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Pinball Chicago to Pit Teams Against Each Other in Bars Throughout the City

By DNAinfo Staff on March 19, 2014 8:14am

 Greg Guiliano, a member of the Pinball Chicago league, plays a "White Water" machine at Logan Arcade.
Greg Guiliano, a member of the Pinball Chicago league, plays a "White Water" machine at Logan Arcade.
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Benjamin Vigeant

CHICAGO — From Edgewater to Greektown, a new league is looking for people serious about playing pinball.

The first season of Pinball Chicago, a competitive league pitting teams of pinball wizards against each other, begins Monday and the league is looking for more players.

Edgewater resident Benjamin Vigeant, 27, created the league as a way to share one of his longtime passions and modeled it after a similar circuit in New York City.

"I started playing pinball since I was old enough to stand," Vigeant said. "I reached out to the gentleman who runs the New York league, which has over 200 players. That looked awesome."

Pinball tournaments aren't new in Chicago, but a regular league dedicated to the game and encompassing several of the city's venues is unique, Vigeant said.

For Vigeant and other notable faces on Chicago's pinball scene, the league is a logical addition to an area that has been central to the history of pinball. (Until very recently, Stern Pinball, based in Melrose Park, was the only place that made the machines.)

"Chicago is one of the cradles of pinball," said Danny Marks, co-owner of Wicker Park's Emporium Arcade Bar, home of 12 pinball machines that could be used in the league. "I think this league is an awesome idea."

Couple history with Chicago's climate, especially this horrible winter, and the city's a natural home for a competitive pinball league.

"If you lived in California, you can just go to the beach and drink all day," said Greg Guiliano, a 28-year-old Albany Park resident slated to play in the league. "If you are in Chicago you can't do that much all the time. That's why the Midwest is home to a lot of pinball players."

Guiliano's team, formed with a group of his buddies, will have its home base at Cardinal Wine & Liquors in Lincoln Square, home to a single machine called "Sharkey's Shootout," a billiards-themed game.

As with other teams, four games will be played at home and four at "away" bars, battling in a series of doubles and singles matches to declare a winner every Monday night.

Among several bars that could play as home bases for teams are Emporium, the recently opened Logan Arcade in Logan Square and Delilah's in Lincoln Park, which hosts an AC/DC Pro machine, one of Vigeant's favorites.

Teams choose their home bars on a first-come, first-served basis, with the full list of possible bars available here. Registration is free, with the home bars sponsoring each team. Players do need to deposit the coins for each game.

Vigeant said he reached out to several bars around Chicago to build the league, which he hopes to run throughout the year.

'We're encouraging some of their patrons regularly playing their machines to join and build a team," Vigeant said.

As of Tuesday, three teams have been registered, but Vigeant expects that number to increase by Friday's registration deadline.

A kickoff party for the league is scheduled for 7:30-9:30 p.m. Thursday at Emporium, where people can register teams of six to 10 and challenge the future competition to a game.