K15 Match Race - K15 arcade, Helsinki

We attended #K15MatchRace  last weekend. I consider the tournament format one of the best out there. Instead of one-shot qualification, everyone plays 5 rounds of qualification games, each of them being a 3 player game on 3 different machines. After each round the players are re-grouped according their current standing, so during the later rounds you'll meet players that are closer to your skills and staying on top is harder. Good players with lower standings can still rise to the finals.

After 5 rounds two best players go directly to the final, which is a 4 player game. The semi-final games are two groups of 3 players, all playing 3 games. The winner gets to the final game. Sounds great? Yeah, absolutely! Lots to play and a single failure does not mean you're out.

I don't think there's ever been a tournament I've waited so anxiously than this! Things however didn't exactly go as planned on my part.

On the first round I was grouped with Pilvi (VYV) and Rami (III). From the first ball on, playing was a total struggle for me. Poor shots, extremely bad luck with airballs and just plain bad strategy. Out of the first 3 games, I won one, was 2nd once and lost one. None of games went well, and I felt I won once only because the others did even worse than me. There was absolutely no confident and relaxed playing on my behalf.

The second round was even worse. I was already in full panic mode, and the struggling was even worse. I was grouped with Juha (JHQ) and Sampo (SAM). We started out with Cirqus voltaire, which gave me two STDMs and one one left outline drain milliseconds after ball saver grace time was over. Next up was Stern's Grand Prix, which was a new game for me. I won that, but only by couple of extremely lucky shots on the last ball. Next up was Lord of the rings, in which I wasted away all my 3 balls in the total of 20 or so seconds. The others again played the game 20+ minutes. At this point I was frustrated beyond words, every ball ending up with swearing at the machine.

On round three I met another Hopeakuula member, Lassi (LAH) and Jani (JAV). I got to pick the starting machine, Johnny Mnemonic. I was beaten by two players, both of who didn't even know the rules before I had explained them before starting! Next up was Indiana Jones, which was another experiment on how little ball time can one player get. I recall actually managed to flip the ball ONCE! What the FUCK?! Last was Jackbot, which I won, by starting the multiball at last round and scoring two jackpots.

At this point we had a lunch break. I was so frustrated, angry and humiliated I just wanted to go home and had absolutely no interest to continue this day any more. I knew the next games would be even worse.

On the fourth round I met once again a Hopekuula member, Teemu (VIN) and Jarkko (JAR). We played Monster bash, Black Rose and Road show. MB and BR went just as badly as the other games had gone. On the Road show again I went against my usual strategy and had the sole objective of starting the multiball, ignoring modes completely. It paid off as I started the multiball on second ball and caught up the others by scoring 3 jackpots. Still, winning a single game at this point was day late and dollar short from changing my position.

On the fifth round I went up with Lassi (LAH) again and Tuukka (TTS). We played WMS' Dracula, Iron man and Demolition man. I was 2nd twice and won the Demolition man, but only by starting one mode and actually finishing it.

After the fifth round 8 best went to the semi-finals and finals. I was 14th and out. Pilvi again had done good and stayed in the top 8 after each round. She lasted until the semi-finals, ending up being 5th in the whole tournament. The  tournament was won by Olli-Mikko (OMO), 2nd being Topias (TOP) and Jussi (JSZ) being 3rd after a tight tie-breaker for the 3rd place against Jarkko (JAR).

The results:

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