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Keith Elwin takes IFPA Crown

January 4, 2011

Keith Elwin, co-creator of Pinball 101 and their latest movie, The Pinball Collector, and re-repeat PAPA Champion (in other words, he’s won it three times in a row) has just been officially announced as Player of the Year by the International Flipper Pinball Association (IFPA), recapturing the title from Jorian Englebrekston of Sweden.  To achieve this honor requires top-level play for as much as four years (the rankings points persist for up to that long).

To understand how impressive all this is, bear in mind that the top pros estimate that around 20-30% of pinball is luck.  This is somewhat similar to Poker, and why it’s quite rare to see the same person win the World Series of Poker more than once.  Thus, the ones who do have an overwhelming amount of skill compared to their competitors such that they pound that luck factor into the dirt.

But that’s just the start of it.  Keith went and gave away a lot of the top skills and tricks of the pros in Pinball 101, essentially saying, “Okay, so here’s how I do it.  All you have to do is copy it.”  And he still wins everything.

And a final factor to consider: competitive pinball as a sport is pretty “mature” at this point.  In the infant days of a sport it’s not unusual to see a wunderkind who’s leagues ahead of the current competition because the strategies are still being figured out and a player has a trick or three up his sleeve.  But there’s few secrets left in pinball, it’s all about execution and precision.

Curious to see how you stack up?  Check out Pinball Rankings.

Here’s some videos I took of Keith in the finals against Jim Belsito at California Extreme (watch them in HD here).  Congratulations to Keith.

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