Competitive pinball in the Cape Fear

Competitive pinball in the Cape Fear

About three years ago, a group of pinball enthusiasts in Wilmington got together to form an official competitive pinball group, The Cape Fear Flipper Club.

Eric Sutton is the founding member of the club and has been collecting pinball machines since the mid 90’s. In fact, the machines that the group plays on at Cape Fear Wine & Beer are actually from Sutton’s collection.

“While I was playing in a bowling league, there were pinball machines and I couldn’t wait to finish bowling in the league so I could play pinball,” Sutton said.

And thus, his love for pinball was born.

(Source: Kristin Crawford - Cape Fear Weekend/WECT)
(Source: Kristin Crawford – Cape Fear Weekend/WECT)

Flipper Club members play on all four machines each week and calculate their scores. At the end of the season, they have a playoff, and the winner is declared.

Their scores are also entered into the International Flipper and Pinball Association which is the sanctioning body for competitive pinball.

Each machine is different. They each have a different theme, a different set of rules, different shots, and different angels. The different machines the members currently play on are Iron Maiden, Stranger Things, The Avengers, and Deadpool.

Sutton says one of his favorite things about the game is that it’s always different.

“Unlike a video game where you can learn routine, you can pretty much memorize certain moves or keystrokes, with pinball, the ball is unforgiving,” Sutton said. “It can bounce any which way, every single time it’s different. So each game is different. It’s challenging. If you can’t hit a shot one game, you might be able to hit that shot the next game and the games get progressively harder as you play. So it’s just a challenge to get to the end.”

(Source: Kristin Crawford - Cape Fear Weekend/WECT)
(Source: Kristin Crawford – Cape Fear Weekend/WECT)

Being together with his fellow club members is another favorite part of The Cape Fear Flipper Club for Sutton.

“We’ve made some great friendships,” Sutton said. “The group makes it so much fun. When we can get together and play, that’s the best part of league.”

For more information on The Cape Fear Flipper Club, join and follow them on Facebook by clicking here.


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