Space City Pinball League Season 8 Week 4: Barf bags are in the seat pocket in front of you

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.

This week was relatively meaningless as far as I was concerned, at least as far as whether or not I would make it into A division versus B division. The only real question is how many under me would improve more than I would, or how much I would improve to move up. I almost considered sitting this week out but I was unhappy with the low seed I wound up at after last week and did not want to move down any further if I could possibly help it.

Like last week, there was an older game in the mix: Austin Powers. Like most of these old games, I had not a clue what I was doing on it, and decided to just wing it. More on that when I get to it.

The full game lineup: Star Wars, Metallica, Guardians of the Galaxy, Austin Powers, AC/DC, Iron Maiden, and Deadpool. In perhaps the best “luck of the draw” I would get all season, I was grouped in a three-player group with Chris Palis and Erich Stinson.

And so the night began on Metallica. I would be playing first for this game. As badly as I needed a good game to start off the night and make the most of my opportunity to advance, I was only able to put up 2.1M+. That’s just not going to get it done even if I’m playing against a couple of amateurs, which Chris and Erich are most definitely not.

So, on we went to Star Wars. I would once again play in the first player slot, and this time cruise to a 318M+ finish good for a solid victory, most of it on the third ball. It was a clutch performance I really needed as I was really starting to lose confidence after the first game, and even surpassed my 285M+ score on the same game in warmups.

Next up would be Austin Powers, where I would be “blessed” with the third player slot. I say that in quotes because I never really got much going on this one. This game is from the era where a lot of pinballs produced by Data East/Sega/Stern felt like playing “a pinball [game] made out of a sponge” as one poster to Usenet’s said once. I signed off with a puny 29.2M+ when both of the other scores were well over twice that.

Things were starting to go better during my next game on AC/DC, where I would play second behind Erich and in front of Chris. I was all in position to try and put a comeback together on ball 3, only to have a cannon shot bounce off the drop targets, straight into the right outlane. My reaction would have gotten me a warning for swearing at some of the larger tournaments.

So the situation going into the last game on Iron Maiden was as follows: I have 10 standings points and would need a first place to improve my overall total to 72 (making week 3 the drop week). Second (or third) would mean the 15 points from week 3 stands and the 14 (or 11) would be my final drop week. I am also sitting in 12th place, giving me the 12th seed (of 16) in the forthcoming A division playoff.

The game we played on Iron Maiden was not without its irregularities. Chris got a ball stuck, which ended prematurely. Erich then played his ball as normal but then had two balls to play in single ball mode for a considerable time (he thought he still had a multiball mode going). The ball ended when one of the two balls drained and then on my turn I had two balls served up. Phil Grimaldi, the acting league official (since Chris would have normally made this ruling were he not playing), came over to make his ruling. Erich was not penalized, however, Phil needed to play the first part of my ball in an attempt to drain the excess ball served to the plunger alley. As it turns out, he was not able to do so and I was awarded a consolation ball in addition to Chris.

At the start of the third ball, my score was a mere 16.5M+ to Chris’s 101.6M+ (with consolation ball pending, if necessary) and Erich’s 101.1M+ (final). In one of the most dramatic clutch performances of the season, I ran up the score to 145.2M+. Not only would Chris have to play his consolation ball after all, but there was also now a chance I would not need to play mine. Indeed, Chris barely put up around 6M, nowhere near enough to close the gap (I unfortunately forgot to take a picture of this score, so I am subbing in a portion of a screen grab from showing the final computed score).

It turns out the two points I gained from placing first on Iron Maiden did not affect my final standing (and thus seed for the playoffs), and I would still finish in 12th. (Had I choked and came in third again, however, I would have dropped to 13th behind Elizabeth Dronet.)

That brings us to the playoffs later tonight. The A division playoffs start at 6 pm, at the usual spot, Eighteen Twenty Lounge (1820 Franklin). If you are in the area, feel free to come on out and watch the excitement. It’s going to be a great time no matter who wins.