Resident heads to world pinball contest
Trent Augenstein, a Delaware resident who has been playing pinball since he was about 5 or 6 years old, can claim the title.
Augenstein will compete in the 8th annual International Flipper Pinball Association World Pinball Championship May 27-29 in Vargarda, Sweden.
He will compete with the other top 63 players from around the globe. This will be his fourth time competing in the championship. He placed sixth in his first and second competitions, and placed eighth in his third competition. The top 16 competitors get monetary prizes, with $5,550 for first place.
The website www.pinballrankings. com, which lists stats for more than 8,000 pinball players, ranks Augenstein at 11th place.
Augenstein, who has participated in tournaments in Sweden, Brazil, England, France, Germany and Holland, attends tournaments weekly or every other week. His first tournament, the Ohio Championships, was held in 1993 in Columbus. "It's a pretty regular occurrence at this point," he said, though he sometimes gets nervous sometimes before bigger tournaments.
At the IFPA Championship, players compete using a variety of pinball machines. Some tournaments are labeled "classic," and use only machines that are 10 to 15 years old.
Electromechanical machines, made before 1975, don't use any circuit boards. Solid state machines, built between 1975 and 1990, use circuit boards and have flat playing fields with digital displays.
Modern machines, built from 1990 on, feature more complicated playing field ramps and scoops and a bigger digital display.
While he doesn't favor one type of machine over another, Augenstein said that the older games generally are more difficult, since it's harder to control your play and easier to lose your ball. Modern games play a lot faster. "You have to adapt your style," he said.
At the IFPA Championship, four people per group play three games against three different people, which is considered one round of play. Players are then resorted into groups of four different people. Players play on each of the three types of machines once during each round. One game takes between 5 and 15 minutes. Six rounds are held on the first day, and two morning rounds are held Saturday. After that, the top 32 people advance to finals, during which each match is the best of seven games.
Augenstein also operates his own pinball shop in Ostrander, "Tilt Amusements." He's been operating the shop since he graduated from college in 1991. He also installs machines at different locations. His shop currently has 20 machines at locations in Franklin and Delaware counties.
While pinball playing at particular locations has decreased since 1993, machine collecting started to become more popular in about 2000, Augenstein said. While he carries all types of machines, the ones made in 1995 and on sell the best. "Generally, the more modern the machine is, the more they like it," he said.