European Pinball Championship 2016 - Port Łódź, Łódź, Poland -8-11/09/2016

Funny thing about me and pinball; if my calculations are correct, I have now visited more countries to play pinball than just for a vacation. So I guess it was fitting for my first ever visit to Poland to be pinball related as well. Before this, I wasn't even aware that Poland had such a strong pinball scene as many of the near-by countries aren't even aware that pinball exists! This was also the very first time our whole team was travelling to an event outside Finland together. For a moment there I thought we all wouldn't make it as we had minor issues getting a cat sitter for our furballs, but fortunately my buddy Tomi stepped in and saved the day, so kudos to him!

What comes to travelling, the very first thing I noticed that the airplane we were flying had a rather odd seating layout. I'm more used to the 3+3 seating on Finnair's Airbusses and 2+2 on the Embraers, but this beast had 2+3 layout. Turned out we were flying the Sukhoi Superjet, a Russian made mini jet that the local tabloids had been going crazy over for the past month. For me it was a very interesting opportunity to see a completely new airplane model, especially one that's not usually seen in western countries. Speaking of Russia, after landing at Warsaw and checking out the city for a day, we found ourselves a train that reminded of us a lot of the old Soviet Union era trains.

From Russia Poland with love!

We arrived Łódź (which is pronounced something like "wuz") and promptly after checking into our hotel went to look for the tournament venue. Port Łódź is a gigantic shopping mall and we all agreed it was an excellent place for a pinball tournament. Everything you needed was right there and we had absolutely no need to wander off to downtown during the tournament weekend.

The main EPC tournament had a qualification that pretty much played out like the Finnish pinball league qualifications: each player in the group would play against other player, getting one point for winning. The pre-set amount of players with most wins would make it to the playoffs. In this case 4 best players would qualify. The playoffs again had the standard dual bracket system with players falling to the losers' side after first loss to an opponent, with the possibility of making a return to the finals. In addition to the main tournament, they had an 80s tournament with a 8 machine bank and couple of single game mini-tournament that had a Road Show with reversed flippers, High Speed II that was played with beer goggles on and Whoa Nellie as a set highscore game.

It was like a Finnish pinball league game - familiar faces everywhere!

Oh, and one remarkable detail was the amount of Finnish players in this tournament. We were easily the largest foreign group in this tournament!

80s tournament

I was hoping to play some warm-up games before getting serious, but majority of the free play machines were already starting to break. It was a shame, as I would have loved playing Big Guns, F14 and couple of others I haven't played in a long time. 

The 80s lineup was: Earthshaker, Cyclone, Funhouse, Fire!, Black Knight, Pinbot, Road Kings and Swords of Fury.

I sneaked in to get some reads, which led to crossing off Earthshaker and Cyclone right from the start. People complained about Funhouse, but it seemed okay, Fire! was being ... well, its annoying self, so I picked it as well. The original Pinbot is way too hit'n'miss game for me so I passed that and went for Road Kings and Swords of Fury instead. The latter I've last played at Nahkatehdas Arcade and couldn't recall what was the perfect approach to it.

I started with Fire!, going for the "start multiball and flail to win" strategy here. The flippers were however somewhat weak and while I got the multiball lit on my 2nd ball, I couldn't make the shot. Good thing I found the skillshot sweet spot and made some points with that. I barely got over 1M.

Giving some last minute tips to Petri on what to do with Fire! I hope he did better than I did.

Funhouse was a different beast all together. Despite other players cursing at it, it played well and I racked up some easy points with the quick multiball, ending up with 4.3M.

For the Road Kings I only wanted the multiball, but the ramp shot was too much for me with those weak flippers. 287k.

Getting my ass kicked at Road Kings. Very few Finns actually know this game.

Last I picked Swords of Fury, where my worse than mediocre playing just intensified and I ended the game with no multiball and no meaningful score either. 1.3M.

With the top 16 players going to the playoffs, I didn't have to worry about having to play any more of this tournament.

