The history of Finnish Pinball League

Being probably the most active pinball competitor in Finland, you could think that it was me who came up with the idea of pinball league to Finland. But actually it was one other active pinball player Janne T, who started the first topic about a league in discussion forum on June 2009. Janne’s thoughts were well received and supported and we found out surprisingly fast that there could be enough people interested, and most importantly some good quality pinball rooms to play in, that the league could be arranged.

Having quite wide experience and knowledge about pinball tournament formats I started to throw in ideas about possible league formats. From the beginning it was clear that we didn’t want to have too complex scoring system and that every competition should never go on for too many hours. For me it was also important that we should have as much as head-to-head play as possible.

Qualification format

I had participated in Dutch Pinball Masters in 2009 and I really liked their qualification format, where players are split into groups and each player in a group plays one game against all other players in the group. Also the way to decide which games will be played was handled quite nicely in DPM: all games played in play-offs were drawn randomly from the group of games dedicated for the tournament. Games that are played at the moment aren’t taken in the lottery, and therefore a machine available to play is always drawn.

We noticed quite early that more than 20 people would be interested in participating and decided that if there are more than 15 players in a league event, players will be split to two qualifying groups to avoid too long qualification process. The number of games needed in league could be counted straight from the number of participants: if there are 20 players playing, we need at least 10 games for the league to avoid a situation where all players couldn’t be playing at the same time. Luckily the amount of machines was no problem with both of the hobbyists providing their collections to league had more than 15 games.

In 2010 all the events were played with two qualifying groups playing at the same time. For 2011, due to number of participants increasing, we had to change it to the way that group A plays first and only after they had finished, group B starts to play. This increased the time needed for a league event, but with players arriving from long distance having a right to ask to be grouped to a specific group, this change made the qualifying process go even smoother.

Play-offs format

For play-offs format single elimination bracket best of three games seemed to be the best way to do things with the final being best of five games. First year eight best players advanced to play-offs (four best of both groups) and these eight players were the ones to receive league points (10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1). For the 2011 season the bracket was modified a little: now six best of both groups would advance to the play-offs and best two of both groups would receive one bye-round. League point scoring was also changed to give out scores for these 12 best players (15-13-11-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1).

Equipment needed

Since our format relies only on head-to-head play, there’s no need to write up every score on every machine. The only thing that has to be written down is whether you won or lost your match and there’s no possibility of cheating, since there is always another player to validate the score. Therefore only equipment needed are big sheets of paper for qualifying group brackets and play-offs bracket, a list of machines available for league play and some lottery device to decide which game is played. The device turned out to be a deck of cards.

At first the qualifying group bracket was something that I made with Open Office and printed out to every league event. Players learnt to fill in the bracket quite quickly, although that NxN spreadsheet wasn’t really the most user-friendly thing to work with. For the league year 2011 my fellow league player and a spreadsheet wizard Juuso M. did an incredible work and managed to move it all to Google Docs. We started to write scores down straight to Google Docs with a laptop and we didn’t even need papers anymore. Doing scorekeeping in Google Docs made it possible for the players not attending to see the updates almost instantly from their own computer screens.

Tournament officials

A league president will be nominated before the start of the season. The league president will organize the dates for season’s league events and he will also be the person to handle all the problems during league matches that can’t be resolved between the players. The league president can also nominate others to help him, the president must not make any decisions affecting directly his own matches. I am the current president of the league and have been since the start of the league in 2010.



1. Johan Holmberg (33 points)
2. Olli-Mikko Ojamies (24 points)
3. Topias Marttila (23 points)

Full results are in Google Docs.


1. Janne Toukkari (53 points)
2. Jussi Kahola (44 points)
3. Ari Sovijärvi (36 points)

Full results can be found from Google Docs.


1. Olli-Mikko Ojamies (54 points)
2. Jussi Rantala (44 points)
3. Janne Toukkari (44 points)

Full results can be found from Google Docs.


1. Olli-Mikko Ojamies (50 points)
2. Ari Sovijärvi (48 points)
3. Timo Valkonen (42 points)

Full results can be found from Google Docs.


1. Olli-Mikko Ojamies (52 points)
2. Jussi Kahola (44 points)
3. Juha Iijalainen (34 points)

Full results can be found from Google Docs.


1. Olli-Mikko Ojamies (53 points)
2. Sampo Simonen (44 points)
3. Joonas Haverinen (36 points)

Full results can be found from Google Docs.

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