IFPA world championship 12 - Borås, Sweden - 22-24/05/2015

I still remember how excited I was about the first IFPA tournament I attended in 2014. I also remember how close I got qualifying despite playing against the world's best players. With the new WPPR scoring system that makes our own tournaments virtually worthless and the fact that I'm no longer playing the Finnish league games, this is probably my last attempt to try my luck in this tournament.

That said, I really like this tournament in all of its hardcoreness and seemingly unending qualification. I played the PAPA tournament earlier this year, only to realize how much the whole "pay as you go, unlimited entries in the allocated time" rubbed me the wrong way. IFPA is in my opinion fairer for all participating players, and it costs just as much for everyone to qualify.

To be honest, I was a bit disappointed by the fact that it was held in Sweden this year. Not because of Sweden itself, but as I've seen the location quite a few times already and I was hoping to spend my second last holiday week this year somewhere new. UK or Germany would have both been fine. Then again, Patrick and Christian, the organizer and location owner respectively, know their stuff and I'd even be so bold to call them part of my pinball-family. I was also super stoked to see the West Coast pinball's place!

Me and my countryman Olli-Mikko arrived a week early to attend as many pre-IFPA tournaments as possible. I considered the extra week more of a holiday, but still did pretty good in the tournaments as well. Also managed to squeeze in some non-pinball time visiting the museums and the Liseberg amusement park. My only regret for this trip was that I didn't drive here, as I've grown quite fond of the idea of just being able to drive where ever we need to go. I guess some of America was rubbed onto me.

For those who haven't seen Pinballseye, here are some pictures and a video from the practice session:

The back room

The main area

The middle room
The free play area

Day 1

So, we began our games on Friday 22th of May. Many of the players arrived a day or two before and it was actually pretty good feeling to walk among the people, greeting old friends I've met and played with in other countries. I may have also gotten incredibly drunk with some of them!

I thought I'd be a lot more nervous, but I felt more determined than scared of what was to come. After all, many of these people weren't the faceless scary figures any more, but more of the folks I had hung out with, and I no longer hand the burden to prove anyone that I was worthy to be here today.

Round 1

Pins: Dracula, Stern Star Trek, Evel Knievel
Opponents: Jörgen Holm (SWE), Albert Nomden (NED), Jonas Johansson (SWE)

I went first for the Dracula, not really expecting much of it after yesterday's practice session. Still, I got the bats early on and got 47M out of that. I spent rest of the game building the 3 multiball setup, and on my last ball had everything lit, and started the Mist from an accidental bumper hit. Much to my dismay I managed to swap the playing ball to the one on the magnet and didn't start the mist multiball, draining soon afterwards. Still, getting almost 150M out of the bats gave me 3rd place.

The Star Trek was a real crapfest from the start. I made two bad upper right flipper shots and drained the first balls without doing anything with them. As the others were around 20M at the last ball, I decided to pound the center target and go for the Vengeance multiball. The very shot that finally nailed the drop target took a nice flight straight down the middle. Thanks a lot!

Evel Knievel was a bit of a wild card here. It was played as a two separate two player games, I was in the last game with Jörgen. I tilted the first ball from a very innocent slap save, comparing Jörgen's rather harsh nudging. My only goal was to nail the drop targets and go for the bonus multipliers. The second ball was just amazingly good and I actually got to just walk off the last ball as I had almost 30k lead. Finally owned at least one game.

Round points: 3-1-7

Round 2

Pins: Walking Dead, Black Jack, The Addams Family
Opponents: Cryss Stephens (USA), Fredrik Malmqvist (SWE), Tormod Pettersen (NOR)

My previous weekend's hit'n'miss game, the Walking Dead was up first. It still played pretty much the same as last time, so I just grinded away with my "stack everything" game here, starting the Well zombie multiball and the the Prison multiball. I ended the multiball with a double drain, but not before multiple jackpots. As the bonus count finished, I had racked over 50M points. I got very little done with the next two balls, but as the others were in all around 5M, I brought home one seriously needed 7 point game.

Black Jack again was a different beast. I had gotten over 300k on it earlier this week, but now I had to settle for 33k. It wasn't the worst score on it, giving me at least 3 points. I've yet to come up with a proper strategy for this thing. The right orbit and its saucer are a good repeatable source of points. I know I should have a higher hand than the dealer when going for it, but the standups that change the player's hand value are way too dangerous for straight shots. I rather just take my changes repeating the hole and hoping random hits to the standups.

