NW Pinball Champions

It’s been a good season for fans of competitive pinball since our last issue. The NW Pinball Championships happened at Lucky Strike in Bellevue (9/16-18) and attracted 72 players from the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Like the NW Pinball and Arcade Show tournaments, this year’s Championship had a series of pre-tournaments around Seattle that gave out free entry tickets as part of the prizes awarded. Since this tournament has a pump and dump Vancouver Flip Off Championformat, winning free ticket packages (up to 40) could be a pretty good deal. We don’t think Vancouver BC’s Robert Gagno made it to any of the pre-tournaments, but it didn’t seem like he needed to as he was able to come down and win the main tournament just like he did last year! The following weekend, Seattle’s Raymond Davidson returned the favor by winning the main tournament at the Vancouver Flip-Out, which was part of the first Vancouver Pinball Expo. Bang!

It may be remembered that the Vancouver Expo and Flip-Out tournament were created as a response to the popularity of the Fraser Valley Flip-Out tournament — anVancouver event so popular, in fact, that the 2015 event had to be cancelled because there was too much interest in it and they didn’t have space for everyone. This year the event moved to Vancouver and became convention-like with 100+ pins set on free play, guest speakers, and of course the tournament itself, which had 150 contestants and was run by Seattle locals Dave Stewart and Germain Mariolle. The whole weekend was a success and there is already talk about moving the Expo to a larger venue for next year’s event. Expo!

Dave and Germain running a tourney in Canada isn’t much of surprise, because even though Seattle has a lot of tournaments, many locals still like Cascadia Cupto travel and compete in other cities. This is something that Portland knows all too well since it is only a few hours away and often attracts Seattleites. This year’s Cascadia Cup (10/8) was no different as a handful of Seattle locals drove down to the tournament and placed in 3 of the top 4 spots. Kevin Birrell took the win and was probably happy to be back on top after he missed the NW Championships this year because of his extended visit in Japan competing in Tetris The Masters 100th event. Tetrimino!

There are more big annual tournaments coming up in the next month or so with the first one being the 19th Annual Shorty’s Pinball Tournament (11/6). Since Shorty’s was once the only large pinball location in Seattle, going through the past results of the Annuals on the IFPA website can be interesting as it documents when a lot of the local players began going to tournaments (although it doesn’t go back the full 18 years). Up in Bellingham, the 3rd Annual Shakedown Pinball Tournament (11/13) celebrates the inclusion of pins at that institution. The weekend after Thanksgiving is when The 6th Annual Leftover TurNey is held. Last year’s event was at Another Castle, but this year’s TurNey is going back to Mitch Anderson’s Bally Cavern in Shoreline. Bally!

During the winter months, expect to see a New Year’s Eve tournament at Another Castle Arcade Edition, a New Year’s Day tourney at Flip Flip Ding Ding as well as weekly and monthly events at other locations such as Add-a-Ball Amusements, Olaf’s, and Iron Bull. The Seattle Pinball Super League also happens the first three weeks of every month but is held at multiple locations simultaneously, with a finals event held after that. The Seattle Pinball League’s tournaments will also be coming to a head with their annual year-end SPL Finals (12/5) at Rod Olsen’s house (aka SPL World Headquarters). All of these tournaments are gathering World Pinball Player Ranking points for the players which are used to determine the top 16 players in the state. This then determines who will be competing in the IFPA Washington State Championship held at the 8-Bit Arcade in February 2017. Champions!

Go to our Calendar page on this website for more details!

While many of the names at the top of this year’s WPPR standings are familiar ones, it has been noticeable how many new players there are joining in on the local tournament scene, with many of them inching up in the rankings. It’s a testament to the popularity of pinball, as well as exciting to see new people improve while making some of the more seasoned players work harder for their wins. Special shout-outs to John Robinson, who has only been playing local tournaments for a couple of years but is having a great 2016, and Justina Russo, who won the Babes in Pinland 3rd Anniversary Tournament. Salute!

