Texas Pinball Festival 2024 part 5: The playoffs, and aftermath of the tournament

This entry is part 5 of 7 in the series Texas Pinball Festival 2024

And so the Novice division playoffs would begin. The playoffs would be an eight-player group matchplay, similar to that I have played at the end of many other tournaments years ago. For the semifinals, seeds 1, 4, 5, and 8 are in one group, then seeds 2, 3, 6, and 7 are in the other, with the top two of each group advancing to the finals. (We actually had a player absent so the seeding as shown on matchplay.events had seeds 1-6, then 8 and 9. But the principle remains the same.)

My group would be rounded out by Bryce Bush, Brad DeShong, and Don Baker. Our first game was on Terminator 2. Now, having practiced this game at Little Dipper recently was a huge help, even though this particular machine played much differently and I put up a couple of absolute stinkers during qualifying. I would start off fairly slow, but get a multiball going early, unfortunately missing a 3X jackpot shot. Later in the game, I would start another multiball, cash a 2X jackpot shot, but miss a super jackpot shot later in the same multiball (which would have been absolutely huge–50M!). I would pick up a few more points during Payback Time and wind up signing off with a 105.3M+ without even needing to play my third ball. Brad would come closest with 25.0M+.

On we went to Viking for game two. I should have been able to put together at least a decent score given what I did in qualifying. Surprisingly, I never broke the house ball curse and would sign off with an extremely disappointing 61,240, not even good enough for third.

That meant my tournament life would potentially come down to the third and final game of the round, Metallica. I went into the final ball trailing with a score in the range of 7M to 7.5M, needing only to catch Brad’s 11.2M+ to move on. For good measure, though, I had a monster ball signing off with 48.7M+, including a high-scoring Electric Chair Multiball and a bunch of other things I didn’t really keep track of. A true no-doubter, and a huge boost to my ego. To be fair, I thought I needed to catch Bryce’s slightly higher score. I didn’t want to leave anything to chance, given what it took to get here.

If only the finals would go as well.

There would be a pause while we waited for games in the higher divisions to finish. We would also await a single-game playoff between Kelly Moncla and Robert Hooton for the final spot in Novice division. Kelly would win that playoff and advance to the finals along with Sven Johnson, Bryce, and of course yours truly.

First up would be Time Machine. Now, the setup for this game was difficult to the point it almost wasn’t Time Machine anymore. On these settings, multiball was effectively impossible. Progress towards multiball was not spotted by making ramp shots, and worse, this progress was reset at the start of each ball. The only workable strategy, barring incredible luck making the targets to light locks and thus multiball, was to keep making the Starwarp ramp (the ramp with the swirl). To say the least, I had difficulty with this. I would scrape up enough for third place with 743K+. Bryce would of course clean up with 3.1M+.

That was bad enough, but then we would move on to Avatar. This was another game I avoided during qualifying for a reason. I had chances to maybe get things going in my third (last) ball. However, nothing really materialized, so I would finish this game with a disappointing 5.3M+. I needed to finish first to have any realistic hope of winning. This is where I really had to remind myself that no matter how badly it might go, this was still the best I had ever done at a tournament of this size.

The final game of the playoffs would be Kiss. At this point I’m playing for pride. Bryce has at least second place in the game nailed down by the time my last ball comes up, so the best I can possibly do would be to finish second overall (and I would have had to play either Sven or Kelly for a tiebreaker to do that in addition to winning this game). I had some luck but I wasn’t able to replicate anything close to the score I put up in qualifying.

Novice division is a pretty big step up from the bottom quartile of the rankings. (That’s where I was the last couple of years.) Fourth place within novice division is at least a start and something to build on for next year. My tournament ranking for IFPA purposes is 60th, a rather large jump from last year’s 124th. (The B and Novice division playoffs do not impact IFPA rankings.)

I win the plaque pictured in the gallery, plus $40 in cash (not shown).

The most important thing I would get from playing this year’s tournament, however, was hope. The glimmer of hope that seemed to fade in the months after last year’s TPF has finally become much brighter.

As a side note, I had another event to attend this weekend (in the DFW area), and I had considered bailing on TPF to go there for part of Saturday (instead of Sunday) had my tournament prospects gone out the window yet again. All things considered, I’m quite glad about this year’s outcome.

Finally, I should add a side note here. My dinner after the tournament was at Dave’s Hot Chicken (over in Plano). I made the mistake of getting hot tenders. Their idea of “hot” lines up with my idea of “barely edible”. (I did eventually finish, but I’m definitely not making that mistake again.)

Series Navigation<< Texas Pinball Festival 2024 part 4: Saturday qualifyingTexas Pinball Festival 2024 part 6: Miscellaneous photos (mostly show floor) >>