There was a buzz in the air as players from all around the country descended upon Brisbane for the opening Best Game Tournament at the Brisbane Pinball and Arcade Expo on Friday the 9th of August. Each entrant had the opportunity to post their best score over the qualifying period over 10 machines, including many much loved favourites such as Medieval Madness and the brand spanking new Black Knight: Sword of Rage. When it came to the top 16, many familiar faces filled the brackets that would be resolved down to one player through head to head play. There was Australia’s number one and number two players, Jason Lambert and Paul Jones, as well as strong local players Peter Watt and Gino Thimios. Among the top 16 were also a few players who had arrived from the USA to play: Connor Stowe and father and son duo Thomas and Colin Urban. New Zealand’s David Peck was defeated by Colin in semi-final 1 and Gino defeated Melbourne’s Nigel Gypstra in semi-final 2, creating a Gino vs Colin final. Though local power player Gino, known as ‘The Monster’, put up a good fight, he was outclassed with the 17-year-old and IFPA #42 ranked player Colin Urban taking home the first win of the showcase.
This came to be the story of the first few days of BPAC, with Colin Urban showcasing a remarkable skill set and an apparent drive to win.
The classics match-up the next day took place over a variety of machines dating back to the early 70s all the way through to the late 80s. This tournament took place in a match play format with 4 players randomly showing down and receiving 7, 5, 3, and 1 point(s) for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th placings. Standouts included a Stern Quicksilver that looked like it was just out of the box and forgotten classics such as the Six Million Dollar Man. The players battled over this classic terrain ‘til there were just 4: Melbourne’s Simon Peel, Brisbane’s Jason Lambert and Dirk Booy and you guessed it… USA’s Colin Urban. Colin edged them out with wins on Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Strikes and Spares wile Dirk secured 2nd place with a victory on Dracula.
The tournament that immediately followed was the Classics Flip Frenzy: head to head matchups resolved as quickly as possible so you can play again as soon as another machine becomes available. With Colin not participating in this event, 1st place was claimed by Australia IFPA ranked #2 Paul Jones with the winner of this years Australian Championships in Canberra, Richard Rhodes.
Bright and early the next day, we had the 10 strikes fair strikes comp taking place in the adjacent corridor to this year’s Kong Off. With 77 players competing over 32 machines, the competition was fierce. In fair strikes competition, you are randomly allocated to a group of 4 and a machine. The winner of the game receives zero strikes, while 2nd and 3rd receive one strike. 4th place receives 2 strikes. When a player receives their 10th strike they are out of the competition. The competition runs ‘til there is just one player remaining. Over several hours players dropped out ‘til just 4 remained. Familiar faces, Richard Rhodes, Nigel Gypstra, Peter Watt and Colin Urban. Nigel and Peter were unable to keep up as their strikes caught up to them and it was left to Colin, on 8 strikes, and Richard, on 7 strikes. Colin showed great resolve as he was able to defeat Richard first on Deadpool and again on Iron Maiden to secure the win.
With a change in venue, 65 pinball combatants filled Brisbane’s Pincadia for a mini-matchplay on the 12th of August. After 5 rounds, Colin Urban once again found himself at the top of the leaderboard, but this also signified the arrival of Escher Lefkoff, the 23rd ranked player in the world and at just 16, a true prodigy in the world of pinball. With Escher taking 2nd place, Richard Rhodes took 3rd and Melbourne’s Greg Gee took 4th.
After entering 5 individual tournaments Colin Urban had secured 5 wins, a truly remarkable feat in any competitive field. This is a true example of the skill and expertise possessed by world-class pinball players.
Tuesday the 13th marked a BPAC edition of Netherworld’s Brisbane Pinball Club. A massive 85 players took part in the qualifying rounds, including world #4 ranked player Bowen Kerins. In a Best Game format, each player had a single chance to post a score of 9 machines. The highest score on each machine scores 100 points with second scoring 99, 3rd scoring 98 etc. The top 16 players in the finals playoff head to head in best of three matches. Though qualifying at the top, Colin was bested by Bowen Kerins in a semi-final match. In the other semi-final, Escher defeated Paul Jones. Escher ultimately defeated Bowen in two straight games in the final and with Colin defeating Paul in the third-place match, made it a 1st, 2nd and 3rd for these powerful players from the USA.
The BPAC showcase headed to the coast for the 14th with a special edition of Pinball Club at the Coolangatta-Tweed Timezone. This tournament told a similar story with Escher, Bowen and Colin alongside local juggernaut Tony Woods in the top 4. The skills of the Escher again took the win with Bowen coming in second and Colin securing 3rd.
On the 15th we returned to the BPAC showcase for a 3-strikes match up. This saw a return to form for Colin who defeated Sydney’s David Loewy to win the 102 player competition, with local players Greg Gee and Nicolas Noben securing 3rd and 4th.
The 16th saw the final match preceding the masters with a 5 strikes knockout tournament. David Loewy again finished strongly with 4th place, while Bowen secured 3rd. Colin and Escher faced off in the final with Escher securing the win and finishing on just 3 strikes.
The 16th also saw the inaugural Queens-land Women’s Pinball Championships, a female-only competition attracting 30 players from around the world. Here another young player, New Zealand’s Danielle Peck secured the win with fellow New Zealander Lisa Conroy coming in second. Local players Hollie Mills and Emily Cosson getting 3rd and 4th.
After 8 days and countless flips, plunges, tilts and top scores the Brisbane Masters is just getting started. 160 players will enter the field on Saturday the 17th with finals happening on the 18th. On the surface, the prominent stand out from the past 8 days is the level of play of the USA competitors, but the most promising aspect has been the level of the young players. The number of players under the age of 18 who not only excel at but are truly passionate about the game of pinball is truly heartening and bodes well for the future of the game.