September is our 7-year anniversary of publishing the zine! Join us at the First Sunday @ Shorty’s Pinball Tournament to help us celebrate. There will be clowns! More details can be found here.
Summer in Seattle had an early start with the Annual Powder Puff Tournament at Shorty’s (May 25). Previously a biennial tournament, Skill Shot has taken over the hosting duties and we couldn’t think of any good reason why it shouldn’t be annual, considering the number of women in the pinball scene. Thirty players came from all over the Pacific Northwest — special props to Bonnie Bedford, who came by bus from Vancouver, and the Portland ladies who came in matching team t-shirts! It was a competitive day of pinball as the Seattle gals were determined to take back the bragging rights from the out-of-towners who often win this event (Bonnie and Portland’s Emma Eichorn are both past champions). Eventually it proved to be Seattle’s own dark horse competitor Kristen Daniels who smiled her way zen-like to the top spot and became this year’s champ! Kristen’s partner Aaron McAbee’s barely constrained enthusiasm throughout the day won him the Best-Dressed-Boy contest that was held during the tourney. His prize: a PBR onesie! Power couple!
The Northwest Pinball and Arcade Show had its second event at the Tacoma Convention Center on June 6 – 8th. They occupied a larger room than last year, making it seem like there were fewer games. New to the show this year were pins like Starship Troopers, a Les Schwab Team conversion game, Stern’s new Mustang, and a see-through Surf Champ brought as part of California’s Pacific Pinball Museum exhibit. A separate row of EM pins made its return this year with a beautiful collection of rarely seen pins such as Scuba, and another section featured pins tricked out with LED’s and alternative translites for both Congo and The Shadow. Also new this year was a separate Kids Zone, set up in the lobby with Shrek and Super Mario Bros. Mushroom World amongst other kid-centric games. Kids!
For older attendees, there was a plethora of pinball tournaments this year hosted and organized by Dave Stewart and Amanda Kunzi. Dave in particular was really into it and set up many different sponsors and pre-tournaments around Seattle in the weeks beforehand, which not only awarded free entries to various NWPAAS tourneys but also accumulated prizes to give out at events. This created a lot of extra excitement for the tournaments this year, which were all very well-attended. Kayla Greet held an all women Babes in Pinland tournament one night, and James and Janice Edes hosted a Classics PinGolf competition, a format we don’t believe was present in past shows. There were also a few tournaments for rookies, kids, and less experienced players. The main event was the All-Match Play Tournament, and it was the biggest tournament at NWPAAS yet, with over 100 players and a big cash prize. Wow!
The following weekend the annual Northwest Pinball Championships took place in Marysville and drew a contingent of highly ranked IFPA players such as Keith Elwin (#1) and Zach Sharpe (#3) to the event. Hosted by Cayle George (#13) and Eden Stamm (#48), this is arguably the premier annual tournament in our region (Fraser Valley Flip Out is giving them a run for their money this year) and most of the best players in the area like Robert Gagno (#6) and Raymond Davidson (#27) were in attendance for a chance to win the large cash prizes. Elwin prevailed. Results!
Up-and-coming pinball champion Kevin Birrell turned 21 on June 22nd and celebrated this event with a pub crawl through many of the locations that were forbidden to him until now, such as Jules Maes and Add-a-Ball Amusements. Kevin, being a lover of both pinball and tournaments, organized a full-points tournament at Olaf’s for the big day, which drew around 30 folks to not only celebrate his big day but also win some of his money! Now that Kevin is legal, everyone’s high scores are being terrorized throughout the city just as we thought they would be. Terror!
The second Seattle Pinball Rally was held on July 19th this year. This move from their previous October date was one that we thought would bring the machines out onto the Hilliard’s spacious patio. Instead the pins were pretty much in the same place indoors as they were last year. A tournament organized by Kevin drew a fair amount of people to the Rally, but we were kind of disappointed that this event has turned into yet another pinball tournament when Seattle has so many of them already. Rumor has it that Rally organizer Terry Wynia is contemplating turning this into a multi-day event, which should hopefully encourage more people to donate pins to the Rally as well as give non-competitive folks a chance to play the games while the tourney is held. Rumors!
