Space City Pinball League, Season 2 Week 6: The tale of the busted rubber

This week’s league night came up much sooner than I expected. I arrived pretty close to the nominal 7pm start time (which as we all know, means actual league play starts around 7:30pm).

This week the game lineup would be: The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones LE, The Hobbit, Kiss, Mustang, Wrestlemania LE, and X-Men. I would be grouped with Cory Westfahl, Michelle Costa, and Mark Hernandez. On the league standings going into this match: I am in 24th place with 33 adjusted points. Michelle and Cory are well into the middle of A division at this point in the season (9th with 54 and 10th place with 52 respectively), with Mark Hernandez in B division in 30th place, 24 points, only 9 points behind me.

Our first game was supposed to be on Wrestlemania. The game started off okay, but then this happened during the middle of Cory’s second ball:

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Yep. Your eyes are not deceiving you: that’s a busted rubber. The game was voided and replaced with Mustang in our rotation.

We would play our first completed game on The Hobbit. As well as I played this game during warmups, I’d pancake here with a score of 31K+, only good for third place topping Michelle’s 16K+. One game, two standings points. I’ve started off nights worse than this, but it’s still not reassuring.

Second game was on The Walking Dead. I had a fairly decent game, but didn’t get a multiball started or anything terribly high scoring. Given how well I did in warmups, my score during actual league play would be a disappointing 5.2M+, but Mark would only put up 2.6M+ giving me, again, in third place. Two games, four points…

We would continue on Game of Thrones. I did get a late, relatively high-scoring multiball which kept me in the game. I had a momentary second place with 80.9M+, but Michelle would come back to re-take second with a 91.0M+ before it was over. Three games, six points…

Our fourth game was on X-Men. Despite not having a clue what the ruleset was on this talble, I get an early multiball for a nice early lead. I bomb the second ball, and my third ball was not quite good enough to retake the lead, but I did put up a 9.4M+ behind Michelle’s 10.0M+. Four games, nine points, and there’s a chance I’ll be able to finish the night with a decent tally.

Before we could play our last game, which was on Mustang (replacing Wrestlemania), we had a situation where another group had an absent player. I don’t know the full story, whether he was frustrated at doing poorly in previous games or what. I didn’t even make note of exactly who it was. Either way, I only mention it here as an example of the kind of thing not to do during league play or a tournament. If you’re going to withdraw, tell your group and the director. Don’t just “ghost” or “poof”.

So we finally get to play Mustang. On top of the delay, we have a glitch where the game starts cycling through players in the middle of the first ball. At first, the ruling by Phil is that the affected players (Cory and I) would get another ball at the end of the game. We decide as a group that we would rather void the current game and start over.

As much as I really could have used a first place here, it simply didn’t happen. My best ball control is looping a nearly worthless ramp shot. Once I switch off of that and try to make anything else, I drain. I would sign off with an outright embarrassing 4.3M+. Mark put up 13.4M+, Michelle put up 19.6M+, and Cory took first with a 21.5M+. That’s how badly I did… At least I wind up with a total of ten standings points on the night, so the 9 from week 4 and the goose egg from not showing up for week 2 are still the two scores dropped for my adjusted total.

Looking at the standings, I can see that I did move ahead of both Chris Dyer (who put up a 7 this week; I’m ahead due to the tiebreaker) and Joe Cuellar (didn’t play) compared to the prior week. Unfortunately that seems to be the only real ground I have gained. As long as I do no worse than 10 points next week (third place all the way across, or something like one first place, one third place, and three fourth places), I can’t possibly do worse than 9 points toward my adjusted score the following week (as I scored 9 in week 3 that’s currently being dropped to calculate my adjusted score). Granted, a performance like that probably won’t help me make it up to A division barring a miracle in week 7.

Realistically, I’m looking at B division this time around and after that, hoping I do better next season. I don’t even know if, after taking a realistic look at the big picture, I should be disappointed. I put up quite a few scores that aren’t embarrassingly bad, but it happens that other player(s) in the same game was/were able to put up better scores in that particular game, pushing me down to second or third (thankfully I have not yet had all three players in a four-player group push me down to fourth when I’ve had what I would call a good score; every fourth place finish was usually because I put up a horrible score). It is my first time playing a league as opposed to a single-day or weekend tournament, and I missed the entire first season so I have a bit less experience than most of the other players.