Finnish pinball league 2014, Game 6/6 -Nedi's pinball show room, Suinula - 29/11/2014

So, this is the end of Finnish pinball league season 2014. I guess I was dreading the night before the tournament more than the tournament itself as I'd need to be in 100% playing condition to take the #1 or #2 position in the qualification to get one bye, then get at least to the semi-finals to secure the bronze trophy.

As luck would have it, loading one pin from our arcade yesterday didn't completely ruin my back and I got a rare occurrence of good night's sleep. Driving towards Suinula I felt I could take on the world! Looking at the player roster I noticed my group had way more big names than the group B. I guess I would just need to put on the game face more often! We got all the usual elements of Finnish winter; when we left it was raining like hell, then 50 kilometers out it started snowing and after that we drove in a thick fog. Looking back I noticed we've always had rather peculiar weather when driving to the season final game.

We arrived early enough to try out the Stern's latest, Walking Dead's pro-model. I managed to play one and a half game of it before my group started playing. I can't say I have formed a solid opinion on it yet, the theme is a bit so-and-so for me and some of the game rules were a bit confusing at first. For example, the Well zombie has its own multiball, but it doesn't start when you collect all the W-E-L-L -letters. Instead they start to blink and the real multiball starts after 5 or 6 shots after that. Using the drop targets on the left as mode start switch made me completely ignore them at first. Still not sure how useful the modes are as I later managed to play 115M on a tournament game by just stacking the two main multiballs and grinding away everything that was lit.


As I and VYV were playing in the same group, we decided to play the family match first. As it was reminded to us, the players could pick a game should both players agree to it. As we were the very first to start playing, we picked Walking dead. From the very little I got to play it before the qualification start I had noticed the value of the skillshot and the fact that the Well zombie gave a multiball if hit enough times. I also noticed that hitting the prison enough times didn't start the multiball directly, but required to collect all the red arrows. My makeshift strategy was to advance the prison multiball to the point where it required all the main shots to start, then start the Well zombie and use the ball saver to collect the remaining shots to stack the multiball. I have to admit it worked better than I expected.

Making the #1 high score is always a good sign in a tournament game!

After bringing home the Walking dead, I played Centigrade 37 against MJS. What a highly disappointing game that was, out of the 5 balls I got to play maybe one tolerable ball and several house balls. MJS won the game without having to play his 5th ball to the end. My score was around 60k.

I got to play the Walking Dead again later on against TMA. This time I had severe trouble getting the multiballs running, I was nearly tied with TMA at only around 5M when the 3rd ball started, but then the game started rolling and I was quickly in 35M before double draining during the multiball. TMA also got his game on, but ultimately the game went for me.

My game against OMO was one of the nerve wreckers. I was silently chanting for a classics machine as I was sure to get my ass kicked on the modern ones. I drew Gottlieb's Joker Poker, which was just what the doctor ordered. We've had the pleasure of having Buck Rogers at our arcade this year, and it has teached me a lot about playing these extra slow classic machines. I managed to get the 5x bonus on four first balls, getting a good lead. It was enough to bring this one home, with almost 350k score.

I later on played a second round of Joker Poker against JSF, which was a way more even game. We both did quite good on it, playing neck and neck until the 5th ball. JSF managed to get ahead a bit, while I had one very close call with the right outlane, but I then managed to nail the 4 aces + joker and win this one. A good game!

My best game of the day was against MPS on Iron Man. I got to Do or die on my 1st ball, getting 25M from it and being at 75M after first ball. The following balls weren't that stellar, but I still got my second high score game for today!

There were also couple of less good ones too. One of those was against JAX on Metallica Premium. We did absolutely nothing on the machine, and our 3rd balls started with JAX leading with 4.5M, me being at 2.5M. JAX got just 1M on that ball, leaving me wonder what would be the most secure way to get 3M points. It was really nerve wrecking to combo the ramp shots, and every time I got the mysterly lit I gunned for it to get the 500k, but apparently this newer software version gives out random things even on the tournament mode. After what felt like forever of random flailing I finally went past the 5.5M and won the game, but it wasn't the proudest moment!

I played a similar game against NED as well on STTNG. I had played the game before against SUI and won with nearly 1B score, this time I drained my 3rd ball with just 150M! What was even more disturbing was that NED, the owner, was at 60M. I had already congratulated him for the easy win, but he drained just after the ballsaver had gone out, ending up with just a bit over 100M.

