Sörkka Pinball Open - Helsinki, Finland - 30/05/2015

Sörkka pinball open is the oldest yearly tournament we have. On a more personal level Sörkka was the first ever tournament where I've placed in the top-3 and it was the first ever where I actually won on both personal and split series. I've been away from the local pinball scene for a while now, and hadn't it been the last chance to meet our New Zealander buddies, I would probably had just skipped this one altogether.


The qualification line-up was Dealer's Choice, Dungeons and Dragons, Flash Gordon, Pokerino, Paragon, Sinbad and Black Knight. Out of those, only Dungeons and Dragons and Sinbad were bit of a mystery to me. I had played D&D last time in Mikkeli, and the only think I knew about it was to just gun for the multiball, then flail around hoping for the best. Sinbad again .. well, it was one of my less favorite Gottlieb sys 1's.

Overview of the main line-up

After observing the games for a while, I noticed my D&D strategy was surprisingly solid. The Dealer's choice again seemed extremely random with many skilled players concentrating on just trying to keep the ball in the play instead of trying to aim for something. Flash Gordon and Black Knight both seemed to have constant technical problems which was kind of sad as they were among my favorite games in Apollonkatu arcade.

I started out with Dealer's choice. I soon learned what the others had been cursing about: the game was in such a low angle the ball had no predictable tracks. It just changed direction from the every single slight bump in the playfield, bit like the Addams Family with the magnets on. I barely got 20k on it on my better game.

Dungeons and Dragons again was playing nicely and I spent my first game trying to learn the reflex for the player controllable outlane diverters. Once I got that, I played 3.6M on it, which surely was among the top-5 in the end. I recall it was the #1 score by the time I played it.

Starting my first game on D&D.

Flash Gordon let me play my two tries without a single stuck ball. I was going strong towards 1M score, but failed to get the maximum bonus multiplier and had to settle for 870k on my first game, and for less than 400k on my second.

Paragon was its usual self and frustrated me to no end. My better game ended at bit over 200k which apparently wasn't still the worst score played today.

Then .. Sinbad. To this day I have absolutely no idea what they were after with the double flipper design, as it adds absolutely nothing to this normal width game. On my first game I tried to get the drop targets in the mid-playfield, hoping I'd score some of the roll-over rewards. The game wouldn't have any of that, so on the second try I just kept gunning for the left orbit, hoping to make some points with the bonus. It wasn't much better, but I guess I'll take the 44k instead of the 20k I got on the first game.

Pokerino was actually way more playable machine than many frustrated players would believe. It plays exactly the same as my Contact, which is also a Williams system 3 game. It's one of those rare games, where you'll be doing 3-4 slight nudges for each flipper button press. The point is to keep the ball rolling, but never let it gain too much speed. Oh, and for the love of everything that's holy, do NOT attempt the flip when the ball is near the area where one flipper ends and the second begins. That spot right there will suck the ball like a strong magnet. My better game on Pokerino gave me around 500k, which I consider a good run.

Playing the Pokerino, hoping it won't turn into failino.

I waited to play the Black Knight for some time, until it turns out the game was withdrawn from the line-up because of a switch matrix ground short problem. I heard lots of angry comments about it, as some players had played their best games on it.


With 16 players going to the play-offs, 5-8 places getting one bye, 1-4 two byes, I found myself on the 7th place, being able to skip the very first round of play-offs.


This year the play-offs were played best 3 out of 5. As we were playing classic games that tend to give some curve balls even to the most experienced of players.

I was keeping the round 1 game 2 on close eye, as Andreas and Erno fought it till the 5th game, but ultimately Andreas won and went against me on the game 7 on round 2. Other noteworthy games were Pilvi versus Roni, which Pilvi took home 3-2 and Danielle, who swept the floor with the guys she was playing against in Flash Gordon.

Danielle showing the guys how it's done!

