Here’s one of those myths that’s been very hard to pin down. One of the big win opportunities on the Lightning Link series of games (or Lightning Cash for non-linked machines) and its sister series, Dragon Link, is a grand jackpot, that is many thousands of dollars but of course also very difficult to hit. It’s difficult enough that in some slot communities I started chanting #landthegrand because it’s just one of those things that you root for because it’s so difficult.
One theory that’s been hard to verify is whether if you see balls spinning in all remaining squares on the reels (the squares you still need to land a ball), you’re guaranteed a Grand jackpot. Video evidence was hard to come by, but thanks to a YouTube slot channel, we’ve got a much better idea.
Status: Seeing balls in all 15 spaces does not guarantee a Grand jackpot, but it does seem to indicate a chance for one.
Understanding the Hold and Spin Feature
Lightning Link/Cash and Dragon Link have a feature in common across all its themes, the Hold and Spin feature, which is the feature that made the games unique when they first hit casinos. When you land six balls (the symbols could be in a variety of themes to match the game’s theme, but most players call them balls at this point since they all do the same thing) you enter the Hold and Spin feature with three spins to work to get at least one more. If you do, the spin count resets at three, and you try to get more.
Balls can have numerical values, or jackpot words for three of the four jackpots: Mini, Minor and Major. Mini and Minor jackpots are fixed and based on the bet level; Major is a progressive jackpot that grows until it hits its maximum level or is hit.
There is a fourth jackpot, the Grand progressive, that can only be won when all 15 squares land a ball. This is a rare occurrence. In fact, most of the time at least one space is empty throughout a spin, indicating no chance all 15 can land in that spin.
Video Evidence of a Grand
YouTube creator Ross Bybee has been around for a long time, releasing some pretty awesome videos along the way, and in recent months he’s been amping up his efforts. As far as I can tell (and him as well, given the title), he’s the first person to record a grand on Lightning Link as it happens, vs. many others who started recording after the grand was already achieved. This gives us a chance to watch a grand being secured on the game in real time and analyze what happens.
At 10:56 in this video is the bonus in question. It starts off like any Lightning Link bonus. The trick in understanding the theory put out there by many around how Lightning Link works is to watch all the squares. If a ball (chip in this case, but again most call them all balls for conversational purposes) spins by in a space it indicates the possibility of being able to land one there.
To discuss this in detail, let’s label the grid, If we number the top row squares 1-5, 6-10 and 11-15, we can analyze what’s happening here.
In his first spin, square 4 is empty for the spin. This is standard Lightning Link – you can usually find a space empty. Spin two, after an initial blip, square 11 is empty. As you take spins it’s not unusual for the empty square to move around. In fact, the first 10 spins or so, there’s an empty square somewhere each time.
Something changes at the 11:45 timestamp mark, when he’s down to three squares left. Now chips are flying by frequently in all three remaining spaces. That’s unusual – that normally doesn’t happen. And lo and behold, he wins the Grand jackpot!
When this video was released, it got some conversations going that if you see chips flying by in all spaces at some point, the Grand is assured.
When the Theory Falls Apart
It was again Ross Bybee who put that theory to the test. He even knows the theory, because the second video’s title is “OMG CAN IT REALLY HAPPEN AGAIN?!?!? LIGHTNING LINK 124k GRAND JACKPOT ATTEMPT” and the video came out right after the Grand jackpot win.
Like the last video, we start out with an empty square in the first spin – square 14. Spin two, it’s square 8. 10 spins in, he gets down to three squares left, which is at 0:38. Once again, balls now fly by in all three spaces. But unlike the first time, he does not land the 15th ball and the Grand jackpot.
So now we know that the Grand jackpot isn’t guaranteed when all balls are present. So what can we surmise from this?
My Theory as to What Happens
Before I share my theory of what I think is happening, another observation from these two videos: The 4th to last ball in both these videos landed in what had been for that spin the empty space. If you watch carefully in the second video, the 15th square is where that ball landed, but until it landed no ball went by in that space. In the first video square 4 was empty the entire spin before the chip landed at the last moment.
This may indicate the empty space may not actually be completely empty, but be really, really hard to get something, and that is why the grand is so rare – you basically have to land a ball in that generally empty space, which jumps around the board periodically.
Based on the video evidence from these bonuses, I believe if you see balls flying by in all spaces, you have a chance of landing all 15. But they still have to land. Players routinely have other bonuses where balls fly by, don’t land, and you don’t get more than a certain number; it seems fair to assume that you can have a chance to land all 15 and simply not land them before you run out of spins.
Have you ever landed the Grand jackpot on a slot machine like Lightning Link? Won a giant progressive you’re proud of? Share in the comments below!