Space City Pinball League Season 4 Finals: The long, hard road

Shortly after the conclusion of week 8, league organizer Phil Grimaldi announced the final standings. I finished the regular season in 16th, good enough for a first-round bye in B division. Since I had already paid dues, I had little to risk by sticking around for finals (unlike earlier seasons where dues were collected on the day of the finals).

The games were organized into two banks: Big Buck Hunter, Spiderman (Vault Edition), and Domino’s in the first bank; Ghostbusters, The Hobbit, Kiss, and Medieval Madness (Remake) in the second bank. As luck would have it, I would be scheduled for the first bank for both of the rounds I played.

I had a few moments to clear my head with the first round bye. Phil went over the rules, and then I sat and waited for the quarterfinals to complete. My semifinals match would begin with Marc Gammons and Joe Cuellar who advanced from the quarterfinals, and Bryce Revnew who was seeded high enough for the other first-round bye in our group. We would begin on Domino’s.

I would like to start off by admitting I don’t particularly care for this game. Going in, I had literally zero confidence I could put up a score decent enough to win. But I was able to put up an amazing 19.2M+, completely dwarfing the other three scores (second place was Joe with 2.3M+). I was shocked, and considered the possibility that the game had malfunctioned. But the other players confirmed it was legitimate. It definitely did not feel like a dominating performance even though I made quite a few shots and started multiple multiball modes.

We would move on to Big Buck Hunter. I was completely unfamiliar with this game. I just sort of “winged it” and again put up a dominating score, this time 21.1M+ over Bryce’s second-place 6.2M+.

At this point I’ve clinched my finals berth and could theoretically have just plunged my balls on Spiderman. But I don’t play that way. I put up a 31.1M+ good enough for third, behind Bryce’s 50.0M+ and Marc’s 73.6M+ (Marc actually quit playing his ball early due to time constraints, so he could have easily passed 100M).

So the finals would begin with Marc, David Pollock, and Brian Goss. Again, I would start out on Domino’s, but this time I wouldn’t do nearly as well. I managed to finish in second place with a 1.463M+ ahead of Brian’s 1.412M+ and behind David’s 2.5M+.

The next game on Big Buck Hunter would pretty much knock me out of contention for first place. I managed a mere 3.2M+ behind everyone else, with Marc’s 4.1M+ good for third. The game was a disaster from the beginning. I couldn’t really get much going, unlike the previous game on this machine where everything just flowed and I got well into eight digits easily.

The last game on Spiderman wasn’t completely meaningless, though. It came down to the last ball. Marc’s score of 100.1M+ was daunting, but not completely insurmountable, and I still could have finished in second place were I able to score higher. I had, if I remember right, a score somewhere in the vicinity of 50M going into the third ball. I did well enough to finish with 68.4M+ but that was nowhere near enough to win. I would wind up in a tiebreaker with Brian Goss for third place, and we would play one final game on Big Buck Hunter to decide who took home the third place trophy.

I kept the lead all the way. Brian would have to beat 5,037,580 to win the tiebreaker game. He went into the third ball with somewhere around 2M and would only finish with 2,730,630 which was nowhere near enough. So I took home the B division third place trophy along with $30 (my $20 league dues back, plus $10 more) which is the first significant league or tournament victory I’ve been able to celebrate in a good long while.

In three seasons of league play (I did not play in the first season) I have yet to finish higher than B division. It’s good to finish the season with a trophy and some cash back in my pocket, though first place remains as elusive as ever, even in B division.