Finnish pinball league, game 5/6 - Kouvola, Finland - Hopeakuula Arcade - 28/09/2019

Ah, the Finnish league. Thanks to my work schedule, I had already missed two of the league games and it didn't exactly look like I was going to be up there in top-3 to receive a league trophy. To be honest, I was rather reluctant to even attend and only signed up the last minute, thinking long hours of repairs and preparations for this tournament probably got most of what I had to give. I went into this tournament with the attitude of probably going to get my ass kicked in the qualification, but at least we'd hopefully host a good tournament at our arcade with as few malfunctions as possible. Maybe someone would even enjoy their time!

Doctor Who getting a last minute flipper rebuild as I wasn't happy with it.
As always, the Finnish league has a qualification format of "player vs player, winner gets a point" where 4 best players in their group advances to playoffs. 16 players per group, 3 groups.

Playoffs are player vs player, best 2 out of 3, except for the final which is best 3 out of 5.


I was in qualification group A, which meant I had to start playing at the ungodly hour of 12:00. I'm not exactly a morning person, so I just had to dope up with coffee and energy drinks, then start flipping.

The playoffs were kind of a blur, but couple of games stand out. I played Revenge from Mars against TJM and played a rather "meh" game, but it was still good enough if we're not playing for high scores. TJM however caught me on his last ball and easily beat me there. I've been keeping his career on eye for a long time now, he's probably the most active person when it comes to attending all kinds of pinball (or gaming in general) related events in Finland and he's been really upping his game these past few years with consistent playing.

Group A, me playing against TTS

It's been years since I've played Gilligan's Island in a tournament, yet we graced the league players with mine this year and played it against AMP. We've been debating a lot about what to do in it, especially when the ingredients for the 50M shot are relatively easy to get. But I'd never risk it in a tournament game unless my opponent had already gotten the 50M jackpot, I just repeat the doubled Jungle run mode as long as I can. And it worked here just fine.

During the qualification I made a note I hadn't lost that many games, I assumed I'd be somewhere near the qualification cut line, but after I had finished my last game I went to see the score board and I had won 10 out of 13 and being the group A's winner. The next three players all tied with 8 wins.

Out of the local players, VPS qualified 3rd in group A, IDO won group B and RIK was group B's 2nd.

Group B playoffs, RON vs MAR in the foreground on Gilligan's Island


I really started feeling the long wait way before the playoffs started. I always prefer to play in the last group as if I'm still in the game, I can keep my rage on and not just wait out for hours, then OD on coffee again.

Playoffs, round 2

MRA had finished 4th in the group C, then crushed AKI 2-0 in the first round of the playoffs. Now we were to go against each other in round 2. Whoever wins here goes to the semifinals.

We started with Bally's old punisher, Star Trek. Funny thing about that, I actually have Star Trek because I fell in love with it during one of MRA's tournaments at his arcade.

Naturally Star Trek hated me and I couldn't get much done, losing my first game. Next up was Mousin' around, which fortunately was a bit more forgiving and I even got to play couple of seconds of multiball there, winning it.

Our last game was Stern's Playboy. MRA had a pretty strong first ball, at around 10M. He complained some oddity about the left flipper, but we couldn't repeat it between the balls, so the game was ruled to be continued. The left flipper failed at around 20 seconds into my first ball and we couldn't immediately find a reason for the failure, as the flipper was mechanically intact, powered and the flipper button was working as well. It was now ruled as a major malfunction and a new game was drawn: Stellar Wars.

Stellar didn't have a beef with me and I racked insane bonuses on each ball, easily winning it. I can understand MRA's disappointment in the end result, he had started with a good ball on a deciding game and we had to discard that.

Just as a curious detail, I debugged the Playboy later on. It had a very interesting transistor failure, where the game played just fine for hours, until the transistor driving left flipper coil got too hot and stopped working at random. It started working again once it cooled a bit. The problem was completely eliminated by just replacing it.

Playoffs, semifinals

RIK had placed 2nd in group B and as such got to tie-break against two other qualification group #2's for the option to go directly into the semifinals. He played against TJM and MAX on Stellar Wars and won. This meant the playoffs would be between arcade administration members.

Soviet Kouvola showdown - RIK vs APZ on Doctor Who

I was pretty drained from the round 2 and even more so from the very long wait between the qualifications and playoffs. I somehow managed to wrestle a victory from Doctor Who, lost on Contact and we had a final showdown on Judge Dredd, that ultimately went to me. Looks like I had found my way into the final.


My old friend OMO had placed 3rd in the group C qualification and had to fight his way from the bottom, going against my dad on round 1, another Kouvola region player IDO on round 2 and sending TTV into the bronze game in semis.

We started off with Stellar Wars, with me as player 2. My First ball was really horrible and I had to fight to keep the second ball in the game long enough to at least catch OMO. OMO had a rather rough last ball, but still left me about 15k to catch on my last ball. I was after getting 2x bonus and by the time I finally got it, the game was there, no need to continue my last ball.

The next game was another pick from my classics bank: Bally's Star Trek - the old punisher.

For the first 2 balls neither of us got that much done, I was at 20k, OMO at 67k, but knowing you can get 3x 20k indefinitely from the maxed out bonus shot, anything could happen at this point. I managed to hang onto my last ball long enough to collect the bonus couple of times and finish the BALLY-letters twice, bring my score up to 139k after the bonus count. OMO started his ball strong, but tilted from right outlane save at 73k, which also meant this game went to yours truly.

Next it was time to bring out the big guns. As in Williams' Big Guns. I see we're staying on our classics line.

OMO started his first ball by locking two balls, then immediately tilting the game when trying to save it from the right outlane when the ball save gate was still open, with 176k on the display. I played a rather tired multiball, ending with 734k. OMO's 2nd ball had rough luck and it only got him past 220k, mine wasn't much better. OMO's 3rd ball lasted literally just couple of seconds and that was it. League game 5/6 went to yours truly.

Watch a stream of the final here

The outcome

I won my qualification group of 13 players.

I won the tournament.

Having scored 8 league points from the season's 1st game, 7 from the 3rd and now 15 from this, it means there's at least 5 people who can technically still win the league. It's going to be an interesting last tournament of the season.

Chicago Pinball Expo - Chicago, IL, USA - Westin Hotel - 17-19/10/2019

With my upcoming 40th birthday trip being planned, I wasn't sure if second trip to the USA was doable this year, but with some careful financial planning I managed to squeeze it in back to back with the EPC'19 in Denmark.

