K15 Open - K15 arcade, Helsinki - 17-19/10/2014

K15 Open has become the local equivalent of the Stockholm Open during the past few years, attracting players not just from Sweden, but elsewhere in the Europe as well. With a large collection of pins and central, easy to access location I'm sure the event will keep on growing in the years to come.

This year the line up was: Cirqus Voltaire, Demolition man, Dirty Harry, Guns N' Roses, Iron Man, Metallica, Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Trek, Medieval Magness, Twilight Zone and X-men.

A PinGolf secondary tournament was to be played on AC/DC, Doctor Who and Monster Bash.

I took a while for me to select my tournament line-up. Voltaire and Demolition man are way too random for my comfort. Medieval Madness will probably attract too many tough players. In the end I was going back and forth between Ster Trek and Pirates of the Caribbean, ending up with the latter as I'm more familiar with its rules. GnR was my favourite of the line-up and I had high expectations of it. X-men was more of a wild card, it's one of those machines where I lack a controlled strategy and just grind away the multiballs, at times getting rather good scores.

It had been a tough week, but I was in rather good spirits driving towards Helsinki in a heavy, cold rain.

Yes, that ↑ qualifies as "good spirits" for me!


I played couple of warm-ups, but they didn't go that well. I then homed on to GnR and started my first qualification game. The game played beautifully and it looked damn good as well! The tilt was a bit on the sensitive side, but other than that the machine was a pleasure to play. I ended up with 691M, which was far from my goal but I was sure to return to it later on.

Metallica again was one of the one ball wonders. I played a rather good round of Electric chair multiball, getting about 25M and pretty much nothing after that on my 1st ball. The two following balls again we're totally useless, and I was left with 26M. Looking at the standings I noticed this had to be at least tolerable score, even when I couldn't see other players' scores at the time.

What comes to one ball wonders, Ironman was next in line. My two first first balls were pretty much total waste, with my 3rd ball starting out with just 700k. I actually stressed a bit that I'd have to record a sub-1M score on it! I got the Iron monger up on my 3rd ball, and at the same time War machine was lit. I started that, then Iron monger and later on played Bogey and Whiplash as well. While I drained before the really good scoring final modes, I was still happy with the 20.6M as I had witnessed several sub-10M scores while getting some reads on the machine.

I then gave Pirates of the Caribbean a try. I took my usual approach of just sinking the ships, but I soon came to regret picking the Pirates instead of Star Trek. The ship shot returned the ball so it at times hit the slingshots and required a slight nudge to break the slingshot loop. Much to my surprise this gave my two warnings at very slow pace and then tilt on my first attempt. This completely screwed my game play on it, and it became more of a game of luck than skill from there on. I ended up with 17.8M on my first attempt.

Last for me was the X-Men. My "play multiball, multiball and multiball" approach on it may be a bit on n00bish, but it generally gets me through when needed. On my first game I got 12.8M, on the next 12.9M and on my last 23.1M. None of them were anything to cheer about, but I bet it wasn't the worst score played on it either.

With 7 games played and at least one entry on each machine it was time to stop and analyse the situation a bit.

I got my worst qualification points from the Pirates of the Caribbean, as I expected, so that needed some extra rounds. The 26M on Metallica and 20.6M on Ironman had to do for now.

My next attempt at Pirates was a total failure. I managed to tilt all three balls, as each returned from the ship shot way out of control. After the second tilt I started to experiment nudging it as it was being released from the ship, but no, that went straight down the middle and I tilted the machine on a standard slap save. Outcome: 4M. Great.

The second attempt was pretty much ruined by my stiff and overly cautious play. 6M and last try at the machine. This probably ruined my chance to get at least one bye from the qualification.

I then gave Guns N' Roses another attempt. I took a completely different approach this time: I aimed combining super pops with multiball. My first attempt failed at 535M, but the second had a real chance of improving on my previous score. The next mode was Dizzy ball and the main multiball was one shot away from starting. Naturally I had to be greedy and try the left ramp, getting a center drain from it on my last ball and ending the game at 595M, so the original 691M score was my best.

In retrospect, the break between the two streaks of playing was a bad call. The energy drink's buzz wore off and the adrenaline rush had now turned into a head ache. I was just about to play Metallica again, when I counted my recorded scores and noticed my entry count wasn't up to date. Good thing I checked, as the next game would have been my 12th!

I played my PinGolf entries after that, but save a good try on Doctor Who, the rest went down the crapper.

