Can you believe it’s already been four months since the end of season 6? The start of season 7 of the Space City Pinball League at Eighteen Twenty Lounge is upon us in a few short days. It’s an exciting time and there’s a lot to consider when looking ahead at what’s in store.
I’ll get to my own situation in a bit, but it’s a safe bet that most of last season’s A division is likely to return. Most of them are at Texas Pinball Festival right now, so I probably can’t get confirmation even if I tried. In addition to being one of the better players in the league, Erich Stinson is the new director of the event at Eighteen Twenty Lounge, so he’s a given to return. I mean, we can literally go down the list and I don’t have any real doubts until we get to about 24th or so, well into B division: Phil Grimaldi, (Erich as mentioned previously), Bryce Revnew, Cory Westfahl, Austin Knight, Fred Revnew, Rob Torres, Jeff Mleynek, Frankie Griffin, David Pollock, Billy Joiner, Jason Cortez, Ruben Zepeda, Marc Gammons, Melvin Jiles, Jamie Jenkins, Joe Cuellar, Brad Berryman, (me), Matt Quantz, David Dronet, Blake Dumesnil, Chris Gonzales, Chris Dyer. Below that we start getting into players I am not as familiar with that may or may not be coming back, as well as quite a few players who played 3 weeks or less, and most of them did not play week 8, some didn’t play week 7. (Technically I’m not that familiar with a couple of the names I did mention, but everyone who qualified in A division played at least six weeks out of the eight and thus I would assume is likely to return barring evidence to the contrary.)
Some idea of what kind of momentum everyone is going to be riding into the new season (not intended to be a complete list of tournament finishes, just the higher/more relevant ones): Phil won the Texas Pinball League finals for the spring season (in addition to placing first in the Houston qualifier); Bryce finished ninth at the Texas IFPA state championship and second at the December monthly tournament at The Game Preserve; Cory won the Three Strike Tuesday on January 30 and February 27 and also took fourth at the most recent Einstein’s Drainiacs; Erich finished sixteenth (last) in season 7’s A division playoff, with no WPPR ranked tournaments since; Austin finished twelfth in season 7’s A division playoff, also with no WPPR ranked tournaments since; Fred finished fourth in the TPL finals and won the most recent Einstein’s Drainiacs as well as the Three Strike Tuesday on February 6 and March 6; skipping down a bit, Matt won the Three Strike Tuesday on March 13 as well as finishing fairly consistently near the top at Einstein’s Drainiacs (fourth, seventh, sixth, and sixth again) the past few months.
I’ve probably missed a few finishes that would otherwise be considered notable in there. (Note that this does not include results for the Texas Pinball Festival tournaments, as they were still ongoing at press time.) You can look these up for yourself if you’d like. And then, you can compare them to my performances since winning B division back in November: four appearances at Einstein’s Drainiacs finishing fifth (of 15), twelfth (of 12, as in last), ninth (of 16), and fourteenth (of either 15 or 17) respectively. Out of those four months, two players who finished higher in the fall 2017 league season finished lower than me at an Einstein’s Drainiacs tournament: Jamie Jenkins, once, in December; Joe Cuellar, twice, in December and February. Both Jamie and Joe have win percentages of 60% against me in Matchplay (Jamie with five games, Joe with fifteen).
It’s really tough to look at the statistics objectively and put that next to my own concept of myself as a competitive pinball player. Keeping in mind that B division first place is really seventeenth (out of officially 35 players as submitted to IFPA, though there were 50 overall that showed up for at least one league night), there’s a pretty consistent pattern, and it shows my skill peaking at slightly above average, and often dipping down to anywhere from average to near bottom. I know I’m capable of playing well. It’s just a question of if I can string together enough of those games to win a three- or four-strikes tournament like Three Strike Tuesday (which I have yet to play in) or Einstein’s Drainiacs, or for that matter, enough league nights to qualify for (and hopefully win) A division.
We’ve got an exciting season ahead, and it should be thrilling not just for the players, but for those following along as well.
Eighteen Twenty Lounge
Regular season: 19:00 (7 p.m.); March 21, March 28 (Wednesdays), April 9, April 16, May 7, May 14, May 21, May 28 (Mondays)
Finals: 18:00 (6 p.m.) June 4 (Monday)