For its first post-pandemic show, the Dutch Pinball Open Expo set up home at the Dutch Pinball Museum in the Delfshaven region of Rotterdam. Delfshaven is built around the Nieuwe Maas river as a port to supply the pottery industry of the city of Delft, famed for its blue-and-white painted Delftware.
The Museum building faces an adjacent waterway in an attractive location, while the windows have been decorated to resemble the mansion on the playfield of The Addams Family.
We arrived at the Museum on the evening of Thursday 10th November to get a look at the setting up ahead of the public opening on Friday afternoon.
The Museum was hosting a private gathering of their founders and sponsors on Thursday evening, which gave us the opportunity to meet a number of familiar faces as well as enjoying the numerous games and exhibits.
Before we move onto the DPO Expo itself, let’s take a look around the Museum to see some of the machines and exhibits.
Unlike some collections which call themselves a ‘museum’, the Dutch Pinball Museum really is an immersive educational experience, showing how pinball evolved from flipperless table games to the multimedia extravaganzas we play today.
Behind the entry desk is the main ground-floor room. You may have spotted an image of The Dude, Donny and Walter from The Big Lebowski on the wall in the picture above. With Dutch Pinball manufacturing the pinball machine based on that movie, it’s a theme you’ll be seeing a few times in this report, starting with a The Big Lebowski ‘shrine’ you encounter as soon as you enter the first room of exhibits.
There was this rather beautiful spinning top game from 1853 known variously as “Table à Toupie” (Table with a Top) or “Jeu de Roi” (Game of Kings) or even “Devil Among the Tailors“.
The aim is to pull a string wound around a top to spin it and sent it down the playfield, knocking over the pins as it went.
It was such a fun game, we made this video showing how it works.
The Museum has many display cases featuring exhibits showing how various pinball parts are created, from sketches to schematics, from moulds to prototype and finished pieces.
Not all the exhibits are hand-off though. There are others where visitor interaction is a requirement.
As you move through the room you come to a recreation of the Twilight Zone backglass scene.
Behind the Twilight Zone scene are the ground floor toilets, themed as… well, you can probably guess.
As part of the founders’ and sponsors’ evening, the latest addition to the Museum’s historic collection was unveiled following an introduction from the owner of the Museum, Gerard van der Sanden.
Throughout the evening, refreshments were available from the café at the back of the ground floor.
The Museum usually occupies the ground floor and the two floors above. For the DPO Expo, two further vacant floors had been occupied to provide space for the tournaments, vendors, more free-play machines and the seminars area, as well as more catering provisions.
While the fun was taking place below, teams of workers were unloading trucks and taking pinballs, parts, tables and equipment to the floors above in preparation for the DPO Expo’s opening.
To get to the upper floors, it was either a case of using your legs on the central staircase, or there was a single left available.
We retired for the evening, returning on Friday morning to find the team busy with last-minute preparations.
When 4pm rolled around, the registration desk team were ready as the first guests of DPO Expo 2022 entered.
Although the Museum is a large building, for safety reasons it has a limited capacity for guests at any one time. As a result, attendance to the DPO Expo had to be restricted, with fixed numbers of tickets for four separate sessions on Friday evening, Saturday morning/afternoon, Saturday evening and Sunday. A reduced number of all-weekend passes could also be purchased.
Most tickets sold out online, although a few tickets were available to be purchased on-the-day, while there were also a few last-minute cancellations which freed up places.
For those taking the stairs, the floor guide directs them while a nice surprise awaits them on each step.
With the doors open and the DPO Expo under way, here’s what visitors found on the five floors.
In addition, PU-Parts were running a high score leaderboard on games on their stand, with prizes for the top positions at the end of the show on Sunday.
It wasn’t all physical pinball though, as there were a few digital machines from Digital Pinball.
As we travel further up in the Museum, many more pinballs were on free-play, while others were dedicated to the tournaments. We also pass the museum’s Wall of Fame photo montage.
