Date: 5th December, 2015
Location: The Pub, Universitatii, Regina Elisabeta 9, 030016 Bucharest, Romania
Additional pictures: Liviu Dobos & Łukasz Dziatkiewicz

The final round of the 2015 European Championship Series, the Romanian Pinball Open (RPO), took place in Bucharest on Saturday 5th December 2015.

This was my first time in Bucharest and I can highly recommend visiting this bustling and vibrant city . Luckily I had five days spare, so I decided to arrive on Thursday before the tournament.

There are many options for accommodation to suit all budgets, but I went for Gabby Molotov’s Hostel; just two blocks and five minutes’ walk from the venue, with a bar that’s open all hours, three pinball machines and a club stage/bar venue in the basement. What more could you want? Lovely jubbly! Smile

If you have time spare then there are plenty of nice parks and buildings to see, all just a short walk from the venue and central Bucharest.

Cismigiu Park
Cismigiu Park
Beautiful architecture
Beautiful architecture
Another interesting building in Bucharest
Another interesting building in Bucharest

There were three tournaments at the RPO 2015 – the Main Tournament, an ’80s Tournament (Classics), and a ‘Best Pinball Jedi’ side-tournament for the highest score in a single game on Star Wars.

Ovi Cacina, the IFPA Romania President, was the tournament director (pictured here with Lieven Engelbeen from Belgium).

Ovi and Lieven
Ovi and Lieven

Anca & Ovi’s wife Lidia were at the tournament desk to register players and enter results into the computer.

Anca and Lidia
Anca and Lidia

Ovi & Lidia’s daughter, Lulia (pictured in the centre below) and her friends were on hand to help record the results as they came in.

The girls
The girls
The qualifying round scoreboard
The qualifying round scoreboard

Here’s the machine list for the main tournament:

  • Addams Family, The
  • Bride of Pinbot, The Machine
  • Corvette
  • Dirty Harry
  • Dracula, Bram Stoker’s
  • Getaway, The: High Speed 2
  • Indiana Jones (WMS)
  • Lethal Weapon 3
  • Maverick
  • Pinball Magic
  • Scared Stiff
  • Shrek
  • Star Wars (DE)
  • Star Wars Episode 1
  • Street Fighter 2
  • Terminator 2
  • Tommy, The Who’s
  • Wipe Out

In all there were thirty-eight competitors from seven different countries taking part in the main tournament, split into two groups with everyone playing a head-to-head game with everyone else in their group in a round-robin style and the top eight from each group qualifying for the knock-out stages.

The trophies and medals up for grabs
The trophies and medals up for grabs
The qualifying rounds begin
The qualifying rounds begin
More qualifying games
More qualifying games
Liv and Berny
Liv and Berny
Qualifying round in progress
Qualifying round in progress

Ovi was kept busy with the task of fixing any faults that developed during the course of the day.

Ovi working on Street Fighter 2
Ovi working on Street Fighter 2

So after the qualifying rounds were completed the field was reduced to sixteen players, creating eight matches, each a best-of-three, on one randomly-chosen machine.

This was repeated until the field was reduced to four players, resulting in two semi-finals – each a best-of-three-games match to be played on a randomly chosen machine. A coin toss determined who would play first.

The first semi-final was between Ollivier Francq and Rich Mallet on Creature from the Black Lagoon. Ollivier won the first game by less than a million (74m v 75m) , but Rich took the second game, meaning the first semi went to a decider. Ollivier won this comfortably, repeatedly shooting the Move Your Car shot over and over with great accuracy, winning with a ball to spare and scoring 174m from the two balls he played.

Olivier Francq on Creature from the Black Lagoon in the first semi-final
Ollivier Francq on Creature from the Black Lagoon in the first semi-final

The second semi-final was between Cesare D’atri and Lieven Engelbeen on Shrek.

Cesare won the first game, but Lieven came back with a win in the second, meaning that the second semi was also to be decided by one game.

