Date: 17th - 20th October, 2018
Location: Westin Chicago North Shore, 601 North Milwaukee Avenue, Wheeling, IL 60090, USA

Sunday used to be an official show day at Pinball Expo, but in reality in recent years it was only ever used to tear-down the Games and Vendor halls and host the play-offs for the tournaments.

So, we’ll use this report to cover those finals, but also to look back at the contents of those halls and see what was available for show guests to see, play and buy.

Before that though, now that the seminars are over we should say a word or two about our coverage of them.

With the show getting a re-boot, we decided to kick our coverage up a notch and record both audio and video of all twenty-five seminars.  We bought a decent video camera, got a splitter box for the presentation video and added two extra webcams to cover the stage and audience.

It was all very experimental, and sometimes experiments don’t always go to plan.

The main camera died part way through, the USB hub failed, reducing the number of devices we could attach, one of the webcams died, a card reader died, the second laptop we bought off Amazon turned out to be in rather poor condition requiring a replacement to be sent, there were several wider power issues which mean’t we we lost power to the hub and USB supply, and the second zoomable camera we bought had the rather unfortunate feature, when plugged in to a computer, of turning off the monitor and disabling the zoom.  It also had on-screen information which couldn’t be removed.  That meant we had to repurpose the converter intended for the direct presentation feed and use a camera pointed at the screen for that instead. All far-from-ideal, but something was better than nothing.

We were also setting up the AV for each seminar, mixing the audio, taking photographs, processing and uploading them, and writing the reports of each talk while all this was happening.  And, just for good measure, the seminars were usually back-to-back with no time between them to try to make adjustments or work around the technical issues.  We were in the Seminars Hall for seventeen hours straight on Friday alone, finally leaving to get some dinner just before midnight.

So, in summary, it was all a bit chaotic trying to record twenty-five hours of live video in those circumstances, and occasionally things would crash or fail mid-recording.  We did try to keep the audio running throughout, but apologies if those issues affected your enjoyment of the seminar coverage.

Some of the seminar recording equipment
Some of the seminar recording equipment

Moving on, there were two Games Halls this year at Pinball Expo.  We looked at the first of these in Saturday’s report, so let’s move on to the second Games Hall which was located where the seminars had been held in previous years.

The entrance to the second Games Hall
The entrance to the second Games Hall

On the left as you walked through the door was a collection of home-brew and unusual pinballs.

The Custom and Homebrew collection
The Custom and Homebrew collection
Greyhounds: The Race Home
Greyhounds: The Race Home
Ghost in the Shell
Ghost in the Shell
The Nightmare Before Christmas
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Archer
Archer
Spinal Tap
Spinal Tap
Some rarer games
Some rarer games

While the outer edges had the pinballs, the central area was occupied by video games.

Video games in the centre of the hall
Video games in the centre of the hall
Video games in the centre of the hall
Video games in the centre of the hall
Video games in the centre of the hall
Galloping Ghost were running a pinball tournament at the back of the hall
Galloping Ghost were running a pinball tournament at the back of the hall
More pinballs
More pinballs
Derek Fugate has a stand selling pinball memorabilia and collectibles
Derek Fugate has a stand selling pinball memorabilia and collectibles
He also brought some EM titles
He also brought some EM and solid-state titles
More older machines to play
More older machines to play

The main vendor hall was fully-populated this year, without any non-gaming companies taking up valuable floor space.  It was clear there had been a special effort to bring in new vendors and bring back some previous Expo attendees as well.

The main entrance to the Vendor Hall had been moved to the front of the hotel, next to the Flip Out tournament machines. The old entrance was still usable though, and there was heightened security on all entrances to all the halls – Vendor, Games and Seminars – to check everyone had the correct wristbands for access to the appropriate room.

Let’s take a tour of the hall.

