Trying to plan a Pro-Am tournament, input requested

My friend and I organize tournaments in NW Indiana and thought it’d be great if we could run a Pro-Am style tournament. Obviously, the most important part of any Pro-Am is getting Pros to participate, so we’re looking for your input on what it would take to get you involved!

The idea here is to promote pinball tournament play by getting the Amateurs some quality time with the Pros on a more casual, but still tournament-oriented way. As an amateur, you’d be interested in what that one skill, or way of thinking it is that you’re lacking to get to the next level. As a pro, you’re looking to get people to the next level to keep the tournament scene going and growing. Maybe you’re both looking for something completely different!

So, what’s going to entice the Pros to participate in this kind of event? We’ve already discussed briefly with @pinwizj and @trent, and they had positive initial reactions, so what about the rest of you?

We need to come up with a format that will give Ams quality time with the Pros without being overbearing or onerous. We’ve discussed one v one matchups vs group matchups. We’ve discussed making it a 2 day event vs a 1 day event. I’d like to just get some ideas flowing here so we can put something together that will be a good time for everyone, so let’s hear them!

Obviously, we’ll be looking at the tournament schedules to make sure we avoid conflicts as much as possible. Or is this something that should be tied to another event of some kind?

As a Pro - What would make you want to participate in something like this? What kind of format would make you say ‘No way?’ Does there need to be a prize pool at the end of the rainbow?

As an Am - Does this sound like something you’d be interested in? What kind of format would you be looking for? How many Pros would you expect to get time with during the tournament? Are you interested in prizes/winnings, or just ‘Pro time?’

Thanks for looking, and thanks in advance for any ideas and contributions!

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As an AM this sounds awesome. Why not do it like golf? Aren’t you paired with one pro for the whole tournament? Also I say most if not all proceeds go to charity.

So you could do match play and do combined score. So if the scoring is 7,5,3,1. Whatever you and your teammate gets compare to the other two. Do that for so many rounds, then have a finals.

A prize pool is one way, but honestly a plane ticket and a place to crash and I’m there! :slight_smile:

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The problem with pairing one on one is that you’re limiting the number of Ams who can attend to the number of Pros who attend. It’s also good to get input/time from multiple Pros. Unless you want to expand on that with another idea?

I think the idea of making all proceeds for charity is a great idea, and we’re absolutely open to that. We were already thinking of looking for donations for prizes and/or food.

I like this idea.

We talked about that, too, but I’m glad you brought it up! :slight_smile:

So then maybe you rotate throughout the event each round. You would just have to make sure each game is two Pros and two AMs. So that fixes one issue.

Not sure what the format could be if 50 AMs show up and 25 Pros show up. But I do think the Pros need to be on the AMs teams because it’s cool playing with a Pro, but it’s even cooler winning with a Pro

I think it would have to include pre-registration so we don’t end up with 200 Ams and 10 Pros. Once we get an idea on how many people would be interested, that may do a lot to determine how we set up the format.

And if we have to pay for a bunch of plane tickets, we’ll need a lot of interest from the Ams! :slight_smile:


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While I haven’t participated in a Team format yet, those seem like a good fit for this. See the NYC Team league, Buffalo has a team league, I think PDX does as well.
You could also use the same 2 v 2 team format that the IFPA Epstein Cup uses.

Just curious what the criteria is for a Pro vs AM…

Sounds fun though!! I honestly feel that you can’t get better unless you play with people better than you, and it would be even better having a pro be on your team so there is no competition aspect weighing that help down.

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Will have to look into some of those, thanks.

That’s kind of in flux depending on response. Obviously, the goal would be to get as many as the top names that you already know as Pros, and anyone else would be an Am.

Exactly what we’re thinking.


What determines a pro vs an am? I’m IFPA 330th… probably not a Pro in your eyes but probably better than a fair amount of amateurs. The whole intoxicating part of competitive pinball is I can do it with a day job and could be in the top 100 with enough hard work. I don’t really buy into selecting the big names in pinball and deciding they’re pros.

Joe Lemire is ranked 45th but probably not who you are targeting with Pro players… he’s a great player but I think the idea of this tournament is bringing the ‘celebrity’ well known players who are consistently playing the really large tournaments.

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I’d be into this. Live coaching should
be encouaraged. Not sure how many people you consider pros, but you’ll get way more Amateurs.

Given the ratio, maybe the pros don’t even play? Maybe it’s more like mentoring? But not sure how you get people to travel for a tourney like that. High price for the Amateurs, and that funds the trip for the pros?

One night at a bar we started scheming a tournament where we pick out random people playing pinball, sign them up to play on our “team”, and then attempt to coach them to victory against other noobs. We’d each but in 10 bucks or so as a bet against each other…and maybe give a portion to the winners, or buy them drinks or something.

I’ll also admit that I had heard the term ProAm, but wasn’t aware that it had such a specific meaning.

There’s obviously a whole lot of gray area when it comes to defining “Pro” but I think we’re looking for people that will entice Ams to participate, so you’re probably right that we’re mostly looking for the “celebrities” of the group. As I said, it’s definitely a work in progress, and someone who doesn’t get chosen as a Pro for this shouldn’t take it as a commentary of their skill level.

I think it’s that old adage of “if you have to ask…”

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We agree on both points! Making it 1 Am/1 Pro teams would better lend itself to the live coaching as well, but of course that’s probably going to limit the number of Ams that you can have in total.

So if someone is choosing the players who get to participate it wouldn’t be eligible for IFPA points. It sounds like it might be something interesting to watch on Twitch I guess.

To get the pros you need ranking points and decent prizes, plus a stacked field to make winning it more legit. I think honestly you might have a tough time, unless the pros you want a pretty exclusive to your backyard / Indiana.

The 24 hour battle at the Sanctum sold out in 2 minutes and aside from the locals a lot of big names are traveling to it because it’s a papa circuit event. I think this format won’t work because of the exclusionary nature of who is a pro and who isn’t, which I believe disqualifies it from a lot of the things that is a good draw for players to travel to.

You’re correct, this will not be IFPA sanctioned, and we’re aware of the effect that has on desirability. Starting this thread is our way of trying to figure out how to make it more desirable. I don’t think we have a problem with that for the Ams, and that’s why I’m really hoping for some more input from the Pros.

We’re about 30m from Chicago, so there are a number of Pros in our back yard. We’re also hoping for more responses like that of @KCB which we would love to take him up on, if we can make it work.

For the Pros, this isn’t going to be about winning. It’s going to be about having fun and helping grow the sport. That’s important to some people and the IFPA. We agree and are trying to help. If it turns out that we can’t get enough people to come, well, at least we tried.

Btw - we did also discuss getting @DEADFLIP involved. We’ll see what he thinks about it.

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I feel that if you only look for pinball “celebrities” you’ll find that it will be hard to find enough “Pros” for the tournament.