St. Michel Pinball Open 2014 - Mara's Arcade, Mikkeli

Pinball-wise surprisingly quiet summer was about to end as this tournament starts a streak of tournament that lasts until December. This is the second time St. Michel Open is held and it's the first time this tournament is WPPR rated. This was also the first time our own score keeping system, Elohopea ("Quicksilver") was used outside our own arcade. This also meant we were on scorekeeping duty today.

Even though Elohopea has seen multiple tournaments and thousands of entries, using it at someone else’s tournament made me feel a bit nervous. Another thing about scorekeeping was the fact that I feared it’d interfere with my concentration in the qualification. Still, I feel this time Elohopea was the right choice for the qualification because of its on-the-spot unlimited scorekeeper interface, that primarily was designed to do away with those annoying paper sheets and the whole “what’s this number again”-show.

The qualification opened officially at 12:00, and I started to psych myself to get into the zone. I felt a bit hurried up as more and more people arrived, but I decided to try to play as many qualification entries as I could uninterrupted if I could get my game on.

The qualification machines were: Pinball Magic, Stern’s Star Trek, Metallica, Attack from Mars and Baywatch.


I started out with the least familiar game, Pinball Magic. Capcom’s games are rather rare sight around here, and I’d wager to guess I’m one of the rare few finns who has played all of their mass produced games. I didn’t have much of a strategy for the game, save the “plunge the first ball hard” trick to score a quick 10M. I kept hitting the stage until something interesting came out of it. The levitating pinball is a rather neat trick, but other than that, the game wasn’t that much fun, mostly because the SDTM feeding right orbit shot. I played both of my entries in a row, scoring 71 and 95M. Wasn’t that good, but I’m sure it wasn’t the worst either. I was rather bummed that I couldn’t cash out the jackpot at Mini mayhem multiball.

I continued the effort with Stern’s Star Trek. The first two balls were the usual luck-part of the game (you know, the crappy luck part!), but I got enough center drop target hits to have the Vengeance multiball ready. Starting from a bit under 3M I quickly racked over 12M from it and then some, ending up with 20M. I wasn’t that impressed with the score, but it turned out not to be we worst entry out there. The second entry again was just like the first one, but without the one ball wonder at the end, and shall never be spoken of again.

Speaking of Star Trek, there was a new software release out there, which we’d get to play later on!

Next up was Stern’s Metallica. It was also running with the latest software, and much to my surprise it was way harder than it used to be. I put way over 100M on it the very first time I got to play it back in Nastola Pinball open 2013. I had to play hard to even get the Sparky multiball going, but after that things started to roll. They actually rolled well enough for me to hit Crank it up, which I ceremoniously goofed up getting only one scoring hit, and ending up with 40M total score. I expected the general score level to be around 150-200M, but in the end my 40M was the best entry. Go figure.

Now that the Sterns were done, it was time for some classic Williams WPC action; Attack From Mars. Now, if something goes very wrong, it’s this game. After two first balls I had a bit over 100M. I just couldn’t do anything with this game! The lock ramp just returned the ball STDM twice in a row, after which I no longer risked trying to hit there and dropped the next UFO just I didn’t have to write a sub 200M score in AFM. The next game wasn’t much better, I managed to lock two balls, but managed to get the ball rejected from the lock somehow and instead of multiball I got a center drain on my 3rd ball, leaving me a bit shy of 1B. This is so going to rain on my parade today.

The last game was Sega’s gem(?), Baywatch. The machine broke during my first ball; the drop targets didn’t raise at all. That kind of makes the multiball a bit hard to get! We then spent some quality time figuring out the actual problem, which in the end was either too short plunger or wrong kind of link in the drop target bank reset solenoid. My first game after that was mostly about figuring out all the insta-drain shots and I got 219M. The next wasn’t much better, I still couldn’t start the multiball, but at least I got some modes played and doubled the previous score.

I still had one Metallica left, which I played after an hour of scorekeeping, but it didn’t do much for my already leading score. However, I was surprised to see my name hang in the top-4 for so long time, and after the qualification time was nearing end I realized I had actually a chance to be in the top-4 and getting one bye.

