January 12th, 2016

krazy koati

Live my life without

Back to the world of competitive pinball. Thanks to choosing to play in some high-valued tournaments, and to doing well in them, and to playing in quite a few leagues, we got to be pretty highly ranked in the competitive pinball world. I got at one point to be ranked the 11th-highest player in Michigan, and bunny_hugger the 15th-highest.

I appreciate your congratulations. I want to deflate them a little. We were ranked so highly because we played a lot, and the system is set up, particularly in state rankings, to move you up the more you play. (World rankings drop your lowest scores, which are generally but not precisely the tournaments you do worst in.) There are people much better than us whom we outrank only because they don't do so many tournaments. Still, it's thrilling to be so highly ranked, not least since the top sixteen people in the state are invited to the state championship (in February), and the winner of that to the world championship in Las Vegas.

So we were sitting very pretty in about September, looking at the end of the year. Then the rest of the Michigan competitive pinball community woke up and realized, there were only a couple months left and if they didn't move fast they wouldn't make the cut. bunny_hugger had some fears that this was personal: if someone like her was rated 15th then that was just because better players hadn't tried. I think people barely noticed she was there, just that they weren't. But the number and rate of pinball competitions rose sharply in October and November, and people who were in the 17th-through-32nd spots started moving up.

Now, I was a safe bet for the state finals. I'm overvalued, sure, and I dropped a couple of slots as better players took their chances. But there just was nowhere near enough time or enough events for me to lose six places. Not in events that would also draw the 1st through 10th-ranked players, which many of them would be. Even as it is, with me putting in some outright lousy performances, I only dropped to 13th place.

bunny_hugger was in a more precarious position. She was lower-placed to start, and scores for the 16th through 18th players were much closer to hers. Indeed, she slid over October to 16th place, and soon to 17th.

Could she be at finals? Very likely. Using Deke Slayton's rule of ten percent attrition in anything, we would expect one or two people in the top sixteen to be unable to make it. Indeed, one of the top sixteen people had by October moved out of state and wasn't sure he could get work to fly him back east for the finals. (It looks as though he will be here, alas.) Another of the top sixteen is facing surgery and might be unable to play. The first alternate in 2015 got to play in the finals. (I was the second alternate, so I got to stand around trying to look natural, not my strength.)

But she wanted to have an invite to the finals on her own strengths, on her own accomplishments. And given the rate at which pinball is growing in Michigan --- and the competition getting rougher --- this could be her only shot, if she never gets any better at pinball ever.

There were, CST pointed out, some things she might do about this.

Trivia: In seizing the island of San Miguel for England in September 1597, the Earl of Essex missed by about three hours the Spanish treasure fleet, with about £3,500,000 in silver bullion, for that year. Source: The Life Of Elizabeth I, Alison Weir.

Currently Reading: Mutants and Mystics: Science Fiction, Superhero Comics, and the Paranormal, Jeffrey J Kripal.

PS: Reading the Comics, January 8, 2015: Rerun-Heavy Edition, comic strips that mostly appeared years ago.