One of the biggest pinball tournaments is Canada’s YEGPIN, named after the airport code of Alberta province’s capital Edmonton and, of course, pinball. Robert from The Ball is Wild ūü™© took part in this year’s edition from June 20th to 23th 2024. It was a professional, friendly and competitive event if also somewhat overwhelming when you’re not used to a tournament of that scale.

You can read more about the YEGPIN experience in our second newsletter “Examining the pinball”, published on July 1st.

After the event, YEGPIN chief organiser Derek Thomson of Die Hard Pinball was cool enough to answer The Ball is Wild ūü™© a few questions about the event — after he had regained some energy back due to several days of hard work: planning, managing, schlepping, directing and much more. Thank you, Derek!

Going through the halls at YEGPIN 2024

TBIWūü™©: You have been organising YEGPIN for some years now, it’s one of biggest pinball events in the world. Can you tell us a little bit about the preparations and the execution in terms of communication, logistics, insurance, maintenance, etc.?

“Yes, this was the 7th year of the show and I think¬†we get better at doing it each¬†and¬†every year. We normally start discussions each September and that is when we decide if we are going to move forward with the next year’s show. It is really a nine month journey when it comes to all of the preparations. We have a schedule that we follow each year that has over 50 items that we need to address until the show happens. We have a organizing committee of 10 that gets assigned tasks out of that schedule which addresses a number of roles that people do to ensure each year we can deliver a world class show for everyone.”

Derek Thomson

The machines come from different owners who donate them for the event. How hard is it to convince them that they do that, and from how many different places do they (machines and owners) come from?

“We provide a great incentive to machine donors as we provide a brand new Stern Pro to one lucky donor for the weekend so that helps to attract a number of collectors to contribute to the show. We also have a pickup and dropoff service that we do and that also entices donors as many of them have logistical issues to get their machines to the event so we can remove that barrier by offering a transport service for them. Lastly, we do our best to take care of these machines while they are in our possession, we have very good technicians¬†and we have a huge supply of new parts that we put in these machines when or if they break down. We also clean every machine before the show to ensure it is well protected all weekend. With that reputation we have been able to gain the trust of the collector community and for them to continue to contribute to the show year after year.”¬†

A woman playing pinball at YEGPIN 2024

During the event you mentioned that YEGPIN is first and foremost about fun and communication, about meeting and talking to people within the groups one is playing in. Still, the event is very competitive which can result in tense situations and a rather serious atmosphere. What features and rules are you maintaining that make a difference compared to other events you know? Are there unique YEGPIN features which you are especially proud of (in terms of creating and maintaining a friendly atmosphere)?

“I think the format invites a number of casual pinball players to want to play in the event, a four player match play format when you have all different skill levels put into a group leads to a more relaxed tournament format especially on the first day. I think¬†we have dedicated TDs (tournament directors) and that helps a lot that they do not play in the event and can concentrate on making sure all of the¬†calls are made timely, with fairness and respect to the individuals that are involved in them. We keep on schedule and we are very predictable on when you play and when you need to show up for your qualifying and playoff rounds. I don’t think we are much different then other tournaments out there as there are so many goods ones out there right now but we do try to have a relaxed atmosphere and do stress the fun element of the game as no one is getting rich playing this game and it is important to enjoy the event even though it is a high quality competitive tournament.”

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