Spring finally arrived in Seattle and with it the pinball tournament season. Actually, every day seems like tournament season in our fair region, but April through June had a good number of annual events. Perhaps the most anticipated one was Add-a-Ball Amusements’ Annual 420 Pinball Tournament on April 20th (naturally). Although the tournament began at noon, everything came to a halt at 4:20 with the traditional breaking of the pinball glass ceremony. Since the city informed them that free weed was a no-no, the Add-a-folks improvised by throwing free money from the roof instead! Lots of ones and a few fake 50s fluttered down upon those quick enough to grab them. Also adorning this year’s ceremony was a truck full of live goats, some of which were allowed to interact with the crowd (mostly the babies and less poop-encrusted ones). The grand prize this year was a Bally Ted Nugent pinball machine, which was won by Kevin Birrell, who was less excited by the game itself than the possible resale value to a right-leaning pinball collector. Gonzo!
When Kevin isn’t busy winning tournaments, he and the Beneficial Malfunction crew are also running them. Their 2nd Annual Emerald City Cup (4/16) happened at Flip Flip Ding Ding with a sold out number of players, many of whom came from Portland for the event. While Beneficial Malfunction already runs a successful annual in August — The NW Pinball Championships — they wanted to add another prestigious event to Seattle’s burgeoning pinball scene. By moving the Emerald City Cup to April and into a larger venue, it seems like they succeeded. Although there was a bit of drama concerning a refund, the tournament went smoothly thanks in large part to pinball tech extraordinaire Travis Maisch and the FFDD crew who always hold fun and welcoming events. Portland’s Noah Davis took the win, which was of cool since so many larger Portland tournaments seem to get raided and won by Seattleites. Viva Portlandia!
Case in point is Portland’s Pinbrawl IX (4/23), which would have drawn a larger Seattle group if tickets hadn’t sold out almost immediately this year. In fact, the tickets sold out so quickly that Jordan Semrow was inspired to organize the Too Slow For Pinbrawl tournament at Another Castle Edmonds for those who couldn’t get tickets. Ironically, since the Too Slow tourney was held the day before Pinbrawl, it was possible for someone to actually play at both events, which is what Chris Chinn and Anthony Welters did! As alluded to previously, the collusion of this year’s Pinbrawl ended with six Seattle players in the top 10 and climaxed in a Seattle vs Seattle showdown with Germain Mariolle defeating Kevin for the win. Viva Cascadia!
Closer to home, Add-a-Ball was the location of the 2nd Annual AARP Pinball Tournament (4/15), which also doubles as Claire Sutcliffe’s birthday party. Last year’s tournament was a mellow affair compared with this year, which had twice as many contestants (42). Unlike the real AARP, to play in this tourney you only have to be 40 and over, and we don’t think that that many more people in the community reached that milestone so much as more were aware of the event this time. 40+ players seemed appropriate for this event, but the 5PM start time meant that the 3-strike tourney was still going on as AAB began to fill up with their regular Saturday night crowd who don’t necessarily play much pinball. Ultimately Skill Shot’s own Gordon took the win, which also seemed appropriate since he was one of the few people in the tournament who could actually be an AARP member. Raging Success!
Grand Champion Games held their monthly April Birthday Tournament at Ozzie’s (4/9), which was a popular event because there was a drawing for a Williams’ Jokerz! pinball machine. During the last few months, GCG signed people up for the drawing who attended one of the many tournaments they hosted. The more tournaments you went to, the more chances you’d have to win. After a few rounds the drawing was held and William Gordon won the Jokerz! As usual, the tournament was free to anyone with an April birthday and they also collected money for a charity. Besides tournaments, Grand Champion seems fearless on where they will put pins even if it doesn’t work out (like at the A1-Marts) and their monthly pinball socials at Hellbent Brewery, where they try to introduce new people to pinball, are a unique idea. We have to give them credit for thinking outside the box. Salute!
Monday Night Pinball’s 7th season came to a close (5/22) with the top four teams all converging at The Goat for concurrent finals and bronze matches to determine their final placements. None of the four teams were strangers to the final four. Since 8-Bit’s Specials When Lit and John John’s Down To Pinball were both advocates of using algorithms when competing, it was appropriate to see them battle it out for 3rd and 4th. Meanwhile, in the finals it was a rematch between Full Tilt Ballard’s Soda Jerks and Shorty’s Silverball Slayers. Both teams have battled it out for the top spot in the past, and since they are both two time champions, it was a contest not only for first place this season but to be MNP’s first three-time champions. After a nail biting final round, the Soda Jerks took the win 52 – 48! Jerks!
The Goat was also host to one of the NWPAS Satellite Tournaments held in the months leading up to the annual pinball show. For the tourney, SilverAge/SilverBall’s JP and Dominique added six pins into the dining room, and apparently The Goat’s Kira Richards liked it enough to make them a permanent fixture. It’s a good thing too, since some of the pins are rarities in the area, like Viper Night Drivin’ and Stargate! All of the Satellite Tournaments awarded NWPAS prize packages to the winners which included entrees into the tourneys held that weekend. According to tournament director Dave Stewart, 80+ packages were awarded at the events held at locations in the Seattle area, including The Triple Knock and Another Castle Bremerton. Packages!
The Northwest Pinball and Arcade Show happens June 9 – 11 at the Tacoma Convention Center and is definitely the biggest event of the summer. 400 pinball machines have been announced so far, including the new Aliens pin, Dialed In! and the premium version of Aerosmith. Last year’s show had rows of pins that you never see on location, including many EM’s and one-off’s created or re-themed by personal collectors, such as last year’s Iron Maiden pin. There’s many famous pinball craftsmen slated to appear throughout the weekend, including Steve Ritchie (Game of Thrones), John Trudeau (Ghostbusters), and more! Tournaments will be happening all weekend, and of course there will be a lot of arcade games too. Look for our report next issue…Pins!
Skill Shot News: Thanks to everyone who came to our last Folding Party at Ozzie’s! It was also Gordon’s birthday, so a surprise tournament was held and hosted by Dwayne! It was really fun, and Gordon was really touched in a nice way for all the kind words everyone said to him. The Skill Shot Pincast had a fun episode with Jack Danger of Dead Flip, which you should check out if you haven’t already done so. Bremerton has been bumping lately with more locations, machines, and tournaments, so we added a Kitsap County tab to our online Pinball List and put their events on our calendar. Bumping!
Pinball Tidbits: The Raygun Lounge on Capitol Hill has been raising their profile by staying open late for Pinball Happy Hour on the weekends and with a new Progressive Pinball Tournament on Mondays through July. All-ages too! * Seattle Pinball Museum has been the host of a Dialed In! prototype the past few weeks, and all who’ve played it thinks it’s pretty boss – even if the selfie mode makes everyone look bad! * The new expanded pinball loft at Bad Jimmy’s is pretty sweet with extra room for more pins and seating. * Belltown’s Jupiter has a lovely neon sign lite-up and will be open soon, so we’re told. * Congratulations to Alexa Philbeck, who came in second at this year’s Women’s Pin Pin Tournament in Las Vegas. It was her birthday too! * Congrats also to Claire Burke who won this year’s Powder Puff Tournament! * Support Local Pinball!