A New Australian Pinball Champion is Crowned
Storm clouds began to roll in over the sleepy Brisbane suburb of Moorooka at The Clubhouse Moorooka as the final two competitors squared off in a best-of-5 series to determine the winner of the IFPA Australian Championship Series for 2022/23. Richard Rhodes (RGR), winner of the 2019 championship and representing NSW, squared off against the Brisbane local Jason Lambert, or Lambo, the highest-ranked Australian pinballer vying for his first national win.
Related: check out the full tournament stream over on Netherworld Arcade's Twitch profile.
The mood had shifted from the day before when 48 of the country’s most skilled players began the qualifying matches. From three pools a top 16 emerged, with Lambo qualifying at the top of his field in pool A and RGR leading pool C throughout the day and qualifying in second place.
As is always the case on these days, the mood was light as friends caught up and some beers were had. 24 hours later the mood was decidedly less jovial as we were at the business end with just two competitors remaining, facing off in a series of a potential five games. RGR had defeated Gino Thimios, former Brisbane Masters winner, in a clean sweep to make the final while Lambo had won in a similar fashion against young up-and-comer Zach Foster.
The first game of the final match was Stern’s 1979 Meteor with Lambo amassing an impressive 573,000 points to take the point against RGR’s valiant but insufficient 403,000. RGR struck back in the second game with a win on The Getaway (Williams, 1992). The third game saw Lambo again take the lead, putting up a score of nearly two million on the Jersey Jack 2019 game Willy Wonka. The fourth game of the series was the recently released Stern Foo Fighters, which had arrived by plane mere days before the event.
Neglecting a warm up, Lambo went to work on the recent Stern release amassing 20 million points on ball one. RGR wasn’t able to find his flow, gaining just two million points for his first ball. Lambo further extended his lead on ball two finding modes and a multi-ball to bring his score to 72 million. RGR began to find some shots for his second ball, before an ill-timed post pass lead to an outlane drain and a score of 40 million.
Lambo started strongly for his third ball, finding ramps, modes and another multiball, bringing his final score to 206 million. Staring down the barrel of a 134 million chase to stay in contention, RGR began his third and final ball, but failed to find his feet and drained soon after the ball save vanished.
And with that it was done and dusted, with Jason Lambert being crowned the 2022/23 IFPA Australian Champion. Richard Rhodes said he felt somewhat ‘defeatist’ in his final game, having not yet learned the rules for Foo Fighters nor having had the opportunity to explore the vast rule set of JJP’s Willy Wonka.
Despite being the highest Australian IFPA-ranked player since 2017, this was the first national title for Lambo. While a coronation of a different sort was taking place elsewhere in the world, this win firmly places Lambo as the king of Australian pinball.
On his win he said, “I’m still coming to terms with it, I guess. I was hoping to win but wasn’t expecting the win. It’s great to get the monkey off the back and finally win a national title.” Citing the victory as his number one achievement in pinball, he went on to say “You can’t get any higher than this comp. Definitely number one.”
Lambo will next set off to Germany to compete in the 18th annual IFPA World Pinball Championships. The crew from the vibrant Brisbane scene that Jason has done so much to foster over the years will no doubt be cheering him on. Congratulations to Lambo, RGR, and all the competitors who contributed to a great weekend of pinball.