They stand like statues and become part of the machine, playing the silver ball with intuition, crazy flipper fingers and supple wrists — with more than $5,000 and a state championship at stake. Mean games of pinball will break out when the 8th Oregon State Pinball Championship convenes at Blairally Vintage Arcade. After a two-year absence because of the pandemic, the championship returns with a 24-person field, including eight players from Eugene. They will play a series of best-of-seven matches on seven unique machines each round until just one is left standing. “These are the people who committed to get better,” says Matt Walton, who is one of the eight Eugene players. “These 24 people just want to play pinball.” Walton, 35 and an IT specialist at CBT Nuggets in Eugene, believes he’s the youngest Eugene-based player in the tournament; he’s also a co-founder of the Emerald City Pinball League. The other local players include Adam Jones, Casey Shutes, Hayden Harker, Sunni Williams, Sam Van Rooy, Darren Dorman and Jonathan Duncan. Walton notes that one of the strong favorites to win the tournament is 20-year-old Colin Urban of Portland, who is the reigning 2019-20 North American champion. The winner of the state championship qualifies for the International Flipper Pinball Association Pinball Championship in Wisconsin in June.
The 8th Oregon State Pinball Championship starts at 10 am, Jan. 21, at Blairally Vintage Arcade, 245 Blair Blvd. The Oregon State Pinball Chumpionships — a tournament for pinball enthusiasts who, perhaps, are less accomplished and held in conjunction with the main tournament — begins at noon, also at Blairally. FREE.