John John’s Game Room on Capitol Hill reopened to much public excitement on November 3rd. Some of you may remember that when JJ’s first announced their remodeling plans at the beginning of the summer, it was planned to be for only two weeks. Five months later, when the grand reopening was announced along with a return of their Tuesday Night Pinball Tournament, there was a huge sigh of relief in the neighborhood. When Jeff Rogers announced the additional prizes of Seahawks tickets for the tournament, interest exploded and a pre-registration page needed to be created on Facebook because he wanted to keep the player cap at 64 (it was a weekday, after all). Naturally the opening was a success and JJ’s shot back up to the top of popular places to play pinball, thanks to their sweet collection of games (Walking Dead, Attack From Mars, Monster Bash, etc) all priced at 50 cents. The addition of the new Game of Thrones pin a few days later seemed to be icing on the cake. Brad and Travis (the previous owners) have stepped in to help get JJ’s back on track and several Add-a-Ball bartenders have also been working there, while Jeff keeps things popping with special events such as a Thanksgiving Day feast (MD 20/20 cranberry sauce!) and a particularly messy NYE celebration. Popping!
The 18th Annual Shorty’s Pinball Tournament took place on November 8th with 69 contestants from around the Pacific NW. Hosted by Skill Shot and tournament director extraordinaire Jeff Groper, players from Portland to Vancouver BC descended upon the now historic location, which is in the process of battling for its spot in Belltown (along with many other businesses). As usual for the Shorty’s Annual, the format was head-to-head double-elimination which, along with the odd number of contestants, created a large number of byes in the first few rounds. While this eventually smoothed itself out, it created a bit of confusion in the beginning as players had to wait for the losers’ bracket to fill out. In the end, the Portland contingent didn’t fare so well this year (although SpoKanthony sure had fun), but Vancouver’s Robert Gagno certainly did well as he came back from the losers’ bracket and got the win (actually two) in the final match against the previously undefeated 3rd Place Andy. Although Robert won, Andy got to move up a place in his name. 2nd Place!
Add-a-Ball Amusements’ Super Wednesday Flip Off Tournament seemingly took a page from some of the other weeklies that have been increasing their prize pots by announcing that they would add $200 if they got 65 players. Rod Olsen, Kevin Birrell, and Jeff Jeff added more money to bring the extra cash up to $420 (a special number at AAB) for a player count that ultimately reached 74! The place was hopping with competition and AAB had the foresight to bring in an extra Bally Power Play for the event. JJJ claimed the prize beforehand, proving that he is psychic. Add-a-Ball also celebrated Halloween with a costumed split-flipper tournament that was fun, even for those not competing. They also rang in 2016 with a popular NYE party. The monthly Babes in Pinland all-women tournament held there (hosted by Skill Shot’s Kayla Greet) celebrated their 2nd year anniversary in November and also their 25th event (hosted by Hannah Holmberg) in December. The December tourney had a curious side tournament on Dragonfist where the prize was a new pair of sweatpants! Sweaty!
The Seattle Pinball League held their 2015 finals at Rod’s house on December 5th. While this event was open to the whole league, only the top 15 (plus one wild card) were in the main tournament. Nigel Colbert won the wild card spot but last year’s champ Raymond Davidson won the whole thing again. Beneficial Malfunction live streamed the event on Twitch, complete with commentary, and later posted the whole shebang on YouTube. This was a nice touch for a local tournament and we hope to see more of these kinds of videos in the future. A week after the Finals, Raymond had a best-of-7 match against this year’s VRPA champ Eden Stamm. Eden qualified for the wild card round but couldn’t attend because the VRPA finals were the same weekend, so he came down to Rod’s for a “what if” contest against Raymond. Since the cameras were still in place, this was also live-streamed (although not on YouTube) and it went the full 7 games with Raymond once again the victor. Smash!
Butter him up because Raymond is on a roll! Besides being 8th in the International Flipper Pinball Association’s (IFPA) World Pinball Player Rankings (WPPR), winning the SPL finals and finishing second at INDISC, he also won the Olaf’s Finals on December 18th. The Olaf’s tournaments were a monthly event similar to the SPL which culminated in a year-end finals. The tournament was also live-streamed by organizers Pinheads Pinball. They do a great job of maintaining the Olaf’s machines and are often doing interesting things like projecting the matches on the wall during tournaments and installing the PayRange app for their pins so you can use your phone to pay for credits. They are often one of the first locations to get a new game in Seattle (Walking Dead, Game of Thrones) and were the first place to try out the Bride of Pinbot 2.0 conversion game from Dutch Pinball. In 2016 they are revamping the tournaments they run yet again and holding quarterlies instead of monthlies. Quarters!
Another interesting twist to the local tournament scene is Mitch’s Progressive Pinball Tourney, which has been at Another Castle Arcade Edition in Edmonds. This is a series of events that began in October where players compete in at least 5 of 8 qualifying tournaments in order to play in the finals, which happened on January 23rd. Each of these tourneys had a pre-set cash prize with much (most?) of the entry fees rolling over to the finals, ultimately adding up to over $1500. That’s a pretty big pot for a tournament that has been averaging only around 25 players for each event. Also since most of the local heavy hitters haven’t been going to the pre-series they are not eligible to swoop in at the last minute and win the big prize because of the 5-match attendance stipulation. This makes it anybody’s game. Wow!
