Date: February 8th & 9th, 2014
Additional pictures by David Mainwaring
The Dutch Pinball Masters is one of Europe's more serious competitive events. It isn't part of a larger show, and while there are a number of practice games, nearly all the machines are set up purely for use in the tournaments.
Traditionally the Dutch Pinball Masters is held at the club house belonging to the Dutch Pinball Association (Nederlandse Flipper Vereniging, or NFV). This is the building which houses their collection of donated and traded machines, along with machines stored by Association members.
This year however the NFV were between buildings, having left their previous home while still in negotiations for a new club house. So instead the DPM moved to the town of Ede, around 50 miles southeast of Amsterdam.
The park's lodge was the venue, set in rural surroundings with chalets built nearby to provide accommodation for those wishing to get a little closer to nature than playing a game of Fish Tales.
If the weather had been drier and warmer, the chalets would have made a good alternative to the hotels in the town. As it was, we settled for more urban lodgings.
Although it looks small in the picture above, the lodge was deceptively spacious inside.
The main bar area was the first room you discovered upon entering, and it housed the main bar, several large dining tables complete with seating, fourteen practice machines, six Classic Tournament machines and the NFV sales desk. Entry to the event cost €7.50 per day before tournament fees. The DPM itself cost €15 to enter, while other tournaments were charged separately.
The practice machines were:
It was in this room that competitors could order and eat meals, sit and socialise, or simply relax after many tiring round of competitive pinball.
Food was available both days of the tournament, with breakfast and lunch costing a reasonable €5, and dinner a little more at €7.50. Although we didn't sample any, the meals certainly looked appetising with good sized portions. Drinks were not always such good value, but since the location almost demanded motorised transport to reach it, bringing your own refreshments was no problem.
There were six Classic Tournament machines in the entrance hall.
Qualification for the Classic Tournament ran from 11am on Saturday until 10pm, and then again on Sunday from 11am until 2pm. Unlimited entries could be bought during these times, with each entry consisting of one game on three of the six machines. Ranking points were awarded for all scores on each machine, and the total ranking points from the three machines formed the entry.
The Classic Tournament machines were:
In practice it seemed two good games out of the three were needed to qualify, with the third not being a disaster either. A single good game accompanied by two weak scores could actually do damage to an earlier entry, so quite a few entries were voided by players before they were submitted.
The top sixteen qualifiers made it into the play-offs on Sunday afternoon. The top four qualifiers earned two byes, which got them straight into the semi-finals. The next four earned one bye.
But it was the back room where the bulk of the machines were set up, and where the main Dutch Pinball Masters (DPM) tournament - organised by Albert Nomden - was held.
The room was arranged with a row of back-to-back machines running down the centre, and a perpendicular row at the end forming a 'T' shape.
There were 108 competitors in the DPM's qualifying round which took place on Saturday. They were split into eight groups of thirteen, labelled A to H. Each competitor would play a single 3-ball game against the other twelve members of their group, and the four players with the most wins would continue on to Sunday's play-offs.
Competitors drew a card at random which gave them a player number from 1 to 13, and a list of their twelve matches, showing who they would play, on which machine, and whether they would be player 1 or player 2.
The first four groups (A to D) played first on Saturday morning, while the other four groups (E to H) played in the afternoon. The times shown on the card were only for guidance since the rounds were all running around an hour late, and players would begin their matches as soon as they were both ready and the machine was free.
There were twenty-four machines available to play. Some were swapped with the four reserve machines during the various rounds when a mechanical fault rendered them temporarily unplayable.
The machines were:
The reserve machines were Theatre of Magic, Whirlwind, Roadshow and The Addams Family.
The results from each match were recorded on paper at a desk on the small raised stage. When all the matches in a round were completed, the results were entered into the computer system.
Competitors and those just watching the matches could keep up with the current standings on a large LCD TV.
When all ninety-six matches had been completed at around 8pm, the top four from each group could be announced and the thirty-two qualifiers knew to come back for 10:30 on Sunday morning.
Here are the results from all eight groups:
Inevitably there were some ties for position with competitors having the same number of match wins. In these cases, the first way to resolve the tie was by looking to see who beat who in their head-to-head matches. If the tie involved three or more competitors and the head-to-head results didn't produce a clear resolution, a play-off match was held.
Also situated in the back room was a high score Satellite Tournament run on four Gottlieb/Premier 'Street Level' machines; Vegas, Deadly Weapon, Title Fight and Hoops.
This was originally billed as a tournament for the non-qualifiers in the DPM, but subsequently seemed to be available to everyone. Qualifying began at 3pm on Saturday and continued until midday on Sunday. The top two scorers on each machine would play in Sunday afternoon's semi-finals.
After the main DPM tournament's qualification round had ended, the Team Tournament was held involving twelve teams of four players. The teams were:
Teams were split into three groups of four teams, with each team playing the other teams in their group in a pair of matches in which two players from one team played two from the other team. Points were awarded with nine points for winning the match, five points for second place and 2 points for third. Whichever team had the most points after both matches had been played won two team points, or if it was a tie both teams got one team point each.
Once every team had played the other three in their group, the teams with the most team points in each group moved on to the semi-finals along with the second placed team with the most points.