Going into the last ball, Cesare had a lead of 14M, but Lieven had a great last ball and really looked like he was going to overhaul Cesare’s 25.9M . But Lieven’s ball drained, and as the bonus was clocking up he agonisingly fell just short of Cesare’s total.

Cesare on Shrek in the semi-final
Cesare on Shrek in the semi-final
The scores in the second semi-final
The scores in the second semi-final

So the final of the RPO 2015 would be between Ollivier Francq of Belgium and Cesare D’atri of Italy. It was to be a best-of-five match where the first to three wins would win the title.

By now the venue was filling up with its Saturday night crowd and the music was beginning to crank up in volume. There was a real atmosphere building up inside this spacious central Bucharest venue. Outside, the Christmas vibe was fully up and running with beautiful lights illuminating the nearby streets.

The view outside the venue
The view outside the venue

Throughout the day, and in-between qualifying games in the main tournament, the qualification games for the ’80s Classics Tournament were in full swing. The machines for the Classics were:

  • Big Town
  • Clown Z
  • Elvira & the Party Monsters
  • Earthshaker!
  • Tiger Rag
  • Dr. Dude

Qualification in the Classics worked like this.

You could choose three machines from the six and play up to a maximum of three games on each machine. However, it was only one score – your most recent score – that would count, so you had to be careful that you didn’t get a lower score than your previous score on that machine as it was only your most recent game that was counted and not necessarily your highest score .

All the scores were recorded and the top four players in qualification would compete in a single game to determine the RPO ’80s Tournament winner.

After all the qualification games for the Classics Tournament were completed, the top four players were Cristian Istrate of Romania, Lieven Engelbeen of Belgium, Cesare D’atri of Italy, and Giuseppe Violante of Italy.

The final of the Classics Tournament was played on a single game of Playmatic’s Big Town.

The crowd watches Giuseppe in the Classics final
The crowd watches Giuseppe in the Classics final
Cesare on Big Town
Cesare on Big Town
Cristian in the Classics final
Cristian in the Classics final
Lieven plays Big Town
Lieven plays Big Town

It was very close going into the third ball, but no one knew if it was a three or five ball game. Ha ha ha. The game finished unexpectedly after the third ball and the results of the final were in!

Classics Tournament
1 Giuseppe Violante 
2 Cesare Datri
3 Cristian Istrate
4 Lieven Engelbeen
5 Daniele Baldan
6 Rich Mallett
7 Philippe Bocquet
8 Devis Pierantozzi
9 Ovidiu Cacina
10 Olivier Renders
11 Gabi Molotov Gavrilita
12 Steven Demets
13 Milan Caranovic
14 Rob Breyne
15 Lukasz Dziatkiewicz
16 Vlad Filimon Nastase
17 Vlad Terzi
18 Florin Tismas
19 Alexandru Manda
20 Iulia Cacina
21 Andra Raicu
22 Alex Butnaru
23 Berndt Ion Teodorescu
24 Bogdan Constantin Ghiga
25 Ollivier Francq
26 Olivier Leurs
27 Liv Decay
28 Adrian Pavel
29 Ieronim Pogorilovschi
30 Andrew Luke
31 Dan Mocanu
32 Andra Luke
33 Razvan Andrei
34 Tibor Dumitrescu Orban
35 Iulia Popescu
36 Adina Cimpoesu
37 Catrinel Radoi Ditescu
38 Ana Maria Lungu
The top three in the Classics Tournament
The top three in the Classics Tournament: Cesare Datri, Giuseppe Violante, Cristian Istrate

It had been a long day of pinball, so the arrival of the Coca-Cola girls was a welcome distraction!

The Coca-Cola girls
The Coca-Cola girls
Gabby welcomes the Coca-Cola girls
Gabby welcomes the Coca-Cola girls

So, onto the third/fourth place play-off in the main tournament between Lieven and Rich, a best-of-three match on Dirty Harry.

Rich won the first game but Lieven bounced back to win the next two games and take third place in the main RPO tournament.

Lieven on Dirty Harry takes third place
Lieven on Dirty Harry takes third place

Next up was the final of the Main Tournament to determine the overall winner of the RPO 2015 – a best-of-five match between Ollivier Francq of Belgium and Cesare D’Atri from Italy.

