Monday Night Pinball’s 6th season ended similarly to season 5, as the finals were a contest between Full Tilt Ballard’s Soda Jerks and Flip Flip Ding Ding’s The Wrecking Crew for the top team. And again, like last season, The Wrecking Crew took the win! This now makes two-time winners out of The Wrecking Crew (seasons 5 and 6), Soda Jerks (3 and 4) and Shorty’s Silverball Slayers (1 and 2), and season 7 is going to be a tie breaker unless another team can break into the top. There’s a good chance this could happen. MNP Season 7 begins in February with three new locations, two more teams and approximately 200 people participating every week. We know from personal experience that being on a team is a sure way to motivate yourself into getting better at pinball. Teams!

With the increase of players in the MNP league (as well as in the pinball community in general) growing pains and drama are always possibilities. This past season had one team threaten to boycott another team, as well as a location getting stink eye because of an event unrelated to the league. This seems to have prompted league organizers Geoff Simons and Dave Stewart to create a board of directors to help usher the league through these kinds of sticky situations. This first board consists of Alexa Philbeck, Sophie Spickard, Taylor Minter, Michael Adcock, and Heather Loudon, which should be a fair and level-headed group. If you are interested in participating in MNP and haven’t yet joined, there are still spots left on a few of the teams, and substitutes are often needed. Go to Monday Night Pinball’s website or Facebook page for more details. Subs!

Seattle Pinball League is also gearing up for their new season in February. SPL is a (mostly) monthly gathering of members who usually meet at private locations for tournaments and fun that culminates in a finals contest in December. The 2016 finals began on Friday (12/2) with a wild card playoff won by Kevin Birrell, who then continued his winning streak the next day by advancing all day through the ladder format tournament and into the final round. It was a pretty impressive feat when you consider that he was the only one who began at 10 AM and continued playing for over 14 hours until finally being upset by Raymond Davidson in the end! Well, perhaps the upset would have been if Kevin had won, but either way, it was an impressive performance and broadcast live on Twitch as well. Wild!

Kevin and Raymond are both on a rolL. Raymond (who is ranked 5th worldwide) won the City Champ tournament in San Francisco in December, while Kevin (13th) won both the 19th Annual Shorty’s Tournament and Seattle Super League finals back in November. Along with these wins, Kevin decided to go down to Portland at the end of the year for the Last Chance WPPR Grab tourney which he not only won but also let him “drink PDX tears”, as that put him into the qualifying bracket for the IFPA Oregon State Championship Series — which he has decided to attend instead of Washington’s! We think his and Raymond’s plan may be to win the two state championships so that they can travel together and compete in the IFPA US National Pinball Championship, which happens in Dallas later this spring. Of course, there will be 15 other competitors in each state who will try to keep that from happening. The WA State Championship will be held at 8-Bit Arcade in Renton (2/11) with a match-play tournament running concurrently. Plans!

As usual, there have been a lot of weeklies, monthlies, and special events/tournaments held around Seattle these past few months and the holiday season seems to bring out a few more special ones that were geared towards helping the less fortunate. With the rise of both players and locations, it seemed natural that there was some overlapping of these events.  On December 13th, both 8-Bit Arcade and Grand Champion Games held charity tournaments, and the overlap seemed to irk a few local players. Fortunately, both events were well attended as close to 90 players total chose to come out for the benefits. Both had special surprises for the contestants, with the Rob Zombie pinball machine making its area debut at 8-Bit, and Danger Dan brought his personal Big Lebowski pinball machine to the Grand Champion event. Specials!

A similar situation has been happening with the MNP off-season Mondays, with both Ozzie’s and Full Tilt Ballard hosting tournaments, which again seem to be mostly well attended with around 70 people combined coming out for the January 9th events. Another new location, The Goat (in Greenwood) started off with a weekly Sunday night tournament, while on the same day Jared Gamble began hosting a monthly one-handed pinball tourney at Add-a-Ball Amusements.  As if Sundays weren’t busy enough, down in Tacoma the Triple Knock has started holding a monthly women’s tournament, and of course there are Another Castle Arcade Edition’s weekly kids and amateur tournaments. Meanwhile, the weekly Iron Bull tournaments had been moving around a bit during their extensive construction project until finally settling into Bad Jimmy’s (another new location) although with mixed results attendance-wise. Mixed!

