Article published on the Final Battle

Great article in Gulf Coast Magazine by Liam Baranauskas who spent the entire 24 Hour Final Battle observing the event. Figured everyone here would enjoy the read.

The Machine is Trying to Make You Lose


Wow that was great.

It paints such a lovely, welcoming atmosphere :unamused:

“Players slap at flippers with concentrated violence and curse unfortunate drains”
“cigarettes outside between every round, bong rips in the parking lot.”
“has brought a case of Budweiser, stating that he plans on drinking one beer for every hour of the tournament”
"At ten in the morning, I see the day’s first emotional breakdown (“I can tell, there’s no point in me being here,” a man spits at his friend before stomping away to withdraw from the tournament), "
“even as on the next machine over someone’s yelling, “No, no, no, no!” and rage-tilting”
“Nine hours in, some players begin to curse in earnest when they drain, slapping the glass with genuine malice”
“Rage-tilts grow common. “Fuck no!” screams a heavyset, bearded man, throwing his hat on the floor.”
"One of the most demonstrative players is Bowen Kerins, who won last year’s Final Battle, and who’s been in first place since recording a perfect, nine-point opening round. Even so, every single time he drains, he explodes into a five-second whirlwind of rage, stomping from the machine, yelling at the floor, “Fuck! Fuck! Goddamnit! It was right there! Can’t you hit anything?” "

If I was someone reading this considering entering a tournament for a first time I would steer so far clear.

Maybe now I can understand the proliferation of threads on here regarding player behaviour and how to deal with it.

I fully understand that this is meant to be a dramatic article and certain points may have been exaggerated - but even so.

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Trent won year before last, right? So that would make it Eric Stone described as storming off (what I’ve heard is that he was actually sick and had barely slept the night before).

I think it’s a superb piece of storytelling.

Americans in general, and perhaps those from the NY area in particular, are very passionate when it comes to their sports. Real ‘heart on sleeve’ stuff. I think the article does a good job of explaining that excitement and passion in a way that shows it’s the players frustration with the game rather than hostility towards opponents.

The Bowen section for example ends with him acknowledging his over-reaction, and the end of the article has a good summary of the friendly competitive spirit : “there’s a very real sense of community here at the Sanctum that contradicts the mesmeric dystopia I’ve just described. Professionals try to help less experienced players. Everyone’s sympathy for tough drains and mutual enthusiasm for good balls seems genuine, even when it’s directed at ostensible opponents.”

I’m not too familiar with ‘Gulf Coast Magazine’, but I hope this finds the wide audience it deserves.


Correct. He started this piece over a year ago and just finished it up after finding a publication for it. I assume he is referencing to Eric.

That’s how I feel too on this. Yes it says some stuff that isn’t all unicorns and rainbows, but really drives home the community and togetherness of the hobby as a whole. Despite all these different mentalities, skill levels, and even lifestyles- everyone comes together and rallies around eachother and none of these outbursts or negative stuff you mentioned are directed at any other players. It’s only at themselves or the machine.

I think if you did a deep dive into most any sport and truly had some one in the lockers rooms and living amongst the players for a game or season or whatever you’d see a similar piece minus the case of Budweiser and smoking between rounds. Current sport broadcasting from an outsiders view like me(I don’t follow or care for any sports) is it’s all boilerplate puff piece. Sideline interviews and locker room interviews are cookie cutter. What happened last quarter? What do you think you need to do better? How did it feel to do that? Responses: we need to rally Rochester and player better defense. Keep
Pushing the offense. Blah blah blah.

Follow a marathon runner on their 26.2 mile journey. You’ll see some not so pretty things too :wink:

Overall I think it’s an interesting story and piece. Something different than a lot of the news pieces that tend to happen around these events. Not a single pinball wizard reference either! I think we can all agree that’s a good thing.

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Someone swallowed a thesaurus. It was well written and did a great job of telling the story, but holy crap.

Sooo I got to relive that final game of Black Jack again. Everything went wrong!

Those quotes are definitely spiced up for dramatic journalism and when you collect them like that it sounds bad, but this is really one of the most pleasant tournaments I’ve ever played. Lots of camaraderie, very few hot heads and a friendly environment from start to finish. I’ll keep going back every year as long as I can make it in!


Hoping I get a ticket this year as I plan to attend. I have to see this once.

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Pinball deserves more of this. There was barely any “pinball is back” and Roger Sharpe. But the thing about Eric wasn’t fair. But ya gotta make more of a story out of it than “pinball is back and everyone had a great time”

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I don’t see what’s unfair about it unless he was misquoted. He wasn’t even named; we just happen to be among the very, very few people on earth who can deduce his identity from knowledge of the event.

I agree. He wasn’t named. Like Bo mentioned earlier he left the tournament 1 round in and I was told by someone he left because he was sick. He never actually came to me and told me himself. I have heard many people say other reasons and I guess they were right. It is what it is.

If I was writing a piece and it looked like somebody was storming off, that’s what I would write. But if I was Eric and left because I didn’t feel good I might read the article and say ‘hey man…’ That said, it was a pretty piece and I don’t hold this guy to a standard of hard hitting journalism or anything. I’m a reality TV editor by trade so god knows I’ve thrown people under the bus because a commercial break was coming up…

Was not expecting to relive a blow-by-blow of my brief Icarus moment :joy: :woman_facepalming:

The Final Battle is a great community experience. Attitudes remain surprisingly positive through the night despite total exhaustion!

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Still can’t believe someone drank a case of beer over the duration. That’s commitment!

I think you misread that. It was Budweiser, not beer.


I’m conflicted because my gameplan will be very similar but I’ll be really mad if I don’t get the medal for playing in every match. I’ll just have to bring a 30 rack of Busch light instead of drinking IPAs the whole time. Haha

Almost everyone gets the medal the two times I have attended. It’s a great article and very representative of my experiences there but of course some things may seem more dramatic. Considering how much pinball gets played during that tournament it kinda makes sense. I usually drink some beer around normal beer-o-clock and then around 2/3am start back up…


That’s surprising. I assumed at least half take a round or two off over the course of the tournament.