Another Castle is an interesting arcade because they have a very nice location with a large selection of pins that are both popular and eclectic. Being in the outer reaches of Seattle and on a highway, they seem to try a lot harder to attract players than most places and have a lot of different pinball events. Besides Mitch’s Tourney, there is a Weekly Saturday Tournament, a bi-weekly Amateur Tournament, a periodic Kids Tournament, occasional Pin-golf tourneys, and they recently had Halloween and NYE parties/tournaments. Sometimes these events happen on the same day and at the same time, which can make things confusing. It must take a lot of heart and enthusiasm to have a schedule like theirs and keep such a positive attitude. A sister location called Reset Games recently opened in Bellingham and another spot in Bremerton should open any day now. Ammys!
Another Castle also hosted the Monday Night Pinball finals on December 14th. The league finished its 4th season with the top four teams gathering together at the same location for the first time to determine the champions. Full Tilt’s Soda Jerks, which had only lost one match this season, squared off against 8-Bit’s Specials When Lit for the #1 spot, while the Shorty’s Silverball Slayers went against Add-a-Ball’s Death Savers for 3rd and 4th.The Slayers and Death Savers had a pretty close match, while last season’s champs the Soda Jerks (and Raymond again!) took a decisive victory over the Specials. Good people, good games, and Dave Stewart giving us a ride made it all alright. As you may already know, Monday Night Pinball is a team-based league and their 5th season will start in February. All skill levels are welcome to participate, so if you are interested in joining a team you should contact them through their website now: www.mondaynightpinball.com. Specials!
Flip Flip Ding Ding in Georgetown held their 2nd Annual New Year’s Day Tournament, and we took the opportunity to check out their new configuration. They have installed a very nice (real) bar in the space, which unfortunately makes it no longer all-ages. The pins have moved around again and while we liked the new layout, especially the upper level, owner Katie Janis expressed some apprehension about the space between the pins and the bar, so it may change again in the future. This was the first local match-play tournament under the new IFPA rules that awards more WPPR points with that format. During match-play, groups of four play each other in a knockout format (instead of the usual two players), which means more playing time during each match. While everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, the tournament lasted until almost 2AM, which was later than most expected. Anyhoo, we loved the new layout and you should go check it out. Points!
8-Bit Arcade in Renton hosted their first attempt at a weekly Match-Play Tournament on January 19th. It’s still up in the air whether this format will work on a weeknight, and 8-Bit owner Terrence Vaccaro has a wait-and-see attitude about it. He doesn’t want the weeklies to run 6+ hours every week. This event also increased the entry fee to $10, which we believe was to discourage too many people from joining, and we’re also guessing that 8-Bit’s weekly tournament host Josh Bartlett (who lives in Tacoma) wouldn’t be very excited about getting home each week at 3 AM. If it works out, they may decide to do it once a month. 8-Bit is also the host of the annual IFPA WA State Championship on February 13th. This is an event that takes place across the country to determine who will represent each state at the IFPA US National Pinball Championship, held in March in Las Vegas. Represent!
Seattle Pinball Super League is a new tournament format in Seattle where players have one week to put up high scores at a specified location instead of attending an actual event. Each month a new edition begins with a three-week qualifying period after the location and games are announced. At the end of the qualifying rounds the top 16 players are invited to attend a monthly finals match where winners will win money and/or prizes! This is an interesting way of running a contest and is very much dependent on the honesty of the participants, since they must report their scores to the employee working at the time. This is a format that has previously been used in New York and is also worth IFPA points. If you’re interested in entering the Super League, all you need to do is report your scores and you will be automatically entered. Go to www.skill-shot.com/calendar for more details. Easy peasy.
Did you see the flyers warning people about the pinball machine thieves who broke into the machines at Beth’s Café and The Tin Hat last November? Apparently, these brazen crooks would pretend to be playing a game while breaking into its coin box, all while the locations were open. Fortunately a camera caught the culprits and the flyers quickly made their way around the city, which may have scared them off (although not before they had hit some other spots). Apparently they had hit machines in Tacoma as well, so they may not have been from the area or they could just be laying low until they think it’s safe to do it again. You never know, so if you see suspicious activity around a pin, please tell an employee. Crooks!
Pinball Tidbits: Alyson Rae organized a Girl Scout troop trip to the Seattle Pinball Museum in December as a way of introducing them to pinball. With the help of Babes in Pinland, the Scouts learned the basics of how the machines work and how to play them, earning them a merit badge. Cool. * Did you know that the Seattle Pinball Museum has a website? This is where you will always find their most current game list. * Nicky’s Boom Boom Tournament series returns to Olaf’s in January. Expect to see him there regularly in 2016. * Nycole Hyatt was the host of a The Price is Right tournament as part of Skill Shot’s First Sunday Tournament at Shorty’s in December. Getting your score without going over is harder than it seems. Prizes and fun for everyone! * Sagel Frazier was the host for our January tournament, which was unfortunately the same day as a big Seahawks game. He’ll be back – we hope. * Bowen Kerins came to town for a math convention and inadvertently increased the weekly tournament attendance at both 8-Bit and Add-a-Ball. Sweet jumps!* Have you seen the latest Skill Shot T-shirts? They come in a plethora of colors. Go to our here for more info. * The NW Pinball and Arcade Show is June 3 – 5 and there will be a pre-tournament series leading up to it. More details next issue! * Support Local Pinball!