Date: 16th & 17th May, 2015
The inaugural London Pinball Championship was held in 2013 and attracted acclaim from players who appreciated the format and the value-for-money with the quality items included in players' welcome packs.
Such was the workload for organisers Matt Vince and Justin Walker, the tournament took a break in 2014 before returning this year for its second outing. Once again, The Pipeline near to London's Liverpool Street station and the City Of London played host to the weekend's activities.
119 players registered for the LPC, paying the entry fee of £37.50 ($58/€52) for adults and £15.00 ($23/€21) for kids under 16 years of age. For that, they received a welcome pack containing their player badge, an embroidered LPC polo shirt, an LPC mug, flyers for Full Throttle and The Walking Dead, an LPC magnet, a voucher for a free can of Pistonhead lager, and a voting form to nominate the best machine in three different categories.
The tournament consisted of three qualifying rounds on the Saturday followed by a series of play-off rounds on Sunday for those who qualified.
Qualifying took place in three separate sessions of three hours each - 11:30 to 14:30, 14:30 to 17:30 and 17:30 to 20:30. Players were split in to three groups of forty according to the colour of their badge's lanyard, and played a different bank of machines in each session.
The first bank was designated the 'Classics' and contained these pre-DMD machines: Devil's Dare, Eight Ball Deluxe, F-14 Tomcat, Flash, Meteor, Playboy, Rollergames, Taxi and Victory. These were located in the basement of The Pipeline.
The second bank was upstairs on the main floor and contained the 'Golden' era games: Congo, Indianapolis 500, Jackbot, Judge Dredd, Jurassic Park, Medieval Madness, Monster Bash, Scared Stiff, Terminator 2 and Twister.
Finally, the 'Modern' section consisted entirely of recent Stern machines: AC/DC Premium, Iron Man, Family Guy, Metallica Pro, Spider-Man, The Simpsons Pinball Party, Star Trek LE, Terminator 3, The Walking Dead LE and World Poker Tour.
The majority of the machines were donated by collectors and had been brought to The Pipeline in the days and weeks before the event. In fact volunteers played a large part in making the LPC happen. Robin Kemp and Stan Simpson donated their time and skills to fix and set-up the machines, while Chris Horner spent all Friday night moving and setting up both machines and the scoring system. Pinball Heaven and Home Leisure Direct both contributed to the weekend's fun by providing sponsorship of the LPC.
Players queued for each machine by placing their magnetic player badge on a board against their chosen title. They could choose to play five of the machines from each area.
Once a game was completed it was submitted into the scoring system with the aid of a tablet. Kate Morris, Richard Rothwell-Jackson, Chris Edis and Mark Potter spent most of their weekend recording scores, making adjudications, and answering questions.
All players' scores on each machine were ranked and points awarded, with 100 points for the top score on a machine. After each three-hour session concluded and everyone had played their five chosen machines, players moved on to a different section.
Before playing and between sessions, a number of practice machines were available to play.
The scoring system was devised by Justin Walker.
Scores were recorded on tablets linked by WiFi to a central server, while results from each round - along with the overall qualifying positions - were shown on a bank of monitors.
As each round progressed, players moved up or down depending on their performances and the scores from their fellow players. When all three sessions had been completed around 8pm on Saturday, the final qualifying scores were available, with the top 48 players qualifying for Sunday's play-offs.
The 48 qualifiers were:
In addition to the main tournament, there was a high score competition each day run on Stern's latest WWE Wrestlemania. Entry cost £1 ($1.50/€1.40) per game or 3 games for £2, with a share of the overall taking going to the winner each day.
An early score of 105M survived all day to secure Martin Ayub the win on Saturday.
For those needing sustenance, a selection of snacks and main meals were available from The Pipeline, while there were many alternative dining options if you ventured outside.
The Pipeline remained open after the tournament to provide further refreshment to thirsty pinballers.
Sunday morning rolled around and some reconfiguration of the main tournament area was needed to set up the twelve machines for the play-offs; four from each of the Classics, Golden and Modern areas.
The 48 qualifiers were split into 16 groups of 4, and they all played a single 4-player game on a machine chosen at random. The top three scorers in each group moved on to the next round, while the fourth-placed player dropped down into the loser bracket.
As the rounds progressed, the number of players in the winner bracket reduced from 48 to 32 in the first round, then to 24 in round two, then down to 18 and finally 12 in round four.
The twelve surviving players in the winner bracket then played six head-to-head best-of-three matches. This led to three semi-finals featuring the six survivors.
The three winners of those semi-finals went into the final where they were joined by the winner of the loser bracket.
In the final, each of the four finalists could choose a machine to play. The finishing positions in each game awarded point, with 7 points for the winner, 4 for second, 2 for third and 1 for fourth place.
The four finalists were Martin Ayub, Craig Pullen, Art Dodd and Will Dutton, while their chosen machines were Scared Stiff, Victory, Congo and The Walking Dead. A camcorder recorded the final and showed the playfield on a large monitor for the audience to watch.
Martin chose Scared Stiff, but it was Will who won the game. Martin was second with Craig third and Art fourth.
The second game was Victory.
Martin won this one with Art second, Craig third and Will in fourth.
On to game three which was Congo and was won by Art, giving three different winners on the first three games. Craig was second, Will third and Martin fourth.
Going into the last game of the final, Martin and Art both had 12 points, Will had 10 and Craig 8 points. Anyone was still in with a chance of winning.
The Walking Dead produced a second win for Will as well as another second place for Craig. Art was third and Martin fourth.
So the total scores from the final were:
Trophies were awarded by Matt Vince.
Here are the full results:
Several further awards were presented to the best youth and female players.
Winner of the Best Female Player award was Kate Morris. Second was Cinthya Messiaen, with Julie Chambers third.
The runner up in the Best Junior Player category was Adam Bona.
In addition, a second high score competition was held WWE Wrestlemania on Sunday, and in between winning multiple rounds and the final of the main tournament, Will Dutton found time to play in and win the high score competition too.
Players were invited to nominate their favourite machines in each of the three zones. Chris Poyntz's F-14 Tomcat won in the Classic category. Mike Kindler's Terminator 2 took the honours in the Golden era section while Keith Fransham's Star Trek was the winner in the modern section. All three owners won £50 for winning in their respective categories.
Finally, thanks were given to Thomas and his team at The Pipeline for hosting the event, to everyone who donated machines and prizes, those who volunteered as scorers, and to Matt and Justin for organising the whole tournament.
Everyone seemed to enjoy the LPC format - the fact you got to play fifteen games even if you didn't qualify, and that you play machines from different eras - and the goodie bag given to all players.
With nearly 120 competitors taking part, the LPC is one of the biggest - if not the biggest - tournaments in the UK. The effort to organise everything meant it took two years after the inaugural event in 2013 before it returned. There will be many hoping it won't take another two years before the next London Pinball Championship.
© Pinball News 2015