The side tournaments

I wanted to play Whoa Nellie, but there was a long line every time I had some spare time on my hands. Road Show had the reversed flippers tournament, crossing hands was forbitten. I tried but couldn't do much with it, ending with only 47M. I wanted to build my game around multiball, but couldn't get it started.

First time ever with the beer goggles!

High Speed II was played with the beer goggles on. I couldn't see jack from my normal playing stance. The only way I could play was putting my chin near the lockdown bar, which gave me pretty good visibility on the immediate flipper area. I made a lucky shot at the supercharger for 10M. Other than that, the game was more of a round of "shit, where did that come from?". My final score was 14M.

Main qualification

First thing to do arriving the scene the next day was to check out my group's line-up. We got Walking Dead pro, Terminator 2, World Cup Soccer, Scared Stiff, AC/DC pro, Metallica pro, Lethal Weapon 3, Lord of the Rings and the Twilight Zone as a spare game. At a glance everything seemed clean and all the lights worked, which was a good sign. This was a pretty good mix of Stern WhiteStar/SAM games and Williams WPCs, with the mandatory Data-East Ver 3 to break the pattern. I knew every one of these games and had at least somewhat working tournament strategy for each of them.

So now it was me against the others, with everyone wanting to grab those ever-important points!

The good...

I started off against Rafal Jodelko on Scared Stiff. I was nervous as hell, save my countryman Antti, all of these players were new to me and I hadn't had the time to look up if I was playing against Poland's top players or some random tourists. I went with my standard "play both multiballs, then do whatever's left for Stiff-O-Meter". I reached my goal on 2nd ball, but a nasty bounce cut my meter time short. The spider was super annoying in this one, the stepper motor didn't run smooth and I it took several attempts to get extended crate and coffin. I won with 12M to Rafal's 2.4M.

Rich Mallett was the highest IFPA ranking player in my group and we went off to slaughter some Zombies in the Walking Dead. Rich got over 10M on his first ball, where I failed to do anything and was left with less than 2M. While watching Rich play his 2nd ball I wondered if this would be the turning point where the ass whooping began. Rich evidently knew the game and I switched from careful game building into a panic Well Walker multiball approach on the fly. I started the Well Walker on my 2nd ball and pounded over 40M out of that, ending up with 47M. Rich ended with 47,600,430 on the display, against my 47,648,610, so I didn't need to play my last ball.

...the bad...

Next I went against Daniel Kaczmarek on World Cup Soccer. This was the first real bad playing game and the ramp shots were already impossible to make. I tried both once, getting such a nasty return that I immediately concentrated on what was available in the lower playfield. Daniel wasted his balls on attempting the ramps and by the last ball I had a bit over 200M and he had around 50M. I was super bummed about my lousy score and walked off to get some air. On my return my opponent was making a fuzz after draining the last ball. He complained that the left flipper was weak and the game was unfair to him.

At his request, I tried it and the left flipper was just as crappy as when I played. Then the officials tried it, our very own country director and everyone agreed the game played shit, but it seemed consistent, so the final result was written down. My opponent got real angry about it and steamed off somewhere. Then out of the blue it was judged as a void game and we had to rematch on the Twilight Zone.

The Twilight Zone played like shit and I got nothing done on it, losing the game 165M to Daniel's 189M. Well, that was fun. Not.

My next opponent was Konrad Maslowski on the World Cup Soccer again, but it was still being fixed so we played the replacement game. The Twilight Zone was just as crappy and I got couple of really annoying stuck balls on it. Konrad pulled a pretty good compensation power ball mania, ending up with 300M to my 150M. Awww bollocks.

...the meh...

On the 5th round I played Lord of the Rings against Lars Ovinder. The right ramp had a really surprising way of rejecting perfect shots and towards the end I concentrated on collecting the fellowship members instead for the multiball. Lars got to 13M on his 3rd ball and I was at 20M after my 2nd ball, so no need to play the last one. Still, I like the LOTR as a game and it was shame I couldn't play it to its full potential.

