A look ahead at Space City Pinball League Season 5 and other things

This is a bit later than I wanted to get this out there, since the new season begins later tonight (I’m writing this early Monday morning), but better late than never, as I’ve always said.

The three months since last season ended have given me a lot of time to think. I’m disappointed at having not been able to make it to any major tournaments outside of the league, not even Houston Arcade Expo. I have also not been able to play tournaments at The Game Preserve due mainly to transportation issues. I hope to play a lot more pinball this year (and maybe even take the big steps towards an arcade video game record, the actual namesake of this blog), but right now my focus is on the league.

Last season ended with a B division third-place trophy and the corresponding cash payout. Only qualifying for B division is, admittedly, somewhat of a disappointment. Third place is also a song that’s been played in the jukebox rather often. The goal, obviously, is A division, and first place. I do realize I’ve never qualified for A division in the Space City Pinball League, not even once.

To be fair, I feel like I have succeeded in one area I have traditionally not done that well in: socially, I’ve done a lot better in this league than in other similar endeavors I have been a part of. I’ll be honest, I’ve had problems with shyness and making new friends for quite a while. It was a problem I thought I had solved as recently as 2009, some eight years ago. Since then I’ve been a bit leery of trying to convince myself I’ve finally conquered this particular demon. It’s easier to be social when I’m “in my element” so to speak. Pinball has been “my element” since middle school. I’m lucky enough to have really gotten into pinball just as games like The Addams Family were about to be released. And I’m lucky enough today to be part of the first pinball league I’ve known to ever exist in Houston, with people who are not just great pinball players, but great people as well.

I’m looking forward to tonight. It’s going to be a great time for everyone.

Eighteen Twenty Lounge
1820 Franklin (at Hamilton), Houston, TX

Space City Pinball League Season 4 Finals: The long, hard road

Shortly after the conclusion of week 8, league organizer Phil Grimaldi announced the final standings. I finished the regular season in 16th, good enough for a first-round bye in B division. Since I had already paid dues, I had little to risk by sticking around for finals (unlike earlier seasons where dues were collected on the day of the finals).

The games were organized into two banks: Big Buck Hunter, Spiderman (Vault Edition), and Domino’s in the first bank; Ghostbusters, The Hobbit, Kiss, and Medieval Madness (Remake) in the second bank. As luck would have it, I would be scheduled for the first bank for both of the rounds I played.

I had a few moments to clear my head with the first round bye. Phil went over the rules, and then I sat and waited for the quarterfinals to complete. My semifinals match would begin with Marc Gammons and Joe Cuellar who advanced from the quarterfinals, and Bryce Revnew who was seeded high enough for the other first-round bye in our group. We would begin on Domino’s.

I would like to start off by admitting I don’t particularly care for this game. Going in, I had literally zero confidence I could put up a score decent enough to win. But I was able to put up an amazing 19.2M+, completely dwarfing the other three scores (second place was Joe with 2.3M+). I was shocked, and considered the possibility that the game had malfunctioned. But the other players confirmed it was legitimate. It definitely did not feel like a dominating performance even though I made quite a few shots and started multiple multiball modes.

We would move on to Big Buck Hunter. I was completely unfamiliar with this game. I just sort of “winged it” and again put up a dominating score, this time 21.1M+ over Bryce’s second-place 6.2M+.

At this point I’ve clinched my finals berth and could theoretically have just plunged my balls on Spiderman. But I don’t play that way. I put up a 31.1M+ good enough for third, behind Bryce’s 50.0M+ and Marc’s 73.6M+ (Marc actually quit playing his ball early due to time constraints, so he could have easily passed 100M).

So the finals would begin with Marc, David Pollock, and Brian Goss. Again, I would start out on Domino’s, but this time I wouldn’t do nearly as well. I managed to finish in second place with a 1.463M+ ahead of Brian’s 1.412M+ and behind David’s 2.5M+.

