Over 400 players from around the world arrived in Pittsburgh, PA to attend the year’s largest pinball event, with multiple divisions of play available to suit each individual’s skill level, and Division A being the competition for the very best pinball players in the world, and the battle for the PAPA crown! After 3 days of qualifying, the 16 top players started the road to the finals. 4 groups of 4 players played off on 3 games, and the top 8 players over all moved on to the semi-finals. From there emerged the top 4: Reigning back-to-back champion, Keith Elwin, coming off a tie-breaker win over Donovan Stepp to make the cut, previous 2-time PAPA and 2-time IFPA World Champion, Bowen Kerins, previous PAPA finalist, Andrei Massenkoff, and first-time PAPA finalist, Cayle George. After the 1st game of the finals on Cheetah, Keith was leading the pack, with Andrei just behind, Cayle next and Bowen sitting last. The 2nd game was Addams Family, and going into ball 3, with Keith already finished his game and in the lead, it was critical that Cayle, Bowen, or Andrei win to prevent Keith from locking up the championship. Cayle fell short of Keith’s score despite an exciting final ball. Bowen started his third and final ball, and after getting to about 23 million, with approximately 50 million more needed, his ball headed down the right outlane… but with what may be the greatest save in PAPA finals history, he double-bounced and double-dangered the ball back up and into the right INLANE, reflex shooting it up to the ‘lock’ to have multiball ready on the next plunge! Well Bowen DID come all the way back to pass Keith’s score, and made it so going into the 3rd and final game on Creature from the Black Lagoon, the championship was still wide open! The bar was quickly set by Cayle on his 1st ball, and then later raised by Bowen, but on Keith’s final ball, he scored himself a large Jackpot AND Super Jackpot to post a lead that, despite their best efforts, none of the competitors could catch… and so, Keith Elwin took PAPA’s highest honor for a THIRD YEAR IN A ROW! 2nd place went to Andrei Massenkoff, 3rd to Bowen Kerins, and 4th to Cayle George.
This year’s Classics 1 Championship went to Dave Hegge, with 2nd place going to Josh Sharpe, 3rd to John Kremmer, and 4th to Keith Elwin. The next day, the Classics 2 Championship went to Josh Sharpe, 2nd to Robert Gagno, 3rd to Keith Elwin, and 4th to Brian Bannon. This year also saw a remarkable feat in the B Division with pinball wunderkind Josh Henderson locking up the win after just 2 games in the final round. This makes Josh the youngest player to ever win the B Division, as well as the youngest player to ever be forced to play in the A Division (next year). Josh is only 12 YEARS OLD!
With his A, Classics I and Classics II performance (1st/4th/3rd), Keith not only firmly secured his spot back atop the World Pinball Player Rankings, but he also topped his own previous record of most WPPR points at any event in competitive pinball history. He earned a remarkable 126.80 points besting last year’s total of 125.85. Full detailed results can be found HERE.