Free State Pinball Association Leagues (FSPAs): What to expect and why you should go.
Finally got to join a formal pinball league with the FSPA down at Mom’s Organic Market in College Park MD. It was fun, and very fair. I signed up for the summer league… $40 for 10 weeks, with playoffs at the end. Each week at 7:15, everyone meets at Mom’s and are broken into groups of 3 or 4 for the first week (my group had 3). Each week you play four games with other people in your group (bracket). There is a scoring system with points awarded based off of getting 1st, 2nd, or 3rd (with some fancy math to make it more fun) in your bracket for a specific game. There were six brackets. At the end of each week the person with the most points in their bracket advances to the next bracket, the one in the middle stays in their bracket, and the one with the least points gets bumped down a bracket. In this way, people are shuffled between brackets until they are in a group close to their skill level.
I thought this was a fun and fair method of doing things and I am looking forward to next week. As a complete noob to this my base observations are that this particular setup is more conducive to socializing than a match strike tournament (like at Crabtown). Since there are 3 or 4 people in each group you can talk to the other person while you are waiting for your turn, get tips, and generally talk each other through what you are doing in the game (when its not your turn to flip). The downside to this is that we only played four games of pinball, and there is no beer.
The other thing that was interesting to me was that there was a much smaller bank of games (11) out of the 40 or so machines there. I have had or had buddies who had about ½ the machines and got to put a ton of time on them, but of course for my first meet I got games I am not super familiar with. Little Chief was easy to learn and I rocked it, but I’ve maybe played 5 games of JJP POTC in my life and I got stomped. With a smaller game bank like this it makes sense to be able to come back and practice on your weaker games as opposed to the match tournaments at Crabtowne where you are randomly put onto one of 40 machines (darn you strikes and spares!). I am guessing my success or failure will be based on which machine I am put on, not my innate skill. Gotta study up and learn the rules of everything!
I personally will be finishing out this season but will probably skip the next one in favor of Crabtowne tournaments, not because the format is any better or worse but because DC traffic is brutal and Crabtowne is only 15 minutes from my house. Speaking of which… I’m coming back for you guys at Crabtowne next week!
They also have leagues at Carpool Bar in Arlington VA, Mustang Sally in Chantilly VA, Ocelot Brewery, the Silver ball Sanctum, and spinners. I believe the next league starts in September.
More info on the group can be found here:
And results to show how your scores compare can be found here: