What happened at the end of the women's NW finals?


You can see everything on the stream video, and it certainly looks like to me that Nycole was not pressing the blue buttons in video mode. When Melissa played video mode later in the same game, you can see her pressing the blue buttons, and they are working.

None of this is meant to excuse the rude behavior of explaining how to use the buttons. It didn’t sound like the TD/commentators noticed the buttons were not being pressed.


[speculation deleted]


Bowen, I would not say that anyone is accusing Nycole of “lying” about anything. It’s very visible in the video that Nycole didn’t even have her finger close to the right blue flipper button (something you would do if you were intending to play the video mode normally, which I think we can all agree on). I think it’s not an unreasonable stretch to say that she may have not had her finger on the left blue flipper button either. Furthermore no one has accused Nycole of lying about the issue; only that she may have misremembered the way the game actually played out. Given that we were 100% unable to reproduce the issue in literally hundreds of subsequent presses in both video mode AND switch test, the facts do not line up with Nycole hitting the button and the game malfunctioning. There is simply no way that both upper flipper optos died during gameplay miraculously for one player, then BOTH resumed working immediately afterwards. Based on our cumulative technical knowledge as TDs we believe this to be for all practical intents impossible. We cannot take action to award compensatory rulings based on non-reproducible issues for obvious reasons.

You’re making a pretty big character attack on my friends who I have known for over a decade, and honestly I think your comment is absurd. Both Zach and Jarrett have known Nycole for many years, and Nycole in no way believes that they were attempting to insult her abilities (which they have seen demonstrated at literally hundreds of tournaments). There hasn’t been a JM on location in Seattle in 5+ years (and even then, it was at a location where Nycole and many other local players never play at). Zach and Jarrett are both friends with Nycole and had absolutely no intention of “talking down” to her (nor did she perceive it as such). You should stop projecting what you want to believe happened onto what other players actually agree happened. Everyone involved in the incidents that supposedly followed this interaction completely refused to talk to any member of the NWPC team about the specific organizers/streamers/whoever that behaved inappropriately. When no one is willing to tell me (or anyone running the event) what happened or who the offender was, there is nothing I can do about it. I can’t investigate it, take disciplinary action against anyone, or even make sure it doesn’t happen again for that matter since I don’t know where the problem lies.

I’ve been told by a community member that a zine article is in the works about this incident. All I can say is that I do not condone sexism in any way, and that I take every possible action to prevent it at my events. Without more information than that I can’t help any further.


[speculation deleted]

Both of us are saying things that would be better said by the players involved, so I will refrain from further comment until that time.


plenty of time where the dots are above and below. why not try the other button?


The malfunction on JM was the tip of the iceburg of what happened in the women’s finals. So much happened that has not even been addressed on this forum. Most players involved have stated to multiple TDs that after reflecting on what has happened, concerns regarding the events that took place will be emailed in the coming days to ensure similar situations can be prevented. The stream cannot fully capture what was experienced, and the ridiculous aftermath of said events cannot be undone. Hold tight till everyone can sleep on it and say what they need to say with a clear head.


From a scheduling perspective with the classics finals starting at 9:30am and the women’s starting at 10:30am it didn’t seem possible a women could qualify / compete in both?

It also looks like the 3 core TD’s were playing in the classics while the women’s final was taking place? Why were all the core TD’s in another room competing while one of your finals is taking place?

Why was an Open Final tie breaker taking place while the women’s final was taking place? Why would there even be talk of cutting away from the women’s finals to show this tie breaker game?


The optos didn’t die. That’s obvious because, some time later during the match, the buttons were working. But it is possible that a software bug prevented them from working.


For what its worth, which is probably zero, I just discovered the second set of buttons on JM like a week ago, having played several different JMs over my 5 years of playing pinball competitively.


I would think multiple attempts would be made to use potentially malfunctioning buttons in an effort to determine they are definitively not working, so when I see in the stream where zero attempts were made to use the extra button on the right, I feel it’s very reasonable to deduce the player may not know the buttons are there, or may be confused with how to navigate one of the hardest video modes in pinball.


NW was using PAPA/IFPA rules for their rulings, according to their website.

If I was TD and faced with this issue, I would look to the rules and I might determine that a malfunctioning 2nd left flipper that failed during video mode would be a [minor] malfunction. I would inform the player “sorry that happened, that’s pinball, I will have a tech look at the game when it is over.” When I saw that another player was able to activate the 2nd left flipper, that wouldn’t change my ruling because it wouldn’t matter. I acknowledge I may be choosing the incorrect malfunction here, and if someone believes this should fall under a different category, there is something in the rules to deal with it.