We left Helsinki after my Pingolf entries, but not before we visited Klasu for a quick (4 hour!) run of AC/DC and Dracula. I kept the standings on eye while we played, and was sighed when I finally plunged below the 16th position that was the last one for at least one bye.

Pirates of the Caribbean haunted me the whole way driving back home in cold rain. I mentally whipped myself for not taking the Twilight Zone or Star Trek instead. I don't even know why I had overlooked the Twilight Zone in the first place. Another major failing was not to get some reads on the Pirates before playing the first game, I could have picked something else.

My final score card. See those scribbles beneath the entry numbers? That's my shorthand of how the games went, and was later used to reconstruct the event when writing this blog entry.

Could have, should have, aww crap. Well, at least I'm still in, and what I last saw, I'd be playing against KML on the first round tomorrow.


After a restless night I woke up feeling almost as beaten up as I was when going to sleep, except now I had a massive back ache once again. Apparently my lower back just can't handle long gaming sessions like yesterday was. I was actually so zoned out driving to Helsinki that I never noticed TTV and RON passing me on the highway, flashing the long beams and waving at me. I was just squeezing my cup of coffee and concentrating on staying on the road!

Apparently the standings did change a bit as one of the qualified players was a no-show. My opponent was no longer KML, but SAM. Oh well. Going against the old fox, it'd seem!

After couple of cans of energy drinks I actually felt somewhat alive again and managed to pull couple of satisfying warm-up games before we were called for a briefing on the play-offs.

Round 1

So, it was me against SAM and our first machine was the Twilight Zone. SAM was the lower qualified player so he got to start. I got off to a good start and played a good round of Power ball mania on my first ball. SAM had couple of crappy returns on his second ball, while I pounded enough balls into the gum ball machine to play another round of Power ball mania. I also found the lock shot quite nicely and played the main multiball, scoring 50M and 70M jackpots. I was at 550M after my second ball, while SAM was at bit over 100M. SAM's 3rd ball wasn't without drama! He made a left ramp shot that didn't quite sink in and he got a center drain from it. But much to our surprise it bounced right back and SAM was alert enough not to let it go to waste! He fought hard, but couldn't catch my 2nd ball score.

SAM grinding away his 3rd ball, just after pulling a stunning lazarus ball!

I was a bit nervous about the next drawn machine, but it turned out good; Metallica! I got to play the game I should have played in the qualification! On my 3rd ball I managed to play all 4 "normal" multiballs on one ball, and I finally drained at 95M. SAM again got nightmarish tour of how well Metallica's outlanes attract the ball!

Round 2

On the second round I went against Sweden's leading lady, YOO! The first machine we drew was Cirqus Voltaire. I was a bit hesitant about it, as my standard tournament strategy on it still revolves around attempting a massive cash-ins on the Ring master multiballs. I know high wire, arc and juggler would be more valuable, but on most CV's the Ring master shot is so easily repeatable that I can keep pounding it for a long time, easily racking up 20-30M on each multiball.

I was the lower qualifying player, so I got to start. For a split second there I considered on doing something more advanced, but then I just went with the Ring master. I did okay with the first multiball and drained my first ball with 11M. YOO again had rough luck and drained pretty much right after the ball saver was out. I continued with my proven strategy and got to 25M on my second ball. YOO locked balls on all the major multiballs and played the Ring master multiballs as well, but was still around 10M after her 2nd ball went down. With the Ring master done, I concentrated on the juggler on my 3rd ball, but it didn't go anywhere, leaving me with 26M. YOO again played both strike an arc and juggler, but even after watching her score many of those 2M jackpots, she still drained at 23M and didn't get past me with the bonus. This one was mine.

Next up was AC/DC. This machine ran the latest software, which makes the miniplayfield in Highway to hell pretty much useless. We talked about the rule changes briefly and agreed neither of us would be using Highway to hell in a tournament game anyway. I was however a bit surprised with YOO choosing Whole lotta rosie as the game mode. This was actually something I had experimented just yesterday and found it a perfectly valid approach when combined with a lot of multiball. I again went with the trusty Rock'n'roll train, as I've found backhanding the left ramp extremely easy on this machine. It worked again, and I backhanded it enough for the jam multiball, then collected a nice multi-million song jackpot and played a decent multiball (with multipliers!).

