st. Michel Operators Pinball Open (MOPO) - Yet unnamed arcade, Mikkeli

Pinball machines love company, and that sure was true for Mara, who went from owning one pinball machine to owning over 80 in less than two years. Mara switched from bicycle sales business to operating pinball machines, and single handedly brought back pinball in Mikkeli and the surrounding area. In addition to having a pinball machine or two in every bar in Mikkeli, he turned his storage space into a game room with over 30 pinball machines available for visitors. His arcade is yet to be named, but I'm sure it's going to be something very catchy. The whole event was supposed to be more like a house warming party for the new arcade, but with several players from the Finland's TOP-10 being present, how could we resist a little tournament?

We arrived at the scene less fashionably late, with just barely enough time to play the qualifications. The qualifications were played on Scared Stuff, Metallica, Guns'n'Roses, Black Belt and Cactus Canyon. All familiar machines except the Black Belt, which is one of the very rare machines I've never even heard of. The others I was very familiar with, and pulled okay score on most, except for the Guns'n'Roses, on which I had to settle for 350M.

12 players went to the playoffs, 4 first receiving one bye. I was 4th in the qualifications, mostly because my bad game at GnR. OMO however left after the qualifications, so my final position was 3rd. Pilvi did good aswell, being 11th and going to the playoffs as well.

I got to sit through the first round of playoffs thanks to being in the TOP 4 in the qualifications. Pilvi won her first opponent and went to the second round - against me. We started off with Black belt, which wasn't bad game per se. I didn't think I did that well on it during the qualifications (although much to my surprise I was 3rd), but the two qualification games taught me all the "no, not there"-shots and I concentrated on collecting the roll over lanes and the horse show loop values, winning the game eventually. Next up was Guns'n'Roses, which was an old favorite of mine. I managed to cash out most of the modes nicely, and the multiball was a hit too. The starting riff of 'Sweet child of mine' carried me to the semi-finals with a clean 2-0 victory from my first round of playoffs.

I was next put against POK in the semi-finals. We played Scared Stiff and Guns'n'Roses, both ending up in my victory. The Scared Stiff played just great, but the GnR had rather annoying misfeature: the center scoop returned the ball right between the flippers every single time. It was the main contributor to my horrible score in the qualifications, but I quickly learned to counter the problem by giving the machine a sharp nudge just as the ball was kicked out from the scoop. I went up to 800M on that game. Another clean 2-0 victory put me in the finals.

OPO was a new face in the competitive pinball circles, but he sure wasn't stranger to pinball. I hear he had earned his nick name "pinball guru" after putting his initials on virtually every pinball machine in Mikkeli. So, the final game was the battle between the Midas and the Guru.

We started off with Black Belt, which went incredibly bad for me. I had to do several near-tilt saves, still draining and eventually losing the game. As the final was best 2 out of 3, I had my back against the wall from the very start. Next up was Metallica, on which I raged on. Metallica's "Fuel" is one of my power songs, so I selected that and grinded away. I ended up getting a grand champion score and winning the game with style, taking the finals into the very last game: Guns'n'Roses.

I felt very confident, but somehow managed to goof up my first two balls. I was player #2, and on my 3rd ball I was a bit over 100M behind OPO. I quickly evaluated the situation: next mode was the video mode - easy 60M. After that I had the pity multiball lit with 25M+ jackpots ready for picking. Completely doable. So, I aimed for the start mode-hole ... hit the rubber post next to it, and all the sudden I had a very fast moving ball bouncing in the upper playfield. I had to do a panic flip as the ball came down dangerously fast and I ended up hitting the right orbit. The very second the ball went up the orbit I realized what I did wrong - I nearly always keep one side flippers up to minimize the center gap. GnR however has a left upper flipper, which when held up, redirect the ball fast to lower right playfield - and straight into the right outlane on this game. I saw all that happening before the ball was even near the upper flipper, but didn't have the reaction time to do anything about it. I pushed the machine forward real hard, hoping to hit the ball with right side in/outlane post, but no. Down it went, with my gold trophy.

So, the Guru won this one. Congratulations OPO! I'm rather sure winning the very first competition you ever took part in is something you'll remember for a long time! I have to admit, it's better than what I did - the very first official tournament I ever participated in was the Sörkka Pinball Open 2004 - I brought silver home back then.

After the trophies were handed out, we finally got to the relaxing part and did what you're supposed to do when you're downed a pint or 10 - turn on the soldering iron and start poking the printed circuit boards every time a problem was found in the pins! :) We actually played until 6 in the morning, and then called the cab.

Thank you Mara for the great tournament, and congrats again, OPO! I hope to see you in upcoming tournaments.

#pinball #mikkeli #mopo
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st. Michel Operators Pinball Open 2013
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