Round 2

The first game we drew was Pokerino. I had such a high hopes for it, but I had absolutely no idea what I was doing once the game started. Apparently you CAN end one ball with less than 2k. I got something done on the following balls, but Andreas took the first one home.

Enter the Jungle Queen. We both got some good balls in there, but I finally got the double bonus on my last ball, and took this one home. Thinking about the god-awful Dealer's choice, this Jungle Queen played really nice. I've yet to learn what the upper small flippers are actually for, I found I could use them for the drop targets, but the lower flippers are just way more accurate and even the lowest of the drop targets is easily doable with them.

The next game was Strike Zone. I still have good memories of this game, as it was the first ever game I've ever won a splits tournament on! Andreas gave a good chase for my win here, but I got 2 strikes on every ball and made an occasional skillshot as well.

With the game being 2-1 for me, the next game was my first chance to end this round short. We drew Paragon.

Paragon hates us both with passion. As #1 player I had 74k when I finished my last ball, most of that came from the random successful shots to the Golden cliffs. Andreas was at around 40-50k, closing up fast. By the time he drained he was at 65k, and I had to move in close to see his bonus. No multipliers, 8k bonus. Wow, this was cutting real close and as the bonus count ended with him having 73k, I was done with this round. Phew.

Pilvi was also on this round, but lost to Antti 3-0 and was 11th after the positions 9-12 game.

Round 3

Having being around for a long time, I've probably met most of the Finland's current pinball scene. Yet every now and then I run into a blast from the past, like with Mika here, who is the year 1994 champion in Finland.

We drew Strike Zone as the first game. We were actually quite even for the most part, my biggest failure here was that I didn't make even one successful skillshot, and eventually lost by the margin of two skillshots.

Next we played Sinbad. It was a total drain-fest for us both. I made that poor plastic spinner go around enough times to win by like 5-6k.

From there we moved on to Pokerino. It was just as bad as Sinbad. We came so close to eachother that a single bonus increasing target could be meaningful. I won, but barely.

After three games or playing this bad I was getting really nervous. All the confidence I had had before, was now gone and I was more dreading of what was to come. Then we drew Target Alpha.

Now with this game we actually got something done. I've grown to like Target Alpha because of its long and relatively important shots to the back drop target bank. We went neck and neck, until Mika got a 15k gap on his 3rd ball, and I couldn't catch it even when I had double bonus lit. Rats.

So, the last and deciding game was Cleopatra. It has actually pretty clever bonus system, which reminds me of Joker Poker, but instead of the cards you need to make all the matching color shots on the playfield. Scoring both mid-playfield holes doubles the bonus.

Once again we played equally bad, until I got double bonus and got most of the more valuable bonus colors collected. Mika got the double bonus within the 10 seconds on his first ball, and I was there biting my nails to see which bonuses he'd collect. Much to my luck he only got the lowest ones and I can't even begin to describe the feeling of relief when I saw the final scores.

This was phenomenally bad round all around and really sapped my confidence to the upcoming final. Still, since the final is played as a 4 player game there's 75% chance of going home with a trophy, which also happened to be my only goal this time.


So, in the final I found myself going against Pekka, Olli-Mikko and Stefan. Unlike in the previous years, this year the final wasn't played on just one game, but on 3. It was played as a 4 player game, where the winner would be 4 point, 2nd place 2 points, 3rd place 1 point and no points for the last position. Who ever had most points in the end would win the whole tournament.

Final round 1 - Paragon

Well, Paragon, we meet once again in the Sörkka finals.

As the player 1 I got to show off my skills first. I plunged the ball, landed it to the right upper hole, to the bumpers and down the middle from there. With 1.9k score I thought I had seen it all. Pekka, as a 3rd player however somehow managed to beat even this and scored 1.3k on his first ball. My second ball was a house ball, and while on the 3rd ball I even got to flip it once, my luck had run out and I had to settle for 4th place and no points for this one.

