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Oregon State Pinball Championship returns to Eugene, local players prepare

Nathan Wilk
Qualifier Sunni Williams practices at Blairally Vintage Arcade ahead of the Oregon State Pinball Championships.

The Oregon State Pinball Championship returns to Eugene on January 21.

The state's top 24 pinball players will meet at Blairally Vintage Arcade, competing for $5,000 in prize money and a spot at the North American Championship. This year, a record-breaking eight competitors from Eugene’s Emerald City Pinball League have qualified.

Competitor Sunni Williams said Eugene players have improved through a unique culture of mentorship, as veteran players openly share their strategies with newcomers. Five of the eight Eugene-based players who qualified are doing so for the first time.

Now, they will face top Portland players, including Colin Urban, the reigning North American champion. But Williams said Eugene players have an advantage: they are familiar with the machines being played.

“Blairally is a vintage arcade. So some of the games that are here, there are no other games like that in the state.”

The Oregon State Pinball Championship will be open to spectators all day Saturday, and organizers will run a concurrent tournament that anyone can enter. The following day, Blairally will host the state Women's Pinball Championship, with Williams as the first seed.

Nathan Wilk is a freelance reporter and former reporting intern. He began in radio at a young age, serving as a DJ and public affairs host across Oregon. He is a senior at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication.