Date: March 23rd & 24th, 2013
Report by Craig Pullen
Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th of March 2013 saw the inaugural London Pinball Championships take place at The Pipeline bar on Middlesex Street which claims to be the happiest place in London, and for this weekend it certainly was.
On entry to the LPC you were greeted at the door with an excellent goodie bag which included an LPC polo shirt, LPC mug, a selection of pinball flyers from Stern, Jersey Jack and Heighway Pinball, raffle tickets, a Pinball Magazine pamphlet, a promo pin from Pistonhead Lager and a Pipeline coaster. As well as that you got your playing card and lanyard which was used for the competition. All of this was included in the entry fee of £30 for adults and £10 for children.
The Pipeline had been kitted out with 44 pinball machines, kindly donated from collectors all around the UK. Matt Vince and Justin Walker - the show organisers - went and picked them up and then set them up prior to the event, a mammoth task by anyone’s standards, but they took it all in their stride with the help of Thomas, the owner of The Pipeline.
It was the perfect number of machines; enough space for the competitors to relax when not competing, and enough practice machines for the players to play.
Other than the machines donated by local pinball collectors, there was also The Wizard of Oz by Jersey Jack Pinball as well as The Avengers by Stern Pinball, both of which were kindly provided by Pinball Heaven.
Both machines saw a lot of action over the weekend which was excellent, and everyone seemed very excited to try out the two latest games on offer at this really exciting time for pinball. Both machines did experience minor faults over the weekend and The Wizard of Oz was still running a very incomplete code version, but it was excellent to see the build quality and look of the game in all its glory. The Avengers for the most part played very well, and there were some highly competitive four-player games taking place all weekend.
There was a high score competition held by David Mainwaring of Pinball LED UK on his beautiful Tales of the Arabian Nights which ran over the two days. Players were asked to make a donation before entering, with all money taken going to the family of Dave Rolfe, a loved and respected member of the UK pinball scene, who sadly passed away the previous week after a long battle with cancer.
The winner of the competition was Justin Williams who won an LED kit of his choice from Pinball LED UK.
Dave Willcox of Pinball Daze was also holding another competition between selling parts and pinball merchandise from his stand. The Flipper Feet Competition took place on a World Cup Soccer where the flippers had been linked up to a set of guitar pedals where you had to flip with your feet. This was a really fun competition at £1 a go, which Wayne Johns managed to eventually win, taking home a trophy and all the takings.
The Pipeline’s staff was excellent all weekend. There was a selection of hot meals which - for London - were reasonably priced; the fish finger sandwich with chunky chips was particularly good! There was a fine selection of drinks on offer which everyone thoroughly enjoyed, with promotions from Pistonhead Lager, Briska Cider and Budweiser.
And so to the main tournament. One hundred players, from eleven different countries all around the world had travelled to compete for the title of Champion of the LPC.
Qualification started at 12.30pm when players had to choose six games to play from a bank of twelve machines. Each player had one attempt only on each of these six, games so it was essential that they made the right game choice. The machines used in qualification were: Star Trek – The Next Generation, Independence Day, Family Guy, Monster Bash, Whitewater, Cirqus Voltaire, High Speed 2 - The Getaway, Pinball Magic, Scared Stiff, Spider-Man, The Addams Family and Attack From Mars.
All the machines were set up to be quite tough, with outlanes at maximum width and the tilts on most games very tight. Unfortunately Whitewater had to take an early bath and was very quickly removed from qualification, which meant that there were only eleven machines for players to choose from. Despite a few initial problems with the PDAs that were being used to input the player’s scores, the competition team did a fantastic job and Justin kept a cool head with the computer system.
Qualifying lasted until around 6.30pm and all players managed to get all of their games in, with the top thirty-two advancing to the finals held on the Sunday.
After qualification, Matt with his family and friends ran the raffle, using the tickets from the goodie bags that were collected on registration. There was a huge amount of prizes on offer with pretty much a prize for everyone, including loads of T-shirts, translites, beer glasses, magazines, Pinball Daze and Heighway Pinball merchandise, and key rings.
The Pipeline then stayed open until 1am with all the machines on free play for everyone to enjoy.
Sunday’s finals kicked off at 12.30pm with pre-selected groups of four formed according to the qualifying positions. Monster Bash, The Addams Family and Whitewater were removed and AC/DC premium, Monopoly and Last Action Hero were added to bring some variety to the competition.
Each group of four players then were drawn a machine and they would compete against each other with the bottom player in each group dropping into the ‘Losers Saloon’. The top three would advance to the next round where they would compete against the other winners, depending on the position in which they had finished.