Round 6 was Denmark vs. Finland when I went head to head against Morten Petersen on the Terminator 2. I've really come to hate T2 as a tournament game when we get to play it without trying it out first. The ever-important cannon behaves a bit differently on each game, so I need at least one shot with it be able to aim with it properly. Unfortunately as a player 1 the opponent can get some good reads on how it behaves and can make the shot on the first try on his turn. This happened here and I was extra bummed about it. I lost 12M to Morten's 22M.

...the promising...

Next it was the mandatory Finland vs Finland match, when I went against Antti Peltonen on AC/DC pro. I've come to love the AC/DC LE, but the pro is just way too bouncy for me without all the drop targets. I went with the "ramps forever" strategy here with Rock'n Roll train playing. It worked quite well and I played a good multiball with 3x multiplier. Antti's last ball ended with 7.2M and I didn't have to play my 3rd ball as I was at 41M.

On the round 8 I returned to the Walking Dead against Jacek Wenda. I ditched all the fancy strategies for the quick'n'easy Well Walker multiball. I got it running on my 2nd ball but it wasn't anything special. My opponent had his streak of bad luck and I won 19M to his 2.6M.

Round 9 had another returning game when I went against Mateusz Gwizdala on Terminator 2. This time I knew the exact spot for the cannon and started the multiball within first 20 seconds of the game. I locked the balls, shot for the triple jackpot and it was pretty much there. As a second player I didn't have to play my 3rd ball, my opponent didn't get any jackpots although he did start the multiball and ended up with 14M against my 35M.

I wasn't sure how I was doing, but as I got my rage on now I didn't even want to know. I had a hunch I had a real good shot passing the qualification, but I didn't know how close I really was. At this point I had 6 points.

Round 9 was on Lord of the Rings again, against Piotr Andrzejewski. After playing the Fellowship of the Ring multiball I got greedy and started to gun for the Two Towers multiball. I got 2 balls locked but the nasty, nasty (hobbitses?) rejections resulted in ball lost every time. My opponent did nothing with his two first balls, staying under 2M, but woke up during the last ball and somehow managed to make the necessary locks for the Two Towers multiball. It wasn't enough and he lost 7.6M to my 17.7M.

...and the ugly.

This was the first time I actually checked out the situation. I had 7 points now and was most definitely in the top-6. If I'd win the next one, there would be absolutely no doubt I'd be in there. Someone passing me commented that I'd be playing against the tourist next. In this case the tourist was an older gentleman, trying to balance his camera bag on his shoulder while playing.

So, the round 11 was against Dariusz Mazurkiewicz on Data-East's "gem", Lethal Weapon 3. This guy had played little, if any pinball apparently. I witnessed him playing by flipping both flippers at the same time and many other telltale signs of a fresh pinball player. But now here's the irony: he just kept flailing and getting those random 1M and 5M shots. I had very clear goal here to go for the multiball, but my 2 first balls lasted literally seconds after the ball save. To add to the insult virtually all Data-East games lite the multiball for the last ball if the player hasn't played it by then. So, there I was, multiball lit, and my 3rd ball comes from the bumpers, hits a slingshot and goes out the right outlane. O-M-F-G. My opponent was jumping of joy and went on to a long monologue in Polish. Apparently this was his 2nd win in the tournament.

I was super nervous after this one. Had I win this one, it would have secured my place in the playoffs. Instead I stood there, biting my nails as the scorekeeper did the math to reveal a 5 way tie-break for the 2 remaining spots to qualify.

2 of those players were eliminated when they calculated wins and losses against the tie-breaking players, which left me, Antti Peltonen and Morten Petersen to fight for the 2 qualifying positions.