I've been meaning to come check out the expo for some time now, I was especially interested in the Stern factory tour and many rare pins in the show. As an icing on the cake one of my favorite pinball series, Elvira, would be getting a sequel which was to be released in the expo and no other than Cassandra herself would be there too!

All three Elvira games. I SO need this at my place!

Me and my buddy Olli-Mikko flew out directly to Chicago, but started this tour with a short sight seeing trip to Milwaukee, Wisconsin before returning to Chicago. The expo itself was inside of a conference hotel and while the room prices were a bit rip off-ish, I really appreciated the fact that I could just put on my playing gear and walk from my room directly into the expo hall.

The welcome dinner party, with some Spanish pins in the background!

In addition to having 100s of pins free to play, the expo naturally also had tournaments. The main tournament had a lineup of the very latest Sterns, including the brand new Elvira's house of horrors. The classics tournament had EMs and a selection of early SS games.

Both tournaments were based on your 6 best scores on games of your own choosing, main tournament included 12 entries total and no buy-ins, the classics again had unlimited buy-ins.

When we first arrived, we were wandering around, watching as the show was being set up and found ourselves in a room with a buffet and a plenty of people. A waiter asked if we were one of the pinball people and we naturally said yeah. They promptly gave us a table and told us to dig into the food. Everything looked so good, so we didn't mind the offer. It wasn't until a bit later when we noticed how everyone there had t-shirts of all kinds of arcades, distributors and so forth and we realized that by "pinball people" they probably meant organizers of the event and not us two random Finnish guys. But whatever, free food!


I started off with the main tournament. This was a bit tough spot for me, as I'm not that well versed with the latest changes to the Stern's newest games and the only game I really knew well, Star Trek, had a line so long it wasn't funny any more. So I played Beatles, Black Knight Premium, Elvira, Dead pool, Munsters and as a wild card Star Wars home edition.

I tried the new Elvira couple of times in the free play lounge and came to the conclusion I'd probably just try starting the multiballs and see where it goes. Short plunging, then making the mansion lock was relatively easy shot and after a rather poor first try, I got 54M on it, which was apparently good enough to score some points.

I had a rather decent start on Dead pool, I drained my last ball with Mechsuit multiball lit, which was a bummer but with 268M I guess people had done worse on it.

The Munsters was hard for me, I had never played the variant with the miniplayfield before and I couldn't do anything with those miniatyre flippers and tiny ball. 

I left The Beatles with 3.3M and played Black Knight's premium variant as my last game. Oh man was the upper playfield useless. This is one of the games where I strongly prefer the pro version. I got  105M on it, which to me was pretty embarrassingly low score, but it still netted me my 3rd best game in the whole qualification.

The outcome was 53rd position in the main, which was enough to qualify.

The classics lineup
The classics was a lot worse show for me. In many cases I drew the short straw and had things like tilting the game from plunging, annoying flipper issues and so forth. I played 18 games total and decided it wasn't worth my money to play more.


My 53rd place netted me couple of byes and I started off from the round 3.

I got to pick the games here, my opponent their position. My first pick was the new Elvira, where I got two unbelievable house balls and I couldn't catch my opponent's good lead on my 3rd ball. My second game was on Dead pool and it was just as bad.

That's it once again. A face plant in the playoffs and to the losers' side I go from the first opponent.

My games on the losers' side started off with Munsters, that I won mostly because the opponent had even crappier luck than I did. Next up was Black Knight, where I couldn't find the upper playfield lock shot and got totally annihilated.

The very last game was probably the only good game I had that day. I played pretty good Mech suit multiball and was at 320M with the opponent at 140M at the start of his last ball. But by playing a multiball after another he finally caught me and that was it, Chicago pinball expo tournament was over for me. At least I played one good game there, even if I lost that one.

The outcome

I qualified in the main tournament as 53rd and got eliminated from the first round, also losing the first match on the losers' side, ultimately being 68th out of 156 players.

I was 62nd in the classic tournament out of 132 players.

About the expo and the Stern tour

The expo had spread over several halls, all full of pinball machines old and new. Almost everything, save the tournament games were set for free play and there was a roomful of just the latest Stern games. I also got to play Jersey Jack's Willy Wonka and American Pinball's Oktoberfest. Many extremely rare games were also for the visitors to play, including the Krull I had always wanted to try. Krull's speciality is a second playfield under the normal one, but unlike with many modern games, the lower playfield is full sized and you view it through a lens that makes it smaller.

Whee! A real school bus!

The Stern factory tour was one thing that sold me on making the whole trip and it naturally was a high point of our time in Chicago area. We got a ride there on school busses, never been on the US style ones before. Stern's factory was about half an hour from our hotel, which was probably enough in a bus meant for kid sized passengers.

The kid-sized seats were fun for the first 10 minutes. Not so much after that.
I really hadn't thought about how a pinball factory would look like, but it was pretty much how I would have guessed it. The playfields were assembled in a huge line, where the half-finished playfields moved on rails from one workstation to another. The worker would install some parts to it and then move it forwards.

A picture I was totally not allowed to take!
We also saw how the wiring harnesses and major components were built there on location. I had expected that all of that would be somehow automated nowdays, but we got to watch as the ladies there weaved one wire after another into a complex wiring harness, tested it and then started working on another one. Plastic parts came from China according to the warehouse manager, playfields were nowdays manufactured locally. The cabinets came from somewhere else as fully assembled units, they just applied the decals on them at the factory. We stopped to marvel for a second how fast they could do the decaling, for something that takes several hours for me to do, these guys finished a cabinet in just minutes.

One really funny thing I immediately noticed was the language used in the factory. Some of you who may have followed my past adventures, may remember that I started studying Spanish in January. Now came the first time where I could actually hear a lot of it. Even all the signs in the work benches were in Spanish. 

At the time of our visit Elvira's House of horrors, Black Knight and Jurassic Park were in production. In addition to meeting Gary Stern himself, I also met George Gomez for the first time in real life. I could have easily spend the whole day at the factory, but after the tour it was time to move on and return to the expo.

I've never been to ComicCons or other events with celebrities so I had no clue what the protocol is supposed to be. At first I was so stoked about the opportunity to meet Cassandra, but with almost two hour line and $80 fee convinced me to just enjoy all the new Sterns in the free play area. Still, managed to sneak one picture of her!

It's Cassandra and the Elvira HOH pinball team!
The expo had a lot of interesting seminars. I went to check out Making of Jurassic park and Elvira. Cassandra turned up in the latter too to answer questions about the game. 

