Date: 20th & 21st May, 2017
We haven't visit Madrid for a pinball tournament since Spain held the European Pinball Championship there back in 2012. This time we were attending the Torneo Madrileño de Pinballs, better known as TMAP.
The venue for the two-day event was a nondescript building in an industrial area on the southern side of the city which is the permanent home to the private Millonaria pinball club.
For those not familiar with the Millonaria location there was no signage to indicate any pinball presence resides here, let alone the fact that it is the home of a major Spanish tournament.
However, if you enter the building through the unlocked third door, take the lift up five floors and follow the sounds of flippers flipping, you come across the tournament registration desk.
Playing in the two tournaments - modern and classics - cost €60 per person. Players could also opt to take an organised lunch held in another part of the building for an additional €20. Those who took the lunch received green wristbands, while those who made their own arrangements wore an orange wristband. As you can see, with no catering facilities nearby, the vast majority decided to have lunch at the venue.
Upon registration, players received an orange shoulder bag, two score sheets (one for the modern tournament and one for the classics), a pen and a wipe cloth.
Alongside the registration desk, the lobby also provided a seating area and there was a vendor with a selection of pinball LEDs and other generic parts.
From the lobby, a short corridor led past a group of upright video games into the games room, where the eighty-nine machines were arranged in four long rows of around twenty-two machines each.
The classics machines were arranged back-to-back down the centre of the room, while the modern pinballs backed against the walls. The rear of the room was open to a multi-storey car park which provided access for loading or unloading machines and gave a small seating area for relaxation between games.
To help with the relaxation, there was a bar selling soft and alcoholic drinks along with some snacks. Beers were only €1 and gin & tonics €3, both of which were very well received.
The classics machines were largely composed of Spanish games, making an unusual selection of rarely-seen titles for the non-Spanish players attending.
Here's a full list of the machines.
At the front of the room was the tournament desk where results were entered into the computer system, while a large poster showed the player groups, machines to be played and the results.
Both tournaments worked in the same way; only the machines used and how they were played changed between the two.
Players were divided into three groups - A, B & C. In each group, everyone played three- or four-player games across nine rounds, so everyone got to play everyone else in their group. Machines were allocated in a semi-random way - keeping each group to a fixed selection of machines - which meant players would often get to play the same machine twice (or more).
In each match, points were awarded depending on finishing position, with 3 points for first, 2 points for second, 1 point for third and 0 points for last place. That meant a maximum of 27 points were available if all games were won.
The classics tournament was played first.
Because many of these machines were single player only, each player in a match played their game in isolation, recording their score on paper and working out the points after the last player in the match finished their game.
The points were then recorded on the poster.
When all the matches in a round were over, a call went out on the PA to start the next round while the previous round's results were entered into the computer. The current standings were shown on a monitor.
The eight players with the most points in each group qualified for the play-offs on Sunday morning. The first four received a bye through the first round (12 players), while the next four would have to battle it out in four three-player games with only the winner moving on (4 players).
The classics tournament qualification ended around 12:30pm, with the first rounds of the modern tournament starting immediately.
Lunch was scheduled for 2pm, so there was just time for a couple of rounds of qualifying before the break.
Unlike the classics, all modern tournament matches were played as regular four-player games.
Lunch is a big deal in Spanish pinball tournaments and two hours are usually allocated to enjoy it. Those who had signed up for the organised meal went down to the entrance and across to the unit next door for the catered meal, complete with drinks.
We opted to enjoy the hot sunny weather and headed to the nearby town of Vallecas for a leaisurely lunch at a cafe with street-side tables. A nice iced Estrella beer rounded off the meal of bocadillos filled with anchovies and tortilla, alongside other assorted nibbles.
Play didn't resume until 4:45, when the remaining seven rounds of the modern tournament qualifying took place. Each round took approximately 30 minutes, so everything wrapped up around 8pm.
We were staying at a nearby Ibis Budget hotel which while cheap (€37 a night), modern and a few minutes' walk to the venue, was basic and not in a great area. So, we made a quick trip back to freshen up before setting off for the centre of Madrid courtesy of Alejandro Yepes Piedra, who had invited us to take part in the tournament and took care of us all weekend.
