Date: 16th - 20th October, 2019
Location: Westin Chicago North Shore, 601 N Milwaukee Ave., Wheeling, IL 60090, USA

Hello and welcome back to the final part of our coverage of this 35th annual Pinball Expo.

For most vendors and machine donors, Sunday continues the tearing down and packing up which began on Saturday evening.

The remains of the displays in the Vendor Hall on Sunday
The remains of the displays in the Vendor Hall on Sunday

In the Pin Lounge (a.k.a. the Botanic Garden Ballroom) the end-of-show party continued until 6am, so there was plenty of work still to do on Sunday.

The Pin Lounge on Sunday
The Pin Lounge on Sunday

The only public event scheduled for Sunday was the Classics Tournament, where the play-offs were due to begin. Qualifying for the Classics Tournament had begun on Thursday at 10am and ran right through until 11pm on Saturday – three full days of qualifying.

However, there was an extra event taking place in the same part of the room alongside the Classics – the final of the main A Division Flipout Tournament.

Seeding for the Flipout Tournament
Seeding for the Flipout Tournament

The Flipout Tournament followed the same format as the past couple of years where Thursday is used to seed players who then start playing in the tournament proper on Friday. Entry to the tournament cost $125 but that also included access to the Vendor and Game Halls.

Players had the choice whether to play in the seeding round or not, but would be placed at the bottom of the seeding if they chose not to play.

More machines for the Flipout Tournament
More machines for the Flipout Tournament

When the seeding round finished at 1am on Friday morning, the top 50% of players formed the A Division play-offs, and the bottom 50% went into the B Division.

Information for players
Information for players

Both divisions’ play-offs consisted of double-elimination best-of-three matches, but the higher a player seeded the more rounds they skipped, with the highest qualifiers only coming into the play-offs in round 9.

The A and B Divisions
The A and B Divisions

The B Division concluded on Saturday afternoon with a win for Stanley Sowa, Jr. Second place went to Jacob Wolff while John Hegele was third.

B Division Results
1stStanley Sowa Jr
2ndJacob Wolff
3rdJohn Hegele
4thRebecca Hinsdale
5thRob Presley
Chris Grace
7thThomas Urban
Erin Malysa
9thJohn Armstrong
Jason Woolston
Rabih Dahdouh
Deborah Tahlman
13thJeffrey Williams
Abby Tehrune
Greg Pitner
Phil Harmon

The A Division play-offs went on longer than expected, and with the room needed for the end-of-show party at 11pm on Saturday, the final match was deferred until 10am on Sunday.

That final was between Escher Lefkoff who remained undefeated since joining the play-offs in round 9 where he immediately knocked Keith Elwin into the loser bracket, and Alek Kaczmarczyk who did the same with Cayle George.

Escher and Alek had met in round 11 where Escher had triumphed, but Alek won through the loser bracket to face him again in the final.

Alek Kaczmarczyk and Escher Lefkoff before the final
Alek Kaczmarczyk and Escher Lefkoff before the final

The first game of the best-of-three final was on the Black Knight: Sword of Rage Premium seen above. It was Escher’s choice and he soon showed why he had chosen it, scoring more than 1.3 billion on his first ball thanks to repeated upper playfield orbits.

Escher Lefkoff starts the final on Black Knight: Sword of Rage
Escher Lefkoff starts the final on Black Knight: Sword of Rage

Alek did well to come back, but ‘only’ managed 444 million on his first ball. Escher upped his score to 1.6 billion on ball two but Alek had a quick drain, only adding a million.

Escher wrapped up the first game by taking his score to 1.9 billion while Alek finished on 472 million following a second quick ball.

Game two of three was on Jurassic Park, and this time it was Alek playing first. It was a different game, but his luck from Black Knight continued, as his first ball drained quickly with no ball save for less than half a million. Escher only did slightly better on his first ball, scoring just over one million.

Alek’s second ball was quick too, but at least he scored the two million skill shot to end on 3.2 million. Escher did the same and hooked up some more shots for 10 million.

Alek’s third ball was a copy of his second, and his 7.3 million total meant game two and the final went to Escher.

