By Thomas Sellers Jr.
History was made on the grounds of the MidSouth Marketplace and Auction Group Saturday afternoon.
The building located at 8323 Highway 51 North was home to the 2018 IFPA Tennessee State Championship. It was the first time for the Volunteer State in the three-year history for the IFPA’s National Championship.
The 16 best to compete in pinball throughout 2017 in Tennessee were selected for the single-elimination, best of seven format in the arcade owned by Jon and Nena Stoddard. The pinball competitors were Bill Baggett, Asa Yopp, Joe Farnsworth, Kevin Hale, Will Krusa, David Yopp, Jordan Clark, Dennis G. Winton, Richard Rickman, Eric White, Aaron Williams, Ethan Sullivan, Benjamin Liggett, Jennifer Hudson, Scott Woods and Jon Yopp.
The Yopp name was common in the tournament Saturday and has been a fixture to Jon Stoddard as well.
“We worked to get these machines restored and in here,” Stoddard said. “I wanted not only to have that old feel with a classic style arcade, but be able to host something like this.”
The pinball wizards came as far as Indiana and Nashville to have a chance to reach March’s National Championships in Las Vegas. David Yopp restored the machines used in the State Champions, moving them from his garage to the MidSouth Marketplace.
It was a year ago news spread throughout Millington Jon and Nena were opening up their business in the vacant Cole’s Building. Their vision was transform the 46,000 square-foot building into a market with dozens of vendors, house a vintage arcade and operate a cafe. The Stoddards have achieved those goals and more in less than 365 days.
Yopp was not only a competitor Saturday but the tournament director. His sons Asa and Jon were seeded in the event with 12-year-old Asa taking on the No. 1 seeded Bill Baggett. Asa came into the event ranked 61st in the world.
Most of the names on the World Ranking list were in action Saturday as the International Flipper Pinball Association conducted state tournaments across the United States. The objective of the International Flipper Pinball Association (IFPA) is to elevate the awareness and visibility of pinball across the globe and generate media coverage and corporate backing to bring the sport of competitive pinball back into the spotlight.
The IFPA’s biggest spotlight will shine in Las Vegas in March. And for one afternoon part of the pinball’s gleam was in Millington, Tenn.
“We’re so glad to be here and have this event here,” David concluded. “This is the first Tennessee State championship ever.”
For more information on the nationals or how to get involved with pinball, visit www.ifpapinball.com
The top four from Saturday’s State Championship were first-place Benjamin Liggett (Memphis), second-place David Yopp (Arlington), third-place Joe Farnsworth (Nashville) and fourth-place Eric White (Indiana).
By Thomas Sellers Jr.