Dalton Ely has faced some of the best in the world, and come away with a big cash prize thanks to his skills playing pinball machines.

Ely, 23, early on in the month took part in the It Never Drains in Southern California (INDISC) Pinball Tournament Series held in Riverside, California where in the High Stakes Championship he took a first place prize and a $15,000 cash prize.

He also took a Top 10 finish in The Open – IFPA World Championship at the INDiSC event.

Money in hand and trophy marking him as one of the best in the world after defeating a trio in a final four series that included multiple time pinball world champions – including a four-timer from Italy – that landed him in the Top 20 ranking heading into this weekend’s big event in Georgia. After the win, Ely is excited by the victory and opportunities to come.

“It feels amazing. This is definitely the biggest win of my pinball career so far,” Ely said. “I’m really proud of myself.”

This weekend, Ely is traveling to Savannah in an attempt to win a fourth state title as a pinball champion. The Class of 2018 graduate from Rockmart High School qualified for his first state title that year, and has won three championships since in his five years playing professionally along with dozens of tournament wins.

He looks for his fourth this year over the weekend when he plays in Savannah against some of the best in the state.

Ely has spent a lot of time with pinball machines, starting with a love of the variety of games built over the decades with his father as a kid.

“I’ve been playing since I was little,” Ely said. “I can remember playing pinball machines in arcades, and later on my father and I would go to a movie theater and go play pinball. We’d get Coke and popcorn and play pinball and not see a single movie.”

When his professional career began, he had discovered an arcade in the area in 2017 that gave him chances to play in tournaments. He won his first in 2018 and hasn’t looked back since. With his latest win at INDiSC, Ely now sits at 17th in the world according to the International Flipper Pinball Association, or IFPA’s ranking.

Ely has played all across the country and along the way taken tournament victories for cash, and brought home two pinball machines from Wisconsin and Indiana wins. But this is a hobby turned into a passion that pays, not his day job.

Dalton works with his father Stephen Ely as a general contractor in Rockmart as his regular employment, but he makes enough from his tournament play in pinball to have to add it to his taxes.

And what keeps him coming back to the lights and music of machines? Pinball requires real skill, unlike other electronic or video games.

“There’s a certain physical nature to pinball. Physics of the ball rolling around the playfield and using the flippers. It’s a much different experience than you get with video game,” Ely said. “It is a very chaotic game, where you are controlling randomness and chaos as much as you can. There’s an adrenaline rush and excitement to pinball.”

Check back for more on how Ely performed in the Georgia State Championship this weekend.

Leave a comment

Please Login to Comment.