Tournament Formats: This Is How We Do It


By Kayla Greet

There are many tournament styles in use in the Seattle pinball community. For the new player, this can get confusing. Skill Shot is here to help with our guide to tournament formats. In the two months leading up to the eighth annual NW Pinball and Arcade Show (NWPAS), there will be a total of ten satellite tournaments – in four formats – organized by NWPAS tournament director Dave Stewart. Those four formats (Knockout, Match Play, Pingolf, and Cross Game Doubles) are what we’ll cover.


This is certainly the most common format used in local Seattle matches and will be prevalent in the satellite tournaments. Five out of ten of these will be Knockout tournaments that coincide with the weekly and monthly matches around the city. These are typically run using the knocked outBrackelope app, in a 3 Strikes, You’re Out! format. You play a minimum of three rounds. So long as you win at least once in those three, you’ll move on. Brackelope randomly matches up two players head to head on a random machine. Highest score out of one match wins and loser gets one strike for that match. Once you’ve lost three games, you’re eliminated from the rest of the tournament. This pattern continues until only one player is left. Knockout will be used at both Babes in Pinland (women only) and the Rookie tournament (players with an IFPA ranking under 2,000) at NWPAS.


If you competed in the main tournament at the show last year, you are at least familiar with this style. Get geared up, because it’s the same format used in the Main tournament for 2015. Here you’ll play five games against two random opponents, with the possibility of playing matchesthree others depending on turnout. Think of it as five rounds of one game each. Your score at the end of the game will be awarded points indicative of how you placed. Each game has a base score of four points with a bonus point on the table as well. First place finisher gets four, second place gets three and third place gets two points. The bonus point is awarded to the top player IF their score is larger than the other two players’ combined. At the end of five rounds, scores are tallied up and any tiebreakers are settled with a sudden death game, playing one ball each. Get as close as you can to 25 points for victory!


A very polarizing style of tournament play – people either love Pin Golf, or will never play it again. Personally I think it’s the most interesting and fun. You’re not so much playing against everyone else in the tournament, it’s just you and the machine. There will be a nine golfinghole course and no golf carts necessary. Each pin included in the tournament will have a scoring goal, which acts as par, posted on the machine. The amount of balls it takes you to achieve that score are counted as your strokes. If you come firing out of the gates and get the score on your first try, that’s a hole in one! In the NWPAS Classics last year, the pars were certain achievements on the game as opposed to a target score. For example, you might have to get the bonus multiplier up to 10x or spell QUICKSILVER. golfEvery goal was specific to that table. This year a score-based par ought to make it smoother and less complicated but still a blast to play! After you finish your nine holes the score sheets are tallied up, tiebreakers are played if necessary, and winners are declared. Warm up on this style at the 8 Bit and bring your club skills to NWPAS for the Classics!


For those of you in the Pinball Seattle team league, this will be a slight variation on doubles matches. In this style, which Stewart says he used a lot on the East coast, you play the whole tournament with one partner who is your “team.” Matches and machines will be randomly couplesdrawn, and the gameplay will go something like this: four credits are played on one machine – Team A takes player one and four, Team B takes player two and three. Let’s assume a three ball table, though it also works with five. Ball one, player one is played by one person on Team A and the other partner will play ball one, player four. When you get to the second and third ball, you can decide to change your game positions. Maybe player one is set up for a multiball that you know the other player is highly skilled at executing, or your teammate’s ball one started a mode that you know well. This is where pure strategy comes into pinball!

Here is the schedule for the ten satellite tournaments and styles featured:

Last years tournament schedule.

Monday March 30th – Match Play @ Add-A-Ball

Tuesday April 7th – Knockout @ John John’s

Sunday April 12th – Knockout @ 8 Bit

Sunday April 26th – Knockout @ Olaf’s

Sunday May 3rd – Cross Game Doubles @ Shorty’s

Saturday May 9th – Match Play @ Another Castle

Wednesday May 13th – Knockout @ Add-A-Ball

Thursday May 21st – Knockout @ Flip Flip Ding Ding

Monday May 25th – Pin Golf @ 8 Bit

Sunday May 31st – Match Play @ Silverball Saloon

For more information about the NWPAS Tournaments check out their website: or the Skill Shot Calendar link at the top of this page.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *