Today is a sad day for me. My good friend and current pinball mentor, retired himself from the major Pinball Player Ranking system today.
For those of you that know him, he’s one of the nicest guys around. It makes sense to me that he also spends one weekend a month serving in the army reserves and his facebook is full of pictures of him with cats. If you play pinball in the DMV (DC, Maryland, Virginia) area you probably know him best as “CLN”… his full name is Chris L. Newsom.
I don’t actually remember when I first met Chris. It was probably a late night at John’s place with Mr. McGlone and several guys named Benjamin. I definitely don’t remember if he was any good, I was too full of myself to realize I was playing with someone that used to be #1. Number 1 as far as the IFPA (International Flipper Pinball Association) was concerned back in WPPR 1.0.
Inspired by an article he read about the ranking of marathon runners, Josh Sharpe’s (now President of the IFPA) created the IFPA WPPR (World Pinball Player Rank) system and now “WPPR points” have grown into one of the most sought out things in pinball.
“The WPPR system started as a way to help promote the sport and give reason for all of these individual events to be tied together in some way, and to be able to compete indirectly with your peers around the world, when really you never play them.” says Josh Sharpe.
With the help of others Josh was able to build the WPPR system we’ve got today. “The person who really took things further was Shepherd.” – says Josh. Shepherd, being Brian Shepherd who received the IFPA lifetime achievement award this past June. “He’s the guy that created the website, the idea of player profiles, the tournament calendar, and the idea of using a formula to automatically calculate the rankings. Before him, I was using excel.”
Back to Chris.
“If I’m out many people can move up a spot, and I like the idea of the points that I earn going to a “black hole”. It might encourage me to go to some of the larger events-to see if I can supress some points.” Chris tells me, “I’m certainly not the first player to go into suppressed status. Many good players have put themselves there.”
The number is actually a little more than 20, one of them being the organizer of the Michigan Pinball Expo, John Kosmal.
Personally, I think it might get a little annoying when you’ve achieved pinball greatness. When you win, everyone expects it. Everytime you show up to an event people *groan*, thinking the best they can do is second. And when you lose to some noob on the game “Kismet”, you get laughed at.
Personally, I love playing with Chris. He’s taught me that 100M on Stern’s Star Trek isn’t enough and that the standard objective on Tron is portal, on ball one. I’ve only seen him flinch when he had to leave and I went from 40M to 180M on Star Trek on a ball (I did play two extras).
Playing with the best, teaches you how to play like the best. I started out playing with some of the great players like, Steve Bowden, and Sean Grant when I lived in NYC. I briefly got to play with the Chicago boys, Werdrick, Hegge, Lyman, Zach and Josh… Several times I’ve seen those CPL (Chicago Pinball League) players on 4 player games with ALL ridiculous scores.
I used to think to myself, “I don’t want to play like that, its boring.” But what I’ve recently learned (from playing with Chris) is that, it’s only boring until you get it… until you realize you can do that too. “Newcomers” like Kevin Birrell are good because of determination, but also from playing with players like Robert, Cayle and Raymond and “wanting it”, wanting to win.
When you see guys like Bowen walk up to “the Shadow” for a warm up at IFPA 9 and hit the ramp-switch combo, 8 times in a row to start super vengeance and walk away ready to play Cayle George [EDIT]
Daniele Acciari… You get something to emulate, something to try to practice. And when I see an up and coming player like Cristin Gasson, actually achieve it! I feel like a little kid eating halloween candy. This is one of the many reasons why pinball is awesome.
“Ultimately, WPPRs do nothing for me. I have never chosen to go to an event because it offered WPPRs. I congratulate the IFPA for their tremendous continued success, but I will concern myself with which events are fun to go to, rather than where are the easy points to be had, how to max out points for a tournament that I am running, etc.” – Chris Newsom
I guess we’re playing with Benjamim’s from now on.
Joe P. Said is the Executive Director of Pinball-Edu, a non-for-profit connecting kids with disabilities and pinball. He’s also a contributor to Club Pinball and the Commissioner of the DMV Pinball League.