I’ve been getting a few questions lately about the playoff format, which I haven’t been very good about responding to as of late because Chris and I have been re-thinking the format that was somewhat tenuously decided upon at the beginning of the season. The original decision was to have only the top four teams make the playoffs. However, we have now decided against this as we think it goes against the original intent of the league. As of now, all eight teams will make the playoffs. Full reasoning is given below:
The Summer League was created mostly as a stopgap between the Spring and Fall seasons of the Pinball NYC league, but it’s also intended to be something that break us out of our molds a little bit. We’re supposed to meet people we otherwise wouldn’t be playing pinball with, and compete against the same people we play alongside on our regular season teams. There’s really no prize except bragging rights and a dinky trophy that may or may not end up at the winning team’s bar. Since this is strictly an exhibition league, we should treat the matches as such. The regular season games shouldn’t really matter for anything at all, except for determining where you end up in the playoffs.
Also, in the previous Summer and Winter seasons, all teams have made the playoffs regardless of how well they did in the regular season – this season shouldn’t be an exception, especially given that we have an even number of teams that can play in the playoffs without having to use bye weeks for certain teams. We can extend the summer season for everyone in a meaningful way, especially teams that have been hit hard by attendance issues.
Some have said attendance would suffer if all teams made the playoffs, but I pretty strongly doubt that. Going from anecdotal evidence and the attendance figures I’ve put together from collecting the scoresheets, it seems that playoff position does not seem to be affecting attendance. The teams have chronic attendance issues are teams that have had chronic attendance issues all season, so the regular season performance of a team doesn’t appear to be an issue. Except for the BGH team, each team has an average of at least five people showing up each week to matches where there haven’t been forfeits (of which BGH and Skylark each have one). Four teams are averaging over six in attendance each week (The Owl Farm, Mission Dolores, The Monro, and High Dive). In addition, 30 people out of 64 in the league have made it to at least five of the six weeks that have been played this season, and all but 12 have made it to at least half of the matches.
I would also argue this isn’t an unfair proposition for the better teams because this allows for the incentive of more games at home for the better teams. The top two teams would have two consecutive games at home, and the next two would have at least one game at home in the first round. Currently the top two teams are a combined 6-1 at home, with the single loss coming on a tiebreaker – neither of these teams should have a problem playing a competitive match at home against the bottom two teams in the league. There is always the chance of an upset, but the prospect of that makes the playoff tournament more fun.
In short, I think it’s best for the league because it’s a more fun format for everyone. Again, this isn’t a super competitive league, so we shouldn’t really treat it as such by allowing only four team into the playoffs. The best team will most likely win in the end anyways, and we will have another week to play pinball together before we all go back to our regular teams.