Date: 15th-17th September, 2017 Location: Hall of Pinball-Fame, Badendorf 12, 8413 Badendorf, Austria To find the Hall of Pinball-Fame you drive south from Vienna for about two hours until you reach the city of Graz. Then go a little further, out into the countryside, to the village of Badendorf. There, set on the side of a hill is a small industrial park which mainly seems to be concerned with making cement objects, and right at the entrance is an anonymous-looking three-storey building which is secretly the home to an impressive collection of modern pinballs. The home of the Hall of Pinball-Fame in Badendorf If you didn’t know that this was the home of the Austrian Pinball Open, there was one small clue to be found. We’ve found the right place We arrived late Friday night with the main and side tournaments starting on Saturday morning. We wanted to arrive earlier on Friday so that we could play in the warm-up tournament which is held on Friday evening, but a mix of distant airport gates, a small quantity of beer and an unexplained gap of thirty minutes in our lives led to us missing the intended flight and having to catch a later one. By the time we arrived soon after midnight, the final of the Warm-Up Tournament was about to begin. It used a three-strikes Matchplay format where players were randomly paired up for head-to-head games on random machines. Getting a win meant you carried on, but losing the game gave you a strike. Once you get three strikes you are out of the tournament. The tournament continued until there were just two players remaining. They then played in the final. The final stages of the Warm-Up Tournament The final of the Warm-Up Tournament was held on Twilight Zone between Jasmin Ibric and Johannes Ostermeier. Playing in the final of the Warm-Up Tournament The machine was clearly playing tough, and the final game didn’t last too long. Johannes just set a three-ball score of 122M as player one, and Jasmin went into the very last ball just over 50M behind on 71M. Playing in the final of the Warm-Up Tournament That last ball couldn’t manage to stay out of the drain for long, giving Jasmin little opportunity to catch Johannes’ score. So Johannes won and Jasmin was second. Benjamin Gräbeldinger and Sandor Varga tied for third place. Winner of the Warm-Up Tournament, Johannes Ostermeier The top four in the Warm-Up Tournament Jasmin Ibric (2nd), Johannes Ostermeier (1st) & Benjamin Gräbeldinger (3rd equal) Here are the full results of Friday night’s Warm-Up Tournament: Austrian Pinball Open Warm-Up Tournament 1 Johannes Ostermeier 2 Jasmin Ibric 3 Sandor Varga 3 Benjamin Gräbeldinger 5 Klaus Löffler 5 Morten Søbyskogen 8 Jürgen Letzel 8 Stefan Herold 8 Zsolt Szabo 8 Laszlo Hornyik 12 Andreas Frank Meyer 12 Michael Heiler 12 Mirko Hertrich 12 Ralph Alexander 18 Peter Boncza 18 Herbert Mittelmaier 18 Arno Nöbl 18 Wolfgang Wetl 18 Wolfgang Haid 18 Markus Ramsner 18 Zsolt Csiszka 26 Roland Schwarz 26 Boldizsár Botka 26 Péter Szamosi 26 Sabine Fasching 26 Oyvind Winther 26 Reiner Pfeiffer 26 Elin Wilhelmsen 26 Rene Stiegler 26 Karin Eisenstecken 36 Felix Radinger 36 Daniela Neuberger 36 Simone Götzhaber 36 Frank Goeltl 36 Balázs Pálfi 36 János Sándor 36 Piller Zsolt 36 Sandra Søbyskogen 36 Gregor Ponert 36 Hribasek Helmut 36 Uwe Ramsner 47 Ingo Götzhaber 47 Reinhard Kremsmayr 47 Gregor Weisgerber 47 Stefan Karlhuber 47 Tamas Odler 47 Alexander Muer 47 Franz Polsterer 47 Zsolt Somogyvari 47 Gábor Vanderer 47 Tom-Andre Andersen 47 Sonja Heiler 56 Gabriella Medgyesi 56 Jürgen Ostermeier 56 Ernestine Lachnit 56 Stefan Riedler 56 Kurt Ploier 56 Herbert Buchberger 56 Kondora Zita 56 Sabine Ramsner After the presentation of the trophies, it was time to unbox one of the special games at the event – a production Alien machine from Heighway Pinball, supplied by Stefan Riedler’s RS Pinball. It joined a Star Wars Limited Edition which had been set up in the hall earlier that evening. The Alien LE