Nicolas and Romain from PinSound were to the left of the old main entrance with their replacement sound board and custom sound packages for various games
Nicolas and Romain from PinSound were to the left of the old main entrance with their replacement sound board and custom sound packages for various games
American Pinball filled up the space previously occupied by Mike Pacak with a row of ten Houdini machines
American Pinball filled up the space previously occupied by Mike Pacak with a row of ten Houdini machines
These were used for several Houdini tournaments – the main, junior and women’s divisions – with the top prize a brand-new Houdini pinball
These were used for several Houdini tournaments – the main, junior and women’s divisions – with the top prize a brand-new Houdini pinball

American Pinball had a lot more machines at Pinball Expo, including two of their latest title, Oktoberfest: Pinball on Tap

One of the two Oktoberfest machines in the Vendor Hall
One of the two Oktoberfest machines in the Vendor Hall
Two more Houdini machines were available for general play
Two more Houdini machines were available for general play
This animated Houdini translite was self-illuminating with EL panels behind each letter and several artwork elements
This animated Houdini translite was self-illuminating with EL panels behind each letter and several artwork elements
Pinball artist Paul Faris was at the Circus Maximus stand
Pinball artist Paul Faris was at the Circus Maximus stand
Circus Maximus had a range of replacement parts and also their T-shirts and some rare historical items for sale
Circus Maximus had a range of replacement parts and also their T-shirts and some rare historical items for sale
Won’t someone think of the Animals?
Won’t someone think of the Animals?
Back Alley Creations had their selection of customised pinball parts and bespoke mods
Back Alley Creations had their selection of customised pinball parts and bespoke mods
Pincades were selling games from Stern Pinball, Jersey Jack Pinball and American Pinball as well as some pinball parts
Pincades were selling games from Stern Pinball, Jersey Jack Pinball and American Pinball as well as some pinball parts
American Pinball’s Oktoberfest was one of the big hits of Pinball Expo 2018
American Pinball’s Oktoberfest was one of the big hits of Pinball Expo 2018
Pinball Pro sell not only their replacement speaker systems but also assorted mods and complete machines
Pinball Pro sell not only their replacement speaker systems but also assorted mods and complete machines
Assorted game mods
Assorted game mods
Flip N Out Pinball also sell complete games as well as their traditional range of Escalera stair-lift pinball movers
Flip N Out Pinball also sell complete games as well as their traditional range of Escalera stair-lift pinball movers
Hemisphere Amusements had a nice display of new machines and Stern Pinball mods
Hemisphere Amusements had a nice display of new machines and Stern Pinball mods
Current titles from Jersey Jack Pinball, American Pinball, Chicago Gaming and Stern Pinball
Current titles from Jersey Jack Pinball, American Pinball, Chicago Gaming and Stern Pinball
Pin Stadium had a long row of pinballs with their enhanced lighting mod installed
Pin Stadium had a long row of pinballs with their enhanced lighting mod installed
Pin Stadium-fitted games
Pin Stadium-fitted games
Great American Pinball had their selection of new and beautifully-restored pinballs
Great American Pinball had their selection of new and beautifully-restored pinballs
Stern armour kits and shaker motors for sale
Stern armour kits and shaker motors for sale
These Super Chexx Pro hockey games were popular with the younger visitors
These Super Chexx Pro hockey games were popular with the younger visitors
Great American Pinball also brought all these pinballs
Great American Pinball also brought all these pinballs
The St. Louis Ball Bowler Company brought three full-size ball bowlers
The St. Louis Ball Bowler Company brought three full-size ball bowlers
There was a bowler tournament too, with the bowler as the grand prize
There was a bowler tournament too, with the bowler as the grand prize
Artist Christopher Franchi at his stand talks to Stern Pinball’s George Gomez
Artist Christopher Franchi at his stand talks to Stern Pinball’s George Gomez
PinGraffix were selling cabinet interior artwork and their illuminated Attack From Mars backbox art