Escher wins the final on Jurassic Park
Escher wins the final on Jurassic Park

So, Escher was first, Alek was second and Colin Urban was third.

Colin Urban, Alek Kaczmarczyk and Escher Lefkoff
Colin Urban, Alek Kaczmarczyk and Escher Lefkoff
A Division Results
1stEscher Lefkoff
2ndAlek Kaczmarczyk
3rdColin Urban
4thJared August
5thKeith Elwin
Brian O’Neill
7thDJ Reil
Cayle George
9thAdam Lefkoff
Alex Harmon
Zach Sharpe
Andy Rosa
13thDalton Ely
Andrew Rosa II
Raymond Davidson
Robert Smith
17thBrian Shephard
Steve Hill
Josh Henderson
Dominic Kacich
Jim Belsito
Josh Sharpe
Jason Scheffelmaer
Andy Bagwell

You can watch the final on the IE Pinball channel on Twitch here.

Meanwhile, the Classics Tournament play-offs were taking place on the other side of the hall.

Play in the Classics Tournament
Play in the Classics Tournament

Classics Tournament play-offs began at 10am and, given the nature of the games, wasn’t expected to last too long. However, having the Gottlieb game Car Hop in the line-up slowed things down quite a bit.

The final rounds of the Classics Tournament play-offs
The final rounds of the Classics Tournament play-offs

Eventually, at 5:37pm, the competitors had been whittled down to the last two who contested the final. They were Raymond Davidson who had won the winner bracked, and DJ Reil who survived several rounds in the loser bracket to reach the final.

Raymond begins the final on Flash Gordon
Raymond begins the final on Flash Gordon

To win, DJ would need to beat Raymond in the initial best-of-three match to even up the scores, and then beat him again.

DJ did indeed win the first best-of-three to take the final to another round.

DJ plays Fireball in the deciding best-of-three
DJ plays Fireball in the deciding best-of-three

When the final game was on Car Hop at 6:10pm it looked like the final could go on for some time yet, but in fact it all ended fairly quickly as DJ won the game and the Classics Tournament final.

Classics Tournament top two: Raymond Davidson (2nd) and DJ Reil (1st)
Classics Tournament top two: Raymond Davidson (2nd) and DJ Reil (1st)

Win the Classics Tournament decided, the last event of Pinball Expo ended and the show was officially over.

There’s no doubt this was a highly successful year for Pinball Expo and a great deal of effort was expended in making this 35th show one of the best yet.

Show organiser Rob Berk spoke to Pinball News and Pinball Magazine for our joint podcast and, besides thanking all the staff and volunteers who work throughout Expo, told us he was pleased with the way the show went and the range of activities for visitors to enjoy.

He also told us that Pinball Expo would be back at the Westin for at least one more year, with 2020’s dates already announced as October 14th to 18th.

The number and selection of games this year was excellent, with Rob bringing a large number (some say around 140) from his own collection. The display of Spanish games was of particular note, although sadly many of them didn’t last the duration. None-the-less, they are representative of a whole tranche of games many visitors didn’t even know existed.

Stern’s Pin Lounge display was highly impressive, with Cassandra Peterson’s appearances really boosting the excitement surrounding the new Elvira game’s launch.

With other shows raising the bar with their game numbers and celebrity guest stars, Pinball Expo needed to respond.

The combination of the new Stern games, the factory tour, Cassandra’s presence, the number of seminars, the selection of vendors available, the side events such as the Horror House Hauntcade, the Fun With Pinball exhibit (which we were sadly unable to visit during its opening hours), Paul Zimmerman’s Video Game Center (likewise) and the huge tournament organisation run by Trent Augenstein really boosted the experience for visitors.

There were also some external events not held at Expo but running concurrently. The Pinball Life Open House is a the largest, taking place in Huntley around an hour’s drive away, but the Pinball Olympics also took place, making the overall Pinball Expo trip even more worthwhile.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our coverage this year. We’ll be back next year for the 36th Pinball Expo to bring you even more seminars, reports and news from the home of pinball.

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