Orivesi Pinball Open 2013 - Pelihelvetti arcade, Orivesi

After the intense league game, I had just one objective for Orivesi Pinball Open - drive there without any hurry, chat with other pinheads and play an hour or two of warm up games and then play less serious competition games and relax. Sounds good? Well, fate had other plans:

Me: I want to play a relaxed tournament
Fate: NOPE.

Orivesi is about 200 kilometres from Kouvola and we left 3 hours before our qualifications start time. I've often driven there in 2 and half hours, including a stop to eat something. 50 kilometres from Kouvola we hit one of the largest traffic congestions I've seen in a while in Finland. Take one sunday driver, who can't drive over 60km/h at a 80km/h zone. Add couple of overtake phobics, couple of heavy vehicles and you've got yourself a kilometre long line of cars. We enjoyed just that for the next 150 kilometres, arriving "brown paper bag over our heads"-late in the tournament, stressed and tired.

Qualifications

Instead of warming up in my own pace, I arrived to already started qualification round 45 minutes late. I was counting on being able to cool off while playing, but it soon did the quite opposite. I couldn't get my game on at all and started to feel extreme frustration from the very first games. The more frustrated I got, the more I did stupid mistakes like using way too much force to do saves, nearly always tilting the machines instead of saving.

One of the memorable moments include playing against SYP, who started the game by commenting that this was the first time she played pinball in her life, or something like this. We played on Maverick, which I'm rather familiar with. The game gave me two middle drains, so perfectly centred between the flippers that I couldn't save it even when I pushed the machine enough to tilt it twice. The third ball made two sling shot hits, and went out in the right outlane. My opponent had the same kind of luck, except she had accidentally enabled the 100M outlane bonus score, and with that she went past me.

Games like that happen, it's part of pinball's randomness. But 4 times in a row when you're already frustrated? I was already beyond the boiling point, cursing at the games, hoping to run out of opponents so I could just tuck my tail between my legs and start driving towards home.

After 10 games out of 11, I had 4 wins and the only opponent left was OMO. Quickly glancing the score board I saw I no longer had chances being in the top 6 that made the playoffs. With OMO as my opponent I'd probably get an ass-whooping anyway if we'd get any of the DMD era games. We drew Sega's X-files, which made me laugh - I had played it earlier against AKI and lost with less than 10000 points when the scores were in millions. Believing I was out of the competition anyway, I decided to play it just for the laughs.

With nothing to lose any more, I concentrated on exploring the X-files, starting modes and collecting pieces for "the truth" mode. While the game wasn't exactly a glimmering example how to play, I still managed to win.

I would have packed my stuff and left, but Pilvi had done a lot better, including beating me in a rather good game of Scared stiff.

Now, I've gotten the following question couple of times: why are you always so grumpy after you lose some games, isn't losing part of pinball? Well, here's the definite answer:
I virtually never get grumpy because I lose per se. The only times I really get annoyed about losing itself, is when the opponent behaves verbally abusively afterwards, which again is extremely rare. Generally the problem is the reason why I lost, and most of the time it is because extreme bad luck (3 balls down the middle with no ball saver and so forth) in a situation where I've already built a good game plan in my mind and the overwhelming disappointment in myself for not being able do anything about it.

To put it other way, pay attention to the games I lose when I play well. You'll notice I'll always laugh and congratulate the opponent on his/her excellent game and usually comment on any major events that happened during the game.

Anyway, back to the Orivesi game. After finishing the game against OMO, the qualification run was coming to an end. Much to my surprise there was something odd about the results. I had 6 wins, which meant I was in the playoffs. But that couldn't be right, besides, the scoring system did show I had played 12 of the 11 games. After some debugging, it turned out someone had accidentally entered their game under my name, and I had the 5 wins. The real kicker however was, that there were 5 people with more than 5 wins, and 4 people with 5 wins. This meant war 4 player tie-breaker, the winner would proceed to the playoffs.

What? I had played the second worst qualification run in my life, and I still had the chance to recover from all this? I felt like I was hanging to a lifeline with one finger, causing a massive adrenaline burst. The tie-breaker was to be played on Gottlieb's Stargate, and I was against LMR, PKO and JVU. I played a strong ball one, taking an immediate lead on my turn, while others were struggling with Stargate's dangerously close rubber posts on the left side middle playfield. I started multiball on my second ball, and went to over 150M. The other players really shaped up on their last balls, most coming closer to 100M, but I played third good ball, ending up scoring over 190M, and eventually winning the tie-break. Wow, I was back in the game, and now noticeably less grumpy!

Playoffs

First up was SKA, I won the game 2-0 with Scared Stiff and X-files. Speaking of the latter, X-files had become this tournament's memorable machine. Virtually every tournament I've played has one machine, around which everything else seems to revolve. As a game I find it rather disappointing; Sega had so much good stuff on their hands with the show. They could have come up with a machine like the Twilight Zone with that amount of excellent material. Instead they came up with very uninspired machine that has very little scoring potential save beating the filing cabinet to start multiball, then hit the ramps ad nauseam. The modes are boring and score nothing, save "the truth", which is a multiball. A must machine for the show fans, but gameplay-wise rather boring machine.

Playoffs: quarter finals

TMA, the man behind the whole tournament was my next opponent. These days it's hard to throw anything at me that I haven't played before, but this was the case with Gottlieb's Amazon hunt. I was later on amazed to find out that this wasn't just a one game, Gottlieb actually made a trilogy of pins based on this very game. Amazon hunt wasn't a bad game. The two mid-playfield drop target banks and two rather challenging, well scoring holes on the upper playfield worked nice. Too bad they didn't work in my favor this time, and TMA won the first game, putting me my back against the wall for winning the two next games.

