Tournament formats for group play

Trying to switch up our monthly format. We already do a 3 strike tournament, so that format is out.

We have been doing a best game qualifying group match play final for the past year.

Looking for a new format that is group play, no qualifying that takes 6 hours max. Any ideas?

Just do a group match play format. It’s very easy to run on Groups of 4 play one game selected by the software. Points are given each round. You can group by standings or randomly. Then just end it at the specified time with the current points earned as the final standings.

I think it’s more fun than knockouts because everyone gets the same amount of play time and no one feels bad about getting knocked out early and having a bummer day.

With a 6 hour window you should be able to run 10-12 rounds which will give plenty of separation in the standings and get you close to 100% TGP.


The group 3 strike tournament is so played out in Ohio tournaments right now. Cleveland/Akron have pretty much three a week at certain times of the year.

Does it have to be group play? PinballPinballPinball and amazing race formats can be a fun change every once in a while.

What are PinballPinballPinball and amazing race formats?


Amazing race is everyone plays the same game and the lowest score is knocked out. Players who are not currently the lowest score can move on to the next game.

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It’s funny how so many places the strike tournaments and knockouts are so common and played out as you stated. In the northeast they are non existent so I was thinking of inning a massive 3 strikes event this march along side a linked NBA fastbreak march madness bracket tournament to switch things up.

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More information about our Cincinnati tournaments. 95% of the players that come every month have played less than 10 tournaments so things like 3 strike are still new to them. (We’ve only been doing them for a few months).

But since we have those on the second Friday of each month, I wanted something new for the last Sunday of each month tournament.

The timed group play is intriguing. Can you do the groupings balance so that it tries to pair up everyone against everyone else the same number of times? Which tournament option would this be in Match Play?

I’ll read about these other formats mentioned too but head to head is out as everyone like the group aspect as everyone in this league is very social.

Tried head to head round robin for a couple months and everyone hated it. Haha

It’s just called “group match play” in the format options.

Just like you said, you can pick “balanced” for the groupings so the software puts you in groups against the players you haven’t faced yet.

I run a monthly just like this and people really enjoy it. It’s especially good for newer players because it’s a social format and there is a plenty of time to discuss rules, etc. with other players. Speaking of which, come up to Cleveland sometime for a Superelectric Battle if you want to see how it works. It’s the last Sunday of every month, so there’s one this weekend!


I might take you up on that one Sunday this summer but kind of locked down as it’s tax season.

My uncle collects and lives in Medina so maybe we can both come!


Ran this on Sunday and everyone loved it! I messed up player order settings so people kept playing the same positions over and over but I’ll have that fixed for next time. I think we found the format that will work for everyone.

It’s also great to know for out of towners that they are getting 5 plus hours of guaranteed pinball and they know exactly when they will be done.

This might be my new favorite format.


Glad it worked well for your group!

As always, thanks to @haugstrup for the means to easily run formats like this. It used to be a nightmare doing it manually or on some goofy excel sheet.


I like the sound of this format. We did nothing but knockout tournaments last year. I think this will be a refreshing change, especially since we have a lot of out of towners show up to our tournaments.

What type of scoring are you guys using?

I like to use 7/5/3/1. When you end up with with 3 player groups the scoring is 7/4/1. Really it’s the same linear scoring as 3/2/1/0, but you don’t get stuck using half points in the 3 player groups, so it looks a little cleaner and no one wants to miss the cut by a half point. Plus there is the psychological aspect of preventing a new player from getting a bunch of zeros and feeling bad about it. At least with 1 point for last place they’re scoring something.


Awesome, thanks @jdelz I will definitely be trying this out in our next tournament.

Yeah we used 3,2,1,0. Thank gosh everyone got points. Haha

The other benefit to using non-zero for last place is that it differentiates between Player A who participated and got two 4th’s versus Player B that shows up late, missing the first two rounds, and starts in Round 3.


Interesting. Didn’t think bout people showing up late. That’s great that I can add them along the way too. Might have to switch to 7,5,3,1 then.

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Had a thought. I am considering having a once a year tournament at my house in KY. I wanted to use this format for qualifying. Say have 4 hour timed qualifying, then have group matchplay finals. Does anyone see any issues with using the timed group matchplay format for qualifying?

The first thing I thought of was that maybe there will not be enough time for everyone to play everyone and even number of times.

Also, I would probably have 12 games available for play. Should I cap the entrants or just let the attendance fall where it may?

There’s almost never time for that anyway. Set your time limit high enough and you’ll be fine (2 hours and 30 players would be bad for example). In my experience you’ll do about 2 rounds per hour (provided you have one game each round).

I’d cap it because everyone will be waiting for the “extra” groups to finish up. Maybe at like 40 players so you’ll have a 2 machine buffer to work with?