Final round 2 - Target alpha

Now we were talking again - I felt somewhat confident about this game and it did show.  I played a strong ball one, ditto with the 2nd ball. As player 4 I started the last ball with 15k behind the #2 player. As I had double bonus for the last ball, all I needed was 7 drop targets and I'd bridge that gap even with bonus. After carefully going after the skill shot I managed to get a house ball, that hit the left slingshot, then went out from the right outlane. I was really bummed about this, as I would have gladly taken the 4 points, but I'll take the 2 points over the zero any day. 

I did a quick calculation on what needed to be done after this one. Pekka was at 5 points, thus he was my worst threat. Olli-Mikko was at 4 and Stefan at 3. In an optimum situation Pekka getting 0 points from the next game, me winning it, Olli-Mikko getting only one and Stefan 2, I'd win this tournament. With a 2nd place I'd be able to get a 2nd or 3rd place, depending a bit on how the other guys did it, so I was once again my back against the wall to win this one.

Final round 3 - Jungle Queen

I was pretty shaken up by the really close play-offs round 3, and the fact that I had completely failed on Paragon. It took virtually everything I had left to gather myself for the one, final push. With the right combination of background music and concentration I began the very final round of the game as a player #2.

My first ball worked out quite nicely. I nailed all the drop targets on the right, made the upper right hole lit for 5000 and kept milking it. I was hoping to go for the double bonus as well, but couldn't get the A-lane done. I ended up around 90k score and was rather satisfied with it.

My second ball was even better. I nailed all the drops early on, got A-B-C lanes done getting the double bonus and then got an incredible lazarus ball which I managed to slap save back into the game. When I finally drained at 190k, I was actually quite curious of what will happen once I roll the machine the second time. While most of the other players were within the range on 20-50k, I was pretty confident I'd come home with at least 3rd place trophy, which would also be the first trophy this year.

Olli-Mikko got up to 110k on his 2nd ball as the 4th player, but noticed the bumpers were giving extra points. I had pretty much ignored this, as I expected them to be worth 100 points when lit, and 10 otherwise. Turns out they were giving out 1000 points, which again gave Olli-Mikko over 30k in very short period of time. We had to pause the game there to think of the options.

We weren't sure which players had gotten these extra points and the whole thing soon materialized into my worst fear: a game which I was dominating (and I really, REALLY needed to win) was about to be voided.

We had the options to continue playing, fix the machine and restart the game, or pick a new game. As much as I wanted to just keep on playing, I knew I would have never been able to look at the tournament trophy without doubting if I had really deserved it.

The whole thing had dragged on for forever already, and without knowing for how long it'd take to get the Jungle Queen back online (or even if it was doable with this time frame), I called for a new machine and we all agreed. Sinbad was drawn and it made me cringe so hard as I had already had very bad experience with this Sinbad in the qualification.

Final round 3 restart - Sinbad

My ball 1 was really bad, just as I had expected. I stepped out for a while, only to return to a game where Pekka had over 100k and I was at around 3k. I was just so exhausted I couldn't do much more and while my 3rd ball finally wasn't a total house ball, the others were just way ahead of me, making this another 0 point round. With two 0 point rounds I was last in the final.

The outcome

I was 7th in the qualification, getting one bye.
I won the rounds 2 and 3 in the play-offs, getting to the 4 player final. I was 4th in the final.

I think this tournament hit the worst possible nightmare an organizer and a player can have. A game fails in a critical spot, so the game state or scoring is lost without any means of recovering it. Restarting the game from scratch isn't going to give the same results necessarily, which especially holds true with classic games and their brutal randomness at times. While I perfectly understand the ruling and wholeheartedly agree, I have to admit it felt like a raw deal and led to one very silent drive back home after this one. I've lost my place in the play-offs once in a similar situation, but never the tournament final.

P.S: Fuck you, Jungle Queen.

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.

