There’s going to be a lot of commentary at the end about this, because this is going to be one of the defining moments of my foray into competitive pinball, and not particularly in a good way (as you might be able to guess by the post title).
We get started shortly after 7pm. The situation is kind of strange with B division: since there isn’t an evenly divisible number of players, there is a playoff between the bottom four places that decides who gets to play in the rest of the tournament.
Once that’s out of the way, the quarterfinals begin. I’m grouped with Leon Moncla, Joe Cuellar, and Bryan Buckley. I select to go first and defer the machine choice to the next player down the line.
We wind up starting out on The Walking Dead, which, lucky me, I got in a couple of quick games of during warmups. My first two balls go rather terribly, though I’m still in contention given that nobody else is doing that great either. My third ball goes a little better, and I wrap up with 8.3M+. This winds up being only second to Leon’s 45.7M+ so I get three points for second place.
Our next game is on Game of Thrones. Leon has an incredible monster of a first ball, well in excess of 400M. He would wind up with 545M+. My 38.9M+ is enough for a second place, again. I really wish I had been able to start multiball and at least make a legitimate run at Leon’s score and first place, but apparently it just wasn’t meant to be. Still, three more points for a total of six isn’t too bad.
And then came the third game on Kiss. I wasn’t able to get a whole lot going, and by the time my third ball was over, my score of 5.0M+ was looking a lot like it was not going to even hold up for second. Bryan’s 9.3M+ and Joe’s 6.4M+ push me all the way down to third. (Leon’s 4.1M+ is last but that’s not even relevant.) I wind up the first round with eight points. Leon has eleven, Bryan has nine, and only the top two players advance.
Obviously this is not the way I planned to end the season. It’s one thing to only qualify for B division, but it’s another entirely to bust out like this in the first round, in a B division playoff. Words like “unhappy” and “disappointed” don’t do justice to how I am feeling about tonight.
Going back through history, which in this case is looking at my IFPA player record (snapshot as of the time of this blog post, saved to PDF), paints a curious picture. We start with 2014 July, in the first serious pinball tournament I ever played at The Game Preserve, where I came in a rather impressive third. I managed to squeak out a third in the side tournament at the Oil City Open, after flat out laying an egg in the first round of the main tournament (finishing 14th). (The side tournament was the highest football score on Gottlieb’s Touchdown, which I believe the Monclas no longer have in their collection.) The next tournament I play is at The Game Preserve in 2014 October, where I bust out in seventh. I don’t make it out to another tournament until I put up another third place at another Game Preserve tournament in 2015 June (that’s nine months later). Then, another seventh at the next Game Preserve monthly, followed by Houston Arcade Expo where I don’t qualify for the playoffs (30th out of 40 players). Finally we come to the most recent three tournaments, a second at a Game Preserve monthly, a second at the Space City Pinball Open, and a seventh at the most recent Game Preserve monthly I was able to take part in back in 2016 February.
The rankings of this league season were finalized, and I rank in a two-way tie for 25th of a 51 player league. Any other time, I might have said that doesn’t represent my true skill level as a pinball player. It’s a chilling thought to me, but maybe it is the truth, and maybe tonight was my overdue reality check.