Tie-break for 2 qualifying positions

The game was World Cup Soccer. This was the exact same game that had broken down earlier and all I can say that it wasn't much better now "fixed". As the main ramps were completely unreachable now, we had to resort to scavenging what was left in the lower playfield. I did the goal on each ball start, got some free points from the TV hole and did some random flailing. I couldn't watch the others playing as this was just too damn nerve wrecking.

See? Totally not watching them play!

In the end I had 326M and as Morten ended in 131M, I knew I was in. Antti also did a good job and finished with 258M, meaning the two Finns in this group went to the playoffs. As a side note, the 3rd Finn to qualify was Marco Suvanto, congrats!

Catching up about today's events with the world champion himself.

Teams tournament

I teamed up with Olli-Mikko Ojamies and Joonas Haverinen as Team Finland. The qualification line-up was: Mustang, Johnny Mnemonic, Road Show and Wrestlemania.

Me and Joonas observing Olli-Mikko's play

I was really eager to play after I was done with my main game qualification tie-breaker, but after taking a short pause I realized I had very little to give for today. Olli-Mikko did the strategic thinking, Joonas pretty much cashed it in, especially in Mnemonic, on which we pulled our best game. We also did okay with Wrestlemania, where we got the #4 high score as well. Later on turns out it was enough and we were 8th, last place for qualifying. The competition attracted a lot of teams, especially when there was no limits on number of teams from a specific country. A total of 29 teams participated.

Teams tournament play-offs

After learning we had made it, turned out we were playing against the qualification winners, the Swedish team with no other than Jorian, Jörgen and Marcus.  

The play-offs continued the same way the qualification was played - each player played one ball and we all strategized together.

The first game was World Cup Soccer. This was different game than what I had played in my qualification group and had somewhat better flippers. We actually had a pretty well tied game going on until the very last ball, when Marcus finally got the multiball running and sealed their first win.

The second game was played on The Addams Family. I went in first and we gunned for the multiball. I started the game and beat the book case to enable the locks. The Swedish team got couple of good balls in and even Olli-Mikko's frantic last ball couldn't catch them.

So, today FIN-SWE was lost 0-2 and our final position was 8th. Still, not bad considering the competition!

Main play-offs

54 players had progressed from the qualifications to the play-offs. I was slightly bummed by the fact that the party organized for us happend during the Saturday-Sunday night, so anyone in their right mind about playing in the play-offs couldn't participate. From what I heard, the other Finnish players had a blast there.

Hanging out with Antti and getting my playlist ready for the first game.

The play-offs were delayed almost an hour by the 80s tournament play-offs, that shared some of the players playing also in the main tournament. Funny thing, these past 5 years I've been playing I've gotten to know most of the usual faces even when I can't remember their names. This was the case with my first opponent today as well.

Round 1, Daniele Baldan

We started of with Tales of the Arabian Nights. The lamp spinned quite nicely and I grinded the lightning lamp on my first ball when I was really just trying to get the locks lit. Funny thing about TOTAN, as it has no autoplunger, you lose all the locks between balls. I locked two balls on my first ball and managed to drain when I tried to make the genie shot. My opponent had a really short ball, like was my second. I drained my 3rd ball from the same spot as the first one and didn't play multiball, leaving me with 4.3M. Daniele chased me with his last ball, but couldn't get the multiball running either, ending with 3.4M.

Next was Metallica Pro. There's sensitive tilt, fascist sensitive tilt and then there's this. I tilted 3 balls within 20 seconds of play time. The game tilted even from my very gentle ball control nudging. Daniele just managed to last a bit longer and winning this with just a couple of mils. As a side note, his victory here gave him applauds from the Italian audience. Not sure if either of us really deserved that, but what the hell.