Wednesday Bogey Warriors - Borås, Sweden - 20/05/2015

Today's tournament was all about pingolf, but instead of the 3-5 game courses I've played earlier, this was a 24 machine marathon!

I teamed up with OMO and started grinding away. Many of the goals weren't that hard per se, but the ball is wild and at times something dead easy turned really annoying if you really had to go for it.

Starting the quick multiball on Indiana Jones, video mode in Fish Tales and double bonus in Wizard had their heart stopping saves and such, but still happened during the first ball.

Then some, like getting 3X bonus in the Addams Family or Whiplash in the Iron man just were so damn unlucky.

Playing through all the 24 games took pretty much all night, but the tournament format was fun and knowing the rule sheets really helped finding shortcuts on some goals. One such example was finishing a motocross level in the No Fear. People bogied on that one even when advancing the motocross was one of the skill shot options!

In the end me and OMO tied on the score. We felt like 65 on this course was pretty okayish score, but I was really surprised we actually made it to the top-10 with all these international star players around. Still, for the longest time I once again had fun time playing.

West Coast Pinball Månadstävling - Göteborg, Sweden - 19/03/2015

I don't really know if I should have even participated this one as yesterday's 3 strikes tournament turned out to be such a moral sapper for me. Still, the others wanted to visit Göteborg just for fun before the tournament, so I tagged along. We went to check out the natural history museum and the Aeroseum which had bunch of old fighter jets and I enjoyed especially the latter a lot.

The tournament today was actually a league game and it was actually pretty neat to see once another league game format. We were split in two groups, everyone playing 6 preselected machines for score. We got two tries at each machine, both meaningful. I assume the scores were averaged. 4 best from each group went then to play best 3 out of 5 games in play-offs.


My group had Cirqus Voltaire, No Fear, White Water, Frontier and Wizard. We played in pairs, but not not to win our partner. I teamed up with OMO. We started out with White Water, where I coudln't get my game on at all, ending up with 17M. OMO again pulled a bit over billion on his first try. My second try got me past 150M, but wasn't that good.

Frontier again was a bit better, but I still below average. That was pretty much the theme for No Fear, and Cirqus Voltaire as well. The only game that really worked for me, was the Wizard, where I scored 117k on my first and over 170k on my second game.

We were allowed one joker game, so I gave the White Water another go. It was a bit more pleasant experience, as I got to smash the multiball with 5x and grind over 500M from the jackpots alone. The two following balls weren't that great, but I gladly took the nearly 600M game over the 17M I got earlier.

Once the final score sheets were handed in I learned I had played myself into the play-offs. I think it's the first time ever for non-Finnish league tournament.


I went against TTA for best 3 out of 5. We started out with The Shadow, that was annoyingly bouncy and had overly sensitive tilt. I took some lead in the start, and kept my lead until the 3rd ball. I played the main multiball but got nothing done with it. TTA again played the Khan multiball (which I had had lit since the 1st ball, but couldn't collect) and took this one home.

My frustration kept growing as the next one was No Fear. TTA took an easy victory here, although I got to collect the super jackpot. The 3rd game was Frontier, which would have worked for me unless it hadn't given me two house balls and one rather crappy one.

Oh well. Made it past the qualification, but once again had nothing to give for the play-offs.

The outcome

I was in the top-8 in the qualification, but got eliminated on the first round of qualifications. 25 people participated.

Swedish Pinball Open - Borås, Sweden - Pinballseye - 15-17/05/2015

It's been a while since the PAPA tournament and to be honest I haven't missed the tournament playing that much. I've been slowly starting to find my place more in the maintenance and organizing side than playing. Thus once I learned INKen needed some able guys to look after the pins, I jumped at the opportunity.

This is the first ever Swedish Pinball Open tournament. Well, sort of, actually this is the old Stockholm Open, except the tennis tournament took offence for the name and it's not in Stockholm any more. I also attended both, Main and Classics tournament as well, since I had already paid for them. Too bad all the Finns had already paired up so I had no partner for the splits tournament.