PinGraffix were selling cabinet interior artwork and their illuminated Attack From Mars backbox art
Chicago Gaming Company brought three of their newly-announced Monster Bash Remakes – a Classic Edition, a Special Edition and a Limited Edition
Chicago Gaming Company brought three of their newly-announced Monster Bash Remakes – a Classic Edition, a Special Edition and a Limited Edition
They also brought two Attack From Mars Remakes, a Medieval Madness Remake and their Arcade Legends multi-game video cabinet
They also brought two Attack From Mars Remakes, a Medieval Madness Remake and their Arcade Legends multi-game video cabinet
Pinball Expo organiser Rob Berk brought quite a few of his own machines
Pinball Expo organiser Rob Berk brought quite a few of his own machines
There was a high score tournament run on this Haunted House shooter game
There was a high score tournament run on this Haunted House shooter game
Pinball Wizard Sales & Service had moved into the centre of the hall but had their usual wide range of pinball parts
Pinball Wizard Sales & Service had moved into the centre of the hall but had their usual wide range of pinball parts
Super Skill Shot were selling many different designs of customised shooter rods
Super Skill Shot were selling many different designs of customised shooter rods
Stern Pinball had a circle of their latest title, with a selfie tournament on Deadpool Premium
Stern Pinball had a circle of their latest title, with a selfie tournament on Deadpool Premium
More Stern Pinball machines
More Stern Pinball machines
ColorDMD had just announced their latest title as Ghostbusters and had one on display at their stand
ColorDMD had just announced their latest title as Ghostbusters and had one on display at their stand
Ghostbusters with a new ColorDMD display installed
Ghostbusters with a new ColorDMD display installed
The Pingame Journal stand had a display of prototype and development drawings and playfields
The Pingame Journal stand had a display of prototype and development drawings and playfields
Starship Fantasy had their familiar but still impressive display of reproduction ramps and playfields
Starship Fantasy had their familiar but still impressive display of reproduction ramps and playfields
More ramps and playfields
More ramps and playfields
Some more of the games on free play
Some more of the games on free play
Outside Edge were showing two machines fitted with their Hardtop playfield artwork replacement overlay system
Outside Edge were showing two machines fitted with their Hardtop playfield artwork replacement overlay system
Team Pinball had one of their The Mafia games here on free play
Team Pinball had one of their The Mafia games here on free play
These Atari Pong games were popular here as they have been wherever we have seen them
These Atari Pong games were popular here as they have been wherever we have seen them
Mayfair Amusements were back at Expo with an eye-catching display of assorted parts
Mayfair Amusements were back at Expo with an eye-catching display of assorted parts
They also had many reproduction backglasses for sale
They also had many reproduction backglasses for sale
Mike Pacak’s absence risked there being no pinball manuals or schematics, but Mayfair had that covered
Mike Pacak’s absence risked there being no pinball manuals or schematics, but Mayfair had that covered
The Pinball Company brought four machines including their commissioned game from Spooky Pinball, The Jetsons
The Pinball Company brought four machines including their commissioned game from Spooky Pinball, The Jetsons
VPcabs had their gazebo featuring several models of virtual pinball cabinets
VPcabs had their gazebo featuring several models of virtual pinball cabinets
VPcabs had more machines on the other side of their gazebo
VPcabs had more machines on the other side of their gazebo
Jersey Jack Pinball had three of their Pirates of the Caribbean pinballs for visitors to play
Jersey Jack Pinball had three of their Pirates of the Caribbean pinballs for visitors to play
They also had two Dialed In! games, a The Wizard of Oz and a The Hobbit
They also had two Dialed In! games, a The Wizard of Oz and a The Hobbit
Master Pinball Restoration had a stand featuring pre-owned pinball parts from various games
Master Pinball Restoration had a stand featuring pre-owned pinball parts from various games
The Master Pinball Restoration stand
The Master Pinball Restoration stand

