Date: 26th - 28th February, 2016
Location: Printimus Pinball, Bytom ul. Bernardyńska 1, Poland

For the second year running, the IFPA European Championship Series (ECS) ran across the preceding twelve months. Participating countries could nominate one event from their 2015 tournament schedule, and all WPPR points earned at that event contributed to players’ ECS 2015 points total.

The thirty-two players with the highest ECS points total at the end of the calendar year then automatically qualified for the final, which is held early the following year. If some couldn’t make it to the final, lower-ranked players filled the gaps until the field was complete.

After last year’s event at PinballEd in Switzerland, Printimus Pinball in Bytom, Poland stepped up to host the 2015 ECS final in late February 2016, combining it with another major tournament and a number of side events.

Printimus Pinball in Bytom
Printimus Pinball in Bytom

Regular readers will be familiar with Printimus Pinball. It was set up by Marcin Krysinski on the upper floor of his printing business on the outskirts of Bytom in Silesia, in the south of the country.

The main use of the building is as a printing company
The main use of the building is as a printing company

The building is on a light-industrial estate around a 15-minute walk from the city centre.

Part of the industrial estate on Bernardynska
Part of the industrial estate on Bernardynska

Although the ECS final was limited to the 32 top-ranked players who could attend, the other tournaments were open to everyone. The ECS pinball action was also combined with the Mihiderka Pinball & Food Festival.

The poster for the ECS Final and the Mihiderka Pinball & Food Festival
The poster for the ECS final and the Mihiderka Pinball & Food Festival by Piotr Widuchowski
A poster for Mihiderka
A poster for Mihiderka

Mihiderka is Marcin’s family’s vegan restaurant business, and the €135 entry fee for all the tournaments included vegan food provided all across the three-day event. Some players broke ranks and headed into the city for McDonalds, KFC, or other meat-based meals, but most enjoyed and appreciated the care and skill put into these meals.

Vegan burgers, with all the ingredients derived from plants
Vegan burgers, with all the ingredients derived from plants
Assorted salads, side dishes, and desserts were available
Assorted salads, side dishes, and desserts were available
Pizza (without cheese, of course) was served on Sunday
Pizza (without cheese, of course) was served on Sunday
Two types of soup were served each day to combat the cold weather outside
Two types of soup were served each day to combat the cold weather outside

For those in need of non-vegan snacks, the vending machine provided a little relief.

Chocolate bars, crisps, soft drinks, energy drinks and even beer was available
Chocolate bars, potato crisps, soft drinks, energy drinks and even low-alcohol beer

Bottles of Pepsi, along with filter coffee and a kettle with tea bags were all provided at no extra charge, while 500ml bottles of lager cost 5 Polish Zlotys (€1.16/$1.27/£0.90) each.

The kitchen facilities
The kitchen facilities

ECS Players had to register and pay in advance so that on arrival they could sign-in and collect their welcome pack. This included information cards on Printimus Pinball and Mihiderka, a sticker, a fridge magnet, a card detailing the rules of the tournaments, an entry to the Roger Sharpe Contest, a bookmark, and tokens for three meals.

The welcome pack
The welcome pack
Tournament weekend organiser Lukasz Dziatkiewicz shows Franck Bona how to vote for the most-stylish player
The organiser of the tournament weekend, Lukasz Dziatkiewicz, shows Franck Bona how to vote for the most-stylish player

The main ECS final began at 09:30 on Saturday morning when the 32 players were paired-up and played a best-of-seven match. The highest seed chose the first machine but also had to take the player one position. Thereafter, the machines were chosen by the loser of the previous game.

The ECS bracket
The ECS bracket

The sixteen winners continued on the right side of the bracket, while the same number of losers moved to the left to play each other in best-of-five rounds. Eventually the survivor of the winner side would play the winner of the loser side in the final.

The ECS final is under way
The ECS final is under way

Twenty-two machines were available to play.

Attack from Mars
Bride of Pinbot, The Machine
Cactus Canyon
Cirqus Voltaire
Demolition Man
Dirty Harry
Dracula, Bram Stoker’s
Fish Tales
Funhouse
Getaway, The: High Speed 2
Indiana Jones
Johnny Mnemonic
Monster Bash
No Good Gofers
Revenge from Mars
Shadow, The
Star Wars (DE)
Tales of the Arabian Nights
Terminator 2
Theatre of Magic
Twilight Zone
Whitewater

The vast majority were Williams/Bally dot-matrix machines, with a couple of alpha-numerics, a Pinball 2000 and a Data East machine completing the line-up.

