The Vegas Strip has became a "foosball magnet" drawing the largest number of tournament participants since the sport was at its peak in the 70's. The Riviera Hotel & Casino has evolved into the home base for foosers around the world to gather and display their talents to the foosball community. VIVA Las Vegas! has been transformed to "VIFA" Las Vegas! The Valley International Foosball Association (VIFA), had set the stage for what was going to be the greatest amateur foosball event in the history of the sport...
The 4th Annual VIFA International Championships.
The Valley International Foosball Association was certainly on top of their game as the tournament room appeared as though it had been drawn up by foosball friendly architects. Here's a visual of what the foosball arena offered the players. Firstly, 114 freshly cleaned, siliconed and ready to play Valley Tornado Foosball Tables, served as the rooms focal point and main source of energy. Surrounding this hub of tables were various foosball spokes. For example, professional message therapists were available at their booths where players could have their tense and aching muscles rubbed back into shape before the next match. Also on hand were representatives from Laramie Screen Printing who displayed a wide variety of foosball apparel from simple t-shirts to hand towels to ornately embroidered jackets. In the heart of the room, Jim Stevens and the crew of Inside Foos arranged a mountain of risers creating an impressive pit area. Also included in this foosball palace, a stocked bar and gigantic players lounge area was available for an extra player convenience. Many players took advantage of the fresh food and beverages as they rested in the lounge and conveniently watched matches as they occurred in the Pit area on two 27" television monitors that were anchored to the lounges wall. A tremendous amount of attention was focused in and around the VIFA Booth. The VIFA Booth was full of exciting material from popular t-shirts and clocks to grip wraps and silicone to a plethora of tournament information neatly displayed as the booths backdrop. A special feature of the VIFA Booth was the Speed Shot Zone. Participants clocked their shots using laser technology for a chance to win terrific prizes or at least find out how their shot stacked up against the field.
Hoping to take home an International title, wonderfully unique tournament plaques, beautiful rings and jackets and a share of the $38,600 Total Purse ($15,000 added by Valley), the league players competed in the following five handicapped divisions:
|? Full Team Division (4 player)
||? Men's Singles Division|
|? Mixed Team Division (3 player)
||? Women's Singles Division|
|? Regular Doubles Division (2 player)
The Tournament officially kicked off Thursday morning at 9:00 am. The Mixed Team Division (3 person teams with at least one female per team) served as the starting gun and what a real thrill it was to experience as a record 14 threesomes really dug in their heals and went to battle. It would be two Westcoast teams who would decide the fate of this division. Princess V & 2 Old Men (defending champs) consisting of teammates Vivian Park, Ken Oda and Mike Budzak from Star Service in Fullerton, California would square off against a triple threat from Seattle who call themselves Grunge Foosers Mixed. This seasoned team played out of Score One Entertainment and consisted of Steph Ohashi, Chad Kinner and Rocky Willson. This 3 on 3 match up was a real beauty but Princess V & 2 Old Men had the hotter rods that would eventually burn Grunge Foosers chances for a title. Princess V & 2 Old Men?s new title carried with it a check for $1,700 while Grunge Foosers gallant gang scooped up $1,100 for second.
Action in the Regular Doubles kicked off early that afternoon with some exceptional play. Forty-one teams vied for a piece of the $8,200 purse in the two person event but their could only be one winner of the $1,400 first place prize. In the finals, the California combo of Ken Oda and Calvin Chan from Star Service in Fullerton, California would be matched against the Kentucky pair of Delano Casey and Chris Imhoff playing out of Associated Vending. In the end it would be the team of Oda and Chan that would grab the championship title and a check for $1,400. For finishing second in a gallant effort, Casey and Imhoff would receive a well earned $1,100.
Late that afternoon, VIFA league players infiltrated the tournament room awaiting the start of the Men's and Women's Singles events. As the clock struck 6:00pm, 71 men and 11 women were sent to their respective tables for battle. Several fantastic matches were played throughout the night with players knowing that if they lost they would be eliminated in this single knockout event. So after several hours of heated competition in both the men's and women's divisions, the fields had been narrowed to two players each who would face off for the title.
On the women's side, it was league veteran Vivian Park playing out of Star Service in Fullerton, California who had again made her way through a tough field of female foosers to set up an extremely exciting final match against fellow Californian, playing out of Table Soccer Ltd, Flora Chang. With the title up for grabs, it was Vivian Park who won the race to three and again claimed the championship crown as the Women's Singles Champion. Vivian played her way to a $400 payday while Flora was awarded $250 for her runner-up finish.
In the Men's Division, it was Brian Hunt from Alexander Music in Youngstown, Ohio and Angelus Karmis from Wal-Mac Amusements in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada who would square off for the Men's Singles Title. After a fierce match that could have went either way, it was Brian Hunt who scored the final ball to edge out the very talented Angelus Karmis for the title. Hunt laced his pockets with $900 while Karmis earned $680 for his efforts.
