Tournament at Eightytwo, 2021 May 4: Deja vu all over again?

So once again, we convened at Eightytwo for another evening of exciting pinball. It is finally starting to look like we are getting back to normal. There is still no word from the IFPA on when tournaments and leagues will be endorsed/ranked again, but tournaments are starting to happen again and on a more frequent basis. It’s not just a few people here and there, especially now that the vaccines are getting wide distribution.

This time we had a lot more of the pinball crowd from before the pandemic. In the previous tournament we saw Phil Grimaldi, Chris Low, Gina Low, and John Speights, all of whom returned for this installment, but also we would see Marc Gammons, Erich Stinson, Blake Dumesnil, Cory Westfahl, Ruben Zepeda, David Dronet, and Elizabeth Dronet, and for all I know I’ve even missed someone in there somewhere.

The lineup was more or less the same. Attack from Mars was moved from its former spot on the floor but it doesn’t look like any games were taken out. If I’m wrong I’ll update.

For me, the tournament would begin with a game of Metallica against Juan Uresti, one of the newer players. It’s good to see new players, as it means the competitive scene is growing. I would establish a pretty solid lead after the second ball and not look back, picking up a win with 10.0M+ to 7.5M+ (my only picture does not show Juan’s score, and this was my only chance to get a score photo as he did play his extra ball after the result was made official, so this is my memory of his approximate score).

Round two, Medieval Madness, versus Chris Callens. This particular table of this title is for some reason a bit harder to play. Maybe it’s the flippers that seem weak, or my memory has a hole where “how Medieval Madness is supposed to play” should be. (At least the tilt is not set to a ridiculously tight setting.) Either way, I did manage to get off to an early lead, and actually start multiball to boost my score. The final result was a no-doubter: 8.50M+ to 1.44M+.

I would draw Tron Legacy versus Chris Low for the third round. This game was competitive until the end; I pulled away with a score of 9.97M+ but Chris stayed in it until the end, finally signing off with 7.15M+. Three relatively decisive wins in three rounds. I’m starting to feel pretty good, but the memory of making it all the way to the end last month just to fall short is still fresh in my mind.

It didn’t take much to bring me back down to earth. Like the game for round four, The Walking Dead versus Jamie Burchell. I kept it close for the first two balls, then Jamie busts loose posting a 22.67M+. The best I can manage was just short of lighting the eighth digit, 9.80M+. So there’s the one strike I can afford to give.

The fifth round would see me play Star Trek: TNG against Blake Dumesnil. This game was brutal to both of us. I did manage a slightly longer second ball to eek out enough to win. Blake signed off with 52.9M+ and some choice profanity, versus my 118.5M+. Can’t say I blame him, as his tournament ended with a brutal “straight down the middle” drain. That’s been me too many times to count (though I’ve gone easy on the Q*Bert impressions as of late).

We’re now at the point of the tournament where I start looking at the other games. Especially since round six is… a bye? Apparently that’s a thing in heads-up strikeout tournaments when you have an odd number of players. I would follow the other two games eagerly, those being Cory Westfahl versus Jamie Burchell on Star Wars and Phil Grimaldi versus Erich Stinson on World Cup Soccer. Cory and Erich won their respective games.

Round seven was Attack from Mars versus Cory. Despite tilting near the end of ball 2, I would hold on to win the game, though it did come down to the bonus point countdown. I signed off with 922.6M+ versus Cory’s 859.5M+. Just enough to get it done.

And so here we are again. For the third time in a row, I would be one of the final two players in a strikeout tournament. For the second time in a row at Eightytwo, I would be playing my final game of a strikeout tournament, again on Eight Ball Deluxe. I put up some good scores on this game during pre-tournament warmups, a couple of them in the 1.6M+ range. That doesn’t always mean anything when tournament time comes.

I would play first versus Erich Stinson. The very first ball of the game went surprisingly well, nearing the 600k mark, and most importantly I made all the pool ball targets including the 8 ball target, maximizing my possible bonus for the rest of the game. Erich would come close but I would still have a comfortable lead going into ball 2, which would bring my score just over a million. Erich wouldn’t do nearly as well on his ball 2. So here I am, one ball away. I still have doubts that my score will hold up, but I play a good ball and sign off with 1,597,090, rather close to my best scores in warmups.

Erich had, as I remember, somewhere in the 580k-590k range after ball 2. The really tense moment would come next. It’s still quite possible for Erich to blow it up with over a million points in one ball. That’s more in character for someone like Phil, Donovan, maybe even Marc or Blake.

It doesn’t last nearly that long. Erich signs off with 710,210.

Finally.

There’s only one other tournament I could be said to have won, that being the B division league playoffs in 2017 November. I remember it well, and at the time it was the high point.

This was different. This was an honest-to-goodness first place finish over the entire field. Not some B division rubbish (which, honestly, is just the players who weren’t quite good enough to make A division). Furthermore, there was not a single controversial ruling in the tournament that I’m aware of, so there’s no room for anyone to try to scribble in an asterisk. Sure, it’s not WPPR ranked, but it’s not like anything is right now.

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