Data East's Star Wars
Data East’s Star Wars

Before play began on Saturday morning there was a moment of silence to remember Edy Flammer, who passed away on the 7th February 2016.

Edy Flammer
Edy Flammer

Edy was the gracious host of last year’s ECS 2014 final held in Switzerland at the venue in Kollbrunn named after him – PinballEd.

Everyone honoured his memory and marked his passing with a moment of reflection, before this year’s ECS final began.

Starting on Friday and continuing on Saturday, running alongside the ECS final, was the Mihiderka Modern Tournament.

In this, players could play as many games as they liked on any of the twenty-two machines. When they got a score with which they were happy they could get it recorded on their score sheet. Once recorded, the score was locked-in and couldn’t be changed for a better one.

Play in the Mihiderka Modern Tournament
Play in the Mihiderka Modern Tournament

With twenty-two machines and unlimited games, there was a lot of concern by players that they would be able to get a decent score on each machine before the close of qualifying at midnight on Saturday, especially with the ECS final and other side-tournaments in which to play.

Rafal enters scores into the computer
Rafal enters scores into the computer

The scores on each machine were ranked, and the total of their ranking points made up a player’s overall score.

Scores in the Mihiderka Tournament
Scores in the Mihiderka Modern Tournament

We’ve mentioned the side tournaments before, so let’s take a look at those.

The first was the Mihiderka Classics Tournament, played on the same six machines used in the Printimus Pinball Cup in November last year. They were:

Bronco
Haunted House
Jungle Queen
Mata Hari
Sinbad
Spirit of 76
The six Classic Tournament machines
The six Classic Tournament machines

Players could buy as many entries as they liked at 5 Zlotys each, where each entry was a run of three games. However, only the last entry submitted counted. Scores were then ranked and the eight players with the most ranking points from their last entry went into the quarter-finals on Sunday.

If a bad game ruined a prospective run of three scores, an entry could be torn up and not submitted.

The second side-tournament was the Mihiderka Fantasy Quest by Stern, featuring four fantasy-themed Stern machines.

Game of Thrones Pro
Orbitor 1
Star Trek Pro
Terminator 3
The Fantasy Quest by Stern machines
The Fantasy Quest by Stern machines

Contestants had to choose three of the four machines and record scores on them. The same rules about unlimited entries and only the last entry submitted counting applied, as in the Classic Tournament.

Next came the Mihiderka Triple Star Trek Challenge tournament, played on three Star Trek machines – one shared with the Fantasy Quest Tournament.

Stern's Star Trek, Williams Star Trek - The Next Generation and Data East's Star Trek 25th Anniversary
Stern’s Star Trek, Williams Star Trek: The Next Generation and Data East’s Star Trek 25th Anniversary

In this one, two of the three machines were played with each entry, but the rules were otherwise the same as before.

There were also high score tournaments held of Dirty Harry and Johnny Mnemonic. These were free and included any games played in the tournaments. A third high score tournament was run on The Wizard of Oz, although this was pay-per-play.

The Wizard of Oz was used for a high score tournament
The Wizard of Oz was used for a high score tournament

The ECS final was expected to finish on Saturday, but the last remaining matches were played on Sunday morning.

Marcin explains how the last rounds of the ECS will be played
Marcin explains how the last rounds of the ECS will be played

They were interspersed with the play-offs for the Mihiderka Modern Tournament.

In these play-offs, the top sixteen formed the A-Division where they played a total of fifteen head-to-head games – one game against every other player in the division. When all the games were complete, the four players with the most wins would compete in a final. The next sixteen players formed the B-Division and did the same for 17th-32nd places, except there was no final.

Marcin explains the format
Marcin explains the format

The choice of machines was a little more convoluted. Each player was given a sheet listing all the machines and asked to delete all but nine of them.

The machine list for the Mihiderka Tournament
The machine list for the Mihiderka Tournament

These nine machines would then be the player’s choices. In the first round the highest seed got to pick the machine, which they then crossed-out on their list. After that, the player with the most remaining machines got to choose, or the highest seed if they both had the same number of machines remaining.

Players decide on their chosen machines
Players decide on their chosen machines

The pairings in each round were shown on the projectors – one for the A-Division and another for the B-Division.

During Saturday, three TV crews were filming the competitors, and holding interviews with organiser Lukasz Dziatkiewicz and some of the players.

Filming Paul Jongma playing Theatre of Magic
Paul Jongma playing Theatre of Magic against Cayle George

You can view their reports here while they remain on their respective websites:

Some of pinball’s ancestors and spin-off games were also on display both for the players and for the cameras. The large bagatelle game is the same as the one featured in the accompanying pinball book.

