The planning of my trip to Oslo begun, when I noticed an ad in a Swedish pinball forum that there would be a pinball event called Oslo Pinheads Open in Norway in August. The webpage of the event was good and written in English, and travelling to the venue from the Oslo airport semed to be really easy. As also accommodation seemed to be really reasonable priced and close to the venue, it was really easy to make a decision to attend the event. I was on my summer holiday and I got a friend of mine, Timo Valkonen, to join me on my trip.
Getting there to the venue from the Oslo Airport was as easy as it was described in the instructions of the event’s webpage. When we arrived at the venue at about 1 PM on Friday we were first people there. It was nice to go trough the lineup of games when there weren’t other players to play the games. There were a satisfying number of games which I didn’t even know beforehand. The first hours were easily spent with getting know to the new games. Unfortunately quite many games had some small switch issues or even some bigger issues, but most of the games were at least in ok condition.
The qualifying of the tournament started on Friday evening and that was something that I already wrote in here. My own picks for qualifying machines were Funhouse, Grand Prix and Demolition Man. I had a really bad start of qualifying as my first game on Funhouse ended to a score of less than a million. The first two balls of my second attempt were also really bad and I didn’t get almost anything else than a couple of multiball locks. Third ball included many unsuccessful tries to shot the ball to Rudy’s mouth, but fortunately I eventually got a lucky bounce from a right flipper to Rudy’s mouth via upper left flipper and got a multiball going. After that I got a score of more than 20 millions from the multiball and obtained the highest qualifying score in Funhouse.
The second game that I played was Stern’s Grand Prix, which I didn’t know before. Luckily I had seen Swedish guy Reidar Spets play the game before me, so I knew how I should start the multiball and where would the jackpot shots be. With this copycat strategy I got multiball going with both of my games, and the better one ended to something near 20 millions. I already knew that Spets had a better score, but I wished that this would at least be somehow good score too.
Having a couple of good scores already I didn’t feel that much pressure to play Demolition Man. The game that was chosen to the tournament lineup in the first place had some odd claw issues, so after I complained about the issues (after Reidar had already complained about the same thing) the game got switched to the another DM game in the venue. It was wise to change these two games, as the another DM was obviously in better shape than the first one. At this point I also was satisfied to see that the game that I had already practiced on was changed to the tournament lineup.
Quite surprisingly my score of about a billion remained as the best to the end of the qualifying period. It really was a close competition with Reidar Spets finishing to less than 20 millions behind me and Karl Broström scoring less than 100 millions less than me. As I had the best score in Funhouse, third best in Grand Prix and again the best one in Demolition Man, I finished in the second place of the qualifications. Reidar Spets won the qualifications with two top scores and one second place.
I was really happy how the qualifications went, although at the same time I felt bad about my friend Timo, who (mainly due to bad luck) was only the 24th of the qualification and didn’t qualify. I couldn’t really enjoy my high qualification position either, as I was expecting the play-offs to start at this point: Especially when play-offs had been played with head-to-head single elimination, I usually had performed really poorly before in tournaments. To my surprise, Christian (INK) Holmsten announced that the play-offs would be played as a PAPA-style play with four players competing with three games and two best advancing to latter rounds. The competition would also be played as a double elimination format where the two losers from winners side would still have a chance in the losers side, which would be played with only one machine.
I really liked the information I just heard and the first round of play-offs went really well. With the second place in Batman: The Dark Knight and winning Grand Prix and Indiana Jones I was clearly the best in my group. The second in my group was Dan Hagman, while the event organizer Are Stig Larsen and Swedish Chirstian Sjöberg were sent to losers side.
In the second round I even don’t remember my other opponents than Karl Broström. Karl I remember because in the end of our three game set, we were on a tie for the second place. I was already thinking about the tie-break game to come and me losing because Karl is that good a player, but then INK surprised me by announcing that I would advance to the next round?! There was this rule that if players were in a tie, the better qualifying position would decide the one to advance. With me being the second qualifier and Karl not being the first, it meant that I would advance without even worrying about the tie-breaker. I couldn’t complain, although this rule seemed to really favor us who were top qualifiers. With three game set with 4-2-1-0 scoring with every game, it just is really common to have tie-breakers.
The third round on winners side was among all the players who had made it in the winners side so far. The players were me, Reidar Spets, Bally Hagman and Johan Wetterfold (who played his first competitive pinball tournament ever). After two games me and Reidar both had six points and a lead that couldn’t be reached, so the round was already decided and the losers were sent to losers side. Wtf, I just played myself into finals!
From the losers side Bally Hagman and Stefan Cederlöf made their ways into finals. In the finals I won the first game played in Batman, and (I have to admit that) I already started to think that in this point I just couldn’t lose the trophy given out to the best three players. With these thoughts the situation obviously changed dramatically, and after scoring zero points in GP (my first 0 points in the whole evening) the situation was that I could also be the 4th place finisher in the worst case, if I lose the last game!
The situation was just like that after the first balls were played on DM. I was playing as the fourth player and I was the last one in the scores, while Reidar Spets played really well and started to get ahead of other players. Spets was though in a situation where he couldn’t win the tournament even with winning the last game, and that could help me. Before my last ball, Spets had ended his game to a score of more than 2 billions, which was the best score of the tournament. Hagman had ended his game to a score that I’d already beaten with my two balls, so with this situation I would end up to a tie with Hagman and Spets having the third place. I confirmed from INK that the same tie-break rule would also apply to the finals, and after he nodded I realized that I really had won this tournament. With my last ball I really wanted to beat Spets’s score to get the first place without any tie-break rules, but as the score was that high, I drained my ball before reaching the target score.
Bally Hagman obviously said instantly after the finals that he is dissatisfied with the ruling, but the judges were adamant (as they should have been) and I was crowned the winner. Somehow I understand Hagman’s unhappiness with losing a final like this, but for me it wouldn’t have been fair to change the ruling for the finals without telling me. Anyway: no long time grudges were formed I think, I talked with Hagman after the competition and he seemed to be just ok. And after all I think that you shouldn’t take these competitions too seriously, right?
After having played in the tournament for more than six hours on Saturday, on Sunday I just felt that I had had enough pinball for a while and I could spend the day to do something else. Therefore I headed with Timo to downtown Oslo to see the city before returning to the airport and flying back to Finland. I found some pleasant surprises during the trip, one was that you can travel in the Airport train with a student discount by showing your Finnish student card. Whoa!
Getting back to the airport the only bad part of the trip started. Blue1 cancelled our flight and with the lottery of redirection tickets Timo got to stay an extra night in Oslo returning back home next morning, while I jumped to the next plane to Stockholm, Sweden to continue from there to home next morning having slept almost a half of a night in a hotel. When finally arriving to Helsinki I just couldn’t even care. I’m on my summer holiday and I just had yet another awesome pinball trip abroad!