Here is the last pieces information I think I can contribute.
I was P3/TD. The player order is the same across all five games for the evening. (I’m not always third to play, but all night I had been following the same player, and am followed by the same player).
As a rule, I nearly always make sure to tell the player after me that it’s their turn. I want to let people be social with each other, but also keep things moving. I had been doing so consistently throughout the night with P4.
What happened between my Ball 2 and my Ball 3:
- I finish ball 2.
- (No one is sure what happened)
- P1, Ball 3: takes their score from 20m -> 40m
- P2, Ball 3: takes their score from 10m -> 70m
- P3 (me), Ball 3: takes my score from 15m -> 120m. My ball was played correctly. I’m 100% sure that I followed P2…he was the person who stepped away from the machine right before me. I’ve never played a ball out of turn before, and I’ve never not caught anyone playing out of turn in my group.
These are relatively large scores for Batman Dark Knight…so I’d guess probably 20 minutes have elapsed.
P4 noticed something wrong during my Ball 3, and started talking to P1 about it. It was a long, annoying conversation happening at the machine next to me while I was playing. I eventually told them they needed to move this conversation away from me (and at the time I thought the debate was about a game they had started playing on the side while waiting). Players can play another game while they’re waiting, but need to be ready to drop the ball and move to their machine when it’s their turn.
The league is for WPPRs, and people want to win, but it’s not so serious that I’m constantly called upon to make rulings. Sometimes people in lower groups might accidentally plunge the wrong ball, and the correct player steps up and takes over the machine to play it out. No one comes to me to seek a judgement or wants their groupmate to be DQ’d.
I’ve probably made it sound like no one was in the room and everyone was off doing their own thing. That’s not really true. I was in the room (and it’s a small room). P1 was in/around the room, playing other games. P2 had played correctly and then left.
However, by the time my ball was finished, P4 and P1 had already been in a long, frustrating conversation about what had happened. A lot of time had elapsed between my Ball 2 (when P4 would have followed me), and the end of my Ball 3 (at least 20 minutes, maybe more). I couldn’t definitively say if P4 B2 had been played…and whether or not I had told him it was his turn. Thinking back now, I can definitively remember directly walking up to him on many other balls throughout the evening and telling him it was his turn. I can’t say that about the ball in question though.
The least experienced of us (P1) has played in 29 IFPA events. The others are 33 (P4), 121 (P2), and 202 (P3) events, respectively. There were no noobs. P1 once played the wrong ball in league a few months ago, and refused to let me be gentle in my ruling. He insisted on a DQ when I tried to rule otherwise, so I gave him the DQ. P2 is extremely principled, and knows the rules well. P4 had been having a few drinks but was not drunk in my estimation (and in fact took his ball 3 from 1m -> 80m, so was certainly in control of himself).
Score for P4 was around 1.3m when he stepped up for Ball 3. We all actually remember his Ball 1 was super short, because raised his arms and yelled “Kaaahhhhnnnnn” after draining. 1.3m is pretty low for Batman, and would represent roughly two skill shots and not much else. Possible, yes. But also unlikely for a good player and a normal ball save.
By the time I entered the discussion, it was pretty heated…and it had turned into a witch-hunt to determine which of the four players had played that ball. P4 says he didn’t play his ball. P1-P3 say they didn’t plunge it, but none could say definitively that the ball was played. So, I ruled that it was 3 vs 1, and “sorry, no compensation ball”.
(Yes, I realize it’s not great for me to make the ruling since I’m a member of this group and it “affects” me. Backup TD #1, and backup TD #2 were both in this group, and there wasn’t anyone else qualified to help. I believe I can be impartial here, in my local league that I run, on my machines, etc. And again, this isn’t a life or death event that I would been to have 5 TDs available in a 12 person league just in case 1-4 are all in the same group.)
If I had to do it over again, I would give a compensation ball. Stick to the facts, and take everyone at their word. (As discussed, there is no reason that it had to have been plunged by one of the four of us).
Instead if felt as if I was put in a position to determine which side was wrong, and I figured that P4 had played a ball but it was so short and unmemorable that he didn’t remember 20 minutes later. This has certainly happened to me once or twice in my life (“Wait a minute, this is Ball 3 already? Why is my score so low then?”).
So…I can see going either way with this. I wish things had been less emotional at the time, as I’d like to think that would have helped me stick to the facts and focus on making the correct judgement, rather than trying to determine “which side is likely wrong”. It was incorrect of me to make my ruling based off “which side is likely wrong”.