I arrived at Eighteen Twenty Lounge well before the scheduled league start time of 7 pm. A lot of familiar faces were there. And quite a few familiar games from last season made their return. The most notable new arrival was Houdini, the new game from a new company, American Pinball. The remainder of the lineup was mostly the usual suspects from last season: Dialed In, Star Wars, Guardians of the Galaxy (new to the league), Batman 66, Ghostbusters, and AC/DC Vault Edition (which was removed from league play due to a malfunction).
I would start the season off with a very fortunate grouping: I would be placed in a three-player group, with my opponents being Clay Harrison and Agustin Montes. I’ve been grouped with both of these players exactly once before at different times: Agustin back in Season 4 Week 6, and Clay in Season 5 Week 7.
After a short delay waiting for Agustin to arrive and then for a game to become available, we would begin on Dialed In. The first ball was relatively low-scoring for everyone, with no player scoring over 10K (I had 9,310, Agustin had 9,510, Clay had 4,920). Ball 2 was a relative dud for me (the phone scoop was supposedly lit to start multiball but it didn’t happen; not sure if it was a bug or just bad timing on my part), leaving me starting ball 3 well behind at 23,250 to Clay’s 56,490 and Agustin’s 64,790. Fortunately, I would break through starting multiball and running up a considerable tally, eventually signing off with 125,760. One game down, five standings points on the board. Things are looking good.
We would next compete on Star Wars. This is a game I’m not too confident playing, but it seems like I do relatively well on it every time I touch it. I would begin with 114.2M+, which could have been a bit more had I not botched the skill shot. This would be good for an early lead, but by the time ball 2 was over, Agustin would come back with 187.5M+ to my 170.4M+. I would sign off with 284.1M+ without getting a single multiball during the entire game. I was a bit nervous about this holding up and in other groups, it might well have been beaten. But Agustin only managed 245.7M+ and so I would finish the second game with a perfect ten standings points.
On we would go to Batman 66. This would be a relatively close, low-scoring game. I played last in the group, so I would have the benefit of knowing how well I would need to do on ball 3 to win. Clay had posted a 25.4M+, Agustin had finished with 18.4+, and I started ball 3 with 11.8M+ which was certainly within striking distance of the lead. Unfortunately, I was only able to muster up a 20.9M+ good for second place. There went my chance at a perfect 25. However, a total of 13 standings points after three games is still damn good.
Our next game would be on Ghostbusters. I’ve grown to dislike this game, at least as set up at EinStein’s. Well, the settings seem to make the difference: nobody else cheesed the video mode for ridiculous scores the way they would at EinStein’s. We did not get a single video mode during our game, and it was a relatively low-scoring game all around. I would start off with a first ball of 11.6M+, while Clay and Agustin both put up sub-1M duds to start. I would finish up with 30.3M+ and Clay would take second with 16.5M+. Four games and a very respectable 18 standings points. Up until this point, I had never finished a league night with more than 21 standings points with the new 5-3-2-1 scoring. I was on the brink of making history.
We would wrap up on Guardians of the Galaxy. Yes, the same title on which I put up 167.7M+ good for a grand champion during the 2018 February EinStein’s Drainiacs. I felt confident wrapping up the night on this game given that performance and how I had been doing the whole night. This would be another relatively low-scoring game, but I would take the lead after ball 2 with 11.9M+, which by the time I started ball 3 I knew would be good enough for at least second place as Agustin only managed 5.5M+. I would have a relatively productive ball 3 and wrap up with 16.1M+ total, not exactly a score I felt confident would hold up until the end. But Clay could only muster a total of 11.7M+ so it was more than enough. Five games, 23 standings points, one happy player.
I would hang around after my games to see if either Phil Grimaldi or Melvin Jiles, both in position to tie or beat my 23 standings points, could do so. Phil would almost immediately post a last-place finish in his fourth game taking him out of the running; Melvin was never really in contention to take first on his game of Ghostbusters after Chris Palis put up well over 60M on his first ball. Tim Hood was the last player who could possibly have tied my 23 standings points, and he would finish the night with 21. (I don’t know the details of his last game.) I would get in a couple of games on Houdini before I left.
This is the first time ever I have started a league season at the very top of the leaderboard, and the most standings points I have posted in one night. I will concede that the scores I put up weren’t the best and, for that matter, really weren’t typical of a 23-point night, nor were they representative of the best I am capable of. They were good enough, but I’m not going to stay at the top with scores of this caliber week in and week out.
One thing’s for sure, I’m looking forward to week 2.