Tournament format for a single game, one day event

I’ve created a custom game and I thought it would be fun to have a one day, single game tournament on it as a sort of coming out party, so I’m looking for suggestions on a format that would work.

I’d like to have a cash prize of some sort, plus have refreshments, so it should have some sort of fee involved to cover those expenses. Maybe make it points eligible?

I’ve never run a tournament before so I’m open to any and all suggestions with the above restrictions.

PAPA has a great Tournament Director Guide that gives you a list of things to consider when running an event as well as some popular and time-tested format options. One thing I’d encourage you to consider–and something that launch party tournaments for new games also have to take into account–is, if all the action is taking place on one machine that only allows four players, what is everyone else doing and is their time being respected? If you want it to be all about the custom machine, you could do a limited entry high score contest where everyone plays the game X times and records their score, top Y scores move on to a head-to-head finals. If you want the custom machine to be part of a larger event and have access to more machines, you could do a few rounds of match play or knockout, with the finals on the custom game (either include it in the rest of the tournament rounds or leave it out and have it open to spectators and players to check out in between matches).


I’d do single game flip frenzy. Hot Rod is a pretty quick player, right? More fun than a one game high score tourney. You might want to do something extra to mix up the player order periodically as well.

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Depends really as to how many players are going to be there, along with anything else to ‘entertain’ the players when they’re not playing. Also depends on how many of the players are pinball players, and how many are friends and family.

2 suggestions:

$1 (or voluntary amount) entry. Players play a single game, top 4 scores then play a single 4player game in the final.

Voluntary amount will almost always get your more income, especially as people find out how much it cost you to restore/rebrand the game - and that they’re not paying for refreshments.

$1 to play. Players pay each time they play, as many times as they want, again top 4 scores make it to the final.

With only having a single game, I’d want to steer away from formats where players play in a strict order, as that is likely to cause queues and boredom. Make it fun and informal and I’m sure it’ll be great.

Any comp with only a single game in is not going to be worth many WPPR pts, so I wouldn’t worry about that - just submit it for what it is.

Get it on the IFPA calendar at least 30 days before the event. Charge $5 or $10 for entry. $1 of that will go to IFPA, the rest to the prize pool. To max out the points you can have players get three plays(or two) on the game, all three scores are added together to get their qualifying score. Then take a max of 50% of the players to finals. So 4, 8, 12(with top 4 getting a bye in the first round), 16, etc. For finals play single games in groups of 4, with 2 players advancing to the next round. Depending on how many players you have, you might want to pay out the top 4 or 8 places.

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One wrinkle is that the game is only two players.

You can still have 4 player game. Just players1 and 2 play and record the scores. Then players 3 and 4 play and all 4 scores are compared. You can even do this on single player EMs.


I like the look of the Japanese format because it’s a set time period, so I could do it on a weeknight when I could get the venue (the local pinball bar) for free, but would it work with a single game?

Average game time is less than a minute, it’s a pretty brutal player. Might work okay. There’s a bunch of other games at the venue people could play while they wait.

Okay, I think I’m going to go forward with the Japanese format.

I’m thinking, one hour play, then a break for food, another hour, and then a head-to-head final play between the two highest scores. $20 entry fee to cover expenses and final prize payouts to first and second place. Start at 7pm, done before 11pm since it’s a school night. The location has other games to play and liquor so that handles entertainment for those waiting.


I think a timed format sounds like a great choice given your parameters! Let us know how it goes.