The biggest and most prestigious pinball competitions in the world, the PAPA World Pinball Championship, and the IFPA World Pinball Championship, are for the first time happening within days of each other. This of course helps international competitors to play in both, in what could only be described as an absolutely exhausting and ultimately rewarding number of days of competitive pinball.
Those two competitions are happening in the USA, and RIGHT NOW.
PAPA is an open event that any player can sign up for, yet the IFPA championship is invite only. Every year, the IFPA invites international players who are ranked 1 and 2 in their respective countries. If for whatever reason a player can’t attend (it’s expensive to travel overseas!), then country tournament directors will move down the list of ranked players until they can either a) fill the two spots, or b) reach a cut off point deemed by the country director as the maximum rank that an invite should be forwarded to (in Australia, that cut off is generally 6 to 8 or thereabouts).
This year, Australia has successfully managed to have two representatives attend IFPA, and due to the timing of both IFPA and PAPA events, have two players in each!
Robert Macauley (AUS rank 4th), a seasoned international competitor (and multiple Twin Galaxies video game world record holder), and Brett Goodwin (AUS rank 5th), who is attending his very first international competition.
Robert, from Adelaide South Australia, has a strong tournament record with his best result arguably his win in the 2015 Lake Macquarie Pinball Open. He has also taken the top spot in the 2014 Timezone Supanova National Grand Final, and both the Auckland and Christchurch championships during the 2014 Kiwi Pincade tour. Robert has attended the IFPA World Championship before - in fact just last year - and I’m sure he’s looking to improve upon his finish last year of 40th out of the 64 competitors. This will be Robert’s first PAPA World Championship!
Brett, from Lake Macquarie in NSW, has made leaps and bounds in his short career in pinball competition, having started just two years ago in 2014. Not letting time get in the way, he’s already a national champion with a win in the 2014 IFPA Australian Championship Series, and wins in both the Batcave Masters and ACS Pin-Golf side tournaments. As mentioned, it’s Brett’s first international outing, and what a way to start! The two biggest tournaments in the world!
The gruelling PAPA qualifiers are already on their way and about a day in. If you think wandering in to the PAPA World Championships would be easy due to it being an open event, you’d be sorely disappointed. Regarded as the most difficult competition in the world to qualify for, players are required to play a qualifier ‘ticket’, which is selecting five games to play out of an available ten, and that ticket of five games are ranked as an entire entry against all other competitors. This means that you can’t have a bad game in that five and just restart that one game. If you have a bad game you are more than likely looking at restarting your entire ticket. Players - to be competitive and make the finals cut off - would likely be required to either have great results in all five games, or ‘blow it up’ on at least two, and post good results on the remaining three. One single bad game could mean the end of your qualifying ticket, and to get back in line and start again.
Just one day in on qualifying (three days of qualifying, finals of the top 24 players on the fourth day), and the level of competition is already second to none. Robert was impressively qualified in 19th place, but less than an hour later had dropped to 25th - just outside the cut off point. Keith Elwin (USA, ranked 3rd in the world), is holding on to the top spot, with Zach Sharpe (USA, ranked 5th in the world), Markus Stix (Austria, 23rd in the world), and Daniele Acciari (Italy, 2nd in the word), barking at Keith's heals.
To give you some context of what us Australians are dealing with here, even our number 1 ranked Australian player (Peter Watt from QLD) is world ranked 105th. So to say we have our work cut out for us, is probably an understatement!
Brett has elected to participate in the PAPA World Championship in the B Division, perhaps feeling that the pressure of the A Division would be a little too much for his first international outing. So far he is doing very well and is qualified in 3rd place!
Other divisions and standings of interest;
- Danielle Peck (NZ rank 2nd) - 9th in the B Division and 3rd in the Women’s Division
- Naiomi Goodwin (AUS rank 47th) - 6th in the Women’s Division
Straight after the PAPA World Championships, the IFPA World Championships begin. Thankfully for our two Australian representatives, there is no gruelling qualifying process due to the invitational structure of the event (although that does mean Naiomi can’t compete!). Instead the 64 country representatives will play in groups of four in the first round in a total of eight sessions. Each session is made up of playing one game from each ‘era’ deemed by the IFPA as OLD, MID, and NEW. Once that round of eight sessions is complete, the rankings will be determined and the top 32 players go through to play head to head matches in a best of seven games! Feeling tired yet?
Provisional first session groupings for Robert and Brett look like this in the IFPA so far;
- Group #8
- 8. Sean Grant (USA)
- 25. Adam Becker (CAN)
- 40. Ernö Rotter (GER)
- 57. Brett Goodwin (AUS)
- Group #14
- 14. Josh Sharpe (USA)
- 19. Markus Stix (AUS)
- 46. Peter Andersen (DEN)
- 51. Robert Macauley (AUS)
Certainly tough groups for both players, but really, there are no easy groups in the world championships...
Join the comments below and let’s see how our players fare in the toughest challenge they’ll face in pinball. You can follow the PAPA divisions qualification and finals live as it happens at the PAPA SITE HERE.
Author: Marc Bell