The two semi-finals were played like the matches above, but with the top-scoring winning team playing the best second place team in one semi-final, and the other two teams playing in the second.
The winners of those semi-finals then competed in the same way in the final, while the losers played for third place.
After a long evening of pinball, the winners of the Team Tournament were the Dutch Pinball Team of Albert Nomden, Paul Jongma, Dirk Klaver and Mark van der Gugten. They received their trophies on Sunday afternoon once all the weekend's competitive events had concluded.
The Dutch Pinball Team beat the Amsterdam Pinball Masters in the final. By the time the presentations came around only one member of the team was still present to collect his trophy.
The winners of the third place play-off were Switzerland.
Sunday started at 10:30 with the first play-off rounds of the DPM in the back room.
The format changed to a double-elimination best-of-three system with machines chosen at random. There were no byes for the top qualifiers but they did get to play the lowest qualifiers in the first round and avoided playing another top qualifier until the third round at the earliest.
Any competitors who lost a match joined the loser bracket where they played a single 2-player, 4-ball game against another loser bracket player. The winner continued in the loser bracket, while the loser of the game dropped out of the tournament.
This was essentially the same format employed in the Dutch Pinball Open last November.
Reigning IFPA World Champion, Jörgen Holm, remained undefeated all the way through the play-offs to claim one of the two places in the final. His opponent was Robert Sutter who had lost to Jörgen in the semi-final, but beat Jorian Engelbrektsson in the last game of the loser bracket to meet Jörgen again in the final.
Would it be a repeat win for Jörgen, or would Robert be able to turn the tables this time?
As he was undefeated so far, Jörgen got to choose both machine and position in the first and (if needed) third game of this best-of-three final.
He chose Spider-Man to start, but after the first ball was trailing by 5M to Robert's 25M. Both players got into top gear on their second ball which ended with Robert still slightly in front on 109M to 105M. Neither player was able to repeat their ball two performances but Robert did the best, raising his total to 125M. Jörgen focused on Doc Ock multiball but misses a key shot and drains on 109M.
First blood to Robert then, and it was also his choice of the second machine. He picked Junkyard which also proved to be a close contest. Jörgen drained his last ball early when attempting to pass the ball for a shot at the D-O-G lane, but his score proved to be enough to take the second game.
One game each, and it was Jörgen's pick for the decider. He chose Indianapolis 500.
Robert was the more consistent player, having three good balls and ending on 800M. Jörgen didn't start well, but had a great second ball to leave himself needing 100M on his last ball to win.
He began Pit Multiball but it didn't last long enough to score any significant points, so he tried to get the right orbit for a Change Setup award of 15M or 20M, but missed and drained, leaving him 80M behind Robert, making Robert the winner.
Here are the full results of the DPM 2014:
Then came the play-off rounds of Classic Tournament in the main entrance hall.
The Classic Tournament play-offs followed the best-of-three format all the way through until the final which was a single 5-ball game instead, and pitched Philippe Bocquet of France against Italy's Daniele Acciari.
This time it was the Daniele who was triumphant in the final, earning himself a €200 cheque to go along with his trophy.
Here are the full results from the Classic Tournament:
The only remaining event was the Satellite Tournament. The eight qualifiers from the four machines were:
Each entry in the qualifying round had cost €2, and these fees had been put into a pot which reached a total of €124. This was then split, with €80.60 (65%) going to the winner and €43.40 (35%) awarded to the runner-up.
The top qualifiers on Vegas and Title Fight played the second-placed players on Deadly Weapon and Hoops on Deadly Weapon. Meanwhile the top qualifiers on Deadly Weapon and Hoops played the second-placed qualifers on Vegas and Title Fight on Title Fight.
In both 4-player games, the lowest scorer dropped out of the tournament into joint 7th place. They were Johan Småros and Daniele Acciari. The two groups of three remaing players then swapped machines and played a 3-player game with the lowest scorer dropping out into joint 5th. They were Mike Kindler and Joeri Stroobants.
The remaining four then moved over to Hoops to play the final.
Although Mathias Leurs had qualified on Title Fight, Hoops turned out to be his game, as his total of 5,088,990 was far ahead of the chasing pack. Ingemar Kemi came closest with his score of 1,696,330. Not far behind was Taco Wouters on 1,245,710 and in a close fourth was Jérémy Reynaud on 1,148,680.
Here are the Satellite Tournament results:
This was our first visit to a Dutch Pinball Masters event and we found the DPM format really enjoyable and fair to all players, guaranteeing everyone a minimum of twelve games against different opponents on twelve different machines.
The machines used were largely owned by the NFV following donations or trades, so there were none of the very newest Stern titles (Spider-Man was the most recent) you might expect to find at some other tournaments.
Some of the machines suffered from poor illumination, with no working lamps in the slingshots, or very dark areas of the playfield. Indianapolis 500 for instance had no general illumination at the top right of the playfield making the loop combo shot especially challenging when you can't see the ball.
We would suggest the Team Tournament should move to Friday evening, as we decided to bail out from competing in it so we enjoy our one evening in the town of Ede instead.
The venue is a good one for this event, with just the right amount of space for the number of competitors and good facilities for the guests. We'd gladly return next year if the event was held here, although by then the NFV will probably have their nearby club house ready to host the 2015 Dutch Pinball Masters.
© Pinball News 2014