It was Thursday, July 26th 2018 and I was in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania standing in line for ReplayFX's Pinburgh check-in at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. Pinburgh 2018 was the largest pinball tournament ever, with 840 competitors and I was one of the hundred or so that didn't check-in the night before. If I had I could have slept another hour, but honestly--I couldn't sleep. Not with this incredible event waiting for me, because I knew that once I checked in, I'd be granted the keys to the castle that was the largest freeplay gameroom in the world. ReplayFX.
I didn't have to pay anything, because I paid for my Pinburgh entry months ago during the 45 second window in which the 840 tickets priced at around $100 were for sale. That's right, 45 seconds and $84,000 later--Pinburgh 2018 sold out! And a few months down the road, when the waitlist was cutoff, another 400+ people were waiting on standby. A few of them got in the day of the tournament.
Inside the Festival
With exactly one hour to practice over 280 machines, I had to make a plan. One possibility would be to try and find how much I could move the machines where a tilt would end the game.
Another could be to play the games I didn't know. I knew nothing of Big Hurt, but throughout the weekend I heard a lot of bad beat stories involving this game (luckily for me--I never had to play it).
A third strategy for my practice time could be to play the games with interesting modifications. "Lightning Flippers" are an eighth of an inch shorter than regular flippers. Since games typically have two flippers at the bottom, the increase in the gap between the flippers becomes a quarter of an inch. It makes some of the standard flipper moves more dangerous.
Finally, I could just play games that I enjoy. That way I could get used to flipping and hitting shots. I ended up doing a hybrid of all four, but I never played Big Hurt (phew).
When the hour of practice was up, we had another hour before Pinburgh 2018 began.
And the amazing Pinburgh Techs used this time to make some last minute adjustments.
An Hour to Kill
It's amazing. On one side of the David L Lawrence Convention Center, you walk right into the city of Pittsburgh. Have you ever seen the skyline? Non-standard skyscrapers coming to a head at The Point. On the other side it's a river, trees, and the stadiums on the North Shore. I love this city. I kept thinking how lucky I was to be doing something I loved in Downtown Pittsburgh, while thousands of others in the city were going to work as usual all around me. It made me appreciate this hobby even more.
It's Almost Start Time
At about five minutes until ten, everyone started making their way towards the stage. Along my trek I passed the Pinburgh Desk, behind which sat several of the folks that made this wonderful event happen. Thank you ReplayFX/Pinburgh Staff. Without you none of this would be possible.
If you look closely along the right edge of the Pinburgh Desk photo, you'll see that there's a schedule of events for the Stern Pinball Pro Circuit:
Pinburgh is the seventh event on the current schedule. I hope to make a couple others this year. I made my way towards the main stage.
Pinburgh 2018 was about to begin!
Stay tuned for Boooooooom News Presents: ReplayFX (Pinburgh Part Two). It should come out 8/13/18 around 5PM.