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Southern-Fried Gaming Expo Pinball Tournaments
Southern-Fried Pinball Tournament at SFGE 2023

PINBALL TOURNAMENTS

The Southern-Fried Gaming Expo is pleased to host a number of pinball tournaments throughout the weekend of the event. There will be plenty of opportunities for both the serious competitive pinball player and the casual fan to have fun, compete, and (hopefully) win prizes!

 

NOTE: The 2024 tournament details have not yet been determined. Stay tuned for updated information in the future. 

 

The following information was from last year’s event, but could serve to give an idea about what might be in store for 2024:

 

Southern-Fried Pinball Tournaments 2023!

Since our inception, we’ve been a cornerstone event in the competitive pinball arena. Over the years at SFGE, top-ranked tournament players and casual fans alike have competed in our world-class tournaments.

Players must have an SFGE membership to participate

Read the basics about our pinball tournaments below, then join the tournament Facebook group and chat with our other tournament players and organizers.

Stern Pinball Logo

Stern Pinball

Marco Specialties logo

Marco Specialties

Classic Game Rooms Logo

Classic Game Rooms

Tilt Amusements Logo

Tilt Amusements

Jersey Jack Pinball

Jersey Jack Pinball

Titan Pinball

Titan Pinball

Pinball Life logo

Pinball Life

PinShades logo

PinShades

My Parent’s Basement

Portal Pinball

Portal Pinball

Bang Back Pinball Lounge

The Cleveland Pinball and Arcade Show

Pinsound

Pinsound

The Little Flippers Logo

The Little Flippers

Streaming

You can watch the Southern-Fried Gaming Expo 2023 Pinball Tournaments on Twitch!

https://twitch.tv/triadpinball

Preregistration

We are no longer accepting preregistrations. You can register for the Main Tournament when you arrive at SFGE on Friday or Saturday in the Pinball Tournaments area. You can register for the Classics Tournament on Sunday morning; expect to line up early since we’re only taking 40 players for Sunday Classics with no preregistration.

You can review the Registered Players and Wait List to confirm your status if you preregistered.

Note:

  • The Main event is taking preregistrations to help shorten wait times at the tournament sign up desk and enable faster queuing; we expect to be able to accommodate any number of players without a player limit
  • The Sunday Classics event is not taking preregistrations, you can register for that event by lining up in person at the beginning of the day on Sunday
  • In addition to your tournament registration you must also have an SFGE membership

If space is available we will accept day-of signup request as soon as the tournament area opens each day. The Main Event will accommodate players joining throughout Friday and Saturday even if they have not preregistered.

Even if you have preregistered, please check-in at the tournament area at least 15 minutes before the start of tournament for side events so we can confirm your spot and know whether there’s any space available for wait-listed players.

Our pricing is set up with side tournaments at $10 in order to encourage more players who are new to tournament pinball to join in. Everyone must also have a SFGE membership to enter the pinball tournaments area on the day of their event(s) so we want to keep tournament entry fees low. We will use $10 from the initial $30 entry fee for the main event to help cover trophy, tech, and other tournament expenses.

Schedule

Friday

  • 3 pm to 11 pm – Main event best game qualifying
  • 1 pm to 5 pm – Women’s timed match play
  • 5 pm to 11 pm – Open timed match play

Saturday

  • 10 am to 9 pm – Main event best game qualifying continues
  • 10:15 am to 4 pm – Women’s fair strikes
  • 12 pm to 3 pm – Kids tournament
  • 4 pm to 9:30 pm – Open fair strikes
  • 9:30 pm to 11 pm – Main event group match play finals (top 16)

Sunday

  • 9 am to 1 pm – Main event group match play finals continues (top 8)
  • 9 am to 1 pm – Main event group match play finals continues (B Division)
  • 9 am to 3 pm – Battle of the Belles team pingolf finals
  • 10:15 am to 2 pm – Classics match play
Pinball tournament schedule grid

Kids Tournament (New info!)

We’re proud to welcome back The Little Flippers Kids Tournament! Kids ages 4 to 12 can play in a tournament on Saturday at noon. Free entry! Come to the pinball tournaments area in Galleria Hall C at 11:45 am to register and play to become the Kids Tournament Grand Champion. We expect the tournament to wrap up by about 3:00 for the finalists.