machine is unboxed The box is removed The game is set up Under the Alien playfield Although the tournament was over and the games set up for Saturday the night didn’t end there, with partying, drinks and more pinball playing until the early hours. We left some time around 3:30am. Despite forecasts of a hot, sunny weekend, we awoke to rain, low cloud and a chill in the air at our guest house on the other side of Badendorf. The persistent drizzle mixed with heavy showers meant we wouldn’t be walking to the Hall of Pinball-Fame as we’d hoped. Another wet day in the Austrian hills Inside the hall players were gathering for the start of the qualifying rounds in the two tournaments. Players assemble for the start of the tournaments Players’ names are checked-off as they register Before we get into the tournaments, let’s have a look around the building. The main hall was on the ground floor and it contained the majority of the games as well as a seating area and the bar. The bar in the main hall Murauer was the beer of choice for many, but the bar sold two other beers as well as plenty of soft drinks, coffee and snacks. Prices were quite reasonable. A 500ml bottle of beer was €2.70 ($3.16/£2.42), coffee was €1.50, while a coke would set you back €1.50. A small hot dog could be bought for €2.50. The apricot cake looked very appealing If you didn’t fancy sitting at the bar, bench seating and tables could be found towards the back of the hall on the left hand side. On the left were the older ‘classics’ machines which were used in their own tournament two years ago but were included in the general mix of tournament games this time. Tables and bench seats on the left side of the main hall On the other side of the seating area was another mixed row of electronic pinballs. The pinballs on the left side of the main hall On the right side of the hall were two rows of electronic pinballs – mostly Williams/Bally but with some Sega games in the mix. The two rows of pinballs on the right side of the main hall More machines on the right side of the main hall The walls are covered with camouflage-style netting with decorated branches protruding into the room. Some of the decorations in the main hall Moving out into the entrance lobby, there was a Williams Millionaire machine which was free to use for practice at any time. There was a Millionaire machine in the lobby for practice From the lobby there was a staircase which led up to two more floors. On the first there was an area which would be used to serve food at lunchtime, while one floor up were three more rooms full of pinballs. The monitor on the second floor showing the same as the projector in the main hall The room on the right used to contain a mix of machines but is now a dedicated Stern room featuring an excellent selection of all the latest titles provided by Niegelhell. There’s a Pro and a Premium Game of Thrones, and when Star Wars is just arriving with operators and home buyers, here they have two Pros in addition to the LE downstairs. Some of the machines in the Stern room on the second floor Two new Star Wars Pro machines in the Stern room On the right wall we find a Ghostbusters, an AC/DC Vault Edition, two Aerosmiths (Pro and LE), a Kiss LE and a Batman 66. More new Stern machines The other two rooms are linked. The first has machines which were, in the main, not part of Saturday’s tournaments and could be used for practice. They included, not one, but two Whoa Nellie! games. The practice room across from the Stern room The second room was mostly Williams/Bally titles, with just a lone Batman: The Dark Knight representing Stern. The numbers on the machines indicate duplicates, so in the picture below you can see the third Twilight Zone and the second Indiana Jones in the collection. The third tournament room up on the second floor More machines in the third tournament room And so back to the tournaments. Besides trophies, there were also custom