Nastola Pinball Open 2013 - Nastola / Bok-tapok's home arcade

Nastola Pinball Open is a privately run tournament held by an individual under the alias Bok-tapok. As he's been moving at least once a year for the past 3 years, the event's name has been an inside joke as it changes with each move. In 2011 it went under the name Kuopio Pinball Open and in 2012 Heinola Pinball Open. This year however Bok-tapok swore he's done moving and will stay put for now.

To be honest, I was rather nervous about attending this event. I had won the two previous events in Finland and I had the sinking feeling the scene was watching even closer this time. This was also the first day of my summer holidays, so I slept until noon and we arrived at the tournament venue with bit over an hour left to qualify. As I expected, several tough qualification runs were already played by the usual suspects.

The qualification lineup was: Avatar, Cirqus Voltaire, Indiana Jones, Iron man and the new Stern's Metallica.

Metallica was a real wild card for me; I had very little knowledge of its rules and I had never seen one for my self until now. I was coached by Mara to keep shooting at the electric chair at the back until it gave multiball.

I started out with the Metallica and had disastrous first two balls with only couple of hits to the chair. The 3rd ball however was rather good and I ended up seeing the other multiballs as well, ending up with 51M, which at the time didn't seem that good, but was actually 4th best score in the qualifications in the end.

Metallica was surprisingly a game that I liked from the very beginning. I'm not that much of a Metallica fan myself, but most of the songs selected for the games were the better ones and the audio quality was way beyond what I had expected. The playfield layout was nice without any major distractions or annoyances.

Avatar again was a familiar machine and after failing the two first balls pitifully I managed to stack the multiballs on the last ball, scoring 43M which was the 2nd best in the tournament.

At this point I had no clue how my points would rank and started to feel rather unsure. A game of Indiana Jones wasn't exactly helping, I ended up with 249M, which in the end was 3rd best.

Next up, Iron Man. This was probably the worst game. I totally failed to start anything and ended up with a 3M score. I was told that others didn't do that well either, but at that moment I didn't know that the best score actually was 8M, which is amazingly low. I left IM at that and proceeded with Cirqus Voltaire.

Voltaire wasn't much better, I recall my first game was around 7 million, with just one ring master down and several odd airball-drains.

The qualification had 5 machines and 9 tries; 3 try maximum per game. At this point I had realized my Avatar, Metallica and Indiana Jones games were good enough and I should really concentrate on the remaining two machines.

I returned to Iron man, and after two games finally managed to start Iron Monger and Whiplash multiballs. They didn't exactly go that well, but 5.7M was better than nothing. I also gave Cirqus Voltaire another try and got 13M, which was nowhere near the top, but wasn't the worst either.

The biggest shock however was that I was 3rd after the qualifications were over. I finished my games less than 5 minutes before the time was up.

The full qualification results:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Atdc4hKvpbEYdGxjUnEtTmhtZk5saVdJNTRlUVhRNHc#gid=0

Being in the top-4 didn't let me skip the quarterfinals as the game formats often do, but instead the top-4 got to select all the machines their group was playing. Either that, or they could select their player number in the game.

The play-offs had groups of 4 players playing 3 different machines. The winner was awarded 4 points, the 2nd 2 points, 3rd 1 point and 0 points for the last position. The 8 players with most points out of all 4 groups would continue to the semifinals.

The other players in my group were MAR, MPI and SPS.
As I was my group's leader, got to pick the game. I started out with Indiana Jones and failed that game so hard. At least I didn't get 0 points, but one point start wasn't exactly what I had hoped for. Next up Cirqus Voltaire. I pulled a killer game from the first ball and raged on to win the game and 4 points. The last pick was Metallica, which I also won, but with way tighter marginal than the previous one. I actually pulled a tactical move, as MAR was the 2nd player to choose the player number, but if I refused to select the machine, I would select my player position and MAR would select the machine. I knew MAR really liked Metallica, so I chose player number 4 and hoped MAR would pick Metallica, which he did! I was at 7M on the last ball and MPI already had 13.5. I however scored a bit over 12M with a good bonus and ended up at 13.6M! In the end, me and MPI went to semifinals.

The semis worked just like the quarterfinals. This time I went against RON, TEN and MPI. First up was Metallica, which worked out pretty nicely for me, a 4 point start. Next up Cirqus Voltaire, in which I pulled a 15M first ball, while the others struggled to get even 7 digit scores. But then TEN had an amazing last ball, and he pushed past me with 4x bonus. I was so sure I'd win the CV but had to settle for 2 points instead.  Next up, Iron Man. It was just as horrible as in the qualifications. Most of the game was just pointless flailing and tilting the machine after numerous saves. It was BRUTAL! In the end, MPI managed to rack up 11M and got 4 points, I got 8M and 2 points.

In the end, here's how the play-offs went:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Atdc4hKvpbEYdGxjUnEtTmhtZk5saVdJNTRlUVhRNHc#gid=2

The total of 8 points in the semis meant I was in the finals game, against SAM, MPI and MPL.

Again we started off with Metallica. I was so nervous my hands were shaking all the time, but I managed to pull myself together and score the 2nd position. Next was Indiana Jones, which was a near-total disaster, with me being 3rd and scoring only one point. At that point we were so even, that whoever would win the next game would win the whole event! I put on my troll-face and picked Iron Man! :)

The whole game was a real battle of fails. None of us got their game on. I managed to hit the whiplash target 3 times during the first ball, leaving it lit, but failed to hit it at all on the 2nd ball, leaving the lit multiball for my 3rd ball. The others brought up the Iron Monger character, but failed to start the multiball. On the last ball I finally managed to hit the stupid target and got the multiball! It didn't go too well, and my final score was 3.7M. Being the player one, I was biting my nails as I watched the others trying to start Iron Monger, one after another failing. This was probably the most nerve wrecking game ever and at the same time worst playing from all of us!

The last player drained the ball with less than 2M on the display. It meant I had won with otherwise laughable 3.7M score! It was worse than virtually anyone got in the qualifications. Oh man!

The final standings:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Atdc4hKvpbEYdGxjUnEtTmhtZk5saVdJNTRlUVhRNHc#gid=3

Finally it was time for the 3 best to get their trophies. Bok-tapok however grilled me a bit further and made me make a speech after receiving my 1st prize. It was also noted, that this was the 3rd pinball tournament in Finland that I've won ... in a row. To be honest, it felt a bit unreal for me as well.

Looking back those games, there were several tight spots where I was playing my back against the wall, but always managed to pull through. I know I'm not the most skilled player in the country, not by far, but a combination of good, working strategy where possible and steady playing in the tight spots have brought me far, way beyond what I had ever expected when I played my first tournament game 9 years ago, in 2004 Sörkka Pinball Open.

I'm really bad when it comes to acknowledging people for their outstanding efforts, but I believe couple of thanks are in order.

First of all, thank you Bok-tapok for inviting us to your home for the 3rd year in a row. You have the classiest and most relaxed tournaments Finland has!

And then to OMO, for your tireless efforts keep the Finnish competitive pinball scene alive. Thank you for that and keep on kicking ass! :)

GIMME FUEL, GIMME FIRE, GIMME DOUBLE-CENTER-DRAIN!

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