Season 4 came to an exciting conclusion on May 5, as Chris narrowly edged out Alex to continue as the league’s undefeated champion. Aaron, who kept merrily declaring that he did not care how he finished, nevertheless took third.
This was the first time the Lansing Pinball League has determined final standings with a tournament. Previously, ranks were assigned based on total points earned by the end of the regular season. This time, points determined seeding for the playoffs instead. The top 8 seeds played in A division and everyone else in B, with trophies given out for the top three in each division. A similar format to the one used in the Arcade and Marvin’s leagues was used: best two of three, double elimination. The rules for game choice differed a bit from those other leagues. Matt P. decided that the higher seed would choose game or order, the loser of the first game would choose second game or order, and the higher seed would again choose the last game/order if necessary. This resulted in some cases in the same person choosing all three games. There also was no rule against choosing the same game twice.
This season resulted in the closest race for first that has ever happened in this league. Chris broke his regular season winning streak by finishing second to Alex by a few points, but the new tournament format allowed him to fight his way back to victory. After fighting his way out of the swamp (the second chance bracket), Chris had to battle Alex over and over for the title. At one point, Alex almost but not quite pulled off a third ball miracle against Chris on Lord of the Rings. At the very end, it came down to a deciding game on The Walking Dead. The winner would get first, the loser second. Alex went first and at the end of his Ball 3, he had 80-some million against Chris’s 18. I really thought it was over. Then Chris stepped up and, in the most amazing third ball recovery I have ever seen, came from behind to win. By the time it was clear that he had won and he let it drain, I believe he had crested 100 million. It was an extremely exciting finale to the season. Congratulations to both Alex and Chris for their wins and thanks for putting on such a great show for us spectators.
B division came to a tense conclusion by a different route. After I got knocked out by Mike “the New Mike” B., letting me take home third, Danny and Mike had to battle it out for first and second. The double elimination bracket resulted in them having to play each other (if I understand things correctly) in three best-of-three rounds, the first one when Danny knocked Mike into the swamp, the second when Mike got back out of the swamp to once again play the undefeated Danny, and the third when Danny, with one loss now to Mike, got to immediately play Mike again for his second chance. The exact same sequence happened to me at Marvin’s League’s B division finals, so I know how crazy it gets. Unfortunately, they somehow lost track of how many games they had played and their recollections did not match. When the disagreement became irresolvable, Matt made a ruling that they were to play one more best-of-three on a single game he would choose at random, and which turned out to be Getaway. Danny won the final match and was crowned the B division champion, with Mike B. taking home second.
The new style trophies – classy glass arcs with the league logo inscribed on them – were well received, and since they cost less than the previous seasons’ marble-based silver championship cup, Matt P. was able to get three for each division instead of just the one as in last seasons. And, so no one would feel left out, Matt brought out a box of ribbons for everyone else…