Einstein’s Drainiacs 2018 January: Upside down

Note: Due to recent events, Shawn no longer recommends participation in Space City Pinball League events until further notice. Please see the Bayou City Pinball League website for alternatives.

A new year brings a new beginning, new hope, and change. Well, at least in theory, anyway. I can say for sure that we had a new game to play at Einstein’s Pub this time around, that being Guardians of the Galaxy. I did get to play it, just not during the tournament itself.

We had a total of 12 players, down from the 15 we had during December. I didn’t really realize the crowd was much smaller until I actually looked at the signup list because a lot of people returned from December so it felt like all the “regulars” were back.

The first round would see me grouped with Randy Abel, Laurie Bender, and Jeff Mleynek on The Walking Dead. I put up what I felt was a decent score, 14.2M+ with Randy already having signed off with 15.5M+. The way the game had gone to that point, I certainly felt like my score would hold up for second place. Laurie and Jeff had other ideas. Laurie would leapfrog from 6.2M+ after ball 2, to signing off with 20.9M+. Jeff would leapfrog from 6.6M+ to a whopping 42.6M+. That’s more points scored in one ball than Randy and I scored combined in our entire respective games. One round, one strike.

On to round two, where I would be grouped with Raleigh Palis, Frankie Griffin, and David Dronet on Game of Thrones. I just never really got anything decent going during this game: 776K+ going into ball 3, and I would finish dead last with 3.5M+ behind Raleigh’s 3.9M+. Two rounds, two strikes.

I had hoped the third round would bring me a change of luck. I drew Star Trek along with Frankie Griffin, Raleigh Palis, and Matt Quantz. I got off to a decent start in this one, leading after the first ball with 4.38M+ to Frankie’s 3.86M+. I had a crummy second ball, only boosting my score to 4.81M+ while the others caught up and I would begin ball 3 in last place to Matt’s 4.88M+. I would sign off by 8.51M+, and one by one the others caught up and surpassed it, leaving me in last place yet again. Three rounds, three strikes. It’s really starting to not look that good…

It is only fitting that my game for round four would be Ghostbusters, the same game I busted out on last month. I would be grouped with Chris Palis, Mike Linn, and Laurie Bender. After ball 1 I have only 507,160 points. That’s a frighteningly low score on this game. My awful luck would continue with 3.44M+ after ball 2, with the others easily surpassing me (Laurie had 7.61M+ while the other two had scores well above ours). I would sign off after ball 3 with 5.56M+ which could not possibly be better than third place. Four rounds, four strikes, and that’s it for me.

Despite the disastrous finish, I tried to keep my spirits up and hung around long enough to follow the majority of the tournament as well as play some more pinball just for fun. I did put up some decent scores on Star Trek and Guardians of the Galaxy before the afternoon was over. It’s not like I was just having a lousy day across the board, but when it counted, I sure laid an egg. I was the only player today to bust out after taking a strike in all of the first four rounds. Twelfth place out of twelve players. Dead last.

For a player of my skill level, this is completely out of character, and for that matter, completely unacceptable. Obviously, this isn’t the type of performance I want to repeat. I count two other pinball tournaments where I have finished last: the main tournament of the 2014 Oil City Open (though I finished third in the side tournament), and the B division playoffs for Space City Pinball League Season 5.

This one is different, though, because I’ve since proven to myself that I can win (even if it was a B division playoff tournament), that I can come back from having my back against the wall, that there is magic in believing in myself. There’s some small measure of pride in finishing fifth out of fifteen like I did last month, when I know had I faced the same circumstances in the not-so-distant past that I wouldn’t have handled them as well. This time, I feel like a last-place finish is such a completely unacceptable result because I have proven I can shake off the demons and win. Now, those demons are apparently back again to roost.

I normally don’t post this many pre- and post-tournament single-player score pictures, and certainly not this many of the same game. This was my first time getting to play Guardians of the Galaxy, and given the hype surrounding this game, I felt they might be of historic interest. Also, I felt like a score 63M+ was a rather good score given the situation, both among my first times playing and that I was still a bit pissed off at myself for busting out of the tournament in dead last.

There has been no news yet on when the next league season starts, so for now, it looks like the next installment of Einstein’s Drainiacs on February 11 is the next tournament. I don’t want a whole month to go by between posts here, so I am going to try to find something else in the meantime.

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