Final thoughts

With a lot of rare games off my to-do -list, having visited the Stern factory and seeing the Chicago Expo alone were more than enough to justify this trip. As an added bonus we went to explore the neighboring states of Illinois: Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan. In Indiana we visited Gary, Michael Jackson's home town. The place was in rather rough shape nowdays and after an encounter with a very aggressive panhandler, we continued up north towards Michigan. There I drove us to Grand Rapids where we went to check out a local brewery restaurant.

I really loved the scenery around Lake Michican, we stopped at multiple sightseeing spots to just marvel the views. 

On my way back home I took different way back home than Olli-Mikko, who flew a direct route from Chicago to Helsinki on an Airbus A330. I again took a detour to London so I could check off Boeing 747 from my large planes list, before they all disappear in this era of mid-sized long haul planes.

Queen of the skies off my to-do list!

We'll see where I'll find myself the next year, but I probably can't afford two trips to the US. I'll still probably take part in the major European tournaments, especially the EPC.

Until the next time!

It Never Drains In Southern California - Banning, CA, USA - Museum of Pinball - 11-13/01/2019

My last year's trip to INDISC was my debut to the tournament and also the longest ever tournament trip I've ever done. Escaping the freezing cold and endless snow of Finland was a welcome break last year and when the opportunity to make the trip again raised, I didn't need to think twice. This time we however decided to skip the stop at a sketchy hotel in NY and flew straight to Los Angeles instead. I was a bit hesitant about flying Delta with their recent development in having their passengers assaulted by security officers when the airline themselves overbooked the flight. We typically always fly Finnair and their alliance, but the ticket prices had risen into obscene figures, so we had to get creative and book a KLM-Delta combo there and Air France-Finnair back.

As always, these longer trips also serve as a mini-vacation for me, so in addition to just playing, we reserved a lot of time to just roam around, check out the barcades, go to an NBA match and hopefully hit a movie studio as well.

As much as I love flying, I'm really bummed that I just can't get any sleep on the plane. With 2.5 + 11.5 hour in the air, I was hoping to work on some FreeCAD tutorials I had taken with me, but the person in in front of me decided to tilt their seat all the way back, leaving me just watching the movies instead.

I'm super envious about Marble's ability to just fall asleep the second he hits the plane seat.

That however paled in comparison of what expected us when we finally reached Los Angeles. Thanks to the US government shutdown they had only a handful of immigration and customs workers there, with literally hundreds of people per line. We thought we'd cut some waiting time by using the ESTA terminals, which first seemed to work, but then we got just directed back at the end of the line. I was almost dozing off at that point, with 20+ hours of being awake. When it was finally my time to be interviewed by the immigration officer, I probably came off as being high or something. Fortunately he wasn't too interested in his job and after two questions and a stamp in my passport we were ready to head for Banning.

Our ride for this trip.
This time we got ourself a convertible Ford Mustang, but it was way too cold and rainy to drive around with the roof down. I was pretty much out cold the second we arrived at Banning and I could finally fall face first into the bed.


The tournament was entry based, with 6 games per entry for the main tournament, 4 games per entry for the classics tournament and high stakes tournament. Main entries were $20 a piece, classics $15 and high stakes $50. They also had combo packages available, I took one with one high stakes, two main and two classic entries. I probably wouldn't have otherwise bothered with the whole high stakes tournament, the whole concept felt a bit (or a lot) rip-offish since it probably didn't even get that many players to be really valuable WPPR point wise. Friday and Saturday had their own, separate classic tournaments, which was a new thing for this year.

The tournament area

The main bank was really awesome. It had couple of new machines, some classic WPCs and the mandatory Gottlieb System 3 surprise. The whole lineup was:

  • Safecracker
  • Cheetah
  • Mousin' Around
  • Iron Man
  • Warlok
  • Excalibur
  • Iron Maiden
  • Bally Harley Davidson
  • Cue Ball Wizard
  • Jersey Jack's Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Monster Bash
  • Banzai Run (was never powered on)
  • Stargazer
  • Baywatch

Now, the trick here was to find 6 games where I could pull at least a tolerable game with maybe one or two real good ones in there. Popular modern games like Iron Maiden and Monster Bash were out of the equation right from the start. Safe Cracker was really interesting find, I don't think I've ever seen it in a major tournament line-up before.

I gave the Friday classics tournament a try but couldn't go jack with them. I next tried my luck with the high stakes tournament. I started out with Argosy, which was about to turn into a complete house party, except for one lucky ball, which netted me 470k. Next Godzilla. I know the game, but couldn't do much with it. To add to the insult, it had a pity multiball lit for the last ball and I couldn't even get that going. 25M. Barracora was a bit hit'n'miss game for me usually, today was a "miss" day. I couldn't get the drop targets down in order and had to walk away with 150k. At this point I had already pretty much given up, so I played Paragon as a last game. It was surprisingly well playing game and I got my best game of this entry on it, 174k.

It came very clear to me that at $50 a pop, I wasn't interested in dropping more money into this tournament. After checking out the free play area for new additions, we decided to call it a night. The jetlag was getting to me bad and I didn't waste any more entries.

We returned the next day for more serious try.

Yours truly, feat. Danni

Looking at the game list, I needed to find games that I could do well enough, but weren't super popular. Some strong contenders were Safe Cracker, Bally's Harley Davidson, Cue Ball Wizard and Baywatch.

On my first entry I included Jersey Jack's Pirates of the Caribbean just to get some game time on it. For a first timer it was an awfully confusing and complex game. I also tried Mousin' Around, on which I got my all time personal worst - 396k. I also played Baywatch, which played reasonably well but didn't go into my following entries.

Stern's latest: The Beatles
Between the entries I gave the set high score games couple of tries. They had Primus, The Beatles and a reaction tester modded Tron. This was my very first time playing the Beatles. Much to my surprise it wasn't all bad. Kind of odd combination to see a modern platform like Stern's Spike 2 being used for a classic one level playfield, but it was relatively fun game, although no way worth the diamond edition's price. I set the GC of 4.1M on it, which was up there for almost to the end.

The reaction tester Tron
The reaction tester Tron was a really cool oddball concept. It had three buttons each side with one of the buttons lit. If you pressed the lit button, it behaved as a normal flipper button. If you pressed a button that wasn't lit, it disabled that flipper for a second. The lit button changed after each press, making you constantly look at the buttons while trying to follow the ball. Pretty fun thing.

Primus, which was just another Whoa! Nellie retheme.
Primus was just a rethemed Whoa! Nellie and save the soundtrack and graphics, it was nothing special.