The corridor running along the front of the hotel was where you would find the Flip Out tournament machines and the competitors vying to win the Modern and Classic championships which were organised, as usual, by Trent Augenstein of Tilt Amusements.

The Classic Tournament was played on six machines – Stingray, Toledo, Casanova, Pinball Pool, Warlock and Argosy.

The Modern Tournament used a selection of nine modern Stern machines – Metallica, AC/DC, Kiss, Star Wars, Aerosmith, Batman 66, Guardians of the Galaxy, Iron Maiden and Deadpool.

Play in the Flip Out Modern Tournament
Play in the Flip Out Modern Tournament
The Classic Tournament
The Classic Tournament
Trophies for the Classic Tournament
Trophies for the Classic Tournament
The DTM system was used to manage the tournament
The DTM system was used to manage the tournament and the players during qualifying

In the Modern Tournament, qualifying ran from 10am on Thursday until 1am on Friday.  Players could play 12 games on any of the machines.  Their top score on their best 6 machines would determine their qualification ranking.

Everyone qualified for the play-offs, but the qualifying round determined both the division they would play in (A or B) and also how many byes they would get through the play-off rounds.  A big flow chart was on the wall showing everyone’s matches.

The flow chart for the B Division of the Modern Tournament
The flow chart for the B Division of the Modern Tournament

Once all the players were split into the two divisions, the B Division started first, with the play-offs beginning at 9am on Friday.  We were tied up with seminars duties all day Friday, but the winner was Nitzan Gabai from New York.  Second place went to Dan Toft, Jay English was third and Jane Verwys fourth.

Players in the A Division waited until the B Division was over before they started their play-offs.  In the meantime, Classic Tournament qualifying was continuing, running until 11pm on Saturday.  An entry in this cost $10 and gave you one game on any three of the six Classic machines.

The top sixteen players qualified for the Classic Tournament play-offs which began at 8am on Sunday and were played as best-of-three double-elimination matches.

Classic Tournament play-offs
Classic Tournament play-offs

In those play-offs, four players went out in the first round, picking up $75 for their efforts.  Another four left the tournament in round two, collecting $100.  Trent Augenstein and Josh Sharpe went out in the third round, earning themselves a $125 consolation prize.  Cayle George and DJ Riel were next out in joint fifth with $150 each.

The final four were Raymond Davidson, Zach Sharpe, Zac Wollons and Andy Rosa.

Zach and Raymond were third and fourth respectively, taking home $375 and $200 and leaving Zac and Andy to battle it out in the final.  Andy was coming into the final from the loser bracket, so he had to beat Zac twice.

Pinball Pool was played as a one-player game, with the first player's score written down
Pinball Pool was played as a one-player game, with the first player’s score written down

Andy looked set to win the first game on Pinball Pool but the machine reset and he had to replay the game, which he lost.  He did win the next two though to even the score and force another best-of-three to decide who was the overall winner.

Andy on Casanova
Andy on Casanova

Zac fought back to win the best-of-three match, giving him first place and the $1000 top prize.  Andy’s second place netted him $625.

Winner Zac Wollons and second place Andy Rosa
Winner Zac Wollons and second place Andy Rosa
The top four in the Classic Tournament: Zac Wollons (1st), Andy Rosa (2nd), Zach Sharpe (3rd) & Raymond Davidson (4th)
The top four in the Classic Tournament: Zac Wollons (1st), Andy Rosa (2nd), Zach Sharpe (3rd) & Raymond Davidson (4th)

In the Modern Tournament, the final was between Adam Lefkoff who remained undefeated in the winner bracket, and Keith Elwin who was in the loser bracket and so needed to defeat Adam twice in the best-of-three match to win the final.

In the first game Adam chose Metallica. Keith had an uncharacteristically- bad game, ending with just 3 million against Adam’s 16 million.

Adam on Metallica
Adam on Metallica

Determined to recover, Keith picked Metallica again as his choice of machine for game two.

Keith starts game two
Keith starts game two

His luck didn’t look like it had improved much when he tilted his first ball on 2.4 million. Adam did better, starting Sparky multiball to end on 22.1 million.

Keith got a grip on the game with his second ball, starting Crank It Up and ending with 56 million. In response Adam starts another Sparky and follows that up with his own Crank It Up, but that mode ends quickly to leave him trailing slightly with 50.8 million.

On his last ball, Keith starts Sparky and another Crank It Up to end his game on 106 million. Adam tries to combine grave marker multiball with coffin multiball, but the former ends quickly before he can start the latter. So, he plays coffin multiball on its own and then starts his second Crank It Up.

His score eventually passes Keith’s and so Adam wins the final.

Keith congratulates Adam
Keith congratulates Adam
The top four in the Modern Division: Adam Lefkoff (1st), Keith Elwin (2nd), Raymond Davidson (3rd) & Zach Parks (4th)
The top four in the Modern Division: Adam Lefkoff (1st), Keith Elwin (2nd), Raymond Davidson (3rd) & Zach Parks (4th)

We’ll be back with more from Pinball Expo 2018 shortly here at Pinball News.

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