And I'm not even going to comment on my game against ASS (snicker) on the Scared Stiff, which ended 800k - 1.2M to my advantage!

Out of the three losses (of 13 games) JSZ beat me on Metallica Premium, although this time I actually got to play it for a while. AKI also took home a round of Star Trek LE, which was a pretty good show on his part!

Still, what can I say? Mission accomplished!


MPI was 5th in the Group A qualification and worked his way to the quarter-final with a clean 2-0 game against KUR. As I really needed to get to the semi-finals, MPI was literally standing between me and the trophies! MPI is one of the players who often spars with me during our downtime, so I knew this wasn't going to be a cakewalk.

Our opening game was 3rd round of Joker Poker for me today. The de-facto 5x bonus strategy worked nicely here, I didn't have to play my 5th ball.

Our next game was the Iron Man rehash. It wasn't until now when I realized they had switched to all-LED lighting on it and it had couple of visual differences, like how the 100-200-300-400k lights behave during Bogie. The game didn't start that well and after 2 balls we were both under 3M. I got the Iron monger up on my 3rd ball, but the second last hit before the multiball caused the magned to throw the ball right into the right outlane. MPI again had a better luck with it, and he played the multiball to ultimately win the game.

The deciding game was Stern's Mustang. We both got off to a good start, nothing stellar but after 2 balls we were within 500k of eachother at 37M. Then MPI pulled a monster ball, mostly playing modes pretty much perfectly and finally drained at 80M. So ... one ball left, 43M behind. No biggie.

As I found the modes too dangerous, I took the multiball route and played Drag race, then Gear shift and eventually Mustang multiball! The Mustang multiball was going nice, I had already collected the couple first single jackpots to light more and progress towards to super jackpot. But just then I lost one ball from the left and paid way too much attention to it, so I missed two balls heading towards the center drain. I slapped hard, but couldn't help it. I had absolutely no idea what my score was at that point. I knew I had cashed out some serious jackpots along the way. I had to watch all the multiball end animations, bonus count, the game over-text to finally see the outcome: 80M to 72M. And I was out.

I had three 3M jackpots lit at that time. Those three little jackpots would have been enough to win. I was so damn close!

Still, this is what I call a satisfying loss. I went head to head against a good player, we both pulled an excellent game when it was needed, but this time the opponent was just better. No excuses.

At this point I had no idea how close I was to silver or bronze trophy, but I knew it was just a matter of single points.

Positions 5-8 game

Normally I play the drop-outs game pretty half-heartedly, but I assumed I might still be in the game for at least for the bronze trophy!

The game was between me, RON, NED and OMO and we drew Centigrade 37.

Since this was a single player game, I just popped in the check the progress every now and then, taking a picture of the finished scores. RON got 93k, NED 60k and OMO 132k. I was a bit concerned at this point as my best at this game so far was 60k, and I still needed the points!

The game started just as bad as I had feared. After the 4th ball I had 30k points and the last ball didn't look that good. It started with the ball going through the lanes at right, then towards the right outlane, but I managed to nudge it back into the inlane. Then started the grinding, which didn't end until I was at 107k. I almost had OMO in my sights, but then I got an unfortunate feed from the bottom bumper and that was it. So, I was 2nd in the positions 5-8 game, which means 6th in the tournament.

The outcome

After a lot of anticipation, the league points were calculated and the season 2014 finals results announced. I was on the 5th place, with shared 32 points with the 4th place JSZ. I was just 2 points shy from the 3rd position, which went to JHQ with 34 points. Should I have beat MPI in the quarter final, I could have just plunged away all my balls in the semi-final and bronze game and still get the 3rd place in the total score. Reminds me of the 2011 season, when the very same happened to JHQ, whom I pushed to 4th position and took the bronze then, so I guess this was a fitting payback :-)

I'd really like to say I'm looking forward for the 2015 season, but I honestly don't know if I'll be returning to the league any more. While majority of the folks in the league are just wonderful, there are certain elements that I feel ruin the whole thing for me. Driving back home I realized this had gone past the point where attending the tournaments is no longer fun. I think this is the point where I thank everyone and tell you all to play well in the season 2015.

I'm not looking to burn any bridges or give up competitive pinball playing, but unless something really earth shattering happens, I won't be attending the next season. Our arcade will be however available for the league games in 2015, as promised.

Results of the 6th tournament
Final league results

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