Main Event (Friday through Saturday)

Players can compete to put up high scores in single-player best game qualifying and then advance to the finals for a group match play elimination bracket.

  • Qualifying format: Best Game (unlimited qualifying)
  • Registration fee: $30 (each player who registers starts with 7 entries)
  • Additional entries: Players may choose to purchase one or more add-ons (No refunds for unused entries)
    • 1 additional entry for $5
    • 3 additional entries for $10
    • 7 additional entries for $20
  • Game bank: 9 games featuring games from classics to the modern era
  • Scoring: 6 games counted, 100/95/90/85/84/83…; scorekeepers will enter players’ scores to online software at the end of each game
  • Queuing: Players can join a game’s queue through online software (Drains Tournament Manager) or in-person with an official scorekeeper
  • Estimated TGP: 115%

Register early online or at the event when you arrive at the tournament pinball area. We do not plan to cap the number of players in this event.

Finals format: Group match play elimination bracket

Top 16 from qualifying advance to the finals. 3 games per round. Top seed in each group will choose a predetermined arena bank of 3 games. Arena banks will be announced during qualifying and will include games from several eras. Arena banks will include some games from the qualifying and some games from the side tournaments. 2 players advance and 2 players are eliminated from each group at the end of each round. PAPA scoring (4/2/1/0 points for 1st/2nd/3rd/4th). Round of 16 will take place on Saturday night at 9:30 pm. Round of 8 and top 4 will take place at 9:00 am on Sunday morning.

The unlimited qualifying nature of the Main Event (Herb style) means that it’s best suited for players who have the time, interest, and financial means to make multiple attempts. Everyone is welcome to play and every player will earn IFPA WPPR points based on their final standings. We wanted to include this kind of tournament also to ensure that there was a main event that can accommodate a large number of players and give players the flexibility to play some tournament pinball and visit the rest of the show; you’re welcome to use your qualifying entries throughout the qualifying time with breaks and visits to the main game floor in between attempts if you prefer. If this tournament doesn’t feel right for you, check out these other options.

The B Division finals will include the next 8 players who did not make it into the top 16 and who do not have an IFPA ranking of 500 or better. The B Division finals will happen on Sunday morning at 9:00 am. Since the player list is restricted for this portion of the event, the results from qualifying will be used for IFPA results for players outside of the top 16.

If you are a Leveled-Up Gamer, you may use your pinball tournament entry voucher to join this event.

A note on overlapping tournaments:

In addition to the main event, Southern-Fried Pinball Tournaments will feature several other side tournaments. You may play in any combination of tournaments but expect to only focus on main event qualifying games while you are not committed to another overlapping tournament. If a player participates in a side tournament and is absent from their game at the start of the round we will announce their name in the tournament pinball area and will disqualify them from the round after 3 minutes (more details in the FAQ).

Women’s Match Play (Friday afternoon)

We’re opening the tournament area early to start off with a women’s group match play tournament.

  • Tournament start: 1:00 pm
  • Registration fee: $10
  • Registration time: See preregistration details at the top of this page (or in-person the day of the event if space is available)
  • Format: Group Match Play (7/5/3/1 or 7/4/1 scoring)
  • Qualifying: new rounds started until 3:40 pm (minimum of 6 rounds)
  • Finals: Top 8 advance to finals; 1 game per round in the top 8 (2 advance from each group); 1 game top 4 final round
  • Estimated TGP: 64%
  • Event capacity: 80 players maximum (assuming enough games to accommodate 80)

Standings from this event will be used towards the Battle of the Belles Team Pingolf Final (more details below).

Other details: balanced pairings, automatic tiebreakers based on most 1sts and 2nds, tiebreaker playoff game for top 8 cutoff (single game on a fast-playing game of the tournament director’s choice) only for players exactly tied after automatic tiebreakers.

Open Match Play (Friday evening)

Anyone can join in for our Friday evening tournament.

