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 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 On the left as you walked through the door was a collection of home-brew and unusual pinballs. The Custom and Homebrew collection Greyhounds: The Race Home Ghost in the Shell The Nightmare Before Christmas Archer Spinal Tap 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 Galloping Ghost were running a pinball tournament at the back of the hall More pinballs Derek Fugate has a stand selling pinball memorabilia and collectibles He also brought some EM and solid-state titles 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 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 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 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 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 Won’t someone think of the Animals? 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 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 Assorted game mods 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 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-fitted games Great American Pinball had their selection of new and beautifully-restored pinballs Stern armour kits and shaker motors for sale These Super Chexx Pro hockey games were popular with the younger visitors Great American Pinball also brought all these pinballs 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 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 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 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 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 Stern Pinball had a circle of their latest title, with a selfie tournament on Deadpool Premium More Stern Pinball machines ColorDMD had just announced their latest title as Ghostbusters and had one on display at their stand Ghostbusters with a new ColorDMD display installed 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 More ramps and playfields Some more of the games on free play 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 The Classic Tournament Trophies for the Classic 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 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 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 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 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 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 Determined to recover, Keith picked Metallica again as his choice of machine for 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 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.