The deciding game was Bally's Corvette. From what I had observed earlier, the upper left flipper seemed a bit weak and the related ramp a surefire way to lose the ball. Once again I started as a player 1 and had a pretty good ball going. I got the multiball running pretty easily, but the ramp was just as bad as I had expected. No matter how hard the ball was going, it just wasn't going up there! I drained at 480M, which caused the Italian audience to furiously explain something to Daniele. I didn't get to see what he did, but he drained in just seconds after ball save. On my second ball I played the challenge mode. I'm still not 100% sure if you're meant to be able to progress the car by furiously pounding the flipper buttons, but it seemed to work on this game. Daniele had a bad second ball, just as was my 3rd ball. I ended up with 569M while he had less than 100M. He got something done on his 3rd ball, but played pretty aggressively and finally tilted the game just after getting over 200M. 

This meant I had won round 1 of the play-offs 2-1!

Round 2, Jan Anders Nilsson

We started out with the Creature from the Black Lagoon. I see we both had the same general idea here. First the easy scoring modes, then some multiball to finish it off. Jan started with a good show of Move your car and drained. I again wasted two balls building the multiball and at the start my of last ball Jan was at 87M and I chased him from 30M. I got the multiball running ... searched the creature, found him from the left entrance, made the rescue shot and was totally ready to make the jackpot shot.

But then what the fuck, I got a stuck ball from the Snackbar return. I had to catch the other ball and call the referee. They took ages debugging the problem, which was really obvious; the plastic ramp that connected to the wire ramp coming from the upkicker was not properly secured. I argued with the referee about this for a while. They were VERY adamant about just getting the game to continue and not fix the issue. Fine, the other ball was put into the plunger lane and I continued off that, but got a center drain pretty quickly after that, draining at 51M. Great.


Still pissed off about the whole ordeal with the referees I started Game of Thrones pro. Now, GOT is one of those new games that I just haven't had enough time to explore. Good thing I got to play it for real couple of rounds few weeks earlier at Liseberg, because all I had to give here was to stack everything and cross my fingers.

I got the lock lit on my first ball, but drained pretty soon after that. Jan started a mode and immediately pulled a 100M lead. I locked the first ball and got second lock lit on my second ball, and soon drained afterwards. Now I was really getting desperate. Jan got to over 200M on his 2nd ball. Well, now was the sink or swim time for my strategy. I locked the second ball, and almost lost the ball soon after that. I stopped the game, aimed for the lock ramp and .... IT SINKED IN! I started to fight two houses and the Blackwater multiball. Oh, and I had House Martell selected so I could restart the multiball.

And what a frenzy it was! Everything was lit and the flow was beyound beautiful! Highly scoring shot after another, jackpot here, jackpot there, super jackpot! And when I drained the other ball in 2 ball game, I used the add-a-ball and pounded more of the same. Finally the multiball ended and I finally dared to look up to the screen. I had made 700M+ on this huge gamble. I played for a while after that, and with the bonus I ended up with 792M. I can only assume my two first balls had made Jan expect a pushover victory here, but now he was all the sudden chasing my almost 600M lead! He couldn't catch me and ended up his last (very short) ball at 224M. Man it felt good to enter my initials after an EPC class tournament game!

Next up was Dracula. To be honest, I was dreading this game. Seeing how many technical problems the 90s era games had had so far, I was super nervous as Dracula doesn't exactly have the best track record even when it's well maintained. And with this foreshadowing we started off the game.

My strategy here was greatly dependent on what Jan was going for. Had he shown your average everyday playing, I would have gone for stacking 2 multiballs. But had he pulled some wizard level tricks out of his ass, I would have needed all 3 multiballs at the same time. The game had constant issues. The first ball made Jan run away from the area swearing. My first ball started without one. The game tried to autoplunge an empty shooter lane, until a ball search made it pull a ball from some really unexpected place. I cradled the ball and asked the referee, but he insisted I keep on playing as there was nothing wrong now that I had a ball. Errmm, okay. I lost the first ball when building the castle locks. Jan's second ball wasn't much better and I switched from going to the multiball for some quick scoring from the right ramp instead. I pulled quite a good show from that, plus I played a good round of Rats as well so I had at least the rats ~ 15M score for my last ball as well in reserve. Jan's 3rd ball started with practically nothing lit for him. Now it only needed him to get a bit nervous and that was that. He went for the easy Mist multiball and .. no ball. He cradled the ball and called the referee over about having no ball on the Mist's magnet. The referee came over and said "the game is broken, play another one".