  • Tournament start: 5:00 pm (start may be delayed to immediately after the conclusion of the afternoon women’s tournament)
  • Registration fee: $10
  • Registration time: See preregistration details at the top of this page (or in-person the day of the event if space is available)
  • Format: Group Match Play (7/5/3/1 or 7/4/1 scoring) timed, with no finals
  • New rounds started until 10:45 pm (no separate finals)
  • Estimated TGP: 80%
  • Event capacity: based on number of games available

We’re fitting in maximum pinball fun with this tournament running from 5 pm until around 11 pm. We’re skipping the traditional qualifying and finals structure so everyone can play in every round.

Other details: balanced pairings, automatic tiebreakers based on “strength of schedule”, no separate finals, tiebreaker game only if multiple players are tied for 1st place with the same number of match points (ignoring automatic tiebreakers); keep in mind that everyone must leave the convention area by 11:45 pm and we will halt and void the last round or postpone the tiebreaker game if necessary to meet that schedule.

Women’s Knockout (Saturday morning)

Everyone is guaranteed at least 3 rounds of pinball, and will likely play more in our Saturday morning women’s fair strikes tournament.

  • Tournament start: 10:15 am
  • Registration fee: $10
  • Registration time: See preregistration details at the top of this page (or in-person the day of the event if space is available)
  • Format: Knockout; 6 strikes till knocked out
  • Scoring: Fair Strikes scoring (0/1/1/2 or 0/1/2 or 0/2 for 4-, 3-, or 2-player groups)
  • Estimated TGP: 76%
  • Event capacity: based on number of games available

Standings from this event will be used towards the Battle of the Belles Team Pingolf Final (more details below).

Other details: Swiss pairings (play against others near you in the standings); everyone plays at least 3 rounds; predicted to be 10 or 11 rounds total for the winner; no separate finals.

Open Knockout (Saturday afternoon)

Anyone can play in our Saturday afternoon knockout tournament and everyone is guaranteed to play at least 3 rounds of pinball.

  • Tournament start: 4:00 pm (start may be delayed to immediately after the conclusion of the morning women’s tournament)
  • Registration fee: $10
  • Registration time: See preregistration details at the top of this page (or in-person the day of the event if space is available)
  • Format: Knockout; 5 strikes till knocked out
  • Scoring: Fair Strikes scoring (0/1/1/2 or 0/1/2 or 0/2 for 4-, 3-, or 2- player groups)
  • Estimated TGP: 72%
  • Event capacity: based on number of games available

Other details: Swiss pairings (play against others near you in the standings); everyone plays at least 3 rounds; predicted to be 9 or 10 rounds total for the winner; no separate final

Classics (Sunday morning)

We’re excited to bring back a classics tournament; anyone is welcome to play.

  • Tournament start: 10:15 am
  • Registration fee: $10
  • Registration time: Register on Sunday morning in person (exact instructions to be announced)
  • Format: Group Match Play (7/5/3/1 or 7/4/1 scoring)
  • Qualifying: 6 rounds of group match play
  • Finals: Top 4 advance to finals; 3 games in a single round (4/2/1/0 scoring)
  • Estimated TGP: 72%
  • Event capacity: 40 players maximum

Other details: Swiss pairings (play against others near you in the standings); automatic tiebreakers based on most 1sts and 2nds, tiebreaker playoff game for top 4 cutoff (single game on a random game from the event) for players exactly tied after automatic tiebreakers.

Battle of the Belles Pingolf Finals (Sunday morning)

Southern-Fried Gaming Expo is proud to present a fun team event for the top women’s pinball teams participating in the Friday and Saturday women’s tournaments.

  • Teams: Women who are participating in one or both of the womens’ events on Friday and Saturday can join a Battle of the Belles team. Teams should have 3 players. We can help you find a team or an extra player if you need help forming teams of three. We will also allow teams of 4 players, but prefer teams of 3.
  • Qualifying: We will use the results of the Friday Women’s Match Play and Saturday Women’s Knockout tournaments to rank the teams. You have a chance of making it to the finals even if you or your team only participates in one of those two women’s events.
  • Finals start: Flexible start time as early as 9 am on Sunday
  • Format: Team pingolf
  • Note, this tournament is not IFPA sanctioned and will not award WPPR points

For each team we will figure out the team’s average finishing position from the two earlier women’s tournaments. The three teams with the best average with the best average finishing position will be invited to the Battle of the Belles Pingolf Finals. Players must determine their teams before any of the team’s players start playing in the women’s tournaments. If a player chooses to drop from the team (e.g. to solely focus on the Main Tournament finals or Classics) then their scores will not be used for that team’s average and the team must still have at least 3 players.