beer glasses for the top players. The trophies for the three tournaments Stefan Riedler made the introductions and described how the Main and Side Tournaments would work. Stefan greets visitors and tells them about the tournament formats The Main Tournament was a Swiss-style one, where everyone took part in 17 rounds of head-to-head games against other players with a similar ranking on pre-defined machines. The number of wins would determine the initial ranking, with the result of who beat who giving a more granular result which could be used in deciding the tied places. The matches in each round were displayed on the projector screen The side tournament placed players in groups of four and gave them a machine to play. They then played two four-player games on that machine with points awarded for positions in each game. When both games were over, the two players with the most points moved on to the next round. A few rounds of the Main Tournament were played first followed by a round of the Side Tournament, after which it was back to the Main. The main tournament is underway The tournaments were played on modern and classic machines Mostly though they were modern machines At 1pm everything stopped for lunch which could be purchase with the tournament entry and cost €12 for both days. This was served on the first floor and included a selection of meat and chicken dishes, vegetable sides and salad items, along with soup and bread, all supplied by an external catering company. Some of the dishes available for Saturday’s lunch Different meat dishes Salad dishes Soup, bread and various sauces We are happy to report that the quality of the food was high and there was plenty of it. The buffet-style allowed guests to enjoy different courses if they wished, although there were no desserts. If anyone wanted one of those, they could try the apricot sponge cake on sale at the bar. The Main Tournament completed the 19 qualifying rounds on Saturday with the top 48 players out of the original 100 qualifying for Sunday’s play-offs. The current standings were shown on the screen between rounds The Side Tournament was played through all its rounds on Saturday with the exception of the final which would take place on Sunday. Nearly everyone who played in the Main also played in the Side. Sunday’s play-offs in the Main Tournament put the 48 qualifiers into six groups of eight and allocated them a pool of seven machines to play (plus one spare in case of technical problems). Most machines were in the main hall but some were upstairs. Everyone played a single game against every other member of their group on a pre-selected machine from the pool. When all seven games had been played, the four players with the most wins continued to the next round, while the remaining four dropped out of the tournament. The play-offs began on Sunday morning Tournament games in the Stern room At midday on Sunday a raffle was drawn to win a restored Firepower II pinball. Tickets were available for purchase for €2 each throughout the weekend until the draw took place. This Firepower 2 machine was the prize in the raffle Daniela Neuberger was the lucky winner Daniela with the organisers in front of her prize machine There were then presentations to the top women players in the Main Tournament. By this stage there were no more women remaining in the tournament, so the positions were based on their final rankings. Third place in the women’s rankings, Simone Götzhaber Second place in the women’s rankings, Elin Wilhelmsen First place in the women’s rankings, Edith Mayer The top women players Then the last few rounds of the Main Tournament took place. After the group stage, it was down to head-to-head best-of-three games on randomly-selected machines. The play-offs begin One of the semi-finals of the Main Tournament There was a ruling needed on the semi-final match on Terminator 2 shown above when the drop target in front of the lock shot became