Tournament Format - Help Needed

Hi everyone,

I am running a weekly league where the prize at the end of the year is a Stern Walking Dead Pinball machine.

The way we have our weekly meets set up is that each player plays 7 machines and their scores are ranked against each other player on each machine. Player with the highest ranked score at the end wins that night. Pretty basic and it works fine.

So the Top 16 players throughout the year are going to be playing off for the Walking Dead machine in December this year. What I would like to know is what the best format would be?

I would like to reward the players who accumulated the most points throughout the season by giving them more chances on the final night. I dont really want the player to come every week and be top of the leaderboard at the end of the year to get knocked out in the first round by the 16th ranked player (this is pinball and can definitely happen!)

Is there some kind of format that would give the #1 ranked player a lot more chances than #16 ranked? Does anyone have any example formats they could share with me?

Thanks in advance!

PAPA circuit finals!


There’s always the ironman/royal rumble/PAPA circuit final format. Seeds 16-15-14-13 have a 4 person game and the lowest score is knocked out. Add in the next highest seed and do it again until you only have 4 players left. At that point you could keep going with lowest score gets knocked out or switch up the format. It gives a big advantage to higher seeds, but it’s definitely possible for a lower seed to play well and get into the final four.

Edit: What he said :smile:

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Yup that is how I would do it. Top seed doesn’t have to play until there are only three people left. Best way to really reward best player.

Thanks guys. Great idea.

A league that has a top prize of a TWD pin??!?! :open_mouth:
Where do I sign up?

Yep, the PAPA Circuit Finals format is awesome. It does require a LOT of time, though, during which most players are sitting around waiting.

I’ve been thinking about systems to use in my own season finals. One alternative would be to run a “strikes” tournament, with players starting off with a different number of strikes depending on their qualifying position.

As an example, you could have a 6-strikes tournament with the top qualifier starting on 0 strikes, 2nd-3rd on 1 strike, 4th-6th on 2 strikes, 7th-10th on 3 strikes, 11th-16th on 4 strikes.

Players are drawn to play head-to-head games. Loser gets a strike, 6 strikes and you’re out, last man standing wins.

This would reward the top qualifiers whilst allowing them to take part in the early stages of the competition. It would also allow more than one machine to be utilized at a time, and would guarantee players more than just one game.

Such a format could be easily run with @haugstrup’s software.

Coogee Pinball HQ in Sydney Australia!

We didn’t end up using this, but you could run multiple groups at once in the Circuit format, paring them down every so often. It’s a little like a poker tournament, then. For example, with 20 players, you could do 3 groups:

Group 1: #9 #14 #15 #20
Group 2: #10 #13 #16 #19
Group 3: #11 #12 #17 #18

then after a round bring on #6 #7 #8, then #3 #4 #5. At some point you have to play a three-player elimination game so you can get 3 groups down to 2 (then again for 2 groups down to 1).

Full logistics for a “faster” Circuit Final:

Round 1: 3 eliminations, bring on #6-8
Round 2: 3 eliminations, bring on #3-5
Round 3: 3 player games, 2 eliminations, 6 survivors join #1-2 in two 4-player groups
Round 4: 2 eliminations, 6 players left
Round 5: 3 player games, 2 eliminations, 4 players left
Round 6: 4 players -> 3
Round 7: 3 players -> 2
Round 8: 2 players -> champion

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Another possible ladder format alteration is eliminating 2 people each match then bringing on the next 2.

While this works, it makes it almost prohibitively difficult for a low-ladder player to make it all the way to the finals. I think Seattle Pinball League uses or used a format like this but eliminated 3 out of 4 people each match, which is super severe!

You could also try a double-bye setup:
Round 1: 9-12-13-16 (group A) and 10-11-14-15 (group B); take the top 2 from each group, either single game or multiple games using PAPA points (4-2-1-0).
Round 2: 5-8-top 2 A © and 6-7-top 2 B (D); take top 2 from each group again
Round 3: 1-4-top 2 C (E) and 2-3-top 2 D (F); take top 2 again
Round 4: the four survivors play, top 2 go to finals
Round 5: finals

This means the #9-16 seeds must go 5 rounds to win, #5-8 go 4 rounds, #1-4 go 3 rounds. You could give higher seeds position or game choice for additional value to #1, etc.

This is less punitive on the #16 seed than either circuit-style or strikes format. It all comes down to how much of an advantage you want to provide to the top seeds.

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