We ended the round with the Addams Family. Instead of skillshotting and making the upper ramp, I barely missed the skillshot and flipped right into the left outlane. I didn't even know you can get 150k with one ball in TAF. On my second ball I had the seance lit and as the magnets were disabled, I just gunned for it and made all 3 shots. Some random flailing after that and 2nd place for me. I'll take it.

Round points: 7-3-5

Round 3

Pins: Creature from the Black Lagoon, ACDC pro, Wizard
Opponents: Zach Sharpe (USA), David Riel (USA), Per Ahlenius (SWE)

I only aimed for the multiball in the Creature. On my second ball I only missed PAID, which was nicely skillshotable. Naturally the creature was in the very last hole, but I still managed to cash out 10M from the rescue. I almost got the multiball again on the 3rd ball, but drained at 92M, which was good enough for the 2nd place and 5 points.

INKen's ACDC pro has always been pretty rude towards me, so I took the only at least somewhat sure shot of backhanding the left ramp, got the Jam multiball going and cashed out couple millions worth of song jackpot from the rock'n'roll train. Had the Album multiball lit for the last ball, but couldn't start it. Last position.

After the disasterous ACDC, I had high hopes for the Wizard, but I got the crappiest game ever and with 56k it was no surprise I was last. What a let-down of a round. Suddenly I had a déjà vu of IFPA11. I was extremely bummed about this round, thinking my chances for qualifying just went down the drain. Good thing I had Olli-Mikko there doing a reality check for me.

Round points: 5-1-1

Round 4

Pins: Spiderman, Xenon, Fish Tales
Opponents: Graig Pullen (UK), Greg Siegele (AUS), Alvar Palm (SWE)

Stern's Spiderman is a bit too much of a grinder machine for me. This one was naturally set up as extra hard, so it played way too fast for my taste to just flail it away. Instead I concentrated on the Sandman and got up to 25M on the first ball. The others tried their luck with the multiball or other things, but the game was so merciless it just frustrated the others. It continued with more of the same on my 2nd and 3rd balls, winning the game eventually at 65M points. Greg actually realized how easy the center shot was, but couldn't catch me on his last ball.

Xenon had served me well in the Swedish Open qualification, so I expected at least some points from it. It was played in pairs, and after me and Greg were done with the first balls we noticed the "empty" players 2 and 4 had more points than we did! Greg recovered nicely and took the game to over 1M on his last ball, while I was left with 170k. By some miracle I was 3rd as Xenon hated Alvar even more than me.

We ended the round with Fish Tales, where everyone's favorite strategy was to go for the Monster fish. I again aimed for the video mode and did a perfect 60M run there, combined with couple of accidental Monster fishes and one useless multiball. It wasn't until the very last seconds, when Alvar caught me with a 50M Monster fish, leaving me with 5 points.

Round points: 7-3-5

Round 5

Pins: Earthshaker, Powerplay, Batman
Opponents: Jonas Johansson (SWE), Brian Shepherd (USA), Andreas Harre (GER)

The Earthshaker had really odd feeling bounce in the flippers, which gave all 4 players a sub-100k score or so on the first ball. I got to 300k on my second ball, I had originally planned to endurance loop the center ramp, but couldn't find it any more. The others were in millions, so I was my back against the wall to pull a multiball. I did, and scored a jackpot as well, taking me to 3.3M. Brian caught me, and Jonas was just about to get past me when he drained after multiball, with under 100k difference in score. 3 points.

Next one was another grinder, Dark Knight. I put in a tolerable first ball at 27M, stacking Scarecrow and the Joker multiballs. With the 2nd ball starting I noticed Batbod multiball was just one shot away from being lit, so I nailed that. But then the problems begun - the ramp where the multiball start was, was way too steep for the ever-weakening Stern flippers. I drained after numerous attempts at the ramp. On the 3rd ball I finally nailed it, but didn't do much with it. I also had the Joker multiball's last lock lit and the Scarecrow was also running. Naturally the stupid crane creamed my ball. Jonas owned this one, I got 5 points.

