Stern Circuit Event Qualification

The Stern Circuit Qualification process is coming again soon and was wondering if the organizers have given thought of adding a quality adder to this formula to go along with IFPA points. As we all know some events have a ton of quality over others for Stern Circuit events. Of course there has to be a system that is easy to administer for the IFPA to reward these extra points, just thought I would throw this out there. No sure if it would change the mix of event but it adds another element to help to continually improve the quality of these sanctioned events.

For example:

Five Categories:

  1. Total Competitors:
    0-100 - 0 points
    101 - 200 - 1 point
    200+ - 2 points

  2. Live Streaming
    No stream - 0 points
    Stream of playoff rounds - 1 point
    Full qualifying and playoff rounds - 2 points

  3. Total Tournament Cash Payout
    $0 - $10000 - 0 Points
    $10001 - $20000 - 1 Point
    $20001+ - 2 Points

  4. Sponsorship
    $0 - $5000 - 0 Points
    $5001 - $10000 - 1 Point
    $10001+ - 2 Points

  5. Size of Event
    1 tournament and/or Pinball Show or 2 tournaments - 0 points
    3+ tournaments or 2 tournaments and Pinball Show - 1 points
    2+ tournaments and Pinball show - 2 points
    Note: would need to put parameters around what a Pinball Show and tournament is)

If an event had 2’s on each of these categories they could earn up to a maximum of 10 quality points for the event which would be added to their yearly total for the calculation of Stern Circuit events.

All of these factors and probably more help in creating a better quality event and are pretty easily measurable. They also help in making the current events better and giving incentive to add more to them to get more quality points in future.

Not asking for change but wanted to start some discussion, there are barriers right now as the only events that make the cut are if the best players show up to them.

For example: You could have a 64 player tournament and if all of the top 40 players play in it, max out TGP it is actually worth more then a major attended event that had 500 people with no one in the top 40. Also if a show demonstrates that it is a quality event in its first year AKA: New York Pinball Championships, then why can it not be considered for future event the next year.

Anyways just thought it would be a good discussion point as we all want the Stern Circuit to be a success.

I think this shouldn’t be a category. First, every event that works with PAPA is given an automatic 1 point because streaming qualifying is not something we do. Besides, why does streaming the entirety of qualifying matter at a tournament anyways? Its a pain to set up properly and otherwise leads to situations like me sitting in a booth Bob Ross-ing it for a few hours… which isn’t a quality broadcast.

Size of event is also a bit of a stickler; there’s multiple events on the circuit that are fan favorites but would get a 0 for not having multiple tournaments or a show. Magfest and 24 Hour BatS will get a 0 for one tournament while being regarded nicely by the competitors who go. Buffalo would have been forced to continue running split classics if they were still going for viability. Upcoming tournaments like NYCPC would start to dilute their event for circuit attention. Much better to go off of player opinions (sent after every event) than taxing TDs to follow an arbitrary set of rules to improve their circuit chances.

Cash Payouts have to be flat out because of local laws. Magfest legally can’t have a prize pool. More in my neck of the woods, a local brewery can’t give or take money due to local laws. You’re restricting events geographically, which isn’t promoting global/ national pinball.

Honestly, I think WPPRs work as a system because it solves a lot of these problems and checks the right boxes. Bad TGP format? Not enough players? Can’t attract enough high class talent to boost your WPPR pot? You’re going to run into problems staying on the circuit.

Besides, we’ve barely used the system; I’d give it at least a year or two to figure out how things are going to work.


My favorite tournament is the Final Battle at the Sanctum. It looks like they would get 0 points under your system, which makes me disagree with your proposal :slight_smile:

To me changes are made when we feel like there is an event that is being mis-represented (over/under ranked) in the current system. We’ve done this with WPPR changes over the years, and I feel the same way about the Stern Pro Circuit criteria.

Your proposal has to be solving a problem that you feel exists . . . and to get more clear, which events do you see on the current 20 list that AREN’T DESERVING to be on the SPC . . . and which events in the upcoming potential list do you feel ARE DESERVING over any of those 20.

I think once you identify the events you feel are over/under ranked by the current system, then you can focus on the factors that would have an impact on including the events you feel are more worthy of inclusion.