After a full day of terrific competition, VIFA treated the Tournament rooms attendees with a fun-filled Opening Ceremonies Kick-Off Party. Shortly after 9:00 pm, the foosers enjoyed complimentary beer and snacks that were neatly displayed in the Players Lounge. Also, the first of two drawings was held for a Valley Tornado "Tournament 2000" Foosball Table. The lucky name that Valley Vice-President of Sales Dave Courington removed from the drawing drum was Brian Hunt (our newly crowned Men's Singles Champion) from Alexander Music in Youngstown, Ohio. This was surely a night of fun.
The Full Team Division (4 on 4) was the final event of the championships. The competition for a piece of this $9,200 purse was foos-tastic. It came down to two great teams who had battled their way through this double elimination event. Still Baggin' from Table Soccer Ltd. in California and Bean Town from Action Jackson Amusement in Malden, Massachusetts, two teams from opposite sides of the nation with one common goal, would decide this championship. Team members for Still Baggin', who by the way placed second last year, were Darren Kurose, Jim Seimas, Ted Brockman, Ron Matsuura and Tom Greenquist. The team of Bean Town consisted league newcomers Mike Philbrook, John Batista, John Garcia and Jeff Rebello. When the match got underway, it more than lived up to its billing as it saw Still Baggin' proving their desire for a championship along with an enlarged check in the amount of $2,600 while the graciously defeated team of Bean Town managed $1,900 for their work.
The VIFA Charter Holders took a break from the action earlier that day to gather for a relaxing yet informative league roundtable discussion. Charter Holders were able to discuss their thoughts and questions with VIFA League Directors Gregg Elliott and Brian Elliott along with Valley Representatives Dick Shelton, Dave Courington, Link Pendley and Steve Murray. The roundtable has become a valuable asset to the association with great ideas and positive flowing discussions being brought to light. From foosball league operators to league experts to Pro Tour experts, every aspect of the VIFA League System was touched upon and the enthusiasm and knowledge that was brought to the table was truly exceptional.
Attending the 4th Annual Championships were the following VIFA Charter Holders:
|? A & K Foosball (NV)?
||? Action Jackson (MA)|
|? Alexander Music (OH)
||? All American Amusement (MI) |
|? Amusement Devices (WI)
||? Associated Vending (OH)? |
|? Black Hills Novelty (WY)
||? Bullseye (WI)? |
|? Foosin' Fever (SD)
||? Indoor Sports (WA)|
|? Regent Vending (Canada)
||? River City Amusement (IA)|
|? Score One Entertainment (WA)
||? Star Service (CA)|
|? T & M Distributors (CT)
||? Table Soccer Ltd. (CA) |
|? Tornado of Houston (TX)
||? Tornado of Maryland (MD)|
|? Wal-Mac Amusements (Canada)
Throughout the week of the tournament near the VIFA Booth, VIFA's Brian Elliott conducted a popular competition known as Speed Shot. High-tech, laser beam technology, known as a Speed Meter (courtesy of Guido Orlandi Custom Cue Repair), was set up for the players to test the speed of their pull shots, push shots, and kick shots. The following divisional winners were awarded t-shirts for their efforts:
|? Fernando Garcia
|? Tom Jenkins
|? Billy Pappas
The 4th Annual VIFA Awards Banquet took place Saturday evening with over 100 people in attendance. They enjoyed a terrific Riviera style buffet and open bar while Master of Ceremonies Gregg Elliott conducted the show which included recognizing the Charter Holders and the Tournament Committee Members for their hard work in putting this event together.
Tournament Committee Members were the following:
|? Gary Benson (Tournament Director - High Country Promotions - CO) |
|? Dave Courington (Valley)
||? Link Pendley (Valley) |
|? Gregg Elliott (VIFA Headquarters)
||? Brian Elliott (VIFA Headquarters) |
|? Mike Simons (Charter Holder - TX)
||? Judy Mehle (Charter Holder - CO)|
A special, beautifully framed 4th Annual Annual VIFA Tournament Poster was awarded to Dave Courington of Valley to show VIFA's appreciation for all of their many contributions to the leagues and especially the tournament. Moments later for the second time during the tournament, Valley graciously gave away another Valley Tornado "Tournament 2000" Home Foosball Table to one of the lucky banquet attendees. Having to be present to win, a few unlucky names were drawn before Tornado of Houston's John Stinson was called to the stage to accept this fabulous prize.
VIFA's Brian Elliott came to the stage shortly after to announce the winners of the VIFA Team Uniform Award. From the teams that participated, one team dressed atop the field and was awarded beautiful acrylic statues for their efforts. The Flintstones, playing out of Associated Vending in Cincinnati, Ohio, consisting of Katie Stall, Kyle Stall, Heather Kapsal and Sean Kapsal captured the honor for the first time. Congratulations and thank you for showing what team spirit is all about.
After the awards had been handed out to the nights winners, a special entertainer concluded the fun-filled banquet. Professional comedian and awesome sight, 6' 2', 295 pound biker dude "Wild Willy Parsons" killed the crowd (not literally) with his tough guy humor and hilarious, anti-social bits.
Because players are seemingly drawn to the desert atmosphere, the 5th Annual VIFA International Championships is again scheduled to be played in the Riviera Hotel & Casino in fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada in March 2000.