As we reach the top floor, there were more vendors, more free-play machines, the seminars room, and a second café.
Up a slight ramp was a room which was split in two, with one half containing some special games.
The other half of the room was used as a café, selling hot snacks alongside cold drinks.
At various times on Saturday and Sunday, the games area on the top floor was cleared so that seminars could take place. These were introduced by Jonathan Joosten of Pinball Magazine.
The Jersey Jack Pinball pairing of Eric Meunier and Jean-Paul de Win were special guests and teamed up to present a seminar about their work on the games Pirates of the Caribbean and Guns ‘N Roses.
Eric began by describing the design process, showing the many iterations of the playfield layout and explaining how and why changes took place.
Eric Meunier and Jean-Paul de Win held their seminar three times – twice on Saturday and once on Sunday in order to give all visitors over the weekend the opportunity to attend.
You can watch their first seminar right here.
Following Eric and Jean-Paul for each of those three seminars was Eric Bartels who you may recall from our article about the finishing of Magic Girl.
Eric spoke about the work he and the team in Wormer did to make the game not only playable but feature and code complete.
We have Eric’s seminar for you to watch right here also.
After the Saturday and Sunday afternoon sessions from Eric, Martin Ayub of Pinball News and Jonathan Joosten from Pinball Magazine teamed up to present new editions of their So You Think You Know Pinball? free prize quiz.
As in previous editions, as the questions were shown on the projector screen along with two possible answers. The audience stood up and moved to either the left or right side of the room depending on whether they thought the answer shown on the left of the screen or the answer on the right was the correct one.
Those who chose wisely continued in the round to pick more correct answers, while those who picked a wrong answer were temporarily out. When there were only a few players remaining, they each got to pick a numbered ticket out of a box and collect the corresponding prize.
Prizes included translites, mini-playfields, branded T-shirts, mugs and baseball caps, posters, postcard sets, books, a White Russian playfield toy, Magic Girl plastics, and a rug. Sponsors of the quiz included Jersey Jack Pinball, American Pinball, Dutch Pinball, Pedretti Gaming, the Magic Girl team, Pinball Magazine, Pinball News and PinSound.
Everyone who took part also got to take home Jersey Jack Pinball Guns ‘N Roses key fobs and Dutch Pinball The Big Lebowski key fobs sets.
Before we get into the various tournaments held at the DPO Expo, including the main Dutch Pinball Open itself, here’s our exclusive Twenty Minute Tour video walk around the DPO Expo 2022 at Dutch Pinball Museum.
The DPO Expo is named after the Dutch Pinball Open, one of the two main tournaments held in the Netherlands along with the Dutch Pinball Masters. However, the status of the DPO seemed to be rather diminished this year, with even the name changed to simply ‘Main Tournament’ in the schedule.
Perhaps that’s a recognition of the fact that there are also Classics, Team, Ladies, Flip Frenzy, Swiss and Youth tournaments taking place over the show’s three days.
All of these tournaments took place on the third floor starting with qualifying for the Classics Tournament which began as soon as the event opened at 4pm.
There were unlimited entries in the Classics Tournament, with competitors able to purchase three-game entry cards to try to put together three good scores on the same card. There were six machines from which they could pick and every player had a name badge with a QR code which was scanned by the scorekeepers to help register the scores.
|Eight Ball Champ|
There was a pin board where players could put their badges to save their place in line to play a particular machine.
The area got rather crowded at times, especially in the area around the pin board as players tried to add their badge for their next machine.
The Team Tournament was also held on Friday night starting at 7pm.
Sixteen four-player teams took part in the Team Tournament. They were:
|(Not so) Great Danes|
|Dutch Pinball Team|
|Team Pinball Club Eindhoven (Netherlands)|
|Pinball Universe Competition Team|
|West Coast Pinball Team|
|Dutch Drain Train|
|Rotterdam Pinball Corps|
Teams were split into groups of four and each team played a match against the other three teams in their group. A match consisted of two split-flipper pairs and four individual head-to-head games.