A different sort of pinball tournament has made its mark on the local scene this season: Pinball Seattle! This is a (mostly) bar league/team organization that played every
Monday during their first 10-week season (April – June). As a team league, it is not eligible for pinball ranking (IFPA) points and thus drew a wide range of players that you don’t normally see at competitions. The team spirit that evolved during the season caught some people off-guard and began to cause ill feelings towards the Shorty’s Silverball Slayers due to the exuberant cheering from (mostly) Brad. Still, this hostility towards the Slayers couldn’t stop their (our) near perfect record (9 – 1), which lead to an epic battle against John John’s Middle Flippers and Steve Ackley’s exuberance at the 8-Bit. The final match came down to a tie-breaking split-flipper battle that ultimately led to a Slayers victory! Look below for more details on Pinball Seattle in this issue and on our website. SLAYERS!
In other Skill Shot news: Our monthly First Sunday Tournaments at Shorty’s continue to be fun and experimental. In April, Amanda Kunzi hosted a Pinbowling tournament, June had a Keanu Reeves themed tourney that was most excellently run by Aaron McAbee, July was Kevin Birrell’s chess-timer-themed event (which was probably the most experimental one so far) and in August, Ackley hosted a Zombie-themed tournament. These tourneys are meant to be both fun and a way for people to try out different things, like hosting a tournament. On Sunday September 7th, we will be celebrating our 7th year of publishing Skill Shot with a clown party and tournament at Shorty’s! We will also premiere our newest t-shirt at the event! There will be prizes for the best clowns so please dress accordingly. The party starts at 3pm. Clowns!
Pinball Tidbits: Madison Pub has been sprucing up their collection lately with a new Mustang to go along with their Stern Star Trek pin. We guess it’s curtains soon for their Family Guy. * Another Castle Arcade Edition in Edmonds has finished their expansion and has had opening parties and tournaments for the past month. * Full Tilt Ballard has moved their weekly tournaments to Thursdays in order to participate in the Pinball Seattle league. This makes Thursdays a popular tournament night as Babes in Pinland and Flip Flip Ding Ding also have tourneys that day. To add to the confusion, Flip Flip accidentally had their biweekly tournaments on the wrong days in June due to an extra Thursday in May. Oops! * Chrome Industries opened a Seattle store in June and had six pinball machines set on free play for their grand opening, courtesy of Levi Dittebrandt. They also had free beer and tacos! * The new Comet Tavern, which has the word pinball stenciled on their windows, had the audacity to put a fan on the pins during a recent hot day. What’s up with that? * Have you heard about the new pinball bar set to open in Ballard later this year? The name and more details will be in our next issue! * Support Local Pinball!
There’s a new pinball league in Seattle and it’s a big hit: Pinball Seattle! It’s a team league that meets for matches against each other weekly at different locations across Seattle. The locations (mostly bars) sponsor one or two teams depending on how many machines they have. Like most league sports these teams play home or away games for points during a 10-week season. The teams with the most points at the end of the season then compete in a playoff, ultimately determining who goes to the season finals and is crowned season champion.
A team-centric Seattle pinball league was an idea that Geoff Simons had been exploring since last summer. When New York transplant Tim Tournay heard this plan, he mentioned that New York has a team-based league called Pinball New York and suggested that Seattle league could learn something from this organization. Tim contacted Pinball New York organizer Kris Medina, who agreed to supply the Seattle league with Pinball NY’s website template, and Pinball Seattle was born.
Many people had heard rumors of the league beforehand and were excited for it to begin, but first Geoff had to get the locations figured out. He began by contacting businesses that had at least six pinball machines to gauge their interest in the league. By deciding to hold league matches on Mondays, it was an easy sell to most, and six agreed to cash sponsorships in order to be included in the league. Olaf’s, Flip Flip Ding Ding, Narwhal, and John John’s Game Room all signed up to sponsor a team for the first season, while Shorty’s and Add-a-Ball Amusements agreed to host two because of their larger selection of pins. With the locations set, the teams themselves were assembled by people signing up on the Pinball Seattle website, although there was some initial confusion due to the site’s NY-specific wording that encouraged players to sign up as complete teams.
