|PINBALL EXPO 2008|
Date: 1st - 5th October 2008.
In this final part of our Pinball Expo coverage we'll look at the Flip Out tournament and give our closing thoughts on this 24th year of the show.
The Flip Out tournament is the individual competition which starts Thursday lunchtime and continues through to the close of the show on Sunday afternoon.
Players could choose whether to play in the A or B Division and there were separate divisions for women and youth players. All games in the A, B and Women's Divisions were played on new Stern Batman machines while the Youth Division was played on a Stern Shrek.
There was an initial qualifying period for all divisions which closed at 5pm on Saturday afternoon at which point the qualifiers for Sunday's playoffs were announced.
The qualifiers were:
Play began at 8am on Sunday for those in divisions A & B, 9am for the women and 10am for the youths. The top two players in each division would receive free registration to PAPA in August as well as trophies designed around the Batman theme. A & B Division players also received cash prizes. Play was supervised by Trent Augenstein and members of the Ohio Pinball League.
It was the Women's Division which concluded first. In the semi-final Alysa Parks and Penni Epstein triumphed to go into the final while Tina Curtis and Angela Ong played for third and fourth place.
The two matches saw Alysa triumphing to take first place with Penni in second, and Tina beating Angela to take third place.
Next to finish was the B Division. The first round eliminated Neo, Dan and Doug while top qualifier Beau was unable to attend. That left stand-by qualifier Koi Morris, Roland Nitsche, Chuck Jackson and Eric Fisher to contest the semi-finals.
The two matches left Koi and Eric to battle it out in the best-of-three final with Roland and Chuck playing for third and fourth.
Koi won two of the three games to take the top spot and a $250 prize. Eric was second and Chuck beat Roland to take third place.
Meanwhile on the right-hand side of the row of machines, the final of the Youth Division was being played out on the Shrek game between Joshua Henderson and Andrew Rosa II.
In the final it was Joshua who triumphed over Andrew to win first place in the Youth Division. Joshua and Andrew both won trophies and assorted Shrek characters along with their PAPA registrations.
Which left the main A Division to reach a conclusion. The top four qualifiers received byes through the first two rounds while the next four received a single bye through the first round. The format was double-elimination best-of-three matches where anyone losing a match dropped down into the loser bracket where they continued to play until they either lost again and were eliminated, or reached the final.
From the first round Rick Stetta, Brian Shepherd, Greg Davis and Todd MacCulloch won their games to face the 5th-8th placed qualifiers while Aaron Page, Derek Fugate, Jason Werdrick and Paul McGlone went into the loser bracket.
In the second round there were wins for Rick, Trent, Greg D and Todd in the winners bracket. On the other side, Aaron, Derek, Jason and Paul Mc won their matches to continue in the loser group.
The third round brought in the top four qualifiers who all won their initial games which meant wins for Andy Rosa, Zach Sharpe, Bowen Kerins and Josh Sharpe in the top bracket and further wins for Aaron, Derek, Jason and Paul Mc in the loser bracket.
Round four saw Andy and Zach play each other with Zach triumphing, with Bowen and Josh battling it out with Bowen taking the honours to join Zach the semi-final. On the loser side there were wins for new members Trent, Greg D and Todd while Derek joined them in the next round.
Those four played the next round of matches which saw Trent and Greg D winning and meeting losers Josh and Andy respectively in the next round. Josh and Greg D won those battles to face each other in the next round where Josh too the honours. He would then meet the losing semi-finalist to decide who went into the final with the winning semi-finalist.
That semi-final pitched Zach against Bowen but it was Zach who proved unbeatable to reach the final. In it, he would face the winner of Bowen vs Josh. With a 2-0 victory it was Josh Sharpe who would play his brother Zach in the all-Sharpe final.
Since Josh had already lost a match, he would need to best Zach in two best-of-three matches in order to win, whereas unbeaten Zach only had to win one best-of-three matches to take the victory.
The first game of the first match saw Josh end on 15.8M but he was soon overtaken by Zach to make the score 1-0 to the younger brother. The second game saw Zach go first and rack up a score of 95.3M after his three balls. Josh made a valiant attempt to beat it but fell short with 67.6M, losing the match and making Zach Sharpe the winner of the A Division. Josh Sharpe was second, Bowen Kerins third and Greg Davis fourth. Trent and Andy were joint 5th/6th, while Derek and Todd were equal 7th/8th.
Zach won $850, his PAPA registration, a suitably silly crown, his Batman trophy, a PAPA hat and a Batman translite.
Josh took home $450 along with his PAPA registration and a PAPA hat.
Bowen won $300 to go with his PAPA registration and PAPA hat. Fourth placed Greg Davis earned $250 for his efforts while 5th & 6th placed won $50 and 7th & 8th collected $25 each.
Flip Out isn't the only tournament at Expo. There is also a two-player team event called ExpoBrawl Team Tournament run by the Ohio Pinball League during the day on Friday. The ExpoBrawl Team Tournament replaced the previous PinBrawl which was a casualty of a falling out between the tournament organisers and the show organisers. Unfortunately, because it's during the day on Friday, we focus our coverage on the many seminars which are held at the same time and so cannot cover (or play in) Expo Brawl.
All of which brings us to the close of our Pinball Expo 2008 coverage. The move to the new hotel was well received by those who attended. The Westin clearly has more space than the previous home in the Wyndham and being newer, the overall quality of rooms and facilities is better - albeit at a $20 higher room rate and an additional 14 mile journey.
The size of the venue may have been deceiving, but it certainly looked as though visitor numbers were down this year. Several people remarked before Expo how the steep rise in travel costs would prevent them attending although since then oil and gasoline prices have dropped back.
With 2009 being the 25th anniversary and the Pinball Expo showing no signs of slowing down or contracting - indeed there is talk of an extra day of seminars for the anniversary show - there's still every reason to visit the show and catch up with those who made pinball great.
We hope to see you there in October. Check the Diary section for details of dates and links to the show website.