As the final entries were played, the 5th player was only one point behind me, but stayed there. Well, even after that extra-crappy round of AFM I still had a guaranteed top-8 position in the whole tournament, which wasn’t that bad considering this was a WPPR ranked game!

Here’s the final qualification results:

Play-offs, round 2

Getting the bye got me past the 1st round for free. MQY again fought against TOP and came against me with a clean 2-0 victory under his belt. Apparently I had cooled off a bit too much during the down time, as I really struggled with my first two balls, building two Joker locks and getting the Scarecrow within two shots. I however didn’t have to start the multiball, as MQY had even worse luck and he couldn’t catch my 2nd ball score on his 3rd ball. This was one of the rare times where I really wanted to play the meaningless 3rd ball, as I really needed to get my game face back on!

I frowned upon our next game - the AFM. And yes, it was just as horrible as it was in the qualifications. MQY did a bit better on it and was the clear winner. The deciding game was played on Scared Stiff.

This was the second tragicomic game in a row; MQY was at 2.5M on his 3rd ball, and I started my 3rd ball with 1.2M and two shots to the crate. I even failed to skill-shot the spider hole, and made several shots at the crate. For some reason the right side didn’t register at all, and I got the crate lit like after 4-5 shots later. I didn’t have the extended crate, but the spider hole was lit, so I was wondering which approach should I take to score a quick 1.5M. With 250K jackpots there was a high risk of not making the required 6 shots, so I gambled and made a risky decision to take Double trouble instead from the spider, then start the Crate multiball. 4 balls made it to the crate before I drained the other. But that was enough, I was beyond the required 2.5M, and in the Semi-finals!


I had kept the local talent, JAL on eye during the both play-offs rounds. He swept away our host, MAR with a clean 2-0 victory, but then came the show stopper, when he managed to catch OMO on Star Trek during the 2nd round and eventually beat him at Scared stiff! Holy hell, I really didn’t see that one coming!

So, instead of OMO, I played against JAL in the semi-final. I had only one thought at that point: “NO AFM, PLEASE!”. Oh, and what did we get? The AFM, as our first game. I’ve rarely been so demotivated during the semi-finals as this. Just like during the previous attempts, AFM gave me shit and highly embarrassing defeat.

Our second game was on Pinball Magic, where I pulled a tolerable first ball and got some lead, but then got one flip second ball, and lacklustre 3rd ball, ending up in 97M. I was still leading, but in the end JAL drained at 93M. Now here’s the kicker: 3M bonus, times 2. For the fucks sake, I was out of the final. I guess I had that coming.

We had actually ordered some pizza during the qualification, but I refused to eat it or drink any of the very tempting cans in the fridge, hoping to keep my game on. After losing this one, I took a timeout and ate some pizza and downed couple of long drinks.

Bronze game

TTV had done great in the qualification, being 2nd and also being one of the playings who skipped the first round. After playing full 3 games in the round 2 and the semi-final, he was finally there to challenge me for the bronze.

I was still a bit shocked of the semi-final round and can’t remember much of the first game, Pinball Magic except the fact that I lost and was against the wall with the upcoming games. We then continued with Metallica, which was hard for both of us. We both tried and tried to get Sparky running, I finally nailed it and took that game home.

The final and deciding game was Scared Stiff. I almost wish they had shot that one on video to show it as a warning example for the noobie players! We just couldn’t get anything running, I missed the extended crate 3 times on the spider! TTV was just behind me during the last ball, and it wasn’t until the bonus count when the outcome was clear: TTV won by 200k, with scores 2.2M and 2.4M. Wow, just wow. Congrats TTV for this victory in the battle of fails! :)

Also, congratulations to the winner, JMW, who won his first WPPR ranked pinball tournament. Tough playing! He also managed to nail today’s another star, JAL with a clean 2-0 victory. Awesome, guys!

Here’s the final results:

Oh, and I didn’t leave home empty handed! Our organized, MAR, had made 4 trophies for this tournament. The last one said “FOURTH!” in big letters instead of the usual roman numerals.

I guess it’s time to hang my head in shame and head towards new disappointments! :)

Until the next time…

#pinball #mikkeli
St.Michel Pinball Open 2014
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