The grand-daddy of Seattle’s weekly pinball scene, The Wednesday Flip Off at Add-a-Ball, is still going strong and held their 200th tournament on January 4th. Hosted by Sergey Posrednikov and Heather Loudon, the weekly Flip Off seems impervious to outside influences and always gets a sizable crowd of competitors each week. Fremont has always claimed to be the center of the universe and this is true as far as the local pinball scene goes — although Metro has yet to figure this out. Add-a-Ball is also apparently making tentative plans to join other local businesses Rudy’s and Cha Cha by opening a branch in Los Angeles. While we heard that Add-a-Brad’s brother will eventually be the manager of the satellite location, we do not know if it will be in the Silver Lake neighborhood where the other Seattle transplants are. L.A.!

North of Seattle at Another Castle, Michael WARfield has retired as the director of the weekly Amateur Pinball Tournament. WAR had a farewell tournament on Jan. 8th and has passed the torch to Lefteris Sitaras, who has already been running the kids’ tournament. WAR had just made some changes to the Amateur Tournament rules that increased the IFPA ranking a player must hold to be considered an “amateur”, but it is unknown whether Lefteris will keep these rules or make up new ones of his own. We read on Facebook that he may introduce a subtract-a-ball-penalty so that higher ranked players can still participate but they won’t get to play all their balls. REEAADDDYYY!

Bobby Conover of 20XX Amusements, who operates the pins at Full Tilt Ballard, has been contemplating running a novice tournament as well. It’s definitely true that many of the newbies of the local scene would like to join in the fun of a tournament but seem hesitant about being thrown into the melee of a Wednesday Flip Off or Full Tilt Weekly, which can both be pretty competitive. With the prices of tournaments rising (and the prize money with it) we fully understand the hesitation. With pinball’s rise in popularity there are certainly plenty of new players to tap into, but finding the right format that will attract them can be difficult. Hands-on pinball tutorials is an idea being floated around also, and when they were held at 8-Bit last year by Chelsey Oedewaldt, it seemed to go well. So if you are a new player looking for something like this, let us know what kinds of events would interest you and we will pass it along. Write!

Another popular way that some women players have been dipping their toes into the pinball community has been via women-only tournaments and gatherings. The International Flipper Pinball Association (IFPA) have become more active in tracking women’s World Pinball Player Ranking (WPPR) points and asked organizers of these events to submit their results to the IFPA. That means Powder Puff, Babes in Pinland and NWPAS Women’s Tournaments are now being added to a player’s rankings when applicable. These points are not added to a player’s open ranking, which is multi-gender, but to a separate women’s rankings page on the IFPA website. The women’s rankings are going to be built upon over the next year and then used for wild card spots at the 2018 IFPA Women’s Championship. In the meantime, it’s neat to check out where local women stand in the rankings (spoiler alert: Hannah Holmberg is #1). Points!

Skill Shot News: The 19th Annual Shorty’s Pinball Tournament (11/6) was again hosted by Skill Shot, although this year without the physical assistance of Jeff Groper, who was instead at a CFF wedding. Germain Mariolle graciously filled in as our main ref for the event which went off without a hitch! The Skill Shot Pincast recently recorded its 44th episode, and if our predictions are correct, Pincast 47 and issue 47 of this zine will be released at the same time! 2nd Place Andy created a business card sized info sheet with NBA Fastbreak trivia answers on one side and a few of his video mode maps on the other. Too cool! Skill Shot subscribers and Patreon contributors will receive one with this issue. After taking a few breaks, the First Sunday Tournament @Shorty’s that we organize will return on Feb. 5th, which is also Super Bowl Sunday. If you don’t watch football, come join us for some pinball instead. Our friends at Slap Save (Portland’s Pinball Zine) have challenged us to bring a team down for a Seattle/Portland throwdown the night before Pinbrawl in April. Hitched!

Pinball Tidbits: Did you see the article about Robert Gagno in ESPN magazine? It’s really cool, and on their website too. * Seattle Pinball Super League has added more locations to their line-up:  Shorty’s, Triple Knock, and Ozzie’s. * Flip Flip Ding Ding now has 3 pins on free play every Monday! * Another Castle’s Jason and Eezy don’t have an operator name yet but they’ve been adding locations on Bainbridge and in Bremerton. Check out the List on our website. * Ed’s Kort Haus has closed and The Goat next door may try to expand into the space, which would create a super-arcade. SilverAge Silverball is ready to fill it up if they do. * The Narwhal is changing up their pinball area, which will make room for more pins. Sweet! * Hellbent Brewery was temporarily pin-less in January while between operators. They should have more than two by the time you read this.* Congratulations to Jodine and Leslie for adding another pinball player wedding to the list xxoo * SUPPORT LOCAL PINBALL!

Originally published in Skill Shot 46