ELK GROVE, Calif. — Update: May 14 Update
Rick Deml took victory in his first round of the Pinclash tournament Saturday. However, that meant he was set to square off against the No. 1 ranked player in the world, Escher Lefkoff.
Elk Grove's pinball wizard put on a good showing, but he ultimately came up short against Lefkoff.
To view the tournament on Twitch, click HERE. Lefkoff and Deml face off around the 6 hour and 22 minute mark.
A competitive pinballer in Elk Grove has his eyes on a big tournament Saturday that could see him matched up against the world's best player.
“If I were fortunate enough to win my first match, it looks like I will be playing the No. 1 player in the world (Escher Lekoff), so at that point, nothing to lose right," said Rick Deml.
Deml is one of about two dozen people from around the world who qualified for the upcoming Pinclash tournament. He's played the game all his life, but it was only five years ago when he took things to the next level.
He found the Capitol Corridor Pinball League and they helped him enter a whole new dimension of the game.
"I just caught the bug at that point, and then they showed me about tournaments. There's actually tournaments where you can actually go out and compete against your peers... it's basically my hobby. You know, some people collect cars, I play pinball. That's what I do on the weekends," said Deml.
At home, he's got no shortage of options. What started as a humble two pinball machine collection eventually grew to 10.
"They multiply. I don't know what it is,” Deml said with a laugh.
He evolved his gaming skills over time, learning from online videos, streams and even from other players during tournaments.
“I learned real quickly, each game is totally different. The scoring is different, the objectives, and so once you learn the game, each individual game like Godzilla... you got to get in deep, into the rules, to really dive into the high points and the Grand Champion scores,” said Deml.
The other key element: nudging. If you've ever seen a character playing a pinball game in a movie or TV show, you've probably seen them shaking or bumping the machine. It's called "nudging," and it can make or break a game by saving the ball.
"It's something that a lot of people are not aware of, but the elite players can save their ball by doing the nudging techniques. That's why they played longer and that's why they win a lot of games," said Deml.
He's putting his pinball wizardry to the test Saturday in the Pinclash tournament, where he'll be pitted stream-to-stream against his opponents. The tournament brings everyone together on Twitch from noon and, likely, into the evening hours for the championship game.
He'll have some tall tasks ahead of him as he takes on some elite players from around the world, but for now, he's focused on his strategy and playing up to his abilities on a big platform.
“I'm going to be focused on my game," said Deml. "I can't really worry about what the other players are doing. I just have to do my business, so to speak.”
The Godzilla Pinclash Tournament is Saturday at noon. It'll stream on Twitch at iepinball. In the meantime, people can also get a preview of Deml's skills on the Elk Grove Pinball channel.