Points were awarded for winning each game in a match and the top team from each group progressed to the final four, where two teams played again head-to-head to get to the final two.
As with all the tournaments, a live internet stream of the Team Tournament was provided by the JDL Pinball team of Jim and Dina Lindsay with Jim driving the feed and Dina setting up the rig on each machine. You can replay their live streams on their Twitch channel.
Those final two were the Dutch Drain Train and the Dutch Pinball Team.
The Dutch Pinball Team were triumphant to win the first tournament of the weekend. In the play-off for third place, Team Austria beat the Outlane Kings.
While qualifying in the Classics tournament would continue through Saturday, the Team Tournament final wrapped up Friday’s competitive action.
Qualifying in the Main Tournament of the DPO was held in four sessions starting at 10am, 12:30pm, 3pm and 5:30pm. Each session contained 40 players, giving a total of 160 players. Some players had to drop out before the qualifying began, but there was a reserve list to fill their places.
Players in each session were split into four groups of ten and played a single game against every other player in their group. Five machines were allocated to each group on which to play their games. The players with the most wins from each group progressed to the play-offs on Sunday morning.
Qualifying for the Ladies Tournament began at 10:45 and ran for four hours. The 19 entrants were split into two groups (9 in the first, 10 in the second) and, as in the Main Tournament, played a single game against every other group member.
The four qualifiers from each group were:
|Group 1||Group 2|
|Helen de Haan-Verbeek|
We’ll have the official results of the Ladies Tournament from the organisers shortly, but in the final Helen de Haan-Verbeek was the overall winner.
Meanwhile, Classics Tournament qualifying continued until 7pm, with the finals starting at 8pm.
The top 16 qualifiers made it into play-offs. They were:
Martijn van Amsterdam
Mark van der Gugten
Helen de Haan-Verbeek
John van der Wulp
Dominique de Cock
These quarter-finalists were put into four groups of four to play three games on different machines, using the 4-2-1-0 scoring for 1st-4th place.
The top two from each group made it into the semi-finals which followed the same system to produce a final four of Hervé Pierru, Mark van der Gugten, Bart Volman and Peter Kroiss.
The final was played in the same way as the quarter- and semi-finals. The machines used were Mata Hari, Viking and Paragon.
Consistency proved the key to winning the final, as Mark van der Gugten took second place on all three machines to score 6 points in total. Peter Kroiss won on Viking but was third on the other two, meaning he too got 6 points in total. After winning on Mata Hari to take 4 points, Hervé Pierru came last on the other two, staying on 4 points. Bart Volman won the final game on Paragon but had only picked up 1 point in the previous two games to end on 5 points.
That left a tie for first place on 6 points by Mark and Peter. The tie-breaker game was Kiss which was won by Mark, giving him first place overall with Peter in second, Bart in third and Hervé fourth.
For those not playing their qualifying matches in the Main or involved in the Classics qualifying/finals, there was a Flip Frenzy tournament starting at 5pm on Saturday.
Flip Frenzy is a format where some players are paired up on the available machines to play a single head-to-head game. When it the game is over, player 2 leaves the machine to join the back of the queue to play. Player 1 becomes player 2 on the same machine and the next in line becomes the new player 1.
In this way, players constantly rotate through machines until the allocated time is up. At the end, the players with the highest total of wins-losses go through to the play-offs.
The final was between Patrick van Hout, Stefan Riedler, Matt Vince and Eberhard Hattemer.
With the 11pm closing of the Museum looming, the three-game final wasn’t going to be able to be completed on Saturday night. The first game of the three was played on Batman Forever, but the other two had to wait until 9:30am Sunday morning.
The second game was played on Deadpool, after which Patrick was in the lead with 6 points, Matt was second with 5 points, Eberhard had 3 points while Stefan had yet to score. The last game was on Fish Tales.