After a some tries, I finally had an entry that had some potential: Safe cracker, Warlok, Cue Ball Wizard and Harley Davidson all had decent games in them. With four good games, I needed one more strong game and looking at what was available I took the one remaining game that I knew well: Monster Bash. Boy was that a disappointment! I had very rough start, but I was setting the game up for two monsters during Frankie boy's multiball. I wasted two balls on that, but on my last ball I started the modes, show up the ramp and ... it didn't sink in. It stopped right at the spot where it would have started to roll in and then came back and went straight down the middle. Sigh.

Even with a completely failed Monster Bash my score was above the cut line for some time. Naturally it wasn't enough but it gave me with some confidence for the upcoming entries.

The streaming studio, in the middle of the tournament area

Unfortunately rest of the day didn't yield any better scores, with Safe Cracker being one of the most random games. I was still jetlagged as hell and made a point to have at least two days to recover the next time I'd fly to the other side of the world.

I gave the Saturday classics tournament a try but nothing came out of that. When the time finally ran out, I was out of the main tournament but just like last year, qualified for the B playoffs. I wonder if I could out-do my last year's 9-16th position.

B Playoffs, round 1

The playoffs were four player games with 3-2-1-0 point system. Each round would eliminate two players until four players were left for the final.

We started off with Mousin' Around. I played it for laughs during the qualification to learn just how much it was bastardized. It was. A lot. Our group was pretty even at first, until one player managed to nail a 2M jackpot on their last ball. I gave up with the multiball and looped the left orbit instead to pull some headspace. As a played 4 I was trying to catch the 5.9M best score, but drained at 1.9M. The rest were 1M and 800k, so 2nd position for this game.

Next up was Star Gazer. I know the game but hadn't played this one during the qualification. I got my ass completely handed to me and thanks to two different players winning the previous games, I was now in back against the wall position to win the next game.

The next game was Cue Ball Wizard, which had fortunately worked pretty well for me during the qualification. It wasn't until the last ball that I got the multiball going, but it was easily enough to win this game.

One in our group had enough points for a clear victory, but I was tied for the second place so we had to do a tie breaker, with me picking the game. I put on my troll face and picked Baywatch, even if I hadn't played it here this weekend. I was hoping it was random enough game for my opponent not to know it well and my gamble paid off from the get go when I got the hoped "oh no" face from him. I didn't do anything spectacular with the game, but my 350M was enough against his 180M, although he did get his game on during the last ball.

Winning this tiebreak meant I had outdone my last year's positions 9-16 place and was now on my way towards the B finals!

B playoffs, round 2

Star Gazer returned to haunt me as the first game and I outdid myself with a 38k score when everyone else had closer to 1M. The spinner shot just didn't want to sink in.

Next up was Gottlieb's Excalibur. I couldn't get much done on the two first balls, but on the last ball I managed to pull a one ball wonder and score the jackpot. I won the game easily with 3M score which meant I wasn't necessarily out from this round either, but I'd need one decent game after this.

Our last game was Warlok. I was somewhat confident with this one as it had worked well for me in the qualification, but this time it wasn't that easy. I ended up with 100k points, which was enough for 3rd place, which again meant I was out.

Last year this would have been a shared 5-8 place, but by some magic I ranked first in that slot. 

The outcome

I qualified in main tournament for B playoffs.

I did not qualify from either of the classics tournaments or the high stakes tournament.

I was 5th in B group, which translated into 36th position in the final results out of 236 players.

This was the second time in my life when I walk away with an envelope.

600€ for the plane tickets, 700€ for the hotels, 350€ for the car and fuel, then food, boozing etc. Totally worth it!

Final thoughts

This was the first time I got to play Total Nuclear Annihilation as much as I wanted. Museum of Pinball had all the new pins, most notably Thunderbirds and latest Spooky's pins. The Thunderbirds was a truckload of diarrhea, which prompted me to give TNA another go. After a frustrating start I started to get a hang of it. It works so good with my chaotic playing style, especially during the multiball.

Honestly, I tried to have something good to say about this thing. My favorite moment however was draining the last ball.
Even when I was a bit hesitant about the tournament's format last year, I quickly fell in love with the idea of hunting for the winning combo of qualification games and being able to retry as much as I liked within the qualification time frame. I'm also happy I can still hang in there even in the big boys' tournaments and that the last year's moderate success wasn't just a fluke.

The Golden Cue was Sega's last pin, which was in late stage of development cycle when Sega gave up on pinball. Stern later reused it as their 2nd pin, Sharkey's Shootout. If you've played Sharkey, you'll probably recognize the layout.
This time the Sharkey's Shootout prototype, Golden cue was in good playing order so I gave it couple of serious rounds. 5 minutes into my first ball I had the feeling someone was observing me. The game was extremely easy to play and I may have played a single have for over 15 minutes. When I finally finished, I noticed an older gentleman watching me. As I was about to walk away, he approached and said, "that was really impressive playing!". He introduced himself and asked where I was from and so forth, then introduced me to his wife, his son who was about my age and his grandson. This was rather "what's going on?!" moment for a socially shy Finn but I played along as they kept wondering just how far away I had travelled there.

After the Museum of pinball closed its doors, we headed back to Los Angeles to continue our incursion into the city's barcade scene. So many cool places, we checked out Bar 82, Button Mash and Ayce Gogi. I wish my home town had some decent bars with so many pins, back in the days I often went for a pint or ten and play pinball all night long, nowdays my arcade is the only public place to play pinball around here.

Ayce Gogi's pinball room. Pretty typical LA area Barcade setup
Everyone seemed to have Total Nuclear Annihilation, so I could finally put on some serious game time on it on location as well. It is now the top of my "no brain and all action" pins. I also played Munsters now that it had production software, but I'm still not sold on it.

We also dedicated one day to visit the Universal Studios with the New Zealand's wonder, Miss Peck. I finally got checking out a movie studio off my bucket list!

We also went to see Lakers vs. Bulls NBA game and saw their Finnish player, Lauri Markkanen playing.

My first NBA match, Bulls vs. Lakers. Lauri was awesome!
We took one day to just drive around and investigate the forest fire area from just week before we arrived. We drove for a long time seeing nothing but burn down forest and homes. It was raining heavily, which probably in a part helped out stamping out the remaining fires and gave the new growth a jump start. Still, it was an unnerving sight to see all those things burned down.

Me and Marble dedicated one day to go check out the LA city center. No plans, just roam around on foot and public transportation. This was my first time there and I was expecting something like New York. Instead of the super busy, noisy and a bit in-your-face mega city, Los Angeles was clean, relatively orderly and clean. We hit the downtown area in the middle of a demonstration by teachers, but even then it was civil. 