The last game for this round was Powerplay. I knew this was needlessly random game, so I had learned I could make the top hole with a full plunge. Other than that I just gunned for the orbits and kept my fingers crossed. I guess it was worth it, as I scored 117k and tool this one home easily. I have to admit I was a bit of a bastard to the others during the warmup. I had observed the full plunge trick watching other groups play, but I didn't actually do it warming up, keeping it as an ace in the hole. I guess all's fair in love and pinball.

Round points: 3-5-7

Round 6

Pins: Doctor Who, Shrek, Joker Poker
Opponents: Philippe Bocquet (FRA), Glenn Pellis (NED), Greg Siegele (AUS)

Man was I happy about ditching the Thursday turmoil tournament yesterday and just opting to hit the bunk! My feet were almost literally killing me after one week of playing hard with the Crocs. Good thing this day was almost over. I was considering on some painkillers, but I had my groove on for one more round.

The last round for today started with the Doctor Who. Having played Doctor Who in Swedish Open I knew it was annoyingly unforgiving. While the others went for the multiball, I did the unthinkable and gunned for the Sonic boom instead. I had limited success with the Sonic boom and while Greg killed the game with 198M, I was second with 60M. Philippe had me sweating for a while, but he drained after reaching 50M.

Shrek was really evil for us all, and it wasn't until my 3rd ball I finally got something done as I started the main multiball. I was in such a lead I thought I'd actually win this one, but then Glenn pulled one last monster ball, and beat my 23M with 40M, leaving me with another 5 point second place.

The last game for today was the Joker Poker. It was played as two player games, I played in the first game with Glenn. Apparently the game's non-standard 3 ball setup threw people off their game, as I was the only one making 5x bonus on all the balls. I have to admit I have never seen what happens when you put Joker Poker to 3 ball mode. I learned the 5x bonus goes from 10s to Q's and A's, skipping J's and K's. It wasn't that good game, but my 105k easily win me the much needed 7 points and I finished the last round with 17 points!

Round points: 5-5-7

With over 14 hours of playing it was time for much needed rest. I just can't believe how well I managed to rack up points today, now I have a real shot at the play-offs! As a side note, me and Olli-Mikko never shared a game.

Day 2

Yawn. I was not made to wake up at 8 and it sure did show when we arrived. I downed couple of energy drinks to get over last night's bad sleep, but after playing couple of the free play machines I had the sinking feeling I didn't have much more to give.

Round 7

Pins: Strikes and spares, Centaur, Transformers
Opponents: Jochen Ludwig (GER), Brian Shepherd (USA), Marcus Hugonsson (SWE)

Strikes and Spares turned out to be a total plunge fest for me. The 76k score I made was done without hitting the ball once with flippers, the sad thing was that it was the 2nd best game in our group. 5 points.

Next one in the random series was Centaur. I got absolutely nothing done and found it highly frustrating watching others make millions on one ball. 1 point. 

The Transformers again was really hard for everyone. As virtually everyone save Marcus was around 1-2M after the first ball, I as the last player just went for the Megatron multiball. I got the multiball ready on my second ball, and was ready to bridge the 2M gap between me and the Jochen. Marcus however did a hard slide right and tilted his last ball, leaving the machine almost leaning to the wall. So, I started my last ball with me right leg touching the large sewage pipes on the wall. It didn't exactly work out, and I drained right from the plunge. Thanks a fucking lot, 1 points.

Round points: 5-1-1

Round 8

Pins: Fathom, Stern Star Trek, Harlem Globetrotters
Opponents: David Riel (USA), Robert Macauley (AUS), Andreas Harre (GER)

Fathom was rather nasty for everyone equally. I figured I'd have the best chance by just going for the right lock and try for a multiball there. I got the multiball running, but it was cut short by the outlanes. Still, I was second and got 5 points.

Second last game in the qualification for me was Stern's Star Trek. 500k with the the first ball wasn't that good of a start, but then I managed to start the Vengeance battle and pulled almost 19M out of that. I started the last ball with the last position, 2M to the 3rd position. I secured the 3rd position with two warp ramp shots and then went to start a phenomenal Klingon Multibal, ending the game at 2nd position and 70M.

The Harlem Globetrotters didn't agree with me at all, and I lost the game with virtually all of my points coming from skillshotting the top saucer.

Round points: 5-5-1

I was so sure today's two bad round had cost me my position in the play-offs, but much to my surprise  I made the cut with 2 points to spare with my 98 point run. I had finally done what I failed to do in Denver back in 2014. This time Olli-Mikko managed to score himself one bye as well. Go Finland.