intermittent. The organisers make a ruling The organisers decided it was a minor malfunction which affected both players equally and didn’t render the machine unplayable. Krisztián Szalai had already won the first game and continued to win second too, booking his place in the final. Only the two finals remained. The Side Tournament three-way final played on three pre-chosen machines, starting with Revenge from Mars. The three finalists were Boldizsár Botka, Krisztián Szalai and Cesare Datri, and Cesare began. Cesare Datri in the final on Revenge from Mars The second game was Farfalla. Boldizsár on the second game – Farfalla Finally it was time for the Alien which was set up at the front of the hall so everyone could see it clearly. Krisztián had won the first two games and was in an unbeatable position going into the third. Even so, he wanted to put in a good performance to try to achieve a clean sweep of victories. Boldizsár Botka starts the final of the Side Tournament Krisztián Szalai plays second Krisztián had a good first ball which set the pace for the others to try to catch. Cesare Datri is player three Krisztián cemented the lead further on ball two and effectively wrapped it up on his final ball to end just under the 100M mark. Boldizsár was second on nearly 17M while Cesare was third after a relatively quick game by his usual standards. The final scores in the Side Tournamernt So, Krisztián won overall, Boldizsár was in second place, with Cesare third. Here are the full results of the Side Tournament: Austrian Pinball Open Side Tournament 1 Krisztián Szalai 2 Boldizsár Botka 3 Cesare Datri 5 Fabio Francescato 5 Markus Stix 5 Sandor Varga 8 Piller Zsolt 8 Rene Stiegler 8 Johannes Ostermeier 11 MArco MArocco 11 Peter Krajnc 11 Reiner Pfeiffer 13 Ingo Götzhaber 16 Klaus Löffler 16 Roberto Pedroni 16 Alexander Muer 16 János Sándor 16 David Mainwaring 21 Wolfgang Haid 21 Herbert Buchberger 21 Roland Schwarz 21 Jasmin Ibric 21 Michael Heiler 21 Arno Nöbl 27 Ewald Rath 27 Mirko Bogic 27 Sabine Ramsner 27 Enrico Giorgio de Stefani 27 Herbert Mittelmaier 27 Laszlo Hornyik 35 Martin Satzinger 35 Ralph Alexander 35 Željko Vasic 35 Stefan Karlhuber 35 Daniela Neuberger 35 Stefan Herold 35 Benjamin Gräbeldinger 35 Sabine Fasching 35 Elin Wilhelmsen 44 Martin Ayub 44 Gregor Weisgerber 44 Szabo Istvan 44 Peter Boncza 44 Ernestine Lachnit 44 Andreas Frank Meyer 44 Balázs Pálfi 44 Zsolt Somogyvari 44 Martin Obetzhofer 53 Morten Søbyskogen 53 Ales Rebec 53 Gregor Ponert 53 Reinhard Hager 53 Stefan Riedler 53 Jenna Muer 53 Bernd Prucher 53 Helmut Hribesek 53 Kurt Ploier 66 Andrej Demsar 66 Andrej Bukovšek 66 Andrej Rižner 66 Zsolt Csiszka 66 Karin Eisenstecken 66 Felix Radinger 66 Simone Götzhaber 66 Jürgen Ostermeier 66 Matej Kos 66 Zana Hrastovsek 66 Zsolt Szabo 66 Tamas Odler 66 Franz Polsterer 66 David Schrittwieser 66 Oyvind Winther 66 Helmut Fritz 66 Gábor Vanderer 85 Sandra Søbyskogen 85 Tom-Andre Andersen 85 Christoph Schützinger 85 Rudi Haferl 85 Wolfgang Wetl 85 Maximilian Hollwöger 85 Kondora Zita 85 Vid Kuklec 85 Antonella Iannotta 85 Sonja Heiler 85 Markus Ramsner 85 Uwe Ramsner 85 Gabriella Medgyesi 85 Gerhard Hornik 85 Reinhard Kremsmayr 85 Péter Szamosi 85 Jürgen Letzel 85 Frank Goeltl 85 Markus Schrodt 85 Susanne Schrittwieser 85 Mirko Hertrich 85 Walter Grill Then it was the turn of the main tournament to reach the final. This time there was just the one machine used – Star Wars. Two of the three players were the same as the Side Tournament – Cesare Datri and Krisztián Szalai. They were joined by Zsolt Szabo for the five ball game. Stefan explains the details of the last game of the final on the Star Wars LE Cesare Datri begins the last game of the final Zsolt Szabo plays second Krisztián Szalai plays third Although it was clearly explained before starting that it was a five-ball game, some in the audience forgot and thought it was all over after the third ball. The players knew well-enough