Bagatelle, early pinball and toy pinballs
Bagatelle, early pinball and toy pinballs

Markus Stix remained undefeated to win the winner bracket, setting up a match against loser bracket winner, Cayle George, in the overall final.

With so many other tournaments also taking place on Sunday, there was little fanfare for the ECS final. In fact, it was over before we were aware it had begun, but it was a victory for Cayle as he won the match four games to one, making Markus second. In the semi-final of the loser bracket, Cayle had defeated Paul Jongma, who in turn had defeated Daniele Acciari, putting them in third and fourth places respectively.

Trophies, certificates, Techland computer games and prize packs from the Mayor of Bytom were presented by Lukasz and Marcin.

Winner of the IFPA ECS Final 2015, Cayle George
Winner of the IFPA ECS final 2015, Cayle George
Second place, Markus Stix
Second place, Markus Stix
Third place, Paul Jongma
Third place, Paul Jongma
Fourth place, Daniele Acciari
Fourth place, Daniele Acciari

In addition to the trophies and prize packs, there were also cash prizes of €768 ($845/£593) for first place, €576 for second, €384 for third, and €192 for fourth.

IFPA European Championship Series
1 Cayle George
2 Markus Stix
3 Paul Jongma
4 Daniele Celestino Acciari
5 Olli-Mikko Ojamies
5 Roberto Pedroni
7 Albert Nomden
7 Franck Bona
10 Martin Hotze
10 Kevin Roelants
10 Jonas Johansson
10 Rich Mallett
14 Roland Schwarz
14 Peter Blakemore
14 Cesare Datri
14 Devis Pierantozzi
20 Helena Walter
20 Greg Mott
20 Adam Lundquist
20 Carlos Javier Parra
20 Thomas Evrenos
20 Morten Petersen
20 Mathias Leurs
20 Ollivier Francq
28 Mark van der Gugten
28 Martin Ayub
28 Jasmijn de Jong
28 Mariusz Tkacz
28 Peter Franck
28 David Mainwaring
28 Giuseppe Violante
28 Andrej Demsar

 

There was also an award of a golden $100 bill for the most stylish player, as voted by the other players. The winner was Jasmijn de Jong.

The most stylish player, Jasmijn de Jong
The most stylish player, Jasmijn de Jong

Interspersed with all the other competitive events, the final rounds of the Classic Tournament were decided early on Sunday afternoon. The top twelve from the qualifying round made it through to the play-offs, with the top four earning a bye into the quarter-finals.

Mariusz Tkacz and Cayle George in the Classic Tournament play-offs
Mariusz Tkacz and Cayle George in the Classic Tournament play-offs

All four best-of-five first round matches were won 3-2, with Cayle George, Franck Bona, David Mainwaring and Peter Blakemore going through. Of those only Franck continued into the semi-finals, where he was joined by Ollivier Francq, Daniele Acciari and Carlos Javier Parra.

Franck and Daniele went out in the semis, setting up a final between Ollivier and Carlos.

The final of the Classic Tournament
Carlos in the final of the Classic Tournament

The winner was decided by a game on Jungle Queen where, by the end of ball four, Carlos was leading 83K to 51K.

Ollivier battles to save the match
Ollivier battles to save the match

Ollivier needed an impressive last ball to save the match, but unfortunately it was not to be, making Carlos the winner without him needing to play his fifth ball. In a play-off, Franck took third place and Daniele fourth. Daniele had a private bet with Marcin on the outcome of the tournament, a bet he lost meaning he had to shave off his beard.

Winner of the Mihiderka Classic Tournament, Carlos Javier Parra
Winner of the Mihiderka Classic Tournament, Carlos Javier Parra
Second place, Ollivier Francq
Second place, Ollivier Francq
Third place, Franck Bona
Third place, Franck Bona
Fourth place, Daniele Acciari
Fourth place, Daniele Acciari (with razor and shaving foam)
Mihiderka Classic Tournament
1 Carlos Javier Parra
2 Ollivier Francq
3 Franck Bona
4 Daniele Celestino Acciari
5 Daniel Maczurek
6 Peter Blakemore
7 David Mainwaring
8 Cayle George
9 Mariusz Tkacz
10 Gabriel Ortiz
11 Mark van der Gugten
12 Greg Mott
13 Martin Janczyk
14 Cesare Datri
15 Rafal Bytomski
16 Martin Ayub
17 Roberto Pedroni
18 Giuseppe Violante
19 Antti Peltonen
20 Thomas Evrenos
21 Andrzej Olszewski
22 Harald Czernoch
23 Peter Franck
24 Marcin Krysinski
25 Jonas Johansson
26 Michal Klimaszewski
27 Mathias Leurs
28 Adam Lundquist
29 Morten Petersen

 

As the evening turned into the night, the last of the remaining matches in the Mihiderka Modern Tournament play-offs were completed, leaving the last four to contest the final.