One of the most memorable random moments on this trip involves a conversation, or at least an attempt at that at a Mexican food truck. I wanted to sample almost everything they had, but the woman running the till spoke very little English. In the end I couldn't get the message across and just ordered a couple of burritos. Things like this leave me feeling stupid and I don't like feeling stupid. I kept wondering the whole way back home just how hard can it be learning Spanish? The next week after arriving home I took it as my next self-betterment project to learn at least conversational level Spanish by the time I return to the US.

I don't know when I get to make my next long distance tourney trip. There will be some local tournaments and we'll hit Borås in March.

Until then.

European Pinball Championship 2018 - Tampere, Finland - 7-9/9/2018

I recall it's been 5-6 years since we first talked about the possibility of arranging the EPC some day. Many thought it was an impossible task: coordinating all the long distance transportation, trying to get all the fractions of the Finnish scene to play along and naturally finding a suitable place. Half a decade later the pieces just kind of fell together, so here it is: EPC 2018: Tampere.

The main tournament qualification format was score based, two entries on six randomly chosen machines. The classics had similar approach, but with four machines. Both games were meaningful. Playoffs again would be with double elimination bracket head to head matches, save the classics final, which was a four player game.

The main tournament area

My main games were: Tommy, Medieval Madness, Monster Bash, Dirty Harry, Iron Man and Congo. No big surprises there, pretty steady line-up of mid-90s games and one modern Stern.

For the classics again I had: Count-Down, Road Kings, Special Force and Prospector. Now this was a lot tougher bunch as I only knew Prospector properly. I've played them all, but for the others I had no viable tournament strategy and couldn't find proper tutorials for them either.

The tournament has begun!

In addition to the main and classics tournaments, they had four games set for one ball games, including Houdini and Deadpool. I went to check out those two first, more of them later on.

Main qualification

I started my grind with Dirty Harry. Nothing too fancy here, the main multiball is really easy to start and if the gun works, it's also easy to get the first super jackpot as well. The game was a tad more bouncy than I had hoped for, but I still played a decent multiball and couple of modes for 431M total score. I had hoped I learned from the danger spots for my second game, but somehow managed to drain the first balls and playing a less satisfying multiball on my last ball for the total of 220M. 

I picked Congo next and boy was that fast. I can normally easily backhand the mystery hole but here I wasted a ball just to get the Diamond hunt multiball running. Afterwards the main multiball was a huge letdown and my first game ended with 290M. As with Dirty Harry, more methodical and careful second game resulted in even worse outcome and I didn't even get the main multiball going, 138M. Blah.

Congo was actually the game I was the highest hopes for. I had already planning ahead for my second normal multiball from GREY and more.

Staying with WPC games I then moved onto Monster Bash. I was building my game on a multiball where I'd have at least three character modes stacked onto it, so I prepared the Creature, Bride and Werewolf, all one shot from starting. Then I bashed the Frankenstein's monster open and aimed for the last Bride shot, only to miss it and to start the multiball accidentally. Argh! I didn play the modes later on, but it was only for a disappointing 39.7M. I did try again and this time started the multiball at the exact same spot, although this time the ball went up there after a slap save. And like earlier, my second game was a lot worse, 27.7M.

Medieval Madness was next to the Monster Bash, so I took it next. Again, nothing too fancy with the strategy here, start the multiballs, use them to bash the castles. This game however had really nice and strong flippers, both ramp shots took in even lazily aimed shots. I accidentally got into the super jackpot with the main multiball and got 34.8M on my first try. Getting to the super jackpot is an interesting thing as it lits all the major shots, so I played it again, but now concentrated on taking the five normal jackpot shots before going back to the castle bashing. That worked out beautifully! I usually keep the balls in orbits or ramps so I have a clear shot at the castle with one ball, now the balls also scored jackpots while staying off my face. 57.4M and #1 score!

I was a bit nervous about Tommy being in my line-up. My first game was a near-disaster, when my first game had two house balls in a row. I managed to save the game a bit when I took the third ball pity multiball and managed to cash it out for 180M. Next time I short plunged all the balls and played couple of pretty decent modes and a tolerable multiball for 563M. Got to enter my initials for that one!

After that all I had left was the Iron Man. And oh boy was it a rough ride. I was building my game to stack War Machine and Iron Monger multiballs. That didn't happen. Also this specific game had a really odd misfeature: if you accidentally made a dead-on center shot at the Iron Monger, the ball stopped between its legs and then unceremoniously came down just as dead center between the flippers. I gave it a couple of hard slaps, it was nowhere near enough to save it. My first game netted me 7.3M and the other even worse, 5.3M.

Save the Iron Man, I was cautiously satisfied with the qualification run. I was 4th in the qualification after that, but with so many big names still to play the next day I knew I wouldn't have to dream about being in the top 32 most likely.

After taking couple of minor repair gigs I moved onto the classics qualification.

Classics qualification

I've often done well in classics, so I had my hopes up, although classics may often end up in a lesson of dealing with extreme frustration. First up, Bally Special Force. I was somewhat happy I got this game as I have played this particular machine before. In addition to that, I also fixed this machine before the tournament began, so I knew it'd be in relatively good shape.

Special Force ended up being two extremely "meh" (extre-meh?) games, both around 450k. I know what had to be done but I couldn't even get the multiball running.

Next up was Count down. I actually got a pretty decent game on it at first, scoring 423k. Naturally the next game took a nose dive into a concrete with 72k. Still, it was first good game I had played in the classics so far.

After that I went onto get my ass handed to me at Prospector. Usually Laurel and Hardy work with me just fine but not today. With 5 balls, the 136k and 238k scores were just a disgrace and this game was the only game that netted me zero qualification points.

After this I had to break out my soldering iron and give couple of tournament games some love, including one very stubborn Fish Tales game (but I love Fish Tales, so I forgive it!) and came back to play my last game on Road Kings.

Road Kings is one of the mystery System 11 games for me. I've played it like only twice in my life, last time in Banning this year. Yet I had the basic strategy planned out: don't drain and shoot for the blinking lights. Well okay, it needs a more fleshed out version: it plays a bit like Mousin' Around - collect ROAD KINGS-standups to light locks, lock the balls, win the tournament. Some steps may be missing along the way.

I got it going pretty nicely on my first try, ending with 1M score that landed me in top-30. I expected more of the next game, but not much came out of that, 480k.

Looking at the qualification standings at that point I was nowhere near the cut line and there were still plenty of players to finish their entries.

TY-FFASI, like Data-East used to say.

Teams qualification

This year Team Finland was yours truly, JAX, SUI and JSZ. We joked in the beginning that our aim is to one-up the 2014 Italian EPC's bronze. I love playing teams, but it also gives me this annoying anxiousness about failing the team should the ball not bounce favorably on my turn. Every member of the team would play single full game against four competing team members, then we'd play one four ball game on another game where each team member would play one ball. My personal game was Party Zone and the team's four ball game again AC/DC.