There was a moment of confusion where, on his final ball, Matt quickly let the ball drain while the ‘autocast’ insert was flashing which would save the ball, but the game didn’t register the ball had drained and just sat there until the ball saver timed out. After a nudge, the game registered the drained ball and went to the bonus count.
The decision was to let Matt play another ball at the end to add to his existing score. That proved to be enough to win the game and, with Stefan claiming second place on the game, to win the tournament.
The play-offs for the Main Tournament began at 10am on Sunday morning.
As players were knocked out of the Main Tournament they had the opportunity to take part in a Swiss Tournament in the same area where the Flip Frenzy was held.
The Swiss Tournament initially puts all 44 players into groups of four to play 11 machines. When all the results are in, the groups are mixed up so that the top players play against each other, the bottom players also play against each other and everyone else plays against similarly-performing players. That way, it’s harder for the top players to stay at the top and easier for lower-ranked players to move up.
When either the time runs out or the planned number of rounds have been played, the top players then take part in play-off matches to decide the winner. In this case there were seven rounds and those players who made it through to the play-offs were:
Of those, Kurt Louwie, Hugo Ritter, Dirk Elzholz and Lefman Kan played in the final.
We’ll have the official results of the final from the organisers shortly and will add it here.
In case you haven’t had enough tournament action yet, on Sunday morning the three divisions of the Youth Tournament took place.
Sign-up for all age-based divisions took place at the Museum’s entry desk.
Qualification play took place upstairs, with the finals being held on the machines in the seminars room on the top floor straight after the So You Think You Know Pinball? quiz had ended.
Once all three division had been decided, the trophy presentations took place.
Which left only the Main Tournament final which was to be contested over three machines by John van der Wulp, Glenn Pellis, Carlo Vijn and Emil Dreiborg.
The three games to be played were World Cup Soccer, The Walking Dead and Ghostbusters, with John playing first on World Cup Soccer.
Emil took a commanding lead on the first ball with his 834M. John was closest with 78M, but nobody got close to catching Emil who took the 4 points from game 1. John was second, Carlo third and Glenn fourth.
The Walking Dead was next.
It was a different game but the same ultimate story, as Emil made a strong comeback on his third ball to end in first place on 36M ahead of Carlo in second, John third and Glenn fourth.
With two wins and the way the other placing fell, nobody could catch his 8 points going into the last game which was Ghostbusters.
Emil got the 6x playfield scoring running and collected two gear awards of 400M+ to end his second ball on 1.3BN which was enough to win without having to play his third ball. John got closest with 545M, while Glenn scored 296M and Carlo 10M.
So, Emil was first overall, John second, Carlo third and Glenn fourth.
The conclusion of the Main Tournament marked the end of the DPO Expo 2022 and gave us our cue to head back through Rotterdam for the start of our long journey home.
Holding the DPO Expo in the Dutch Pinball Museum was undoubtedly a popular move, providing easy access by public transportation, plenty of fascinating exhibits inside the building, and endless shops, bars and restaurants within easy walking distance.
The downsides were the cost to park a car (around €25 per day on the street), the distance to the nearest hotels and, even with the addition of two extra floors, the relatively cramped accommodation within the Museum, involving of lots of stair climbing and squeezing past people to move between the different areas.
As you have seen, the NFV (Nederlandse Flipper Vereniging or Dutch Pinball Association) packed a lot of activities and games into the three-day DPO Expo, helped by an army of volunteers and commercial supporters who were all there to make it a fun and enjoyable weekend for everyone.
As we have found with other shows returning after two years of enforced closure, there is a determination for everyone to catch up on all the new games, reconnect with friends and get back to socialising in the relaxed environment the DPO Expo and the Dutch Pinball Museum affords. Certainly, there were lots of smiling faces around.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our extensive coverage of the Dutch Pinball Open Expo 2022. We look forward to returning to the Netherlands next year to wherever the DPO 2023 is held.