The four finalists in the Mihiderka Modern Tournament
The four finalists in the Mihiderka Modern Tournament: Daniele Acciari, Albert Nomden, Olli-Mikko Ojamies and Markus Stix

Before that, there was an interlude during which players enjoyed the first screening of a new music video based around pinball rivalries, featuring Austrian players Roland Schwarz and Markus Six.

Roland, Gabor Varga and Markus
Roland, Gabor Varga and Markus

You can watch the video below:

Then it was back to the serious business of the final.

Marcin explains how the final will work
Marcin explains how the final will work

Each player picked a machine and took the player one position. The remaining positions rotated through the four games and 4, 2, 1 and 0 points were awarded for the final positions in each match.

Markus began the final with his pick of Terminator 2.

The Mihiderka Modern Tournament begins
The Mihiderka Modern Tournament begins

It was a good start for him with 41M on his first ball, but Daniele edged ahead with 52M. Albert has a bad first ball, scoring just under 2M while Olli-Mikko in the player four spot ended a little shy of 20M.

Markus, Daniele and Olli-Mikko all added around 15M to their scores on ball two, while Albert’s luck didn’t improve much as he lagged on 4.2M.

Markus has similar luck on his third ball to end on 59M, behind Daniele who boosted his total to 88M to take first place. Albert did a little better but only scored 9.7M in total, but Olli-Mikko improved his score to 63M to take second place.

Play then moved on to Daniele’s choice of No Good Gofers.

Daniele begins on No Good Gofers
Daniele begins on No Good Gofers

His choice proved a good one, as his first ball total of 22M was a long way ahead of the other three who all scored around 7M.

Ball two just accentuated Daniele’s lead, with his 73M still well ahead of Albert’s 21M, Olli-Mikko’s 9M and Markus’s 11M.

The only one not to add 2M to their total on their third ball was Markus, who had an impressive ball to take second place with 59M. Daniele was the winner, Albert was third and Olli-Mikko fourth.

The third game was Twilight Zone which was chosen by Albert, although he must have wished he’d picked a different game after Daniele scored more than 410M on his first ball thanks to a 320M+ Powerball Mania. That said, Albert’s 131M was enough for second place after ball one.

Albert starts ball two on Twilight Zone
Albert starts ball two on Twilight Zone

That changed with balls two and three, where his 143M total score dropped down to fourth place, as Olli-Mikko had a nice last ball to take second with his 407M, and then Markus moved up to third with his 223M. All the while, Daniele piled on the points with each ball, to score a third win with his 1.42B.

With twelve match points in the bag, Daniele was assured of first place. Markus and Olli-Mikko both had four points (although Olli-Mikko carried one more win than everyone else from the play-offs round into the final, so was actually on five points), while Albert only had the one point.

Olli-Mikko’s selection of The Shadow would decide the second, third and fourth places.

Olli-Mikko starts the last game of the final
Olli-Mikko starts the last game of the final

He began well, with more than 900M from ball one. He boosted that to 1.23B by the end of ball three which was enough to take the win and give him second place overall. Albert’s 545M took second place in the last game, while Markus’s 327M gave him third ahead of Daniele’s 161M.

So Daniele won the Mihiderka Modern Tournament, Olli-Mikko was second, Markus third and Albert fourth.

Winner of the Mihiderka Modern Tournament, Daniele Acciari
Winner of the Mihiderka Modern Tournament, Daniele Acciari
Second place, Olli-Mikko Ojamies
Second place, Olli-Mikko Ojamies
Third place, Markus Stix
Third place, Markus Stix

Cash prizes were also awarded to the top four. Daniele won €250, Olli-Mikko €125, Markus €65 and Albert €35.