My Party Zone was as bad as I had feared. You can make 6M on it with just doing three consecutive skill shots and not even touch the flippers, I was left with 1.7M with mere seconds of ball time. I felt I had let down my team.

JAX played 790M on Stern Star Wars, JSZ 260M on Doctor Who and SUI 1.4M on Taxi. Those all fit in top-4 on each game. My piece of crap entry was 13th.

We however got a somewhat decent entry in the AC/DC and much to our surprise we made the cut into the playoffs. Okay, I'll take it.

Teams playoffs

We continued with the same personal games in the playoffs, although this time I had given up with any fancy strategies with the Party Zone. I went with plain and simple "left ramp all day long" strategy and gunned 16M with that. It was almost enough for 2nd place, I lost to Germany's player by just 500k, but at least I scored 1 point for us, more than I did the last time.

I still felt a bit meh about it, until came the AC/DC and four ball game again. The ball finally started to bounce my way and I managed to pull a monster ball when I needed it, 90M, when the team total score was 106M.

Sweden won the round out of our group's two teams to get qualified, Germany was out, Finland tied with Belgium. But here's the kicker: The AC/DC score was the deciding thing should a playoff points tie happen. Belgium got 54M so my monster ball just dragged us out of the swamp and .. INTO THE DAMN FINAL OF THE WHOLE THING. WHAT THE HELL?!

Teams final

O-M-G. We joked about the final in the beginning but here we were, with possibility for any trophy position and naturally with the possibility of being 4th and go home in shame. The final played the exact same way as the previous rounds, we kept our personal games and AC/DC was the all-team effort. This was now a battle between Finland, Denmark, Sweden and USA.

To be honest, Party Zone was getting old fast at this point. I was after nothing else but skill shots and left ramp, although after some lucky flailing I got the 5M shot lit on my first ball and remained lit through the last ball. I just couldn't make the shot. I was left with 9.6M which was enough for 3rd place, that 5M shot would have taken me one position higher.

SUI had rough time with Taxi and was left with no points at all. JAX again dominated Star Wars with 1.4B score, beating the others by almost a billion! JSZ struggled on Doctor Who and was 3rd. Looking at the other teams I wasn't sure where we stood, we had one 1st place and two 3nd places, which meant we'd probably have to do very well on the AC/DC or we'd go home without a souvenir.

I was nervous as hell playing the AC/DC and couldn't get much done. JSZ however got his game face on and in the end Team Finland was #1 in the last game. But was it enough for bronze? We didn't have access to the up to date scores at that point and people were speculating where we would land, some even saying we could win the whole thing. In the end we got 8 points, Sweden got 10 and the Danish team 7, Team USA was out.

History was made once again, now Team Finland only needs to win the gold. Maybe the next time?

Main playoffs

After what had felt like an eternity, my personal games continued with the main tournament playoffs. I had great difficulties getting concentrated on my first game after Team Finland's stellar performance in teams tournaments. I was to go against Benjamin Gräbeldinger in a best 2 out of 3 round.

We started off with the Guardians of the Galaxy that was on the main stage. I felt really conflicted about this game, I kind of like it, but do I want to play it in a serious tournament without knowing proper strategy for it? How about no? I had nothing else for it, except take the arrow mode and hope for the best. 

We started off in relatively even as we both got house balls. Later on my opponent nailed several multiballs, some of them I hadn't even seen before. I gunned for the Groot multiball, played it but couldn't touch his 160M with my 26M. Meh.

Next up was a game that I knew: Creature from the Black Lagoon. It was a total back breaker, couldn't get anything done, it was not a good game for either of us, but my 32M was still half of his score in the end, so I all I could do was to admit defeat, find the nearest cliff and jump off. Well, mentally at least. Anyway, I was out from the first round in the main playoffs.

The outcome

I qualified in the main tournament, got eliminated on the first round of the playoffs and was 72nd out of 285 players.

I didn't qualify in classics.

I was part of Team Finland. 13 countries took part in the teams tournament, Team Finland was 2nd, which is a new record for the team.

I didn't qualify in the ladies tournament. The security guard said if I try again, they'll mace me. I'll wear a dress the next time.

Final thoughts

I had mixed feeling about the EPC being in Finland. Sure, first for Finland, a major step for our pinball scene, but EPC has been my annual European holiday to balance my trip to the USA or other long distance trips. Looks like my next European trip will be the Danish Pinball Open.

It was really curious to see that even after all the "It can't be anywhere else but Helsinki, people can't find there otherwise!" nay-sayers everyone found their way and managed to enjoy the city of Tampere, even when the downtown was in the middle of one of the largest roadworks in its history.

I finally got to play Houdini and Dead pool. Both of them were available for the public, but only as a part of "one ball" tournament. I gave it couple of tries, only to get some ball time. Still, 1€ per game felt a bit rip-offish. Houdini seemed to have all the parts to make a good game, yet it somehow managed to feel a bit too full of stuff. I especially didn't care much for the too narrow shots, even though I found them relatively easy. Dead pool I liked more, but the jury's still out whenever the software will be good when they actually release a bit more finished version.

Until the next time.

Rockpin and St. Michel Open - Mikkeli, Finland - Pinball 21 - 10-11/08/2018

The last time we played a tournament in this arcade when it was couple of block further down the street and was called Pinball 48. We've visited the new location several times during this summer now that it's open to the public. This time we had a double feature as while normally St. Michel Open and Rockpin were separate tournaments, this time they ran at the same time.

A total of 5 of us Kouvola region folks took part in the tournament: me, Pilvi, my parents and RIK, who made his debut to tournament playing in Sörkka.

Format for both qualifications were the same: score based, one try on pre-determined pins. Playoffs for best 24 players on each tournament, with a bit different brackets.

St. Michel's lineup was 9 rather random games: Pinball Magic, Cirqus Voltaire, Dr. Who, Johnny Mnemonic, Demolition Man, Monster Bash, Cleopatra, Sopranos and Barracora

Rockpin again has 12 music themed pins: Guns 'n Roses, Dolly Parton, Kiss (Stern), Aerosmith, Captain Fantastic, AD/DC Pro, Iron Maiden LE, Rolling Stones (Stern), Tommy, Kiss (Bally), Metallica and Rolling Stones (Bally).

Rockpin games on the left, St. Michel open on the right.

