Date: 22nd-24th May, 2009
Location: Gameworks, Schaumburg, Illinois, USA.

Over the memorial day weekend at the end of May, the IFPA and Gameworks in Schaumburg, Illinois teamed up to present the second Pinball Tournament of Champions.

Held, once again, at the Gameworks arcade at Streets of Woodfield, there was a prize pot of over $1,300 at stake and the chance to play the new Stern game NBA.

Three of the tournament games
Three of the tournament games

One of those taking a shot at the top prize was 11-year-old Joshua Henderson who was there to compete with his father Mark. As of late on Friday 22nd May, Joshua was holding his own with the number one qualifying position that evening. However, he felt most players were just getting used to the playing conditions and many of the world class players were playing conservatively until they got to the finals.

Qualifying continued through Saturday and with the final rounds taking place on Sunday, Joshua felt confident that he could improve his scores on Saturday by early Sunday his goal was to be in the top ten pinball playing qualifiers. He said "I want to finish in the top 10, if I am in the top 5 great, if I am in the top 3 super. I recognize that although I am playing against top pinball players, it will be several years before I win a major tournament, but that is one of my goals and at age 11, I have a long way to go."

Apart from getting one of those key qualifying spots there were also WPPR points at stake and the chance to move up the world rankings table.

Although he wasn't able to maintain the top spot all day, by Saturday afternoon Joshua was the number two qualifier behind Zach Sharpe and he left the qualifying in the afternoon confident that he could be one of the top ten qualifiers. He said "The surprise will be on Sunday when I see if my scores placed me among the top 10 qualifiers.  As far as the single elimination finals, I am going to do my best and with 5 trophies, I want to be standing next to Josh or Zach or Trent or any other major player to tell them that one day I will win first place in a IFPA class A tournament."

Qualifying continued Sunday morning and Joshua takes up the story of how the tournament reached its conclusion.

" I got to the tournament with 2 hours of qualification remaining. My dad gave me three tickets and the first game on Sopranos was a little less than 3 million. I looked at my dad and he said to roll it again. The second game I put up 89 million in tournament mode - just under Josh Sharpe's 99.98 million and below Zach Sharpe's 133 million. I used the third ticket on Family guy and improved my score to 36 million - well below Josh's 64 million and Zach's 73 million. My 182 million on 24 was still standing followed by 91 million from Trent, 78 million by Zach and 76 million by Josh. I was happy with my 18 million on NBA - below Zach's 21 million and Josh's 25 million."

"With Family Guy being my weakest link I still qualified in top 5, in fact I was fourth - above Josh Sharpe. Final qualifying standings had Trent Augustine on 359 points, Zach Sharpe 354, Jason Werdrick 347, I had 344, Josh Sharpe 343, Andy Rosa 328, Derek Fugate 320, Sam Spero 319, Jim Shird 311 and Cory Carl 304."

"Since I was in the fourth qualifying position, I had to beat only one player to win a trophy."

"The competition started and I discovered that the winner of Josh Sharpe's seeding would play ME. WOW, I am going to play head to head against Josh Sharpe at age 11. I was very, very excited to show him my "A" game and earn some respect, because I look up to him for his personal and professional achievements in pinball. In fact, Josh Sharpe congratulated me on my 89 million on Sopranos following my qualification round making me feel very important and one of the fellow pinball competitors, I liked that."

"Well, things did not work out and Joshua Sharpe does not always win. Dave Hegge, a former pinball wizard in the '80s and now aged 48, climbed his way from 13th position to compete with Joshua Sharpe head to head. The first game was on 24. Both players scored 1.3 million on their first ball, Dave earned 17 million on his second and Josh did 38 million, shouting a very audible "COME ON". Dave rallied big with a final score of 78 million and Josh earned only 2 million and some change to finalize his loss at 41 million."

"Down one game, play moved to Family Guy. Josh scored 12.2 million on first ball, Dave 9.4 million on first ball, but lost the ball with the Crazy Chris mode running. Josh was scoring just under 16 million when the kickout from the mini-playfield proved too much to handle in a center drain. Dave Hegge with his right foot firmly placed on the game's front right leg and with his hands moving very fast in an almost nervous fashion, hit the skill shot from the start of the second ball but it failed to register. He ended up scoring 15,441,200 on his second ball."

"Now in the final ball, it was head to head with Josh. Josh could only gain 7 million on his third ball to end the game at 22,461,190 million. Again with his right foot on the front right leg of the machine and his hands moving continuously, the 48 year old Dave Hegge finalized his score of 28,461,190 to triumph over Josh."

"I can not believe this! Joshua Sharpe lost. I wanted to play him and now I lost my chance. So I looked at Dave and he has big hair like Tommy. He played with his hands like Tommy. Well, if he beat Josh he MUST BE TOMMY. I told my dad 'I am going to loose to TOMMY'. He said 'That is not Tommy, he looks like Tommy but he is not Tommy'. 'Then he must be his brother', I said!"

"'Well', I said, 'I can not play Tommy, because I will lose.'"

The first game was on NBA, Joshua Henderson started the game out right with 1.5 million on his first ball, while Dave started with just above 300 thousand. The second ball gave Joshua trouble with a center drain after scoring a little over 2 million, Dave slowing scored just above eight hundred thousand. Joshua with has last and final ball finished NBA with only 2.643 million, paving the way for Dave to win with 3.099 million in what proved to be a very tight first game

Dave Hegge playing NBA in the tournament
Dave Hegge playing NBA in the tournament

The second game was on Sopranos and Joshua racked up 1 million on his first ball, losing the ball to an air shot at the boat. Dave took a strong lead by scored 12 million on his first ball.

Joshua scored 3 million on his second ball and proclaimed he had lost to Tommy. Dave pulled the plunger on the second ball and scored the skill shot only to lose the ball in a very upsetting immediate drain. That added only a million more to his score leaving him on 13.3 million. Joshua pulled the plunger back and repeated the same failure as with his other two balls, hitting the drop target on Sopranos and draining, losing the game and the match with his score of 3.7 million.

Dave Hegge continued playing in the tournament and finished in third place overall.

Joshua encouraged Dave to continue the fight and after the tournament was over, Dave revealed he won the Chicago Expo 3 and 5 tournaments and was a top champion many years ago. He said we was very active in playing pinball for over 33 years including winning IFPA2 in 1992. Dave said he WAS Tommy and with two dozen games in his basement he viewed Joshua as the "future of pinball" and exchanged e-mails to get Joshua to play pinball with him. So Joshua was right, he did play Tommy.

Joshua with his unbeaten score on 24
Joshua with his unbeaten score on 24

But it was Trent Augenstein (WPPR ranked at number 6) who was taking the honours as the tournament reached its climax and he triumphed over Zach Sharpe (7) in the final.

Tournament winner Trent Augenstein
Tournament winner Trent Augenstein

Dave (265) was third while Jason Werdrick (41) was fourth, Andy Rosa (14) took fifth place, Derek Fugate(50) was sixth and Joshua Henderson(154) came in ahead of Joe Katz(1313) to take seventh place.

The top four players in the tournament
The top four players in the tournament (L-R):
Winner Trent Augenstein, Zach Sharpe, Dave Hegge and Jason Werdrick


The Gameworks Pinball Tournament Of Champions goes down as another success. There were plenty of very tight games which were decided by three game matches and with fewer than one million points separating the players.

Also of interest, the 24 game in the tournament featured new software which included a "Save The President" wizard mode which, at the time of writing, is not yet publicly available.

The strong support the tournament received from players, visitors and the organizers from the IFPA and Gameworks means there will be a repeat IFPA event at Gameworks later in the year.