PAPA18 - PAPA HQ, Pittsburgh, PA, USA - 12-15/03/2015

So, it was finally time to hit the big boy's league with the PAPA18 world championships. I really can't begin this without pointing out the ultimate irony here: should I have been here in 2013, I probably would have been jumping of joy. And now? It's been a rough ride watching my playing abilities slowly degrade thanks to stress and trying to keep up with the 24 hour day cycle. A personal loss on the very first day of my arrival didn't make things any better. I honestly miss the times right after my shoulder replacement; I had rested for over a year and was in a condition to put up a good fight at every tournament. That era even earned me the nickname "midas". Now all the sudden I find myself with the toughest pinball players on earth and I have literally nothing to give and that doesn't exactly make good psyching up material for the toughest games in my life.

The PAPA HQ was one of the top-10 places on earth for me, but being here now was way less fulfilling than I had hoped. I didn't even bother with the A division, but should I get my game on, I might get past the qualifications in the B. The place itself was an old factory building, re-purposed as an arcade. Right behind the front desk was the main tournament area, with division A, B, C and D games. Behind that was another room, full of pins lined up back-to-back. Here's a short video I shot on my initial exploration of the area:

I eventually tried my luck with the B qualification, but with the pins set up as extra hard I saw no point playing any uninspired entries at $20 or so a piece.

I started out with a personal favorite, Fish Tales in which I couldn't do absolutely anything. The same theme went on with Radical, Rolling Stones, Dark Knight and Time machine.

After some contemplation I tried another try with Radical, Wizard of Oz, Dark Knight, Rolling Stones and Lord of the rings. Nada. No point of playing for real when I really don't feel like it.

Instead I decided to check out how many of the PAPA HQ's 450 pins I hadn't played. Here's actually a complete list of games that were new to me:

Stern's NBA
City slicker
Nitro ground shaker
Gay 90s
Kings of steel
Pinball lizard
Cosmic gunfight
El toro
Pinball champ 82
Motor show
Devil's dare
Old Coney island
Flip flop

23 new games out of 450, most of them EM or early SS era, couple of rarer ones. I have to say I'm surprised of how few new games I actually found. Then again, I guess it wouldn't make sense to get some ultra-rare machines in the IFPA line up with the pain of trying to maintain some never-heard of 2-3 pin manufacturer games.

Hate to say it, but I came home feeling I had accomplished very little. The unforeseen circumstances had made my dream-come-true trip more of a "meh" one. Seeing I'm in the danger of burning myself out from the whole pin hobby, I'm officially cancelling every tournament form now on, save the ones I've already paid for, those being the IFPA12 and EPC'15. I'm so hoping I can find the joy of playing once again. I still often think of the IFPA11 in Denver where I was just jamming to good music while shredding away in the qualification.

Until then. Oh, and I despite the completely uninspired run in group B, I wasn't the last one.

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