though. Star Wars is a game where the scoring is relatively modest until you string the shots together and build-up the playfield multiplier, at which point your score really starts climbing quickly. Zsolt got into the flow of the game and his score jumped by 100M in a short space of time, giving him a commanding lead which he kept to the end. It was very close for second place with Krisztián narrowly pipping Cesare again. The final scores on Star Wars With all the tournaments over, the prize-giving ceremony could begin. First came the presentations for the Side Tournament. Third place, Cesari Datri Second place, Boldizsár Botka Winner of the Side Tournament, Krisztián Szalai Then we had the main tournament presentations and the players who finished joint ninth. The ninth place finishers Then the losing semi-finalists. Fifth places (Stefan Karlhuber had already left) Then the top three who besides their trophies and beer glasses, also won baskets of assorted cured and potted meats. Third place, Cesare Datri Second place, Krisztián Szalai Winner of the Austrian Pinball Open 2017, Zsolt Szabo The top three in the Main Tournament Here are the full results of the Austrian Pinball Open Tournament: Austrian Pinball Open Main Tournament 1 Zsolt Szabo 2 Krisztián Szalai 3 Cesare Datri 5 Stefan Karlhuber 5 Alexander Muer 5 Oyvind Winther 9 Szabo Istvan 9 Sandor Varga 9 Johannes Ostermeier 9 Roberto Pedroni 9 János Sándor 9 Piller Zsolt 18 Martin Ayub 18 Boldizsár Botka 18 Jürgen Letzel 18 Benjamin Gräbeldinger 18 Tamas Odler 18 Stefan Riedler 18 Herbert Mittelmaier 18 Michael Heiler 18 Ales Rebec 18 Fabio Francescato 18 Andrej Demsar 18 Andrej Bukovšek 25 Jasmin Ibric 25 Željko Vasic 31 Roland Schwarz 31 Felix Radinger 31 Gregor Weisgerber 31 Jürgen Ostermeier 31 Stefan Herold 31 Balazs Takacs 31 Balázs Pálfi 31 David Schrittwieser 31 Peter Krajnc 31 Markus Stix 41 Ingo Götzhaber 41 Patrick Weiss 41 Reinhard Kremsmayr 41 Mirko Hertrich 41 Martin Obetzhofer 41 Gábor Vanderer 41 David Mainwaring 41 Andrej Rižner 41 Mirko Bogic 47 Andreas Frank Meyer 47 Markus Schrodt 47 Arno Nöbl 49 Martin Satzinger 50 Kurt Ploier 51 Wolfgang Haid 52 Edith Mayer 53 Péter Szamosi 55 Franz Polsterer 55 Reiner Pfeiffer 55 Walter Grill 55 Vid Kuklec 58 Enrico Giorgio de Stefani 59 Maximilian Hollwöger 60 Helmut Hribesek 61 Elin Wilhelmsen 61 Herbert Buchberger 63 Herbert Mayer 64 Helmut Fritz 65 Ewald Rath 66 Rudi Haferl 67 Simone Götzhaber 68 Jenna Muer 69 Alexander Ralph 70 Siegfried Niegelhell 70 Sonja Heiler 72 Zsolt Somogyvari 72 Markus Ramsner 74 Zana Hrastovsek 75 Gregor Ponert 76 Wolfgang Wetl 77 MArco MArocco 78 Frank Goeltl 79 Zsolt Csiszka 80 Daniela Neuberger 81 Sabine Fasching 82 Gerhard Hornik 83 Tom-Andre Andersen 84 Ernestine Lachnit 85 Rene Stiegler 86 Peter Boncza 86 Klemens Weiss 88 Laszlo Hornyik 89 Karin Eisenstecken 90 Matej Kos 91 Morten Søbyskogen 92 Uwe Ramsner 93 Klaus Löffler 94 Kondora Zita 95 Reinhard Hager 95 Gabriella Medgyesi 97 Sandra Søbyskogen 98 Antonella Iannotta 99 Sabine Ramsner 100 Susanne Schrittwieser With all the presentations over, we sprinted through the rain to jump in the car and start the two-hour drive back to Vienna airport. The Hall of Pinball-Fame continues to amaze, with the best selection of games and an impressive main hall packed with machines, but still providing seating, tables and a bar. Prices were very reasonable for the food, drinks and to enter the tournaments. Having a Friday night warm-up even is also a fun way to begin a weekend of competitive pinball. The location in the countryside south of Graz is a little restrictive, with only one guest house within walking distance – and a long, wet walk at that – but it’s easy to imagine how a similar building in a city would be prohibitively expensive. But if a more remote location means we can enjoy such a great dedicated venue and jaw-dropping selection of machines, it’s a journey we are happy to make every time.