Central Madrid on a Saturday night is amazingly packed with people. The bars and restaurants are crowded. The streets are crowded. The subway is crowded. It's like rush hour, every hour.
But it's also vibrant, exciting and enjoyable. We grabbed a big dish of paella, a couple of jugs of sangria, and headed for Plaza Mayor to explore the city.
Sunday's action began at 9am for those who finished in positions 5th-8th in their group. The top four skipped this round and so could turn up later, making sure they didn't arrive too late.
Both classics and modern tournaments again followed the same format. Four groups were made, and three three-player games played with points awarded. Only the player with the most points joined the next stage, so it was a tough round to survive.
As well as the modern and classics tournament, there were several side competitions set up on machines at the back of the room.
The pairs competition held on Guns N' Roses had each player play one ball and then play the third ball in split-flipper mode.
The blind pinball competition has a paper shield over the flippers of an Indiana Jones machine. The player with the highest score won. Meanwhile there was a one-ball competition run on Avengers.
The remaining play-offs all consisted of four-player groups playing three games per round, with 9-6-3-1 scoring - a system which seemed inherently likely to produce ties. The top two players in each group progressed to the next round, reducing the initial sixteen players to eight and then to a final four who would compete for the top four places.
The classics final took place first and it was a sudden-death single five-ball game played on Master Stroke. The four finalists were Rafitas, Alexxx, Inderman and Cisco120 (everyone uses nicknames in Spain).
Alexxx played first on this single-player game.
Hi score of 600.600 set the target for the rest to attack.
Rafitas played next but fell short with 518,100. Inderman was third to play and his total just beat Alexxx, scoring 633,300 to lead the field.
Cisco120 was the last to play.
He sailed past Inderman's score on his third ball, ending his game when his score reached 657,900.
So, Cisco120 won, Inderman was second, ALexxx third and Rafitas fourth.
The full results of the classics tournament are:
Then came the final of the modern tournament. This was also a single game, played on the club's newest acquisition, an Aerosmith Pro. The four finalists were Rafitas (again), Martin Ayub, Julio and Leberry
Leberry began the final.
Leberry made a solid if unexceptional start, scoring around 2M. Martin then played next.
A quick bounce down the left outlane didn't give Martin much of a start, although he did light a couple of locks.
Julio did a little better, scoring just over a million, while Rafitas had the quickest first ball of the four, not putting up much of a score yet.
Leberry started a three-ball multiball to take a solid lead, but Martin and Julio both held out to lock all six balls and maximise their scoring potential. Although it was a risk, it paid off for them both. Leberry ended on 55M, but Martin overtook that with his 61M total. Julio had the much better multiball, however, ending his game on 121M. Despite putting up a valiant fight, Rafitas's game never really got going and he ended up in fourth.
So, Julio was the winner, Martin was second, Leberry third and Rafitas fourth. Trophies were awarded by the event organisers.
Here are the full results:
Awards were also given to the winners of the side competitons.
There was also an award for the Interstellar Championship of Monza, although we're not quite sure how this was decided.
With all the awards presented, the event closed at the very civilised time of 4pm. That meant we still had the rest of the day free to return to central Madrid for plates of tapas and some nice cold drinks.
Like most Spanish tournaments, TMAP 2017 was run in a relaxed though professional way. With the vast majority being local players, everyone seemed to know how it ran and what was expected of them. Those unfamiliar with the venue might have had trouble finding it - we knew the address but still couldn't work it out until someone showed us - but once inside the format and rules were immediately understandable.
The relaxed timescale also worked well for us. Having a two-hour lunch break split up the day nicely, and the sensible finish times on both days allowed us to enjoy the city - something not always possible with other tournaments.
We thoroughly enjoyed our trip to TMAP 2017. Thanks to all the organisers.
While the area around the venue is not the most attractive (and we would probably choose to stay closer to the centre of the city next time), we welcomed the format, the collection of machines, the weather and the hospitality, and would love to spend some additional time exploring Madrid on our next trip.
© Pinball News 2017