In retrospect, I qualified because that one damn good ball in the Star Trek. With the cutoff line for the 1 bye was at 110 points, it could have been perfectly doable. Still, good job.


I didn't have much time to celebrate passing the qualifications. I went to try out Borås Wok with Olli-Mikko and then returned to the crime scene to see two things:

I was playing against Julio Soriano, a total stranger for me at that time. And should I beat Julio, I'd be playing against Olli-Mikko. What a shame to be playing against eachother so early in the tournament. Then again, I'd first have to take out Julio.

Pins: Evel Knievel, Radical, Shrek, Xenon, Doctor Who, Spiderman
Opponent: Julio Seriano

Game 1 - Radical

We started out with Julio's pick, Radical. I had really bad feeling about this game, as I hadn't been able to make a single solid game on it in Swedish Open. Julio again was in his element and went up to 8M on his first ball. I struggled to to make one million. Okay, this was just the first ball, so no biggie. Julio doubled his score on the second ball, while I barely got the first ball lock. On his 3rd ball he got to 30M and had me already eyeballing the next game that was my pick.

For some reason my 3rd ball actually did show some promise, until it got stuck between the upper drop targets. Thanks to Radical's crappy ball search handling it spit out my locked ball instead, giving me a non-multiball two ball game. It was handled by a referee by taking one ball out and it was to go in if I'd make the second lock. I almost got the lock lit, but then drained without making 3 million. What a way to start my first ever IFPA play-off game.

Game 2 - Doctor Who

Well, the next one was mine and I knew how this Doctor Who played. I opted the very same thing I did in the qualification, hoping to cash out multiple Sonic booms this time. Julio went straight to multiball without even bothering with playfield multipliers and after I failed to get even one Sonic boom I noped the fuck out of that strategy and also went for the multiball. I started it, but failed to get the jackpot, and went to multiball restart. I often let one or two balls drain at the beginning of the multiball so I can pound the jackpots without having other balls obstructing the gates. That idea failed epically and I lost 186M to 35M on my own pick, thanks to the fact that this Doctor Who didn't have ball save on a multiball that was restarted.

Game 3 - Shrek

We were actually going for Evel Knievel, but someone told us Shrek had the live feed on, so Julio opted for Shrek instead. Fine by me, it has so far been rather favorable thing for me. What started out as a somewhat promising game turned soon into a swear fest as after draining a sub-par first ball I managed to drain the two following balls from the skill shot. Don't just take my word for it, have a look for yourself!

With 3 to 0 things started to look a bit grim. I'd have to beat Julio 3 times in a row now to make it draw, then we'd play best 2 out of 3 game. Being my optimistic self I was a bit less than happy about the situation, but the upcoming Spidey still gave a glimmer of hope for the best.

Game 4 - Spider Man

HOLD THE PRESS! I finally managed to cut my losses and get back in the game. With the constant Spanish talk behind my back I gather Julio and his dad(?) were wondering what the hell I was up to skipping virtually everything in the game and concentrating on the Sandman. I pulled a lead on Julio for the first time on my first ball, which he unfortunately caught on his second ball. I had to work had to catch him and after my third ball I was barely ahead of him. As a player #2 being couple of millions behind wasn't the perfect place to be on this very fast Spider man. Julio however managed to make the final lock, started the multiball and went past me, winning his 4th game.

So, my first ever IFPA play-off game ended in the top-24 round. Still, in retrospect Julio proved himself by taking out Olli-Mikko and Jochen, until finally being bested by Jorian in the bronze game. Seeing the lads had downed the Beefeater gin bottle last night, I opted for Olli-Mikko's Finlandia Vodka: raw, straight from the bottle. And as Julio raged on, I offered the bottle for the team "I got creamed by Julio" during the way. 

The outcome

For the first time in my life, I qualified in an IFPA world championship game. As far as I know, I'm the 4th Finn to do it, after Olli-Mikko, Janne and Antti. I got eliminated in the first round, getting 24th position. With many big names getting axed in the qualification, I guess I had a rather good run. I feel a bit blue about this probably being my last IFPA game, unless something really earth shattering happens during the rest of the year.

I was originally going to skip Sörkka pinball open, but since the team New Zealand is coming over, my and Pilvi both decided to attend. Until then.

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