Next up was my guilty pleasure, Party Zone. We both got a rather underwhelming games, I actually won the game in the end by making two skillshots. The second one was rather tricky, as I lost the ball but the ball saver was fortunately on. Party Zone's software lets the player to attempt skillshot again, and this time I scored it. Many players don't pay much attention to skillshots, but in my experience when the game goes south, all the sudden the seemingly small score of skillshotting is all the sudden all you need to win.

The third and deciding game was Lazer ball. This is the very same Lazer ball that was at our arcade before. It can be very frustrating game with its wide open outlanes, but it also has lots of strategy potential. After grinding it a lot, I've found to two ways of scoring big on it, and the good news is that they aren't mutually exclusive. The only thing you need, is 5x bonus. After you have it, there's two ways to proceed: first, spinners now score 1000 per spin, which means 30-60k per orbit shot. Second, you now have 5x bonus, so every drop target is suddenly worth 5000 points in bonus plus the 500 (?) points for dropping them. What's not to like? Flail away! TMA had raw deal with the LB's outlanes, while I hit the 5x once, but it was enough when I had 20k bonus to go with it.

Until now I hadn't paid much attention to what had happened, but I suddenly wake up to the situation, where I started off by being ready to pack my stuff and go home, and now the worst I could do was to be 4th. Pilvi had gotten one bye thanks to her excellent qualifications run. Unfortunately AKI beat her in Lazer ball and Amazon hunt, dropping her to the positions 5-8 game on Maverick, which she won, placing her 5th in the final results.

Playoffs: semi finals

This was like a flashback from the last weekend at our league game: I was against OMO in the semi finals. And what else to start it with, but the X-files! I managed to squeeze some jackpots out of the multiball, and had rather nerve wrecking time watching OMO's 3rd ball as he tried to catch me, but this one went for me.

Next up was No Fear. I knew this was a strong game for OMO, but I was still blown away by OMO's first ball and nearly 2B score. I started to grind away the multiball, but failed to score super jackpots. On my 3rd ball I was still under 1B while OMO was around 2.6B after his 3rd ball. I noticed I was only one shot away from payback time, so I started it and locked 3rd ball just seconds later. I was hoping the stacked payback time would get me beyond 2B, but in the end I only got to 1.5B before draining. Still, this is a good example of games where I lose, but am still happy with my playing.

The deciding game was Maverick. My first ball was rather poor, but my main goal was to enable all 3 locks. I got the first lock lit from the skill shot, then the remaining ones from the ramp. I managed to lock one ball before draining. My second ball was good. I locked the two remaining balls, started the multiball and scored multiple jackpots. The game was rather bouncy and I got couple of tilt warnings near the end, but didn't tilt the machine. OMO got the locks lit on his second ball. My third ball was rather short, I was doing Stagecoatch mode, got couple of hits but that didn't help my score much. OMO got multiball on his last ball, but it wasn't enough to catch me. I won the game and went to the final.

I noticed AKI had done well today, and played against P P in the semi finals. P P however won, so AKI went to bronze game this time with OMO. 

Playoffs: final

The final was like in the previous years: best 3 out of 5 games, and I was playing against P P. We started off with Data East's Star Wars. I was actually rather bummed that I didn't have proper ROM chips so I could have burned the newer software for it. Star Wars in its original software is extremely boring in tournaments, as all that's worth doing, is hitting the center ramp. My opponent knew the very same thing, so we ended up doing an endurance run of ramp shots. The game lasted forever, actually so long that the local newspaper reporters who came to make a story about the event got bored and wandered elsewhere. Eventually I won the endurance run and we proceeded to No Fear.

The game was pretty even until the 3rd ball, where P P had nicely cashed out the multiball. The scores weren't phenomenal, in the end P P ended up a bit under 900M. I tried to catch that on my last ball, but failed the super jackpot shot three times in a row before draining all the balls, ending up with a bit over 600M.

Next we drew Scared stiff. I played a very satisfactory game. I had the Scared stiff-mode lit on my second ball, but drained before I could start it. Good thing it stays lit, so I could just plunge the ball to start it. I cashed it out nicely but didn't finish it. I was still in a good lead and won the game.

The game was 2-1, so I only had to win one game to win the whole tournament. And what else would be a fitting game, but the X-files! I didn't get my game on until the last ball, we both did okay, and I was about 1.5 millions behind when my last ball started. Multiball was 9 cabinet hits away, which was way too dangerous. The truth was two shots away, but the lit X's were on the center orbit, which often ends up in either slap save or center drain, so no thanks. I was left with the least favorable option - start a mode. I got "the colony"-mode. I cashed it out just enough to get past P P before draining.

This meant I had won my second Orivesi Pinball Open tournament. In total and in a row.

It was only when TMA held his ending speech before handing out the trophies when I finally realized what I had done today. I thought I was out, so I played the very last game against the last opponent just for the laughs, won, and then played two games short of every possible game I had to play to win. I wish there was a day where I could do the qualifications with such a fury!

As an added bonus, the winning trio also made to the local newspaper. I was rather tired at that point, so I'm sure they got one of my grumpy faces there while the two others had mad grins :)

Here's the results:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Atdc4hKvpbEYdF9BZndycFcwOTQwSG42dmlHbWZMNVE#gid=4

#pinball #orivesi #opo13
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