Team League Rules

I. Overview

Before diving into format and rules, it’s important to know that at the heart of it, The Buffalo Pinball Team League is a CASUAL competitive league, with an emphasis on it being casual. It’s perfect for all skill levels. If you’ve never played pinball before, perfect, this is for you. If you’ve been playing for years, this is also for you. Its emphasis is on fun and it’s self-officiating.

The Buffalo Pinball Team League (BPTL) is a coed adult team league that is played at pinball friendly locations across the greater Buffalo Area. Each team scores match points based on the results of the individual pinball games — 2 points for Doubles games and 1 point for Singles games. At the end of each match the team with the most match points records a match win, while the other team records a loss. League standings are based on a simple win/loss record with cumulative match points serving as a tie breaker. The final league night will involve playoffs with teams that are on par record wise in the standings.


Teams consist of at least 4 players, and no more than 6. Of these, 1 or 2 players will act as the team “Captain.” Captains are responsible for organizing their team and corresponding with the league about match results. Captains also serve as team representatives in each of the matches. Prior to the start of each season Captains must register their teams, submit their rosters to the league, and select a “home” location where they will play their home matches. If a team would like to make a roster change, at any point during the season, then that team’s CAPTAIN must submit a request to the league organizer.

  1. Roster Breakdown
    1. Teams consist of at least 4 players, and no more than 6.
  2. Roster Limitations
    1. No more than 1 player on a team may be ranked in the top 1,000 of IFPA’s World Pinball Player Rankings (at the time the team roster is submitted).
    2. This rule will be enforced in the beginning of each season and ignored if a player moves within these limitations during the course of a season.
  3. Roster Changes
    1. Teams may add players to their roster at any point during the season provided there is an available roster spot.
    2. If there are no available roster spots, then teams may drop players to make room for new players.
      1. Any player that is dropped from a roster may NOT return to that same team at any point during the season.
      2. Dropped players MAY be “picked up” by other teams.
  4. Teams may have players come onboard as subs.  Subs are not part of a team’s roster and don’t need to be added or dropped.  It should be indicated on a scoresheet if a sub is used for that match.
    1. Subs can be used any night of team league, EXCEPT for finals.

III. Match Play and Scoring

Each match consists of 1 Doubles round, 1 singles rounds, 1 split flipper round, and 1 relay race round. Scoring is based on a simple game to game win/loss basis. Game winning teams earn match points and at the end of the match the team with the highest number of match points earns a match win.

Matches are designed to feature a minimum of 4 players from each team (with the exception of the relay race). A team may compete with only 3 players in attendance, but they do so at a penalty (see: Attendance).