I think the quality factors you mention help to bring more/better players to events, so some of that “value” is already being captured.


My thinking is to try to drive continuous improvement for events. Not prepared to call out any tournaments as all of the TD’s that run them work hard to deliver the best tournament they can.

IMO 10 quality points (whatever categories would be evaluated) is not a make or break for high point events, these events will always be there and always be a circuit event. I would say these points could make a difference for those in the 15-25 range. Again if the IFPA is already taking these types things into consideration and has a fair mechanism to discount a tournament that is in the top 20 and feels one other other tournament is more deserving then that works, it would just be nice to see the vision that the IFPA has, where do they want TD’s to take this, what is the ultimate goal that each of these events should aspire to get to, as we all won’t be able to get to the Pinburgh level.

There are probably a few tournaments in the Stern Circuit that would get 0 and probably only one that actually gets a 10 so I don’t think there would be a huge affect based on a 10 scale being used for quality. Again I have heard nothing but good things about the Sanctum and there may be other factors that can/should be measured for quality.

Oh thank goodness!

For the Pro Circuit, I personally don’t think a tournament without any top players in it at all should ever be included, lol. While a tournament with the top 40 ranked players in the world in attendance would be absolutely EPIC and friggin AWESOME and the crown jewel of the Circuit! YMMV

Don’t get me wrong - continuing to build up an interest in competitive pinball and/or organizing pinball shows are both wonderful ventures to pursue for our hobby, but leave the “Pro Circuit” out of it, please, if the tournament in question doesn’t objectively measure up to other events.

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The drive for continuous improvement should be something that TD’s set for themselves. If you aren’t improving then it’s likely you’ll see that result in less support of your event by players.

One of the other SPC Tournament Directors sent an email into us asking about what the goals were with respect to the Circuit . . . and my response was easy:

“The goal is specifically about trying to create a professional tour of events aimed at getting the world’s best players to attend.”

As TD’s find a way to improve their events through those factors you listed above, the world’s best players will attend, and that event will be on the SPC.

IMO you’re seeing this with an event like yours (YEGPIN):

2016 --> 0 top 25 players, 0 top 50 players, 1 top 100 player, 1 top 250 player
2017 --> 1 top 25 player, 1 top 50 player, 1 top 100 player, 3 top 250 players
2018 --> 2 top 25 players, 4 top 50 players, 5 top 100 players, 5 top 250 players

That’s a pretty solid trending up line. Why is it trending up? There must be some reason why you’re at 5X the top 100 player count in 2018 compared to 2016. What are you improving on in 2019 that is going to increase those numbers more? I think the reputation alone from the ‘new/good’ players that attended in 2018 is probably your best recruiting tool towards enticing players to give it a shot in 2019. Time will tell :slight_smile:

Exactly this, too. With the events people love dropping off the Circuit, convince us why we should come to Edmonton and make YEGPIN more kickass! I’m always open to considerations.

I think there are certainly tournaments in the SPC which I have second hand heard very bad things about, and people who said they would never go back. I don’t want to turn this into a hearsay name calling thread, but i think they exist.

People need to stop attending and they need to decay off, which is maybe a problem.


I think this is an important point to highlight… it’s about the top players attending… not necessarily the biggest, funniest, most accessible, most fun to watch, etc.

The metric is attracting big dogs to compete.

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I’ve heard FIRST HAND things from players regarding SPC events. Players who are “never going back”. These players then show up the next year and wonder why an event continues to be on the Circuit.

To me talk has always been cheap. Prove you don’t support an event by actually not supporting the event with your time/vacation/money by attending. The math will absolutely work itself out from there if true.


I am not the target of the Pro Circuit. I am not a top player and will not likely ever make circuit finals. But what I find interesting is that other than streaming, I don’t really care about any of your suggestions.
Size: Outside of impact on WPPRs, as a player 200+ people doesn’t make my experience better than 80 people. (Format dependent of course).
Cash Payout: never a factor in my decisions.
Sponsorship: helps run a better quality tournament by offsetting costs. Outside of free pizza (thank you Domino’s), how does sponsorship help me.
Size of event: I would rather attend a tournament NOT connected to a show, where I could spend my weekend playing in the tournament.

