SWISS OPEN 2015
Date: 6th - 8th February, 2015
Additional pictures: Edy Flammer
The IFPA European Championship Series was founded in 2014 to tie together the largest national tournaments held in various European countries.
Players who competed in the nominated competitions across the continent earned WPPR points as usual, but those points were also added to their ECS account. At the end of the calendar year, the thirty-two players with the most ECS points automatically qualified for this ECS final. The fourteen places from those who couldn't make it were quickly filled by lower-ranked players, and the field was complete by the start of the 2015.
For its inaugural year, the final was held at the PinballEd facility in Kollbrunn, Switzerland - one of a number of pinball clubs in the country - on the same weekend as the Swiss Open.
Kollbrunn is about 30km northeast of Zurich, and although PinballEd is close to the centre of the town, it's not the easiest place to find unless you already know where to look.
There are no external signs. Entry is through an anonymous light industrial unit, round a corridor, up some unlit stairs, through a door at the top, along another corridor, and there's PinballEd.
Once inside, you quickly discover two large rooms filled with pinball machines, a bar, a smoking room, and an additional room with a number of practice machines.
This first room contained seventeen pinballs - all modern dot-matrix machines.
As you walk further into PinballEd you pass a smoking room (fumoir) on the right.
Smoking is not banned outright in Switzerland. There was a national referendum in September 2012 where the option was rejected by a significant majority. Instead, individual regions (cantons) make their own rules. In practice that means many restaurants, bars and public places have a separate enclosed section for smokers, as does PinballEd.
At the end of the corridor is a trophy case filled with awards, several bearing the name of Robert Sutter.
Alongside is a memorial to local legend Christoph Kapusta who died of a heart attack in April 2013, aged just 49.
To the right is the second pinball room, this one containing another seventeen dot-matrix machines.
On the opposite side of the trophy display was the entrance to the bar.
The bar served soft drinks, beer, coffee, bottled water and energy drinks. Prices were a little on the high side, but then generally everything in Switzerland appears expensive to non-Swiss visitors.
In addition to drinks, hot dogs and other sausages were available to purchase, while each day had a new selection of food, ranging from salads to pasta dishes, bread and cakes.
To reach the final room, you had to leave the main area, turn right and walk down a short corridor, where you would find the practice room.
Eight machines were available, although you would often find that not all of them were fully working.
So those are the various areas and the forty-two machines available at PinballEd. But most of the guests visiting this weekend were there to play in the two tournaments, so let's see how those went.
The final of the 2014 European Championship Series began first, with play starting around 7pm on Friday night.
Thirty-two qualifiers took part by pre-registering and paying the €55 (US$62) entry fee. The format paired up players according to their ECS ranking, so that the #1 ranked played the #32 ranked player, the #2 played #31, and so on.
Each pair played a best-of-seven match on machines chosen by the players. The highest ranked got to choose machine or position for the first game, after which the losing player had that same choice for the next game.
The first player to win four games moved on to the next round of the winners' bracket, while the losing player joined the losers' bracket where they played best-of-five rounds instead.
Match results were recorded on paper with the progression through the winners' and losers' brackets shown on the wall.
Play continued until midnight on Friday night, at which point they called it a night so that the ECS matches could continue on Saturday.
The players who were already knocked out of the ECS final began their matches in the Swiss Open at around midday on Saturday, while those still playing in the ECS could carry on with their matches, before starting their Swiss Open games later in the day.
The Swiss Open cost another €55 (US$62) and featured 64 pre-registered players who were split into four groups of sixteen. Everyone played a best-of-three 3-ball match against each of the other members of their group.
When all the games had been played, the eight players with the most wins in each group moved on the play-offs. A projector beamed the results of the matches onto the back wall of the bar.
Machines were allocated by random draw. Once a game had been completed, one of the pair reported the result to Daniel at the tournament desk who would record the win and pick the next machine.
The first player to score two wins progressed to the next round of the winners' bracket, while the losing player joined the losers' bracket where the matches became a single head-to-head four-ball game with the highest scorer continuing.
At lunchtime a buffet was served featuring soup, chilli, salad, bread and a selection of tasty cakes. This was free for Swiss Open or ECS players.
As the afternoon drew on, the number of competitors remaining in both tournaments dwindled until we were down to the final two in each.
Daniele Acciari was in with a chance of achieving the double - making the final in both tournaments.
In the ECS he was up against Marcus Stix, while Jorian Engelbrektsson was his opponent in the Swiss Open.
After games on No Good Gofers, Terminator 2, Jackbot and Tales of the Arabian Nights, Daniele was leading Marcus by 3 games to 1 in the best-of-seven final.
Proceedings were briefly brought to a halt by a stuck ball during Marcus's first ball on game five - Congo.
In the end though, Daniele was unstoppable and became the inaugural IFPA European Championship Series champion. Marcus Stix was second, Jan Anders Nilsson was third, and Roberto Pedroni fourth. Trophies were awarded by the ECS final organiser, Michael Trepp.
Could Daniele make it a clean sweep and win both events?
Only Jorian Engelbrektsson stood in his way, and Jorian proved unbeatable in the Swiss Open final to take first place ahead of Daniele in second. Albert Nomden was third, while Marcus added fourth place to his ECS runner-up position.
Here are the full results for the ECS 2014 final:
And here are the full results of the Swiss Open 2015:
PinballEd is a great place to play in tournaments of this size, and the organisers obviously had experience running this format, as their timings for the completion of each round were often spot-on.
Edy, Robbie, Metti and the whole team were very welcoming and hospitable, dealing with machine issues in a calm and equitable way. Despite the stakes, there was no drama from the players and the whole event had a positive vibe.
The ECS got off to a good start and it will surely become a regular part of the European pinball scene.
© Pinball News 2015