


It’s frustrating to not reach the goal, but my experience with pingolf is that lessor skilled players have more fun because: 1) they learn new things about the game, and 2) they have more small victories.

In matchplay, a beginning player is going to lose all their games. In pingolf, they have many opportunities to “win”, by reaching the goal before their five balls is up. Even the very worst player shouldn’t be taking all 6’s…if they are then your goals have been set too difficult.

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Maybe if they’re playing against a bunch of elites on modern games, but this has not been the experience I’ve seen at all. If you do find yourself running into that issue, then consider grouping by current standings, so the lesser skilled players will end up playing others performing similarly. I know it’s not always an option, but adding some classics to the lineup will shake things up even more and give newer players more of those “feel good” moments when they beat some tournament veterans.


I always do this. Creates parity in the final few rounds too.

The only reason I’m against it is when you get all the top players on long playing games, it can hold up the next round from starting. Otherwise I think it has multiple benefits.


Is this the “Swiss pairing” setting?

yes Description should say “pairs with people with similar standings”. Basically players ranked 1-4 will be a group and so on. I also like current tournament standing to be the player order setting. Means the highest ranked person in the group always goes first.


It really depends what you are trying to achieve

I like a league style format followed by head to head for the finals.

Each player plays each game once and records their score. Scores for each table are then ranked. 1pt for bottom score, each score higher gets 1 pt more, until the high score on that machine gets the same no. of pts as players. Total the scores for each machine.

Top 10% (multiple of 4) then contest the finals in a head to head knockout final, or semi-final if numbers dictate.

Can accommodate any number of machines in qualifying format
Can play games in groups or as single player (thus allowing more choice of games)
The majority of players play the same amount of games no matter what their level of skill, meaning ‘newbies’ aren’t eliminated straight away.
Can randomly select groups for players to play qualifying in, meaning that people meet and play with different people. Thus making new friends or learning tips.
Simple to understand for everybody.

If there are significantly more players than machines can end up with delays waiting for a machine.
Not worth massive amounts of WPPR (but not every comp needs to be about the points)
If a machine irreparably breaks down during qualifying will affect games already recorded.

Generally speaking the better players always rise to the top and make the finals.
The finals can be tweaked from a single game to multiple games (PAPA style) if wanted. Although having a single game final, speeds the tournament up meaning less waiting around for those that didn’t make it. It also allows a bit more variance in the winner each month. Nothing is more boring than seeing the same player win each and every month, especially if they are significantly better than everybody else present.

I like this format as a tournament more suited to the casual player, set in a bar. It’s the format I use for my monthly Monday Night League comps, and is very popular with all of the skill levels.

I also run a single game high score comp on the latest/newest machine on the night. This has 2 benefits. It allows the newer players to get their 5 tournaments in quicker. It also has a lot more variance in the finalists due to the fact a single bad game from the best player will knock them out of the finals, while a newer player who has a good game will make the final. For some people it’s the only chance they’ll have of winning a competition. This then encourages them and gives them motivation to enter more, and bigger comps.