Ollivier won a fairly close first game on Pinball Magic to go 1-0 up.

Cesare on Pinball Magic
Cesare on Pinball Magic

The next game was on Creature from the Black Lagoon which Ollivier won again . He likes this machine. He’s apparently got one at home. Smile

Olivier on Creature in the final
Ollivier on Creature in the final

So Cesare had to win all three of the remaining games to deny Ollivier the title. He started really well on Dr. Dude, shooting the left ramp masterfully over and over again as well as making the 1-2-3 combo million shot, scoring 12 million on his first ball.

Cesare on Dr. Dude
Cesare on Dr. Dude

It was a score that Ollivier was unable to overhaul, which meant we were 2-1 to Ollivier going into the fourth game The Addams Family.

The crowd watches Olivier on Dr. Dude
The crowd watches Ollivier on Dr. Dude

Cesare went first on The Addams Family but could only mange 8M on his first ball as Ollivier got the multiball going and managed to get a couple of jackpots.

Cesare starts game four
Cesare starts game four
Olivier on The Addams Family
Ollivier on The Addams Family

Cesare tried on his last ball to make Ollivier play his ball three, but unfortunately was never able to get going on a very tough Addams Family. Ollivier was victorious!

The top three in the Romanian Pinball Open 2015: Lieven Engelbeen (3rd), Ollivier Francq (1st) & Cesare D'atri (2nd)
Trophy presentations to the the top three: Lieven Engelbeen (3rd), Ollivier Francq (1st) & Cesare D’atri (2nd)
Ollivier with Gabby and Ovi
Ollivier with Gabby and Ovi
Winner of the Romanian Pinball Open 2015 - Ollivier Francq
Winner of the Romanian Pinball Open 2015 – Ollivier Francq
Romanian Pinball Open 2015
1 Ollivier Francq 
2 Cesare Datri
3 Lieven Engelbeen
4 Rich Mallett
5 Giuseppe Violante
6 Olivier Renders
7 Cristian Istrate
8 Florin Tismas
9 Rob Breyne
10 Olivier Leurs
11 Daniele Baldan
12 Gabi Molotov Gavrilita
13 Devis Pierantozzi
14 Berndt Ion Teodorescu
15 Ovidiu Cacina
16 Vlad Filimon Nastase
17 Bogdan Constantin Ghiga
18 Philippe Bocquet
19 Adrian Pavel
20 Lukasz Dziatkiewicz
21 Andra Raicu
22 Milan Caranovic
23 Liv Decay
24 Ieronim Pogorilovschi
25 Alex Butnaru
26 Steven Demets
27 Vlad Terzi
28 Alexandru Manda
29 Iulia Cacina
30 Andrew Luke
31 Dan Mocanu
32 Andra Luke
33 Razvan Andrei
34 Iulia Popescu
35 Adina Cimpoesu
36 Catrinel Radoi Ditescu
37 Ana Maria Lungu
38 Tibor Dumitrescu Orban

The Best Pinball Jedi side-tournament was won by Lieven Engelbeen.

The Best Pinball Jedi was Lieven Engelbeen
Best Pinball Jedi, Lieven Engelbeen
Riotous ensemble at the end
Riotous ensemble at the end

So there endeth a quite remarkable day and night of European pinball! It was a very well-organised event with some great pinball skills on display.

I personally would like to thank Ovi Cacina, Lidia Cacina, Luli Cacina, Lukasz Dziatkiewicz, Gabby ‘Gabba Gabba Hey!’ Molotov, Milan Caranovic, Liv Decay, Vlad Prodan and Rexcolt Pinball for all your efforts and generous hospitality that made the RPO 2015 such a great success. Thanks very much and “mul?umesc foarte mult!

Ovi, Rich, Lukasz & Gabby - pinball friends
Ovi, Rich, Lukasz & Gabby – pinball friends

Miss you guys and looking forward to the next RPO already. Smile

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