A B.C. man has just been crowned the world’s best pinball player.
Burnaby’s Robert Gagno placed first at the Professional & Amateur Pinball Association (PAPA) World Championships in Pittsburgh.
The 27-year old has autism but it didn’t stop him from beating out the top players in the world.
“I couldn’t believe I’ve done this,” said Gagno about the moment he realized he was victorious. “I just won the most beautiful trophy in pinball.”
It’s a victory he’s dreamed of since he started playing pinball competitively in 2008, explained his father Maurizio Gagno.
Currently, there are more than 40,000 registered competitive pinball players worldwide, according to the International Flipper Pinball Assoication (IFPA).
“When he actually won, I had tears coming down my face. I was very emotional, very happy,” said Maurizio Gagno.
On average, Gagno said he practices about two to three hours per week, not including several weekly tournaments he attends. Prior this the world championship, he practiced even more.
“Some people might think his autism gives him an advantage over the game but in truth, I think it’s really hard work,” said Maurizio Gagno.
In addition to the “beautiful” trophy, Robert Gagno is looking forward to one other thing: “The excited feeling of getting my name up on the rafters.”
With the win, a banner with his name will be hung up in the pinball association’s headquarters in Pittsburgh, just like the hockey legends he admires.
Robert Gagno has been one of Canada’s top-ranked players for the past five years and is now ranked sixth overall in the world based on his tournament record with the IFPA.
His father said the closest Robert had previously come to winning the world championship was fourth place