DUDE, WHAT THE SHIT?! So now that I'm finally in the lead, the fucking piece of shit is now "broken"? I was so furious I just wanted to play cow tipping with the machine before pouncing the referee. Shit dudes, you do NOT pull random rulings out of your ass in a situation like this! When in doubt, ask any of the numerous IFPA country directors present! My protest had no effect and we were told to play the spare game, which was The Flintstones.

Jan got very little done, I collected the CONCRETE letters for the multiball. Jan got a mode running for his second ball, while I completed the letter needed for multiball and was now one shot away from it, ending my 2nd ball at 132M after collecting the ramp combo. Jan's last ball was cut short and he ended his game with 68M, which meant I didn't have to play my last ball to win this round 2-1.

After shaking hands with my opponent I walked off to outside to cool down. That round was one damn roller coaster!

Round 3, Roberto Pedroni

Roberto's an old acquaintance from both, EPC'14 and IFPA11. I also knew this was the point in the tournament where the gloves come off as I was facing Italy's #2 player.

Our first game was Game of Thrones, which was the exact same game I had played on round 2. Roberto curiously ignored the multiball and went directly playing a mode, for which he got around 80M on his first ball. I started building my multiball approach, and got two locks on my first ball. Roberto doubled his score on the 2nd ball while I started the multiball with one mode running, and grinded 350M out of that, with the ball ending with 398M. I don't know if my sudden raise from the ashes after point-wise poor first ball caught him off his guard or what, but he played really nervously his last ball and ended it at 199M, so I didn't have to play my 3rd ball. Wow, this wasn't how I expected this to play out at all.

Next was Dirty Harry. At this point fellow Finns had started to gather up following what was going on. I got a tip that the Harry's left ramp was nearly impossible with powerless upper right flipper. Armed with this bit of info I started the game by loading the gun and making the ramp shop with it. This was the only "hard" star out of 5 needed to start the multiball. I played the multiball on my first ball, but didn't do much with it as I could only collect the right ramp jackpot. Roberto had a really crappy first ball, leaving him with just couple of millions. I played another multiball on my second ball, this time making the gun shot at the ramp getting that other jackpot as well. Roberto again got another dud ball. On my last ball I played the Warehouse mode. I made 100% of the shots I wanted, and could hit the warehouse from both left flipper, and backhanding from the right. I must've made like 200M+ on that mode alone, leaving me with 694M to Roberto's 20M when he started his last ball. But was he determined to catch me! He ended up playing multiball twice on his last ball. I have no idea how he made the ramp shot! I couldn't bear to watch as my heart rate was already at 157bpm! Finally he ended his ball and I returned just as the bonus count was finishing up. 382M. I had won this round 2-0.

I don't know which I was cheering at more; the fact that I won with a clean game or that the games actually held together long enough for me to win. Phew!

Round 4, Cayle George

Now we were getting real serious! Even if my game ended on this round, I was already at my personal best with EPC tournaments and now thinking of it, this was probably the best standing ever for me in a major tournament.

First up was Stern's Kiss. Cayle took the lead from the start. He made lighting the Love gun multiball look so damn easy; usually it took just one or two shots and then the ramp. After the 2nd balls he was at around 50M, which was still doable, but then went on to play a monster 3rd ball with 212M. Oh man, I couldn't do anything but sigh and start grinding. I played two Love gun multiballs on my last ball and had the Demon multiball ready, but made a center drain from a bad shot at it. 36M. Damned.

Next we played Scared Stiff. I went with my standard approach of trying to play both multiballs with the extension, but the stupid spider made getting the rewards so damn hard! I don't know if the stepper motor had some kind of an issue, but I often got something very different what I was expecting. I wish they had just turned the Spider off as I can time the compensation mode even better. Cayle had apparently the same strategy and we went pretty much head-to-head until the 3rd ball. I drained with the Stiff-O-Meter at 7, he played longer multiballs and won with 9M to my 8.5M.

