The concept of an Australian pinball majors circuit has only been around for a little while now - in fact just a few short months. The first Batcave Masters tournament - which was held in Sydney at the tail end of 2015 - started the conversation and aspirations of this recognition. Essentially, due to the IFPA endorsement and points distribution changes that year, the tournament structures that were traditionally run in Australia were no longer valuable events for world ranking points accumulation. A much more exhaustive approach to tournament design needed to be put in place to match the IFPA’s expectation on what constitutes an event that demonstrates and rewards player’s skill.
Besides the IFPA rule foundation, there was also a desire to hold events that would truly be recognised as ‘world class’. In that the structures were such that a level of rigidness and confidence in the rules would be up there with the large international events such as the PAPA World Championships, European Championships, and so forth.
As it stands, there is still no formal recognition, nor formal body, which has been developed in order to agree upon what exactly is the ‘Australian Pinball Majors Circuit’. Though currently it is generally accepted that the following tournaments are a part;
- Batcave Masters (NSW)
- Pinball Expo (NSW)
- Australian Pinball Championship (NSW)
- Queensland Pinball Open (QLD)
- Brisbane Masters (QLD)
- Australian Championship Series (changes annually)
These major events still rely on the enormous efforts of dedicated individuals and are not guaranteed to occur annually or indeed, continuous at all. However it is hoped that with the growing support of the community, and the growing organisational and volunteering effort of others, that we can hope to see some or all of these events taking place every year or two. Indeed, the Australian Championship Series is expected to be annual as it is supported by IFPA themselves who are actively promoting these events to find national champions (and state champions, in the case of the USA).
This brings us to the next event in the majors circuit in Australia, which is the Batcave Masters this May. The second Batcave Masters to take place, it is a rigorous tournament held over three days, with the main tournament qualification taking up one of those days, finals another, and then two more ‘side tournaments’ taking place in between. And like other events in the majors calendar, these multi-day tournaments often test a players stamina and focus, not just the players ability to flip the ball. It’s common for players to be competing for 14 hours or more, only to catch a few hours sleep and get up the next day and do it all again - if they are fortunate to stay in the running that is!
With the first event taking place last year, the Batcave Masters was and still is considered by the IFPA as Australia's most highly rated event and most indicative of player skill representation, based on their Ratings Strength metrics. It is expected to retain that crown for it’s second outing. At this point all previous winners of the Batcave tournaments are set to attend this years run, and attempt to defend their honour. Though Steve Edwards (the then ranked number 1 Australian player) has yet to indicate if he will set aside his temporary retirement and join the fun again;
2015 Main Tournament
- 1st: Marc Bell (AUS rank 10th)
- 2nd: Steve Edwards (AUS rank 3rd)
- 3rd: Evan Lathouras (AUS rank 44th)
2015 Side Tournament
- 1st: Paul Jones (AUS rank 8th)
- 2nd: Greg Siegele (AUS rank 7th)
- 3rd: Marc Bell (AUS rank 10th)
- 1st: Brett Goodwin (AUS rank 5th)
- 2nd: John Hutchinson (AUS rank 9th)
- 3rd: Richard Rhodes (AUS rank 2nd)
44 of Australia and New Zealand’s best players attended last years event, with an unprecedented 10 out of the top 10 in Australia, and 18 of the top 20. It is expected that most of these players will confirm their attendance for 2016 as well.
Held at a private residence, the Batcave Masters is not an event that the general public, nor the ‘pop-in’ player, can come along and expect to spectate or play in. This tournament has a pre-registration process as well as a preference for existing ‘world ranked’ players. Having said that though, it is not expected to reach capacity and need any culling of the entrants. The full details and registration information can be found on the Aussie Arcade forum thread which you can find by clicking the link here.
gamethesystem.co will aim to delve further into the players and their stories leading up to the tournament. So when it finally kicks off in just over a months time, the anticipation and excitement of one of Australia’s most prestigious pinball events can be shared by all.