Just my opinions.


The WPPRs selection is an abstract way to select the events based on concentration of top players. My subjective point of view goes back to a certain unbalanced proximity of top players based on geography :slight_smile:
Points we have made before which lead to interesting heat maps of where PAPA circuits event were located and all that.
It will be interesting to see what the dropping of 5 lowest event does to help boosting non-circuit event as historically circuits events are caught in a loop of self sustaining themselves.

Another slightly related question is what would it take to have a Major event on the west coast to balance major location across the us? One would think INDISC could take on that mantle after their past couple events? @pinwizj any formal regulations around Major event selection?

Only formal regulation is that I haven’t won your tournament . . . so INDISC is in the running :slight_smile:

In all seriousness it’s still a numbers game that separates the “Majors” from that next tier of greatest events.

Without the 150% Major boost, here’s the 3 year WPPR averages from the Majors:

PAPA WC --> 93.08
Pinburgh --> 92.44
IFPA WC --> 85.66
EPC --> 75.31

When you look at that next tier, there’s a material difference in the event truly being that ‘World Class’ can’t miss event for those elite players.

INDISC --> 68.27
PINBALL EXPO --> 65.68
LAX --> 63.15
(You can look at the other SPC averages to see the level of those events)

INDISC is GREAT, but there would easily be people on the other side of the pond lobbying for BOP or DPM to fill that roll as the ‘next Major’.

I feel no pressure in thinking that the West Coast is deserving of a Major because of the location. If that was the case Europe would have more than 1.5 Majors on average out of the 4, and could/should be just as deserving based on their list of top tier events.

Well, what are you waiting for? Make it so! :slight_smile:

A new major for INDISC and another in Europe sounds like a great idea.

Let’s get some 3 year averages up over 75 WPPR’s for the winner and I can re-evaluate.

Until then . . . any events on that “less than 75 WPPR list” must live in fear of me winning that event :slight_smile:

If INDISC was classified as a major or PAPA was moved there you would see the same numbers as those other events.


All of the suggestions in the OP seem more related to size than quality.

Perhaps each event should have a survey to fill out and submit?

Yep for sure people can measure quality in many ways, which is probably why IFPA doesn’t want to touch it with a ten foot pole lol… Josh is completely right in some ways the IFPA points take care of some of these points but one which is geography.

Size: Outside of impact on WPPRs, as a player 200+ people doesn’t make my experience better than 80 people. (Format dependent of course).

I think size matters, take for instance World Series of Poker when it was 200 players did anyone watch this or care? Now that it is 8,000 people and spans 50 events a year people take notice.

Cash Payout: never a factor in my decisions.

I think for many this does to some extent. If you can win cash prizing of $2000 at an event and only $500 at another no matter how well run it is people won’t travel to it. Not to mention if cash pool for an event gets high enough it get more exposure for the event. Look at Pinburgh for example.

Size of event: I would rather attend a tournament NOT connected to a show, where I could spend my weekend playing in the tournament.

Again probably in the minority there, if the event is attached to a show it means there is more opportunity to grow the pinball community, more chance for sponsorship’s, media coverage and bring new people into competition pinball, all good things for IFPA and a Stern Circuit event.

For our show you are right we are growing it and have had some fantastic success stories but again it comes down to geography, we have some really good players in Alberta, unfortunately many don’t travel and thus do not have the opportunity to ever be highly ranked. So we put on our marketing hats and sell our show to top ranked players, deliver on our promises with an awesome tournament, and offer up a big cash pool to entice players from out of the country to show up. It still isn’t enough to play with the big guns in major hubs like Pittsburgh and Seattle where there are unlimited choices of tournaments to play, and opportunities to be one of the best ranked players without much travel.

For Poker and many other organizations they try to schedule their satellite circuits evenly as they can through geography. I don’t think this has a much weight for the Stern Circuit, if all 20 of the events ended up to be the highest IFPA points in Pittsburgh they would all be run there, in fact Pittsburgh has two events right now on the calendar, and sometimes has three if PAPA runs. Again just throwing out some ideas to try to balance out the decision making process and let those events that offer a higher quality event the chance at consideration if geography is their barrier.

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