So, it was my turn to be defeated 2 to 0. As this was double elimination bracket, I now went into the losers' side where we played only one game per round. Being dropped from the 4th round in the winner's side landed me onto the 6th round of losers' side.

Round 6, Losers' side, Sandor Varga

I went against Hungary's #3, Sandor Varga on the same Corvette I had played earlier. I was the player 1, but fortunately I already knew what to avoid here. I very carefully started the multiball and took the doable jackpot, completely ignoring the dangerous (and impossible ramp). My opponent had some hard time on his first ball, while I concentrated on the challenge modes from the 2nd ball on. I finished my 3rd ball with 703M while Sandor was under 50M. He did a very methodically played third ball, but tilted at 260M.

Whoa, if my calculations where correct, I was somewhere in the top-16 by now.

Round 7, Losers' side, Daniel Nowak

I was at the very end of Losers' side bracket at this point. One or two rounds and I could be back in action with the final. Being in the EPC finals? Now that sounds just plain scary!

I don't really know what to say about the game I played against Daniel on Stern's Kiss. This was the exact same Kiss where Cayle handed my my ass couple of rounds ago. I played a disappointingly mediocre game, while Daniel played a bit better.

Oh man I felt empty after that round. At the same time this was most likely the best tournament game-wise in my whole pinball career. Yet it left me with infinite what-if's had I beat Daniel, had I scored 500k more in the Scared Stiff against Cayle.

For a moment there we had some confusion about what my final standing would be. The guys on IRC theorised I was somewhere around 6 or 7. It turned out to be 7th in the end. 7 out of about 150 players. I guess it was okay after all.

Still ... what if?

The outcome

A personal record. That's what it was.

I was 7th out of 149 participated players in the main tournament.

I tanked the 80s tournament and was 57th out of 144 players.

I was part of Team Finland, that qualified in the team tournaments, being 8th of 29 teams. After the playoffs, we were 8th.

Official results

About my game strategies

After (and during!) the tournament, I got couple of comments and suggestions why not play like Bowen did in this video or someone else did in that video. Well, the thing is, that I very rarely bother to watch the game play videos. I find it kind of a shame that so many consider the gaming videos by the great players to be the truth set in stone. For most games I play, my strategy is often very different what the great ones would do. I almost always prefer multiball over high scoring single ball options and often go for the objectives that suit the strong points of my skills.

I don't mean to say you shouldn't watch the videos. Just don't build the game to get to the Lost In The Zone when you can win most of your opponents with a good round of multiball and couple of well played modes. Explore the games and do your own thing!

Of Poland and the tournament itself

To be honest, I didn't really know what to expect of Poland.  I was half-expecting the Soviet era run down buildings and so forth. Turns out at least Warsaw and Łódź were modern cities with everything (and more!) to keep us entertained during our stay.

The tournament location was excellent. The huge mall had all kinds of nice distractions for the times when we needed to take a break from playing. While there were some issues, mostly related to the general condition of the games and some questionable judgings, I was amazed how well things went, especially after I learned the whole show ran run by just 4 guys. Kudos to them!

For the future, my #1 suggestion would be rebuilding flippers on all the older games. This was a constant source of grief in both free play and tournament games. Weak flippers mean ramp shots were often impossible, which takes away fun out of most games. Put in those new coil sleeves, plungers and stoppers! It doesn't take more than 20 minutes per game. Also, when you have several IFPA country directors at your disposal, please consult them when issues and questions raise. EPC is a major tournament and pulling seemingly random judgements will be seen as favouritism.

Other than that, good job!

Oh, and a word of caution to all cider drinking people out there! The brands that are cider in Sweden and Finland, are actually beer in Poland!

It looks like cider, smells like cider, but it's
just flavored beer. Geez!

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