Space City Pinball League Season 9 Week 2: It’s not the fall, it’s the sudden stop at the bottom

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.

Upon my arrival at the bar this week, I was greeted by mostly the same lineup of pinball games and mostly the same people. There were a few new faces, and this week Attack from Mars was swapped in for Deadpool.

I would be originally grouped with Erich Stinson and Kevin Lypkie. After we played our first game, Wisdom Mbaluka would be added to our group (and due to an apparent quirk in Matchplay, he would be set to play fourth in the group in all games, with the three of us rotating order as originally scheduled).

We would begin on Ghostbusters. Again, everyone would miss the video mode shot, including me. This didn’t help me any. I would put up a measly 7.7M+ which was nowhere near good enough for second place (or third place, after Wisdom joined us). Okay, so it’s a last-place finish on Ghostbusters, a game I’ve grown to hate, big deal. That’s not too bad until…

Our next game would be Attack from Mars. There was some kind of issue with the saucer not registering at certain times, according to another player. I never ran into this issue; I did, however, have all kinds of problems with a stupidly bad left lean. I managed to put up 689M+, almost good enough to take third, except that Wisdom put up 720M+ on the last ball.

Moving on, it’s time to play Star Wars. I manage a pitiful 48.6M+ after blowing the skill shot twice. I’m not sure that would have helped. Actually keeping the ball in play for a decent amount of time so I could make some higher-scoring shots might have. Needless to say, my score was not in the least bit competitive with the others (Kevin put up 149M+ and they went up from there).

Would I do any better on Monster Bash? Again, this one went by rather quickly; my 2.4M+ was close, but again short of even third place. I tilted two balls trying to save a kickout that would just go straight down the middle. Erich supposedly tried to fix this before we began league play. I don’t doubt that he tried, but this game was not ready for league play and should not have been in the lineup. A mechanical issue combined with an overly sensitive tilt is an outright insult to a competitive player. The last time something like this happened, the result wasn’t pretty. By this point, I had already clinched a drop week for this week (technically, first place here and on the next game would have tied me with my week 1 score, but either way one of the 17s would be a drop week).

We would wrap up the night on Iron Maiden. Finally, during my third ball of this game, I would score enough to clinch at least third place. At least I didn’t go the whole night finishing last. My 39.8M+ was actually going to be good enough for second place when it was all done (there was little chance of catching Erich’s 93.7M+, though I did do the best I possibly could). That’s nine standings points on the night. I would be in a four-way tie for the worst score of the week.

While the situation is now a bit dire, I am not mathematically eliminated from A division yet. As a rough guide for what to expect will be enough for A division, the cutoff last season was 66 points. That’s 49 more points across two weeks (over the 17 from week 1), or second place all the way across in a four-player group. That may not hold true for this season, but the hole I’m in is a bit smaller than it appears. While I’m trying not to think about it, last season’s B division cutoff was 51 points, or an additional 34 points across the next two weeks (six third-place and four second-place finishes in a four-player group, or a similar performance). Certainly, that’s well within my capabilities, though B division is not where I want to wind up.