During the finals each team will complete a pingolf course of 6 machines. The team will choose a player order at the start and the first player from the team will start ball 1 of the first machine. If that ball drains without meeting the target score or objective the next player in the order will play ball 2. Once the team meets the objective for the machine, they’ll move on to the next machine and the next player in the order will start ball 1 of that game.

Help us make the Southern-Fried Pinball Tournaments a success

We will enforce a strict conduct policy in line with the SFGE harassment policy and the IFPAPA player conduct policy. Please help us make the tournament area a fun and welcoming place. Aggressive treatment of the machines, mistreatment of other players, and disruptive outbursts will be addressed by tournament staff, resulting in yellow cards, and possible disqualification from a specific tournament or even the entire tournament area.

We are looking for game bringers who are willing to place their pinball machines in the tournament area. Please review our checklist for tournament games and register your game on the SFGE Game Registration System.

We are also looking for help from volunteers willing to help as scorekeepers; assist with player registration; act as assistant tournament directors; and help with day-of adjustments, repairs, and maintenance. Sign up to become a volunteer and check the box indicating that you’re interested in Pinball Tournaments.

Thanks for helping us bring these competitive pinball events to Southern-Fried!

Update history:
June 4, 2023 – Published initial version
July 2, 2023 – Registration brought online
July 23, 2023 – Added info for registered players and wait list, sponsors, streaming, and Kids Tournament


FAQ

What can I do before SFGE to help the pinball tournaments?

We’d love for you to help us by bringing a game! You can also sign up to volunteer. General volunteers are needed for scorekeeping and the tournament registration desk. If you have experience as a tournament director you can also sign up to volunteer as an assistant TD. If you have experience making machine repairs you can sign up to volunteer as a technician. We would also appreciate anyone who is willing to let us use their tablet or iPad for the weekend to assist with scorekeeping.

Can I play the games in the tournament area between tournaments or between tournament rounds?

We ask that everyone please refrain from playing the tournament games other than during their assigned tournament matches. This helps in a few ways: With fewer plays on the games our technicians have a better chance of keeping everything running smoothly all weekend. If we have long round times or delays due to mechanical or rules issues there will not be enough free time between tournaments to give everyone a fair access to practice on the games. By not allowing play between rounds we reduce the risk of unintentional interference with a tournament game (for example, unintentionally restarting a game in progress or distracting a tournament player on an adjacent game).

Why is the Friday women’s event capped at 80 players? Why is the Sunday classics event capped at 40 players?

Since these formats include a finals component we must have at least 10% of the participants from qualifying advance to the finals. By capping the participants for the Friday women’s event to 80 we can schedule our finals to be only two games, giving us more time for qualifying rounds and for the evening’s open event. By capping the participants for the Sunday classics event to 40 we have enough time to schedule a 3-game finals.

If I play in the Friday women’s event can I access the SFGE free play area early?

No, all players who are gaining early access to the pinball tournament area must stay in that area or return to the convention hallway until the SFGE main free play area has opened to SFGE members at 3 pm on Friday afternoon. We expect the qualifying portion of the Friday Women’s Match Play tournament to wrap up sometime between 3:40 and 5 pm.

Why aren’t the side events worth more TGP?

IFPA Tournament Grading Percentage (TGP) is based on the amount of game results that are factored into the final standings for a pinball event. Tournament organizers can increase TGP by scheduling events with more rounds of pinball. We have scheduled the Southern-Fried Pinball Tournaments so that there is one big main event with more than 100% TGP along with several shorter events. This lets us have a jam packed schedule with a main event, 5 side events, and a special Women’s team competition all fit into a short time frame from Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon. We choose to be conservative in our scheduling so that we can accommodate the risk of delays due to mechanical problems, tournament rulings, or long ball times while still staying within the venue’s contracted closing times.

Will the tournaments be IFPA sanctioned?