The next game on Big Buck Hunter would pretty much knock me out of contention for first place. I managed a mere 3.2M+ behind everyone else, with Marc’s 4.1M+ good for third. The game was a disaster from the beginning. I couldn’t really get much going, unlike the previous game on this machine where everything just flowed and I got well into eight digits easily.

The last game on Spiderman wasn’t completely meaningless, though. It came down to the last ball. Marc’s score of 100.1M+ was daunting, but not completely insurmountable, and I still could have finished in second place were I able to score higher. I had, if I remember right, a score somewhere in the vicinity of 50M going into the third ball. I did well enough to finish with 68.4M+ but that was nowhere near enough to win. I would wind up in a tiebreaker with Brian Goss for third place, and we would play one final game on Big Buck Hunter to decide who took home the third place trophy.

I kept the lead all the way. Brian would have to beat 5,037,580 to win the tiebreaker game. He went into the third ball with somewhere around 2M and would only finish with 2,730,630 which was nowhere near enough. So I took home the B division third place trophy along with $30 (my $20 league dues back, plus $10 more) which is the first significant league or tournament victory I’ve been able to celebrate in a good long while.

In three seasons of league play (I did not play in the first season) I have yet to finish higher than B division. It’s good to finish the season with a trophy and some cash back in my pocket, though first place remains as elusive as ever, even in B division.

Space City Pinball League Season 4 Week 8: Wrapping it up with a bang

Finally getting around to finishing this up. Don’t worry, the following post about the finals will have more detail as will future posts, that I hope to finish up as they happen instead of weeks or months later going forward.

Games this week: Game of Thrones Premium, Ghostbusters, Kiss, Medieval Madness, Metallica, Spiderman, Star Trek. My group: Chris Gonzales, Brian Goss.

First game: Game of Thrones. If I remember right, I made an extra ball shot towards the end of this game that counted for points instead of awarding an extra ball (something like 10M or 15M). I wound up with a 16.1M+ good for second, Chris ran away with this one with 184M+. Three points after one game.

Second game: Kiss. I put up a 5.6M+ which is pretty good for me this game, it just wasn’t any good compared to Brian’s 24.4M+ and Chris’s 73.1M+. Four points after two games.

Third game: Metallica. 16.4M+ good for first. Nine points after three games, and I’m starting to feel better.

Fourth game: Spiderman. 26.0M+ again good for first. Fourteen points after four games.

Last game: Star Trek. 6,979,790 good for second. Chris puts up 7,041,990 to eek out first.

I think the good performance here was enough to move me into a first-round bye for B division finals. I’ll have to look into it closer to be sure, as the standings list I have doesn’t have all the tiebreakers.

Space City Pinball League Season 4 Week 7: Running out of cute subtitles

Real life has been taking over, so this is way late (three whole weeks after it happened). Better late than never, though. Since I’m a bit light on details this is going to be a relatively short with summaries and pictures.

Games this week: Game of Thrones (Premium), Ghostbusters (Premium), Kiss, Medieval Madness, Mustang, Spiderman (Vault Edition), and The Hobbit. My group: Lisa Shore, Mark Hernandez, and Matt Quantz (again). Chance of Matt setting Pirates of the Carribean to Spanish again during league play tonight: zero (thank goodness).

First game: Mustang. I put up a pretty lousy last place performance of 7.4M+, Matt ran away with this one with 43.5M+, Lisa took third with 14.2M+.

Second game: Spiderman VE. I take first with 19.4M+ ahead of Lisa’s 14.9M+ and the others.

Third game: Game of Thrones. I take first with 58.0M+ ahead of Matt’s 43.3M+ and the others. If I remember right I had a Blackwater Multiball which went well enough to give me the win.

Fourth game: Medieval Madness. I hated this game before, and I still do. Last place with a whopping 1.2M+; I needed to beat Lisa’s 4.4M+ to get third or better.

Fifth game: Kiss. I manage third with a 4,791,500 but Lisa eeks out a second with 4,840,370. Again, another game I seem to lay an egg on in league play every time I play it.

Total on the night: 14 standings points.

Getting a couple of first place finishes is good, but knowing I should have done better is a bit irksome.