  1. Start time
    1. All matches are scheduled to start at 7:30 PM.
    2. Match start may be delayed up to 30 minutes, if necessary (see: Tardiness and Early Departure).
  2. Lineup Declaration
    1. Prior to each round, each team will declare a lineup of players to compete for that round.
    2. The team that declares their lineup first also chooses the machines to play on for that round.
    3. Which team declares their lineup first begins with the AWAY team, and alternates between HOME and AWAY each round.
    4. Once the first team declares their lineup, the other team determines their lineup based on the first team’s choices.
    5. Once declared, lineups cannot change.
    6. No single player may compete more than once in any round.
  3. Game Play Sequencing
    1. The team that declares their lineup first will play second in every game of that round.
    2. Once game-play order is set, it cannot be changed.
    3. Playing Out Of Turn
      1. Should one player launch and play another player’s ball, intentionally or otherwise, then he or she is “playing out of turn.”
      2. Playing out of turn will result in the automatic disqualification of the offending player’s ENTIRE score in the game being played.
      3. The player whose turn was affected, will have the OPTION to replay his/her entire game as a result.
  4. Doubles
    1. There is 1 rounds of Doubles play.
    2. Doubles round feature two games of 2-on-2 play (ie, two 4-player games).
    3. The team with the highest combined score in each game records a win.
    4. Each Doubles win is worth 2 match points.
    5. No two players may be paired together more than once during a match.
    6. Two-Player Machines (machines that only offer 1 or 2-player games)
      1. 2 Games of 1-on-1 should be played.
      2. Each game will feature one player from the Home team, and one from the Away team.
      3. The results from each game will be tallied to determine the team winner for that Doubles game.
    7. Single Player Machines (machines that only allow 1-player games)
      1. Single-player machines should be played one player at a time, alternating home and away.
      2. Scores should be tallied together after all four players have played to determine the winner.
  5. Singles
    1. There is 1 round of Singles.
    2. The round features 4 games of 1-on-1 play (ie, four 2-player games).
    3. The player with the highest score wins and his/her team will receive 1 match point.
    4. Single Player Machines (machines that only allow 1-player games)
      1. Single-player machines should be played one player at a time, alternating home and away.
      2. After both players have played, the highest score will earn the match point.
  6. Split Flipper
    1. There is 1 round of Split Flipper.
    2. The round consists of 2 games.
    3. Two players from each team will face off against two players from the other team.
    4. Each player in the group controls one flipper, but may switch flippers in between balls with their teammate.
    5. The first game will be chosen by the home team, with the second game chosen by the away team.
    6. Each game is worth 2 points. Highest score on each game wins that game.
  7. Relay Race
    1. Relay Race consists of two games, each game being worth 2 points.
    2. The visiting team picks the first game while the home team picks the second game.
    3. For each game, teams pick three or four players to play in each game. These can be the same four players.
    4. Each team decides their own play order.       The first player on a team plays ball one for 30 seconds, while the other team captain keeps time.       When those 30 seconds are up, the second player on the first team takes over that ball if it’s still alive.       After another 30 seconds, the 3rd player takes over if it’s still alive, and so on.
    5. The timer starts as soon as the ball is plunged.
    6. Should the ball drain, that player’s turn is done and it’s the other teams turn. Play proceeds the same way above.
    7. Players cannot trap up and wait for the time to tick down, in anticipation of passing it to another teammate.       The ball must be shot if it’s cradled before passing.
    8. High score on each game wins.
  8. Tie-Breaker
    1. If after 4 rounds of play the teams are tied (ie. 8 to 8), there will be a single tie-breaking game to determine the evening’s winner.
    2. A tie-breaking game will not count toward overall match points.
    3. The HOME team will choose from one of two tie-breaking options:
      1. Shared Game
        1. Standard 2-player game
        2. Each ball must be played by a different player.
          1. 3 people from the AWAY team will be “Player 1,” and 3 people from the HOME team will be “Player 2.”
        3. Only 3 balls will be played:
          1. Extra balls will be sunk (see VII. E. Extra Balls).
          2. Balls 4 and 5 of a 5-ball machine will be ignored.
        4. HOME team will choose which machine will be played.
        5. The AWAY team will start the game.
        6. The highest score wins the match.
      2. Split Flipper
        1. 2 players from one team against 2 players from the other, in a single 2-player game.
        2. 2 players from each team will play simultaneously — 1 on each flipper.
          1. Players must not touch their teammate’s flipper during their turn.
          2. Players MAY alternate flippers from turn to turn.
        3. Only 3 balls will be played.
          1. Extra balls will be sunk (see VII. E. Extra Balls).
          2. Balls 4 and 5 of a 5-ball machine will be ignored.
        4. HOME team will choose which machine will be played.
        5. The AWAY team will start the game.
        6. The highest score wins the match.

IV. Standings

League standings are based primarily on a simple win/loss record. Season long cumulative match points are used to break ties at the end of the season, so it is important to play every game during match play — do not end a match early simply because one team has earned the minimum 9 points necessary to record a match win.

  1. Breakdown
    1. Win loss record is the first determination in standings.
    2. The first tie-breaker is cumulative match points.
    3. The second tie-breaker is head-to-head results between the two teams in question.
    4. The third tie-breaker is overall match points in head-to-head matches between the two teams in question.

V. Playoffs

  1. The last team league night is playoffs.
  2. For playoffs, only win/loss record will be recorded, not points earned during that match.

VI. Attendance

League play is structured with the assumption that at least 4 players from each team will be in attendance at every match. In order to maintain the integrity of the competition, we ask that each team strongly adhere to this rule. Teams are highly encouraged to keep extra players on their roster to accommodate those unforeseen occasions when one or more players is unavailable to compete. Teams may compete, at a penalty, if only 3 players show up, but any less will result in a forfeit. Should a team repeatedly attend with fewer than 4 players, then they may be asked to step out of the league.