Not all of the local tournaments are for WPPR points, though — some are just for fun and bragging rights! The aforementioned Babes in Pinland is a women-only tournament held each month at Add-a-Ball, and the Second Sunday Split tourney is also held there. There’s a weekly Thursday Split Flipper Football tournament at Another Castle in Edmonds, as well as weekly kids and amateur tourneys. Skill Shot presents the First Sunday Tournament at Shorty’s featuring a different guest host each month who runs the tourney and decides the format. It’s a great way to get your feet wet running an event or to try out a different way of playing. Let us know if you are interested in hosting one. No points!

The Monday Night Pinball league began their 6th season (9/12) with a whopping 18 teams and 180 players. Drain in Hell (Shorty’s) and the Iron Bullies (Iron Bull) are both new to the league while Pinguins (8-Bit) and Pin Pals (FFDD) are pre-existing teams that have been re-themed. This season goes until mid-December and will take a break from regular play to celebrate Halloween with a special event at Add-a-Ball. Every week there are teams looking for substitute players, so subbing is a good way of joining the league if you haven’t already done so. Send an email or message by way of their website or Facebook page for more details. Mondays!

Not all pinball events are tournament-centric, and there have been a number of non-competitive things to do locally. During the summer, Push/Pull in Ballard had aPush/Pull art show poster pinball-themed art show, Let’s Play Café in Monroe hosted a pinball swap meet, and the Museum of History and Industry had a Maker Day workshop about pinball. More recently there was Quicksilverball, a pinball and bicycle biathlon where bike riders rode to different locations to have drinks and challenge each other in a game of pinball (which was sort of tournament-y). The Seattle Pinball Museum can be an event in itself depending on how long you hang out there. Of course there’s also the Skill Shot Folding Party that we have whenever a new issue comes out. You might be at one right now. Now!

There are quite a few new locations since our last issue. Both The Funhouse and Ozzie’s have pinball again after not having any for the past few years. Both locations now have multiple pins, with Ozzie’s making the biggest splash thanks to new operator Alex Singleterry’s Grand Champion Amusements, who says the owner wants a big pinball gameroom in the not-too-distant future. On Whidbey Island, The Machine Shop has opened with a collection of 12 classic games that have been restored by Tim Leonard, which you may recognize from the Northwest Pinball Show. The Waterland Arcade in Des Moines opened with a sand bar and 4 pins with the promise of more on the way. We are always on the lookout for new locations (and game changes) so if you discover any please be sure to let us know. Thanks!

Pinball Tidbits: The Pabst Can Crusher is a re-themed Whoa Nelly with music by Portland’s Red Fang and made its debut at Shorty’s with a mini-tournament. Sagel won the grand prize PBR Bluetooth speaker, but Ackley’s PBR tallboy belt was super cool too! ● Vice magazine recently did two different features on pinball. One was about pinball streaming on Twitch, and another about the Portland scene. Nice! ● Seattle Pinball Super League added Shorty’s to their roster of locations, which brings the total to 8. It just keeps growing! ● Pin-golf is the thing now. 8-Bit has it a few times a year and now Flip Flip has it the last Sunday of every month. Olaf’s uses that format frequently as well although they decided to cancel their Sept. event. They are not yet sure how this will affect their year-end finals tournament. ● Full Tilt U-District had to back away from their plan to open up next door to The Kraken because of building structural issues. We hope they find a new spot soon because we want to play those games we hear that 20XX has in storage! ● Jupiter is a new art-bar opening in Belltown that is curated by Joe Nix, the artist who created some of the large art pieces found at Add-a-Ball, John John’s and Iron Bull. Everything is being built by hand by local artists and will include a large arcade as well. Look for a grand opening on NYE! ● Need somewhere to go for Thanksgiving dinner? Jeff Rogers and friends will be hosting a feast at John John’s again this year! Stay tuned for details.. ● Congrats to Claire and Headley, who finally tied the knot under the guidance of Rod “the Godfather of Seattle Pinball” Olsen. Perfect! ● New pins are on the horizon! Batman 66 (Stern), Dialed In (Jersey Jack), and Alien (Heighway). In case you are curious, the next Stern after Batman will be Aerosmith and then possibly a new Star Wars. ● Have you heard about the Seattle Men of Pinball Calendar yet? You will! ● Support Local Pinball!