My strategy for the qualification was a rather simple one. I'd pick 6 machines or so, play couple of entries so I'd got to play 'em all, select best playing 3 of those and then grind away until I was in. However before I got to play I had couple of hours of score keeping duty and when the Doctor Who's mini playfield broke, I spent 3 hours of taking it apart. On the more positive side, the end result was better than the original.

After trying out some of the classics, Xenon was the strongest game for me. I only had time to play the 4 entries included in the sign up fee, and out of those and entry with 781k in Xenon, 575k in Hot Doggin' and 283k in Joker poker was the one that took me above the cut-off line.

In a surprise move I teamed up with New Zealand's own Rotor Dave and formed a splits team called Almost Neighbours. According to RD he had never tried splits in a real tournament, so we agreed to play just for the laughs. The splits line-up was full of games we both knew well: The Addams Family, Iron Man, Creature From the Black Lagoon, No Good Gofers and Junk Yard. Our couple of first tries were a bit rocky, but then we started to get our act together and we were genuinely pleased with ourselves.

The real shocker however was that the entry went straight to the 2nd position in the qualifications, right past many other teams who've played splits for years. We knew it wouldn't last, but as the qualification time was running out, we came clear we'd be in the top 8, which was enough to qualify!

In the main tournament Walking Dead was my strongest game and it was in most entries I played. Unfortunately it also failed me couple of time when I had done decent scores on two other machines and then tried to finish the combo. I did buy couple of extra entries, but those got me nowhere. In the end I didn't qualify in main, but was 25th out of 32 qualifying players out of 94 players in total. Oh, and Team Almost Neighbours was 5th out of the 8 qualified teams. Whee!

I spent my last main entry to give the Road show another go, and finally broke a billion point limit on it. There's nothing more satisfying than making a high score entry on a tournament game! Too bad the two other machines sucked hard, so that entry was a one game wonder.


The playoffs started with the classics series against APB. Our first game was Blackjack, which apparently was a familiar machine for both of us. It was just a race of getting the bonus multiplier up and hoping to have a better hand than the dealer when cashing out the saucer. I lost this one 150k-129k. Next was Xenon. I had my game face on from the very start, played couple (really short!) multiballs, and racked up 884k to APB's 303k, bringing this thing to tie. The last machine was Bally's Lost World, where we had two really bad balls to begin with, but the APB pulled a 5x maximum bonus, leaving me far behind. I activated my game face yet again and pulled a similar trick but with 3x, but I cashed out the saucers enough to catch him. The last balls weren't anything stellar, but APB took a minor lead and in the end took the game 240k to 227k, and I was out.

Later on Team Almost Neighbours went against Team PAJ. We dreaded the fact that we hadn't had time to finish our 4th qualifying entry, where we had picked Iron man just to see how it plays. We started out with No good gofers, which was pretty bad for both teams until 3rd balls, where PAJ caught us. Next up was the Iron man. PAJ apparently went for the Iron monger multiball, but we deemed it too random and went for the Bogie instead. While we had some issues with the ramp shots, we still only had to plunge the 3rd ball to win the game. The deciding game was the Creature, where the others pulled a succesful multiball from the start. We considered going for the ramp millions, but as I skillshotted both K-I-S-S and P-A-I-D, we decided to go for the multiball as well. We had some crap luck with the creature search, as we made both side shots and couldn't find the creature. Then the rubber post near the snack bar hole gave a nasty bounce and we lost the other ball and couldn't get the multiball running and ultimately lost the game.

The outcome

I qualified in classics and splits and was 46th of 97 in main. 

- Classics play-offs
- Splits play-offs

While the outcome wasn't much to write home about, for the longest time I enjoyed playing and jamming to my gaming soundtrack. I'm now considering on playing in some random tournaments back home as well. We'll see.