Qualification - Rockpin

I started out with Aerosmith, which was mediocre at best. I didn't dare to lock more than 3 balls for the main multiball and I think it was a good call considering how fast things went to hell in a hand basket. Metallica however made me appreciate the Aerosmith a bit more as I managed to play perhaps the worst game of my life in Metallica: 2.2M. It was just three balls of unbelievable frustration, where everything nearly caused a center drain and my very aggressive saves ended with always with out of control bad luck drains. Blah.

Documenting the Aerosmith disaster. RIK in the foreground.

Out of my Rockpin qualification games, definitely the worst besides Metallica were Bally's Rolling Stones and Bally's Kiss. In both got to experience the early solid state games' brutal side.

But I got in couple of decent ones as well. In Dolly Parton the standard approach of "Get spinner lit, repeat spinner shots as long as possible" worked really well and that earned me 3rd place score for the night. Guns 'n Roses worker better then I expected too. I got just below 700M on it, which I didn't consider that good of a game but it still was 3rd in the whole tournament so far. I did nothing but played all the multiball modes possible with super pops enabled and kept feeding all the balls back there.

Stern's Kiss was pretty meh game, where I played the Demon and Love Gun multiballs only to see it got me 4th.

After I was finished I was at somewhere around 20+.

Qualification - St. Michel Open

After being done with the Rockpin lineup, I moved to the other lineup and started with Barracora. I meant to go with the standard strategy of finishing the right side drops, then making the upper lock shot to have a spare ball. Well, easier said than done, I sure got the drops but couldn't get the right orbit shot to sink in strong enough to make the lock shot. Needless to say, I was rather unimpressed with the 200k final score I got.

I played several games I found similarly unimpressive, but many of them ranked there in the top, like the 600M something game I played on Johnny Mnemonic. Really, majority didn't go with 1B+ scores? It even played so nicely, although it was quite unforgiving. My game on the Demolition Man was similar, I did play couple of multiballs but did not expect to do so good by seeing the score alone.

Rest of Team Sovijärvi playing after the rush hour had finished.

Naturally some real bad games snuck in there as well. I know the Sopranos, but still couldn't somehow find the drop target to score more than one jackpot during the Stugots multiballs.

After being done with the games I went to look at the score boards and noticed I was 3rd. Whoa. Looking at my scores I noticed my Rockpin qualification was one pin short. Some investigation later it turned out to be Tommy.

Now, all I needed was one good game in Tommy. Okay, even a mediocre game would have sufficed. So what happens? Two completely useless balls and the pity multiball lit for my 3rd ball. I nailed it in the left side hole and took my hands off the game as a sign of relief that I'd finally at least got the multiball. But no, the game ejected the ball without starting the multiball. 

RIK was watching and he was just as amazed as I was about the whole thing. I've played a lot of Tommy and have never seen that to happen. But yeah, when I most needed a decent game, I got shit. That last game got me up to 9th position in the whole tournament for today. In the final scores I was now 4th in the St. Michel tournament.

24 players qualify so I most likely have a shot with my 4th place. Not sure about the Rockpin's 20th as about 20-30 players are yet to play tomorrow.

Monster bash didn't really like me. But don't worry MB, I still love you <3


In the end, I was 30th in Rockpin qualification which was pretty much what I had feared. Then again, in St. Michel Open I had lost only one position during the day and was 5th in the end, getting one bye so I'd start straight from round 2.

The playoffs were to be played player versus player, best three out of five. Higher ranked player would always be the second player and they could also decide the game from two randomly drawn options. My first opponent was SUI, who had swept his opponent 3-0 on round 1.

Round 2 - SUI

We started off with Demolition man. I had struggled with the Demoman earlier on when I visited this arcade's game nights, but now I got most of the main shots nailed down, even the annoying left orbit shot that was partially blocked by the upper left flipper. My first ball ended with a nasty drain from the right ramp, so I took the very easily repeatable center shot that often fed to left flipper and grinded about 300M of that from combos. How's that for methodical playing? I got the Fortress multiball going too, but not much came out of that. With SUI ending his 3rd ball at 291M, I didn't have to play my last ball having gone to 783M on my 2nd.

Next up was the Sopranos. SUI got the extra ball, which scores 10M with extra balls disabled. This is rather harshly unbalanced thing in my opinion and after that I had nothing else to do on my turn but to repeat the feat. On my second ball I started a rather crappy The Stugots multiball, where I drained just after the ball save. But I managed to make the fish shot, get an add-a-ball and get it going again. SUI ended his 3rd ball at 16.1M and I was at 18.5M so no need for 3rd ball for me.

The next and possibly deciding game for me was Gottlieb's Cleopatra. We were actually really even right until the 3rd ball, when I finally got the 5K target lit and nailed it multiple times. SUI ended his 5th ball at 41k and I had 75k on my 4th ball thus this round went to me 3-0.

Next up was another team K15 member, JSF, who had also swept through his first round 3-0, then 3-1 against our current league president, JAX.

Round 3 - JSF

Our first game was Monster Bash. I see we both had pretty much same strategy here, get couple of characters going on, then add multiball into the mix. I didn't dare to go for more than one character at a time and played the main multiball twice, once per ball. JSF finished his 3rd ball at 43M and I was at 53M after my 2nd so we went to the next game.

Next was the Demolition man again. I screwed up my first ball big time and noticed JSF went with all-multiball strategy here. I followed his lead and was at around 950M after my 2nd ball. JSF finished at 1.3B and my last ball started with Cryo Prison multiball lit, but I managed to goof if up and drained, finishing at 973M, evening the round to 1-1.

After the Demolition man we took on Capcom's Pinball Magic. I was a bit uncertain about this thing, I've played it many times before, but I'm still in a process of trying to figure out a viable tournament strategy for it. There are couple of things that I have figured out, like doing a full plunge on the first ball to collect the left orbit and free 10M (instead of 5M from the skill shot) and then just locking one ball for the Mini mayhem multiball.

We played it for what felt like an eternity. The flippers were getting weaker so the left ramp became harder and harder. Both did some crazy saves, but we didn't really get much done either. Ultimately I lost to JSF's 98M with my 80M. Pretty even match.

With JSF leading me 2 to 1, I had my back against the wall here, hoping for a break in the form of games that suit my playing style.

The next one was an interesting one. I can't remember what the option was, but the other game was Judge Dredd. I picked it just for the laughs, fearing playing someone else's Judge might be really harsh for me. I've played this arcade's JD before and it played so much slower than mine that I just couldn't make the shots. Oh, and for you people who haven't followed my adventures in owning pins, Judge Dredd was my very first pinball machine back in early 2000 and I still have it.