Mihiderka Modern Tournament
1  Daniele Celestino Acciari
2  Olli-Mikko Ojamies
3  Markus Stix
4  Albert Nomden
5  Paul Jongma
6  Adam Lundquist
7  Giuseppe Violante
8  Roberto Pedroni
9  Andrej Demsar
10  Martin Hotze
11  Mathias Leurs
12  Roland Schwarz
13  Martin Janczyk
14  Carlos Javier Parra
15  Mariusz Tkacz
16  Cesare Datri
17  Greg Mott
18  Martin Ayub
19  Gabriel Ortiz
20  Kevin Roelants
21  Mark van der Gugten
22  Devis Pierantozzi
23  Rich Mallett
24  Franck Bona
25  Rafal Bytomski
26  David Mainwaring
27  Ollivier Francq
28  Thomas Evrenos
29  Peter Blakemore
30  Benjamin Grabeldinger
31  Jasmijn de Jong
32  Peter Franck
33  Daniel Maczurek
34  Sebastian Lasek
35  Harald Czernoch
36  Mirko Bogic
37  Morten Petersen
38  Cayle George
39  Andrzej Olszewski
40  Marcin Krysinski
41  Michal Klimaszewski
42  Lukasz Dziatkiewicz
43  Antti Peltonen

 

It was nearly 1am by the time the Modern Tournament was concluded, but there were still two more competitions to be decided – the Fantasy Quest and Star Trek tournaments.

The Star Trek Challenge was the first, with Daniele Acciari and Cesare Datri the two finalists.

Tournament Director, David Mainwaring tosses a coin to decide the play order
Tournament Director, David Mainwaring tosses a coin to decide the play order

The three machines were played left-to-right in the best-of-three final.

Daniele starts on the Stern Star Trek
Daniele starts on the Stern Star Trek

Cesare won the final 2-1, with the player who played second winning each of the three games.

Winner of the Star Trek Tournament, Cesare Datri
Winner of the Star Trek Challenge, Cesare Datri
Second place, Daniele Acciari
Second place, Daniele Acciari
Third place, Martin Ayub
Third place, Martin Ayub
Fourth place, Markus Stix
Fourth place, Markus Stix
Star Trek Challenge
1 Cesare Datri
2 Daniele Celestino Acciari
3 Martin Ayub
4 Markus Stix
5 Rafal Bytomski
6 Mariusz Tkacz
7 David Mainwaring
8 Carlos Javier Parra
9 Greg Mott
10 Martin Janczyk
11 Gabriel Ortiz
12 Cayle George
13 Peter Franck
14 Franck Bona
15 Marcin Krysinski
16 Harald Czernoch
17 Jonas Johansson

 

At 01:25 the final round of the Fantasy Quest by Stern tournament began. Markus Stix and Cesare Datri were playing, starting on Terminator 3 and moving along the line. Orbitor 1 wasn’t used in the final.

The final of the Fantasy Quest by Stern tournament
The final of the Fantasy Quest by Stern tournament

Markus won on Terminator 3 before Cesare levelled the score by winning on Star Trek. Game of Thrones was therefore the decider, and it was Markus who triumphed to win the tournament.

Winner of the Fantasy Quest by Stern tournament, Markus Stix
Winner of the Fantasy Quest by Stern tournament, Markus Stix
Second place, Cesare Datri
Second place, Cesare Datri

Jonas Johanssen was third and Carlos Javier Parra fourth.

Fantasy Quest by Stern
1 Markus Stix
2 Cesare Datri
3 Jonas Johansson
4 Carlos Javier Parra
5 Greg Mott
6 Peter Franck
7 Mariusz Tkacz
8 Adam Lundquist
9 David Mainwaring
10 Gabriel Ortiz
11 Giuseppe Violante
12 Daniel Maczurek
13 Rafal Bytomski
14 Marcin Krysinski
14 Morten Petersen
16 Martin Janczyk
17 Ollivier Francq
18 Mathias Leurs
19 Devis Pierantozzi
20 Thomas Evrenos
21 Harald Czernoch

 

In the high score competitions, Devis Pierantozzi achieved the highest score on The Wizard of Oz. Devis won a flyer for the game signed by Jack Guarnieri, along with additional flyers for the same game and The Hobbit.

Winner of the High Score Competition on The Wizard of Oz, Devis Pierantozzi
Winner of the High Score Competition on The Wizard of Oz, Devis Pierantozzi

The Johnny Mnemonic High Score Competition was won by Daniele Acciari.

Daniele Acciari, winner of the Johnny Mnemonic High Score Competition
Daniele Acciari, winner of the Johnny Mnemonic High Score Competition

Daniele’s 34BN score won him a DVD of the movie.

And so, just before 3am, all the tournaments had been decided, the trophies and prizes awarded, the machines switched off, the players had left, and the ECS Final and Mihiderka Pinball & Food Festival came to an end.

Even with the long hours, it had been a packed three days of playing competitive pinball and discovering new types of vegan food. Lukasz, Marcin and Mirek worked tirelessly in the run-up to the event and then all weekend to make sure all the players understood the rules, had any problems resolved, and got to enjoy themselves.

And while we’re not about to convert to veganism any time soon, everyone surely left with a greater appreciation of the tasty dishes possible when only using plants as the ingredients.

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