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Different Tournament Types

There are many different ways to run a bowling tournament. The PBA runs their events one way, 40-Frame Game association runs their events another way, and many smaller tournament directors run their events in yet other ways. There is no set way to run a tournament, and any given format has its plusses and minuses, but all can be very successful if run the right way. Below is a list of the many different types of tournaments that are running today, along with a general description of how they run.

  • Marathon - These events are typically 8 games or higher. The winner is determined in most cases by the highest total pinfall at the end of the numbers of games required. These tournaments are designed to test the adjusting skills, as well as the physical and mental stability of the bowler.

  • MegaBuck - The High Roller, Mini-Eliminator, and True Amateur Tournaments are the main events that fall under this category. These tournaments usually feature a very high first place payout (in the $30,000 to $50,000 range). They also feature a re-qualifying format. In a MegaBuck event bowlers will typically have the ability to attempt to qualify for the finals many times over the course of the tournament for a reduced entry fee. MegaBuck events are essentially the peak of amateur bowling competition.

  • Forty-Frame Game - This is a tournament format that is more laid back and geared towards individuals who enjoy having a good time while competing. The format is exactly as it sounds: 1 game, 40 frames. Standard scorekeeping applies, but the twist occurs in frames that allow you No-Tap strikes, or frames that take pins away if you don't strike. In a Forty-Frame game you also have several opportunities to win cash prizes during the course of the game itself.

  • Association Format - A tournament format usually run by bowling associations on all levels. These events encompass an entire range of skills. The first is competing in a 5-Man team event, followed by a 2-Man doubles event, and lastly followed by a individual event. The team event is bowled on a seperate day than the Doubles and Singles events due to time constraints. Each event is a 3-game block. The most notable of these events is the USBC Open Championships (formerly the ABC Championships). The USBC Open is a national event in which 10,000+ teams compete each year in various locations around the United States.

  • Baker - The Baker tournament format is unique. Typically found in Collegiate tournaments, the Baker format comprises of a team of bowlers (usually 5), who rotate bowling in each frame in a game. This is much different than a normal team event in which each bowler will bowl for their own individual scores. In a Baker format a higher emphasis is put on bowling as a team as each shot is absolutely crucial to your team's success.

  • No-Tap - No-Tap tournaments are another event that focuses more on enjoyable competition instead of cutthroat competition. These events will typically award strikes for any pin-count that is 9 or higher, although occasionally you will see events that are 8-pin no tap (strikes for 8 or higher).

  • Match-Play - Match Play formats is the highlight of what the PBA is today. In match play tournaments your only competition is the individual you are bowling. If you beat them, you move on, plain and simple. The most difficult part of the match play style of tournament, is that you must be able to match up and adjust quickly to the lane conditions. One wrong move and chances are you'll be eliminated. The Super Hoinke is the king of amateur match play tournaments. Consisting of a MegaBuck style top prize, with the high pressure of a single elimination match play format, people come from all over the world to bowl in this event.

  • Stepladder - The stepladder format is usually a final round and used to determine a tournament winner. Typically based on 4 or 5 bowlers who are seeded based on predetermined criteria (total tournament pinfall, qualifying rank, etc). In this format the 5th seed would bowl the 4th seed, and the winner would then bowl the 3rd seed, and down the line until a final winner has been determined. This is a great advantage for a top seed as they only have to bowl 1 match to win the event where a 5th seed would have to bowl 4 games to win.

  • Combination - A vast majority of the tournament you see today have some combination of the aforementioned formats. The most common you will find is a 3 or 4 game qualifier, which will then cut to a pre-determined number of bowlers. One the initial cut has been made, the next round of the tournament usually involves some sort of match play (usually 1 or 2 game matches). A winner is determined usually at the end of the matchplay portion or it will go to a stepladder format when there are 4 or 5 bowlers remaining.

If you know of any tournament formats that are not mentioned in here, please email us at info@bowlingtourney.com with the format type, and description of the format, and we'll get it added to the list.