One of the events at the first Arcade Expo was a pinball tournament Royal Rumble that was held over the weekend. For a $20 entry fee you played 8 pinball machines to qualify for the tournament. You would play one game of each machine to try to get the highest score. The 8 pinball machines were Big Shot, Lost World, Varkon, Prize-Fight, Attila The Hun, Mars Trek, Cosmos, and Devil Rider that you had to play each machine at least one time. Once you had played all eight machines you could retry for $10 to get a better score on a specific machine. There were over 50 entrants over the three days and on Sunday was the final contestants that made the cut. I had played one round in the tournament on Sunday because I wanted to throw some money to the charity. I didn’t think that I had done that well but when they were calling out the names I was number 8 out of 30 (the better scores had the higher numbers) so I did better than I thought. So we lined up in order of our number and then we were let in the area one at a time.
Once in the area we had to challenge another player and you could only lose two games. I was challenged at Prize-Fight and really hated that machine. The game was not the best fit for the tournament because of the extra ball and if you didn’t activate 3 targets when the ball starts you get to continue the same ball again. At one point the other player had finished his ball and stepped back and when I started to play he noticed that I was still in fact playing his ball. So we had to start the game all over again. This became a prevalent issue with that machine. I lost that game and by that time all of the finalist were in the area because of the delay. The only person not playing was the top seed so I challenged her to a game of Big Shot. Thanks to playing the hell out of that game on the Pinball Arcade I knew the game very well. I started off a little rough but on her second ball she tilted the game and didn’t get any bonus. On my third ball I really had a great ball and ended that game with 59,870 and she had 11,879 so I felt pretty good about that. I then played another player on the same game and took them out too. Then I got challenged to Prize-Fight again and lost so I was out of the tournament. In the end I played for 55 minutes that wasn’t too bad.
In the end the final two players were Matt Topper and Ron Rezendes that were both from San Diego California. They first played Prize-Fight where Ron won the first round. They then played Big Shot and Matt won the round on that one. The final game was on Lost World. It was a real close game Matt was ahead at a point but tried to flip the ball from the left flipper to the right flipper and lost the ball. It looked like Ron was going to come out on top but on the last ball Matt shot ahead of Ron to become the winner.
Matt Topper on the left in red was the winner. Ron Rezendes on the right was the 2nd place runner up.
The first prize was a Stern Phantom of the Opera pinball machine at $300 cash. The tournament was a blast but there were some things that I noticed in the finals. Let me start off by saying that Dan Cerny who ran the tournament area dis a really good job with the limited resources that he had. He pretty much ran the whole thing by himself with the help of the local student volunteers. Now I have never been in a pinball tournament before so I can’t gauge how this was handled compared to other pinball tournaments. I can only give you my observations about my thoughts on it.
Once the finalist were let into the area there was very little oversight on the players and we were pretty much on our own. I did observe that a few players were milking the time when playing games and should not have been tolerated. They were noticeable holding the ball on the flippers and spending way too much time between players with talking and looking over the machine. There should have been at least one person overseeing each machine to make sure that the games were being played fairly.
Prize-Fight should have never been used in tournament play because of the extra ball high payout and the play again function if you didn’t trigger enough targets after firing the ball. The technicians “fixed” this issue before the final two but I had to play the game twice and there were trouble both times with the game.
While I understand the need to have prizes for a tournament like this you could tell that it really brought out the ugly side of things. There were a couple of players (that will not be named) but they were obviously bending the rules to the edge and playing more for the money than the fun or sportsmanship that the tournament should have been about. They very much noticed the lack of being watched closely. It was really sad to witness this and took some fun out of the competition. I was not the only one that noticed this problem.
There were good things about the tournament. a majority of the players were in the tournament to have fun. I met a number of people who enjoyed the tournament and was playing for the fun of it. While I think that all of us would have loved to win a pinball machine that was not the main reason for playing. I hope that in future tournaments that the focus can be on the friendly competition and not about winning or greed. In the end I still had a fun time doing it and was glad that money could be raised for charity and for me that was the best part.
Here are some more shots from the final tournament and the layout of the area.