Five Memphians will put their flipper skills and endurance to the test, as they travel to Nashville this weekend to compete in the second Tennessee State Pinball Championship.
Will Krusa, the tournament director, said Memphis and Nashville have developed a friendly rivalry so “there’s a lot of pride on who takes home the top prize for their city.”
Although Krusa said “it’s really hard to take a game of pinball too seriously,” the cash prizes offered in some of the tournaments “certainly add to the seriousness and intensity of it.”
“Competitive pinball has gained popularity over the years and has been instrumental in the growing resurgence of pinball in general,” Krusa said. “Tournaments are always a friendly atmosphere and traveling all over the country is a good way to reconnect with old pinball friends you haven't seen in a while.”
Richard Rickman, Scott Woods, Keith Richter, Jordan Clark, and Kevin Hale will represent Memphis in Saturday’s competition of the state’s 16 best pinball players.
This is the second year that Tennessee will participate in the International Flipper Pinball Association (IFPA) State Champion Series. In last year’s inaugural state tournament, held in Millington, Woods snagged fifth place, Clark took home eighth, Rickman finished 11th, and Hale came in at 14th. Last year, Memphian Benjamin Liggett took home first place.
The winner of this year’s state competition will go on to compete in the national tournament held in March in Las Vegas.
Across the country, a total of 832 competitors in 44 states and Washington, D.C., will also vie for their respective state title and the chance to complete on the big stage.
Richter, a competitor from the Memphis area in this year’s state championship, said he competed in 27 pinball tournaments during 2018 and played on two leagues.
A retired Senior Chief in the Navy now working on Millington’s Navy Base, Richter is currently a part of the Bluff City Winter League, which plays Thursday nights at Memphis Made Brewery.
“One of the greatest things about pinball to me is that people of almost any age and from all walks of life can play,” Richter said. “In our current league in Midtown, we have business professionals, tradespeople, homemakers, a high school teacher, a college professor, a bartender, and several students. Ages range from pre-teens to senior citizens.”