YOO also aimed for the multiball, but I assume she was after stacking Album and Jam multiballs. I played Album multiball on my second ball and managed to cash out virtually everything that was lit, again with multipliers. YOO was still to start a multiball when our 3rd balls started, and she nailed it pretty soon. Jam turned to 3 balls, then when those drained she restarted it with the VIP pass, but in the end she couldn't catch my rather good 2nd ball, so this one went to me as well.

Round 3

After defeating one world class player I knew this wouldn't get any easier. It didn't, my next opponent was Finland's #1, OMO. My only wish was that we wouldn't get any Williams machines, as I've found those to be the hardest in the K15 line-up. The newer Sterns again work out for me for some reason. And as I had featured, the first one was Medieval Madness.

I started with a total disaster ball. I attempted the super skillshot but failed the shot. Then when I finally made the castle shot, the drawbridge carefully positioned the ball so it'd go straight down the middle. I slap saved it directly into the lock, just to see the machine tilt right after!

OMO, playing his 1st ball.

OMO didn't do much better on the first ball, but progressed the dragon shot so Damsel madness was lit. On my second ball I missed made the super skillshot, but missed the damn castle and drained just after the ball saver was gone. And again, OMO got pretty much as bad luck as I did, but he managed to get some shots in and went to 2.5M while I was still under 1M. On my last ball I finally nailed the super skillshot, the first castle and drained pretty much after that to my great dismay. OMO was just a bit under one million behind me and for a second I held my breath to see what happens. He however made couple of good shots and if I remember correctly, finally started the Damsel madness multiball. My first defeat for the day.

The next machine made me groan again; we got the Demolition man. I played it couple of rounds during the warm-up and couldn't do much with it. Short story even shorter, I got the multiball lit on the first ball, then spent all three balls trying to start it, without luck. OMO played the multiball and didn't even break sweat.

My only regret was that I got my game on so well on the first rounds and it all ended with hopeless flailing like this. As this tournament uses the double elimination bracket, it means I'm now on the losers' side and playing one game sudden death until the end.

Losers' side, round 2

From here on I'd be playing against other players who've fallen from the main bracket, one game per round. My first opponent was TOP on the Twilight Zone.

He started out with a good ball, going to over 120M. I wasn't intimidated by such score just yet, but after I drained with literally nothing done I silently started to get a little afraid this'd go like the game against OMO. TOP's 2nd ball was just as bad as my first, and I matched his poor ball with a similar disaster of my own. TOP's 3rd ball also went pretty much to waste, leaving him at around 130M, while I was at no more than 20M. I took a little time out and evaluated the situation: I have absolutely nothing lit. No locked balls. Then again, I'm just one shot away from lighting the gumball machine and the next ball from there is the Power ball. Power ball mania could easily net me the remaining 100M.

So, I took a shot at the right ramp, but missed and it hit the rubber post and deflected to the piano instead. The Piano again gave me "Light gumball machine", which I gladly accepted. This TZ had a rather nice return from the slot machine scoop, so I just let the ball bounce to the left flipper and made the shot to the gumball machine.

I risked a bit by trying to do the same with the Power ball. It fortunately bounced just as nicely, but I missed the first shot to the gumball machine and after a quick slap save I made the piano shot from the right ramp. After I regained the ball control I didn't miss again and I started the Power ball mania. I didn't score any jackpots, but the couple shots to the gumball machine and 48M from the random flailing from the power ball mania were enough to bridge the remaining gap.

Losers' side, round 3

My next game was on Cirqus Voltaire once again, this time against AFX. For a second there it seemed like I'd be playing against YOO and I was feeling she might get her revenge for knocking her to the losers' side so early :)

Voltaire wasn't very kind to me on my first ball, but I still got the game rolling like I wanted. Then on a second ball I had to resort to a slide when the ball didn't go all the way up the ramp. Much to my surprise I pulled the lockdown bar off the machine! I've never put it back again quite as fast as I did now! I was told the coindoor interlock wasn't overridden, so they could lock it only after I drained this ball. AFX took even better lead on his 2nd ball and it was up to my 3rd ball to catch him and get past him. I was one shot away from the second Ring master multiball, when I drained from the right side. Man I hate CV's outlanes!

So, AFX took this one home, eliminating me from the tournament.


Today I shared 13th position with the other three players who were eliminated on this round. Considering how tough crowd I was playing in, I'll take the 13th position, but I just can't shake the feeling I could have done better, way better.

My favorite in this tournament was the Guns N' Roses! It's a machine I rarely get to play and I think it's to Tommy what the Twilight Zone is to Addams Family.

Until the next time, and congrats again, JSZ!

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