Differential doesn’t discriminate. It engages the player who isn’t quite ready to run out the rack after an opponent’s mistake. It focuses you on making one more ball than you typically score. If you’re a top flight player, then it also pushes you. There’s only one point difference between a win (10 points) and your average points (which is often 9). Sleep on this and you’ll soon learn the challenge this poses to a team of “heavies” who are just getting by when they win. FYI much of what you’ll find here is also covered in the Basics tab of the Explore menu.
When you compete in a broken format, there’s nothing you can to do to overcome it. You’ll fool yourself into thinking you’re getting better, but all you’re really learning is groupthink and how to win a flawed competition. You should instead focus on sharpening skills, interacting with people and having fun. Differential was created to invigorate player performance, make scoring more meaningful and do so without assigning handicaps and weighted races. Succeeding at differential is knowing the average number of balls you pot in a rack (player average or PA) and trying to beat it by one or more balls each time. The team with the more positive, cumulative differential adds a bonus point to their score for the match. The same system works for singles competition. Differential was established in 2015 by Eric S. Townsend, a nearly 20-year veteran of pool leagues, tournaments and exhibitions.
Racks are scored once, after the money ball has been potted. 10 points to the winner. One point for each ball potted by the loser. Subtract the score from the player’s average points per rack (a.k.a player average or PA) and record the “differential.” For example, if a player averages 7 points, and loses a rack with 5 balls potted (5 points), then the differential for that rack is -2.
Once two weeks of scores enter the system, you receive a player average (PA). For each game you play (8 Ball, 10 Ball, etc.), you can have a different PA. That’s because a player often performs better in one format than another. The average changes each week based on your performance — unless you hit your average exactly. For established players, your last 100 matches are what’s factored.
Each team starts with one point for showing up. One of the teams earns a second point for winning 11-10 on racks or better (there are 21 total racks in match). The third point up for grabs is for the more positive, cumulative differential. This is calculated by rack, totaled by round then shown as a running tally throughout the match (e.g., +2 is more positive than -6). The ability to achieve a split score (e.g., 2-2) as opposed to only decisive outcomes is unique to NOVA BCAPL. Team scores will therefore be one of the following: 0-0 (double forfeit), 3-0 (one team forfeits), 2-2 (teams split the bonus points) 2.5-1.5 (one team wins on racks but the teams tie on differential) or 3-1 (one team earns both bonus points).
BCAPL matches therefore have a dual heartbeat — who’s winning the racks and whose performance is more impressive than usual. By the end of the night, the story will be clear. If you’re looking carefully, you’ll know where the tide turned and what you need to do next time to achieve better results. The system works equally well for teams, singles or doubles.