  1. One Team Playing with 3 Players
    1. Teams with only 3 players play at a penalty
    2. Doubles Rounds
      1. One game in each round will feature only one player from the short team against two players from their opponent, in a 3-player game
      2. Scoring remains the same — team with highest score wins the game and two match points
      3. The same player may NOT play alone in both Double’s rounds
      4. If there is only 1 machine available, then the short team may write in a missing player’s name in the second game of the first round in hopes that he/she will show up in time for the start of the game.
        1. Round 1 ONLY
        2. Player’s name may not change.
        3. Player must arrive BEFORE the start of the game in order to be included.
    3. Singles Rounds
      1. One game will be forfeited by the short team in each round.
    4. Match points will be tallied as usual.
  2. Two teams playing with 3 players
    1. Doubles matches are handled as A. One Team Playing With 3 Players, above.
    2. BOTH teams will forfeit one Singles game in each Singles Round.
    3. 14 total match points
  3. Tardiness And Early Departure
    1. Matches should start on time if at least 4 players from each team are present.
      1. Match should not be delayed simply because a “better” player is on their way.
      2. If 4 players are present from a single team, then late players may not be written in until they are physically present.
    2. If one, or both teams, is short players at the scheduled start time, then the start should be delayed.
      1. Both teams are required to wait at least 15 minutes for the arrival of the 4 players needed for each team to start.
      2. Teams have the option to delay the start an additional 15 minutes (30 minutes total).
        1. Both teams MUST agree to delay the additional 15 minutes.
      3. Once the courtesy and/or optional window has closed, then the match MUST start
        1. If a team has fewer than 3 players, then it is a forfeit.
        2. If one or both teams has 3 players, then they play at a penalty (see items A and B above).
    3. Starting players who show up late or leave early are only obliged to play while they are present.
      1. If a starter is not present for a Doubles game or Singles game, this does not exclude them from the match.
      2. While a Starter is present, they must be utilized according to the minimum play requirements.

VII. Other Notes

  1.  Coaching
    1. Players ARE allowed to coach their teammates during game play.
  2. Rules
    1. Rules regarding malfunctions, playing out of order, etc., will be based on the Buffalo Pinball League rules. A SLO will make the ruling if one is present. However, given that it’s a self-officiating league, captains are strongly encouraged to work out any rulings together, based on the Buffalo Pinball League rules. See D 2.2 below as officials may not always be present, depending on location.
  3. Extra balls are to be played.  Players get one flip for an extra ball.
  4. During relay race, the timer starts as soon as the ball is plunged.
  5. Conduct
    1. If a player displays unsportsmanlike conduct or threatens the safety of any individual or machine, then that player should be reported to the League.
      1. The League will investigate the incident and, if necessary, disciplinary action will commence.
      2. Mild infractions will incur a warning
        1. If a player receives two warnings during a single season, then that player will be suspended for the remainder of the season.
        2. Multiple suspensions may result in permanent expulsion from the League.
      3. Extreme misconduct will result in permanent expulsion from the league.
      4. All disciplinary actions will be at the sole discretion of league officials.
  6. Conflict Resolution
    1. The league is self-officiating.
      1. It is the responsibility of BOTH teams to understand the rules and abide by them.
      2. If there is a question about the rules, then the rule sheet should be consulted to resolve the issue.
    2. If an incident occurs which the rules do not address, or if the rules are unclear about how to handle such an incident:
      1. Both teams should come to agreement as to how to resolve the issue.
        1. This agreement will stand as the official resolution for THAT MATCH, regardless of how the rules are adjusted thereafter.
      2. If the two teams cannot come to an agreement, and assuming there are two distinct paths to take on how to resolve the issue, then the teams should agree to play out the match in each team’s interpretation of the rules (ie. play the game in conflict twice).
      3. Regardless, the incident should be reported to league officials and a final judgement will be rendered.
    3. If a team refuses to abide by the above guidelines, or by the written rules on a single issue, then the following steps must be taken by the other team in order for the league to render proper judgement:
      1. The opposing team must be made aware that the match will be challenged.
      2. The word “Challenged” should be written on the scoresheet, and the game in question should be circled.
      3. The team questioning the outcome must NOT sign the scoresheet.
      4. A full report of the incident, along with a photo of the scoresheet, if possible, MUST be sent to the league within 24 hours.
      5. A team that has blatantly ignored written rules will be issued a warning, and future occurrences by the same team will be grounds for discipline.
    4. Any game and/or match that is in conflict should be played out to the end.
      1. Any team that leaves a disputed match early will automatically forfeit ALL of the unplayed match points to the opposing team.
      2. If both teams refuse to play out the match, then both teams forfeit the unclaimed match points.
    5. All conflicts should be reported to the league so that a judgement can be made and/or the rules can be adjusted
  7. Forfeits
    1. If a team does not have at least 3 players at a match, then that team forfeits the match.
      1. The team that forfeits receives a loss and zero match points.
      2. The fully attending team will receive a win and 12 match points for the evening.