Date: 21st February, 2015
Location: Denizen Hall, 10266 103 St. NW, Edmonton, AB T5J 0Y8, Canada

Report by Derek Thomson
Pictures by Die Hard Pinball League

Here at Pinball News we report from the world's biggest pinball events, but it's also interesting to see how new tournaments and leagues are formed. So here Derek tells us about how a chance encounter led to the creation of a new pinball league in Edmonton, Canada, and soon afterwards, their first tournament.

The Die Hard Pinball League (DHPL) came into existence just under two years ago. It is really a funny story how all this started.

I was really keen on getting a pinball machine in the house as I virtually lived in the arcades when I was young and played a lot of pinball there since there really was not much on location around the Edmonton area.

So I went out and got my first machine, the very first one I remembered playing - Paragon.

From there, since I was always interested in competing right back to my younger days with soccer and hockey, I decided to Google 'competition pinball' and found the PAPA site where they had an upcoming tournament held in Pittsburgh called Pinburgh. Having no idea what to expect, I signed up for the 2013 event to put it on my bucket list and to see what this was all about.

So the adventure began. Once I arrived at the hotel, I went into the lobby and began talking to some of the other competitors participating in the event. One of them was Bowen Kerins, event organizer and PAPA World Champion. Everyone was really friendly and excited to compete at the event. I then took the shuttle to go to the event and the first person I met on the bus asked me where I was from. I said "Edmonton, Alberta - it is in Canada", and he went, "Ya, I know where that is, I live there too". His name turned out to be Steve Campbell - a fellow 'Pinsider'.

Well we both had quite the laugh as it turns out we were the only two from our town that went to the competition, and it was both our first time at the event. Neither of us knew anyone else in the event and just came on a whim. Crazy stuff, and a great conversation piece we bring up often.

So we hung out all weekend and had a blast at the event. After a few beers we started talking about how there must be others in the Edmonton area that have pinball machines, and that we should do something to bring pinball hobbyists together.

Well that is how Die Hard Pinball originated in the Edmonton area. Shortly after the event I ended up buying my third machine off a gentleman who had 18 machines in his collection, and asked him if he would be interested in joining our group. He agreed, then he signed up a friend, then met another person in Edmonton that had machines and he wanted to join too.

So once we had a few guys we had our first PinNight. Everything went really well, we played until midnight, and it was decided to hold these get-togethers every month and alternate between different houses. As time went on, I went to the Calgary Pinball Expo and found a couple of other guys, then some guys on Pinside, and soon people were coming to me to ask about this mystery pinball group we had started in the Edmonton area.

As of today we have 21 members in our collectors' group, and between us we have over 100 machines. As a group, we still hold monthly group gatherings where we play pinball, drink some beers, do joint parts orders, and just talk pinball.

Fast forward to a couple of months ago. There is a new establishment in Edmonton, a barcade that opened up called Denizen Hall. It has five machines and and finally provides a great venue in Edmonton to play pinball on location.

I went there for a The Walking Dead pinball machine launch party which was set up by another local pinsider. I never knew Denizen Hall even existed at the time. I had a blast, met a few more people in the pinball community, and then an idea struck me to hold a major tournament in Edmonton, to see if maybe our town was ready to embrace competitive pinball.

So, I approached the owners of Denizen Hall to see if there was interest in holding a competitive pinball tournament at their facility. I told them that I have attended major tournaments around Canada and the US and would like to bring this type of event to Edmonton. They agreed to allow me to host our first event at Denizen Hall on January 31, 2015. To my surprise the tournament sold out with a full 24 competitors. In fact I had to turn people away.

The Denizen Hall Pinball Tournament
The start of the Denizen Hall Pinball Tournament

The Denizen Hall Pinball Tournament began with a seeding round where competitors played on four machines and were ranked 1st-24th on all of them. Their ranking scores were added up to give them their final score which was used to seed them for the elimination round.

The Denizen Hall Pinball Tournament
The Denizen Hall Pinball Tournament

The elimination round was a knockout single-elimination tournament format. The first round consisted of seeds 9-24 playing - seeds 1-8 had a bye. They played a single head-to-head match to determine who moved on.

In the second round to the finals, all games were a best-of-three head-to-head elimination, where the higher seed got choice of machine or position, and the loser of the game then had the choice going forward.

The Denizen Hall Pinball Tournament
The Denizen Hall Pinball Tournament

There was a great final match where the 5th and 6th seeds made it all the way to battle for championship. There was also a 3rd and 4th place best-of-the-three elimination game to determine those positions. 1st - 4th places received cash prize money for the event. 

The Denizen Hall Pinball Tournament
The Denizen Hall Pinball Tournament

Here are the results:

Pos Name
Jonathan Puckrin 
Steve Campbell
Rod Ferguson 
Paul Sinclair 
Derek Thomson 
William LaPage 
David Arndt 
Winston Tuttle 
Jeremy Nelson 
Doug Brown Edm 
Steve Lacroix 
Keri Puckrin 
Del Martiniuk 
Daryl Hart 
Randell Caron 
Sean Reis 
Mark Stephens 
Gilles Touchette 
Lauren Wheeler 
Lloyd Romain 
Chris Von Skopczynski 
Colin McGee 
Trysten Reis 
Sachin Simon 

I have had such great feedback from this tournament that I have now decided to run a pinball league out of Denizen Hall, and have now sold out the entries for this too.

The league consists of ten sessions that run approximately every three weeks throughout the year. Players will play on a bank of four machines twice and their scores will be added so both games count and a final ranking will be given a score for that night.

There is a total of ten events, the best eight are taken and the top sixteen players move on to qualify for the 'A' division championship. The 17th-24th seeds will play for the 'B' division championship. The A championship is a modified elimination like PAPA uses for their circuit event final, and the B Championship will be a single game double-elimination tournament. We are ordering a championship belt that is engraved with the winner's name in the A division, and individuals who place 1-4 will get plaques. For the B division, individuals who place 1 & 2 will also get plaques. 

We plan on running at least two more major tournaments during the year, hoping to continue to grow the number of people interested in competitive pinball.

My main goal in all of this was really to promote pinball. It is such a great hobby and you meet such great people I just wanted to share this experience with as many people as possible.

Over the past month our area has got some great exposure as I have interviewed and been on TV with CTV News, Global News, Edmonton Journal, Globe and Mail and others. The attention has been crazy and the support from the pinball community in Edmonton has been overwhelming.

I am really proud to be a part of this along with fellow members Jonathon Puckrin, Gilles Touchette and Steve Campbell, while all the members of DHPL have been a big part of helping us be as successful as we are. 

I am really proud to be a part of building the pinball community in the Edmonton area along with fellow members: Jonathon Puckrin, Gilles Touchette and Steve Campbell.  All the members of DHPL have been a big part of helping us to be successful as we continue to grow the hobby and be a part of this exciting journey. 

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