This was then repeated for another five rounds, with groups getting smaller and the matches becoming best-of-three in the latter stages, until just three players were left. They were joined by the winner of the Losers Saloon to make up the final four.
The Losers Saloon consisted of the lowest scorer from each round competing in a one game play-off on a randomly selected machine where only the top player would advance to the next round. This was a brutal but very exciting system, which created some excellent competition and play.
As well as the main competition, there was a Classics Tournament held on the Sunday. Each player had the option of playing six games from a bank of eight machines. The machines were: Taxi, Rollergames, Riverboat Gambler, Counterforce, Fireball, Time Machine, Mr. & Mrs. Pac-Man and Dolly Parton.
Each player got one attempt on each machine, which was very similar to the way qualification had worked in the main competition. It was a very long day for Richard Wade and his small team of helpers, manually writing down each of the scores and entering them into the laptop.
They all did a fantastic job, and all eight of the machines made it through the entire competition with very few problems to note. It was an excellent addition to the event that everyone seemed to really enjoy, so thank you to Richard and his team for the hard work that they did all day Sunday.
After all the scores had been counted, it meant that Craig Pullen took the victory, with Franck Bona a close second and Jeremy Reynaud taking third place.
Qualification had been decided the previous day and so it was on to the final of the main competition. The final four were Gabe de Silveira, Andreas Thorsen, Greg Mott and Franck Bona.
Each of the 3 winners who made it through the qualifying rounds without losing a single game had a choice of one of the final machines. Gabe chose Star Trek – The Next Generation, Greg chose Monopoly and Andreas chose High Speed 2 - The Getaway. Franck - as he made it to the final through the Losers Saloon - didn’t get a selection.
The winner of each game would get seven points, with four for second place, two for third and one point for last place.
In the first game Greg and Franck had a very close match on Star Trek with both playing multiball, but in the end Franck drained his last ball just 20 million points shy of Greg’s score, giving Greg the victory on game one.
The next game was Greg’s choice, Monopoly. He knew that if he could win this game, he was virtually guaranteed victory. He managed to make it to multiball and put up a decent score of 9 million, giving him a substantial lead over the rest of the field who were all around 2 million. But Franck wasn’t going to go down without a fight and with some excellent clutch play he dragged himself back up to 5… 6… 7 million points and then managed to start his multiball, which took him over Greg’s score and gave him the victory on Monopoly.
So, going into the last game, it was all to play for. Matt dragged The Getaway out into the middle of the bar, cranked up the volume on the machine, and the sounds of ZZ Top really got the on-looking crowd going, with an amazing atmosphere created within The Pipeline. Everyone was expecting fireworks, and the players didn’t disappoint.
Andreas was first up as he chose the machine, and he put a nice first ball up, making it to around 35 million. Greg then matched him. Franck unfortunately drained at around 4 million, not really getting much of a flip, but Gabe managed a similar score to Andreas and Greg.
But it was Andreas who then went on to really get the final going. He managed to make it to multiball, and make the jackpot and super jackpot with a fist pump to the crowd and everyone really enjoying the showmanship. He finished at about 220 million points which was an excellent score on a very fast Getaway.
Greg managed to get video mode started and completed, and pushed his score up to around 90 million which really got the crowd going, seeing as Greg was the only British player in the final.
Franck had no luck again on ball 2, which meant he had a bit of a mountain to climb on ball 3, starting with 12 million points.
But again, Franck wasn’t going to lie down and let Greg take the victory. He battled with the machine, pushing himself closer and closer to Greg’s score, eventually passing him and making it to Red Line Mania. It was some excellent clutch play, ending up with around 180 million and victory in the final.
Gabe was last up, and with the crowd full of energy and the atmosphere electric in the pipeline, he put on a display. He managed to make it to 4th gear and then made eleven consecutive loops with the crowd cheering after each one was made, pushing himself past Franck’s score and into second place.
So the final standings:
This brought about the end of the LPC. Matt then awarded the prizes and trophies to all the winners, including best female players...
best junior players...
...and the finalists in the main competition.
The whole event was a huge success, thanks to the atmosphere in The Pipeline, the machines and the competitive pinball played all weekend.
A huge amount of appreciation must be given to Matt Vince and Justin Walker, as well as Thomas Evrenos for the immense effort they put into getting the event off the ground and hopefully making it a staple in the pinball calendar for years to come.
Here is to the LPC 2014.
For more results from the LPC 2013 tournaments, check out the London Pinball website.
© Pinball News 2013