At no point do I think a TD should advise a player on how a game feature works. It isn’t fair to the other competitors, and it doesn’t address this competitor’s complaint.


Intent is so hard to judge, and this whole controversy is based on what was intended in the commentary on Nycole’s play. I’m not going to jump in and judge, but I can say how I would have commented on that situation.

Regardless of who is playing, if I see something like that on the screen, I’m going to assume one of three things is happening, all roughly at equal probability. First, that the person actually knows more about the game than I do and they’re approaching it in a way I should learn about (like maybe only left/right movements in this mode might cause the dots to clump or slow down and up/down collection can be easier later in the mode). Second, that the person isn’t familiar with the game rules and is just doing their best with something unfamiliar, which happens A LOT at all levels of competition, regardless of player gender. Third, that there is some software or hardware bug preventing the player from optimally playing the game.

The safe approach when commenting on play like we saw, is probably to mention all three things. Saying, “she might not understand how the mode works” versus saying, “this is a hard video mode. Even if you know how it works, if there’s a button not working or the software is acting strange, it can really make playing correctly impossible. Players at all skill levels run into trouble on this one.”

And while there is still an implication that she might not know how it works, you do it with more qualification.


You have to be a bit more mindful of what the women in pinball deal with. If you feel like someone is overreacting to an innocent comment, there’s probably more reason for it than for just what is happening right in that moment. Every time someone makes a comment, intended or not, that comes across as sexist or dismissive, it’s going to raise hackles across the community.

I think we’re all trying to work hard to eliminate bias and unwelcoming behavior from the hobby. These conversations and dust ups are part of the process. Hopefully people who get called out or feel singled out can choose to learn from it and be more careful in the future. I also hope for those that do the calling out or the singling out that they’ll allow those people to learn and will give them a fair second chance at being a part of the community.


I would also point out that as has been stated above, while we are sitting here litigating one specific issue, but there were apparently many others that happened at the event in which the stream wasn’t involved at all. In fact my understanding is that anything on the stream was much more ancillary than the stuff that happened otherwise.


It’s good to put things in context, so yes, thanks for the reminder.


heyrocker, well said. I was there in person. Neither commentator was a TD. The buttons did malfunction for the player. They did seem to work for the next player, but, did not seem to be very reactive.

I think commentators feel like they need to be talking the whole time. They really don’t. We can have a few minutes where we’re just watching the game. It is in this need to be constantly talking, they say things that aren’t very well thought out, and can be disruptive/offensive to the players.


I think this right here might just be the heart of the problem. It might be a little different if the commentators are in a separate room as to not distract the players, but as it was setup, I can see how a player could get frustrated hearing someone talking about them in the background, and I honestly think this is the underlying cause of the spiraling out of control drama. Commentators might need to just dial back the amount of commentating they do.


I was obviously not there and can only respond to what I saw in the video. The player does not appear to
use the second set of flipper buttons at all, and if they did and they malfunctioned why didn’t the player involve the TD at that point? The fact the player didn’t immediately call out the malfunction is what made it appear, to me, that the player was unaware what to do in the mode.


Not sure which commentary you were watching but given the whiff of controversy I had to check out the tape from the Women’s Final. The real problem to me is the commentators are paying virtually ZERO attention to the match. There’s almost no play by play or color, and only the occasional offhand observation that might indicate these guys are actually watching a live pinball game. One of those observations happens to be that maybe the player doesn’t know how to play the video mode. One of the others is that there’s a tie-breaker about to be played for qualification in Main, and hey, maybe we should move over to that game of Road Show and check it out. So it’s really not a good look.

When I’m playing I have no problem at all with commentary - it’s nice to know that SOMEBODY cares that I’m playing a competitive pinball match. It’s affirming if I pull off a good shot and hear some excitement from the booth. If I heard a couple guys talking about anything besides the game I’m actually playing? That might annoy me.

Sounds like there was a lot going on last weekend that bothered people, this is really just a small part of it and since it’s the only part of that on tape these guys - unfairly probably - are taking the brunt of the negative attention. But in the future would probably be a good idea to recruit some people who actually want to be there in the booth and are enthusiastic about calling the match that’s being played - there’s usually plenty of people like that as far as I can tell. Maybe not at 9 am?


Watch the stream again. Nycole’s fingers never actually push the additional buttons on her right side at least.


One of the commentators gave the impression that he was the TD for the women’s final, stating that on stream, though perhaps he was more scorekeeper than TD? He took all the scores and set up each game as far as player order. He had TD-type conversations with players, then told the stream the contents of those conversations.