Dates: May 21st - 23rd, 2010
Report by Alessio Crisantemi of Gioco News in Italy
Who would have thought that an Italian player could win the IFPA World Pinball Championship when only a few months before the competition the presence of an Italian team at the tournament seemed like an impossibility?
We had never succeeded in organising a trip to the previous IFPA events, but it happened this time. Italy not only took part in the IFPA World Championship but also won the top prize thanks to the organisation of a team by the Tecnoplay company (on occasion it has been called the 'Tecnoplay Team') and the extraordinary performances of Daniele Celestino Acciari together with fellow countryman, Nicola Pierobon.
So the history of pinball changed, and also, probably, the destiny of this unique game, at least in our country. Daniele bewitched America and won the title with an incredible performance. He became an unceasing, constant and winning player, defeating everyone including the (supposedly) unbeatable ones.
In the final eight, he continued his charge towards the final with a dual against Swede Jorian Engelbrektsson, ranked number one in the world.
This challenging quarter-final match was played to the bitter end, concluding with the ninth game thanks to an excellent score made on The Addams Family, a true classic and one of Daniele's favourite games.
The Italian pairing had started their US visit very positively when a couple of days before the World Championship, the IFPA organised a tournament in the suburbs of Minneapolis.
Daniele, having just arrived in the country, bashfully participated and produced a series of high scores from the very beginning, getting through the qualifying round in first position and making an early name for himself.
Also, Nicola - the other Italian player of the Tecnoplay Team - ended the 19th May tournament in third place, the same position he had achieved the previous day in another official tournament organised in the same city.
Despite his top qualifying position, Daniele had to eventually settle for a final placing outside the top ten.
Although this was only a preamble to the main event of the IFPA World Championship, it provided an important taste of the global challenge the participants faced.
When the World Championship began, Daniele gave his best performance from the very start, dominating his matches during Friday 21st May's qualifying sessions. Stroke after stroke, from one machine to another, ball after ball.
At the end of the first day's matches, Daniele is ranked in third place. Only Americans Andy Rosa and Neil Shatz were ahead of him. (Andy would go on to meet Daniele in the grand final on Sunday while Neil would go out in the first of his head-to-head matches.) Attaining third place gave him two byes and an automatic place in the last sixteen against Trent Augenstein, skipping the second phase of qualifiers in which big international champions such as Keith Elwin (in 21st place at the end of day 1), 2009 winner Bowen Kerins and Jorian must play. Of those three, only Jorian makes it through to the quarter-finals where he loses to Daniele as described above.
Jorian will have the comfort of fifth place, winning the deciding game against the other players who lost at the quarter final stage: the little marvel Joshua Henderson, a twelve years old boy from Illinois, the Danish Mads Kristensen (one of the biggest revelations of the tournament, who participated in only three international tournaments to gain his admission to the World Championship, ends at the sixth position), the Swiss Zoltan Babiczky who surprises everybody, including himself, with a very good performance that exceeds his expectations, proving himself not only a very good player but also a champion of modesty.
Jorian was also crowned the best player of 2009, coming top of the WPPR rankings.
Having passed the Swedish player, Daniele only has two more matches to win. First, a semi-final against the US player John Miller who up to this point had seemed a tough nut to crack. But the Italian player easily defeated him four games to one to go into the final with the other American player Andy Rosa. Andy had earlier dominated his quarter-final against Joshua Henderson and his semi-final against Swede Jorgen Holm (who would end the World Championship in fourth place, losing the third/fourth place play-off against John Miller).
This was a very important contest between two emerging champions who found themselves in a final match at this level for the first time. The US and Italy were clashing in the final on American soil. In theory this should be a disadvantage to the Italian player, but it seems he doesn't suffer from the foreign environment or the pressure of the final. On the contrary, Daniele is quiet and he plays in a confident way. He wins on Spider-Man and the electro-mechanical Bow and Arrow. His Getaway betrays him, but he wins on Pirates of the Caribbean to lead three games to one in this best of seven final.
Daniele didn't know the next game - the 1975 EM Bally Wizard! - before he played it at the World Championship, but it was to become his secret weapon, giving him wins each of the four times he played it in the tournament. His victory this time was the most important of all as it won him the final - four games to one.
The Wizard! is the perfect symbol for this tournament which saw Daniele Acciari of the Tecnoplay team win the IFPA World Championship; a really magic end, but fortunately, a real one too.
© Pinball News 2010