Once sign-ups began, Geoff felt it was best to let team captains (who also applied online) build their own teams from the applicants until they each had a roster of eight players. There were restrictions to the team rosters, the key one being that no team could have more than two players ranked in the International Flipper Pinball Association’s (IFPA) top 500 — only one of whom could be in the top 150. Some teams filled up faster than others, so some players (affectionately called “orphans”) were directed toward the remaining teams, while other extra players became reserves for teams that already had eight starters. These designations sparked controversy later in the season, since the rules for the league stated that starters always had to play matches, effectively sitting reserve players out if the all starters showed up.
Soon after locations and teams were set, Pinball Seattle hosted a pre-season party at Add-a-Ball where rules were made known and a meeting was held to determine the team alignments of the North and South conferences. While Olaf’s and Flip Flip were obviously North and South respectively, the placement of the other six teams were decided by a coin toss which split the two Shorty’s and Add-a-Ball teams and randomly assigned designations to Capitol Hill locations Narwhal and John John’s. With the help of tournament master Dave Stewart, brackets were drawn for the 10-week season, mostly splitting team schedules evenly between home and away games and with every team playing each other at least once.
Once the season opened on April 7th it was quickly apparent the league would succeed. Players got into the spirit of team sports with cheers, chants, and obvious team pride that surprised many, but not Geoff, who thought, “it was fun to see people getting excited.” In fact, once the season was up and running the only challenge was getting captains to submit scores in a timely fashion to post online. Geoff was particularly touched by players spontaneously coming up to tell him how much they were enjoying the league, especially those who were meeting new people and becoming better pinball players through the team environment.
At the end of June, Season Finals were held at the 8-Bit in Renton between the Shorty’s Silverball Slayers and John John’s Middle Flippers. “We wanted to include them,” Geoff explains, “They are one of the largest places in the area and have an eclectic selection of games from different genres, kept in good condition.” It was an exciting ending to the first season as both teams brought their A games and neither had a clear advantage, as none of the pins at the 8-Bit that were also at either Shorty’s or John John’s were allowed for the Finals. Members from all of the other teams were in attendance both at the finals and the Pinball Seattle All-Star match two weeks later that officially ended the first season of the new league.
While some teams had an advantage with good pinball teachers in their ranks such as 3rd Place Andy on the Slayers and Dave Stewart on the House Ballers, other teams benefited by having an unique collections of games at their home location, as Ellipsis did at Flip Flip Ding Ding and the Middle Flippers did at John John’s. Both home and away teams chose which games to play for the matches, with potential strategy depending on what the other team may be more familiar with or how the same game differs from location to location.
Matches and scoring proved to be a bigger challenge, though, with matches beginning with four doubles-games awarding half of the points (eight) for the night. If a team won a majority of the doubles, “the other team wouldn’t be able to come back from that,” explains Geoff. Dave has suggested splitting the doubles-games up next season, with two at the beginning and two at the end and singles-games in between. There would be a lot less pressure on the players during the singles rounds and add a lot of suspense until the last (doubles) round. Dave has also suggested a different scoring system that would increase the available total game points from 16 to 55 and add more individual games to the night, giving everyone more opportunities to play — including reserves.
In fact, the designation “reserves” may no longer exist come next season, as Pinball Seattle considers increasing the team size to 10. People got upset when the full team showed up because it shut out the reserves since every starter had to play. “You’re either on a team or not on a team,” says Geoff. Dave has proposed changes with more games per matches and fewer roster restrictions.” Geoff explains that Dave has “been doing this longer than any of us, as far as organizing competitive pinball, so he’s a good person to go to.” Some of Dave’s more controversial ideas, like order of play, may need to be to be put to a league vote before being implemented.
The next season will bring more teams with the 8-Bit and Full Tilt Ballard joining Pinball Seattle, as well as Another Castle in Edmonds. Some existing players expressed reservations about such a distant location in the weekly league. Geoff points out that other teams would each only have to travel there once per season. 8-bit already has many interested potential players, as he had to inform some players that they wouldn’t have a team there during the first season.
More changes will also be further detailed on the Pinball Seattle website as the next season approaches. Season two of Pinball Seattle is slated to begin at the end of September, so stay tuned. http://www.pinball-seattle.com/