Yes, the following tournaments will be IFPA sanctioned: Main Tournament, Friday Women’s Match Play, Friday Open Match Play, Saturday Women’s Strikes, Saturday Open Strikes, and Sunday Classics. Those tournaments will award WPPR points towards your world rankings (in either the Overall or Women’s divisions) and towards the Georgia 2023 NACS (or WNACS) rankings. Even if you’ve never played in a pinball tournament before we’d love to have you join in making this your first ranked pinball event. The Kids tournament will not award WPPR points because it is age restricted. The Battle of the Belles Final will not award WPPR points because it is a team event.

Will the main tournament be IFPA Certified?

IFPA Certified and Certified+ events get an extra 125% or 150% boost in WPPR points by meeting stricter format requirements. None of the pinball tournaments at SFGE will be IFPA certified. With the tournament area limited to a total of about 27 hours over the weekend we cannot fit in the required 20 hours of qualifying time and 12-game finals without running the risk of going past the venue’s strict closing policy.

Can I play in the main tournament and in the side tournaments?

Yes, we expect most players who play in a side tournament will also participate in the main tournament at some point during the weekend. While playing in a side tournament it probably won’t be practical for you to also queue for a game in the main event. If a player is next in the queue for a game in main event qualifying and is not present in the main event area they will be skipped and the next player in the queue will be asked by a scorekeeper to start their game. If the player at the top of the queue is still (or again) absent after that game they will be removed from the queue. No qualifying entry will be used up in this case and the player can use their entry to rejoin at the back of the queue. During the side tournaments if a player is absent from their game at the start of the round we will announce their name in the tournament pinball area and will disqualify them from the round after 3 minutes. During the main event finals if a player is absent they will be given 3 minutes before the TD plunges their ball the first time and will be given up to 1 minute the second or third time they are absent during that game.

Can I play in the Saturday open strikes tournament if I also end up qualified for the Main Tournament Finals Top 16?

Yes, we will ensure that any players who are still in the Saturday open strikes tournament are given the opportunity to finish their matches before their group begins the Main Tournament top 16. Keep in mind that depending on round times we may be operating on a tight schedule with a hard deadline. The head tournament director will communicate adjustments to the Main Tournament finals schedule to players if any changes are needed.

Can I play in the Sunday classics tournament if I’m also qualified for the Main Tournament Finals Top 8?

Yes, you are welcome to register for the Sunday classics tournament, but it’s important that you keep a few things in mind. For the Sunday classics tournament and the Sunday Main Tournament Finals (both A and B divisions) we will enforce a time limit on absent players. If you are not at the machine and ready to plunge your first ball within 3 minutes of your turn, a tournament director will plunge that ball away; a time limit of 1 minute per ball will be enforced after that. We had players participate in overlapping tournaments with some success in 2022, but you may prefer to focus on one tournament at a time and leave the Classics event for players who did not qualify for the main event finals.

Can I play in the Sunday classics tournament if I’m also qualified for the Belles and Chimes Team Pingolf Final?

Yes, you are welcome to register for the Sunday classics tournament. We will help make accommodations for your team to complete the pingolf final in parallel with the Sunday classics tournament or Sunday Main Tournament Finals. Keep in mind that we will still enforce a time limit on absent players for the IFPA sanctioned tournaments. During the Classics tournament if a player is absent from their game at the start of the round we will announce their name in the tournament pinball area and will disqualify them from the round after 3 minutes. Belles teams can start their pingolf round as early as 9:00 am; you can also work with your scorekeeper to pause your pingolf round before starting the next hole (i.e. the next machine), however you will not be allowed to pause pingolf play between balls of an in-progress pingolf game.

What games will be included in the Classics tournament?

We will make our best effort to only include games from earlier than 1991, before the DMD era. We rely on collectors to bring their games to SFGE and offer for them to be used in the tournament area. If we do not have enough true classics games we will do our best to fill in the gaps using games with simpler rules and play times similar to classics.

How will match results be recorded?

For the side tournaments players will be asked to submit their group’s match results using the Match Play Events website. Before submitting results, please have all players from your group confirm that they are correct (or at least as many players as is practical). Alert the tournament director right away if the score is recorded correctly. For some tournaments the results affect pairings for future rounds and cannot be corrected after the round has been closed.