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Arcade League Wants To Give Out 'Stanley Cup' of Pinball

By Linze Rice | March 16, 2016 5:36am
 League members Kate Porter and Rachel Karlic playing at Emporium in Logan Square.
League members Kate Porter and Rachel Karlic playing at Emporium in Logan Square.
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Rob Karlic

EDGEWATER — Gaming league Pinball Chicago is turning three this year, and, to celebrate, its founder wants to start a new tradition: Giving out the "Stanley Cup of pinball" to the league's 2016 winner.

An award for the season's champion team isn't new, said Benjamin Vigeant, an Edgewater resident and Pinball Chicago's creator. But this year, instead of heading to the trophy shop, he's working with a local artist to commission a prize winners can take home, then pass on (or hopefully keep) at the end of the next season — à la Stanley Cup style.

"This season I'm hoping to do something different," Vigeant said. "I'm hoping to work with an artist to construct something that's, you know, weird and fun — the analogy a lot of the people I've talked to, since we all live in Chicago, is of course think about the Stanley Cup."

At 8 p.m. Thursday, Vigeant is holding a kick-off party to the 2016 season at Logan Arcade, 2410 W. Fullerton Ave., where people can register their team for free, or individuals or small groups without teams can join up with others. Three team spots in the league are still available through Friday, when the registration period ends.

So far, he said 82 players have signed up between nine teams, each of which have a home base bar or arcade that sponsors the teams (though players have to use their own quarters where required). Some games are played at home, while others are played "away."

Of those already registered, Vigeant said "it's not just a bro-fest," either — about 28 percent of current league participants are women.

Vigeant said he'd like to see those numbers grow, too, and include more recreational players to compliment some of the more experienced and competitive teams.

"It's interesting because it's a game that's two buttons," Vigeant said. "My 3-year-old niece, we'll bring her out to some places that have pinball sometimes and she'll play it — it's a concept we can all pick up on."

Benjamin Vigeant, pictured playing at Emporium in Logan Square, started Pinball Chicago in 2014 and said the league has grown since. [Rob Karlic]

The league started in 2014 with about 60 people signing up to participate in the Monday night tournaments. By 2015, about 100 players had signed on between 10 teams.

Since its launch, Vigeant said he's noticed two recurring misconceptions among people interested in joining the league: They're not skilled enough, and they can't commit to the full 10-12 week, Monday night season schedule.

But Vigeant said each tournament only needs between 4-5 players to represent the team, so people with busy schedules can take nights off when needed.

He also said that while there were some competitive players, the last two years have provided many unexpected "twists and turns" throughout he seasons, and at the end of the day the experience is more about getting together and sharing drinks and games with friends than anything else.

"For me, that's really the art of it," he said. "You might get better, or maybe not. But even so, it doesn't matter. The spirit of the league is a spirit of just like, kind of having some goofy fun at the end of what for many is the worst day of the week."

Register online here, or at Thursday's Logan Arcade event.

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