Much to my delight the Judge had its playfield freshly waxed and it played very close to mine. I found the big loop on the first try and collected 3-4 loop shots on both ball starts. I really didn't go for the multiball, but since the Blackout multiball already got the locks lit, I just played the main multiball as well. It was pretty meh, but I got one jackpot out of it. Out of the quick and dirty scoring modes, I went with Battle Tank and nailed the shots quick. JSF finished his 3rd ball with 65M and I was at 135M at that point, taking this game home and  making the 5th game the deciding for both of us.

The deciding game for this round was Cirqus Voltaire. It's a bit too random for my taste, especially when it comes to the oddball in/outlane thing, magnets and that plastic ball abomination on the left mid-playfield. What I had learned from the qualification was to pretty much ignore the orbits and left ramp, the ringmaster direct shot was surprisingly controllable so my "aim to 20M-something" strategy was just make the Ringmaster to feel sorry (s)he ever came out of that plastic mould.

This game was fighting to the last ball. JSF got ahead of me and ended his 3rd ball with 10.1M with me at around 6M and the second Ringmaster up but not open. The Ringmaster also made this really annoying rejects, I don't think I've ever seen that many different ways to miss the otherwise really wide shot! When the final shot sink in, I was still 3M behind and the first Ringmaster multiball with 250k jackpots isn't guaranteed to be that much of a success. Fortunately for me, it worked out this time and I could just let the ball drain.

What an epic battle, especially the Demolition man. My next opponent was OMO, who had started from round 2 like me, then swept his opponent 3-0 and did the same in round 3 as well. The problem was that he was also playing in Rockpin playoffs, so I had to sit idle for almost 2 hours. This is very often a problem for me as if I cool down, I can very rarely get my playing rage back on again afterwards.

Round 4, semifinal - OMO

We started off with Doctor Who, OMO's pick. The doctor hadn't been that favourable to me earlier today, but since both, me and OMO had had it as a home pin, this probably wasn't going to be an issue about knowing the rules. I was thinking about taking off with the Sonic boom but managed to drain after a very bad shot, ending with around 360k. I jokingly dared OMO to show me a worse start than that. Just moments later he ends his first ball with 310k. I didn't honestly know sub-1M scores were even possible on DW! I picked up from that pretty quickly and got the balls locked and miniplayfield up on my second ball, plus I got to my first Sonic boom. Too bad I only got one of the shots, but still, 40M. OMO had another really crappy ball in a row. I started my last ball with multiball and got up to 190M with that and playing more Sonic boom. OMO ended his ball at 2.1M. Whoa, what a rough start.

OMO's next pick was Pinball magic. I recall the other option was Cleopatra, can't be 100% sure. Anyways, I got a decent ball 1, where I got to over 100M. OMO tilted his first ball. My second ball was a real quickie, got nothing done. OMO also tilted his ball 2. I got absolutely nothing done on my 3rd ball and was left with 114M. OMO got some shots in, but tilted the game at 72M.

The last pick was The Sopranos. I immediately gun for the mystery for the extra ball and collect it for 10M. I also try playing the Stugots multiball, but nothing too good comes from that. OMO also went for the multiball, but got pretty crappy bounces. I end my last ball with 15.5M and nervously watch what my opponent is going to do. Another crappy bounce and the game ends at 4.5M.

Looks like I made it to the final.

While waiting for OMO to finish his earlier games, I chatted with RON and he told me he was also in the semifinals. We weren't going against eachother at that point, but I told him we'll just need to meet on the next round then. And here it was, the very final round of the already long day.


With RON being 3rd in the qualification, he got to choose the games. The first game was to be Cleopatra. We both had frustratingly short ball times, but I managed to get at least couple of matching bonus shots for each ball and slowly built myself a steady but not impossible to catch lead. It got a bit better towards the end, where I finally ended with 76k to RON's 21k.

I've played Cleopatra couple of times before in a tournament and it's pretty decent early solid state game. The very high risk, high value target after finishing the drops makes it interesting to see who's actually willing to risk that first or just going for the rollovers at the top first.

RON's next pick was Cirqus Voltaire. Again, I went with pretty much same strategy and it almost worked. When RON's 3rd ball was up, I was at 10.5 and he was at around 5-6M. He could have gone for the Ringmaster, but he had already 2 High wire locks, so he goes for that (with an insane risk knowing the shitty return from the ramp) and nails it. He takes it easily to 23M.

Next options are Judge Dredd and Demolition man. Ron goes for the latter. I get a really shitty first ball, while RON doesn't do much on his first one either. After that I just hit the zone. Left ramp just easily sinks. Light multiball from each claw and I go long enough to get super jackpots out of every multiball there is, twice in some, then finally the Demolition jackpot in the end. I finish my 3rd ball at 2.2B, RON starts his last one below 100M and plays a short ball.

All of a sudden winning the final is within my reach and I have 2 tries to make it!

The next game picked is the Sopranos, again.

Now, here's where it gets interesting. I get pretty crappy ball 1 with just 1.5M. RON plays his for some time, after getting a ball save probably milliseconds before it expires and goes up to 17M. At this point my only aim here is to get the extra ball score to catch up and play the multiball. The multiball comes first when I find the boat shot again. I go to 10M, when RON again plays a short ball and goes to 19M. Last ball. 9M to catch up. A lead to be made. Phew.

I get the extraball lit from the mystery and collect it. RON's lead bridged. Now I need to make my own. But pretty soon after that I get a shitty bounce, do couple rough saves and end up tilting the machine and end up with 21.6M. RON skillshots, 1M, then tries to make the orbit but fails and drains from the right at 20M. This one goes to me as well, making it my 3rd and last needed point for this round.

Rest of us watching how the Rockpin final goes down.

The outcome

I qualified 30th out of 55 players in the Rockpin tournament, 24 qualified.

I qualified 5th out of 57 players in the St. Michel Open tournament, 24 qualified. I received 1 bye.

I won St. Michel Open.

St. Michel Open winners: yours truly and bronze game winner JMW, RON had to catch a ride back home before the trophy ceremony.
Rockpin winners: Gold: JAX, silver: MQY, bronze: JMW

Final thoughs

Well, it could have gone worse. I was pretty bummed about my Rockpin qualification, especially when games I consider a nice match to my playing style (such as Metallica) just give me shit.

I especially loved the tight round 3 against JSF. It's just so rewarding to play, even if you lose games when both, you and your opponent are playing for real and not just reaping the fruits of other player's misfortune. Man it felt good to play at least one tournament this year, when I wasn't totally tired after a long work week.

There's still many tournaments to come before this year is dealt with, so I hopefully see you all at EPC, Tampere in 3 weeks.

Until then.