Jan. 24, 2017
Horsehoe Casino of Southern Indianna: Big Foot’s getting meaner yet, you gotta love it. It really tests the most experienced players. Distance is not the only challenge. Balls hit just slightly inaccurately will rock back and forth between the knuckles of the pocket to rest, all perked up, deep in the shelf of the slate. Many racks are stolen due to those misguided, uncooperative Cyclop orbs. So, beware.
Meanwhile, during Shaw’s one pocket match, upstairs overlooking the Accu-Stats Arena, he observed Corteza practicing for their semi’s scheduled next on BIG Foot. Jayson, later entering the arena asked casually, “Lee Vann, how long have you been here?” Lee, in that harmless yet, quintessential pool player understatement, responded, “About 10 minutes.” Jayson smiled wryly. And, that’s the way their match began. Jayson in one pocket stroke and Corteza all warmed up on BIG Foot. But, isn’t this the true challenge of the Derby? How quickly competitors can switch disciplines and how much stamina they possess as the week progresses? So, not so surprisingly, Cortesa got swiftly into the lead while Shaw was still looking for his fast and loose BIG Foot stroke.
It didn’t take long. Shaw couldn’t string much together as his break was plagued by scratches. Corteza capitalized at every opportunity. At around 6, Jayson got a game ahead but, not for long. Corteza summoned his Big Foot experience, rallied to 10-8 where he had a marginally higher Accu-Stats’ TPA, .859 to Shaw’s .826: Not exactly record breaking yet substantial. Then, he faltered. He allowed Jayson another point on the scoreboard. Again, Jayson’s break proved unproductive. Pressure building while running out a 10-9, Lee Vann faced the 8 with the 9 and 10 pretty much hangers.
It was over. The audience knew it was over, Jayson, low in his seat, jaw hanging on his chest, knew it was over. Lee Vann’s Filipino brethren were already counting the cash. Corteza, stroking cautiously, yet with authority, coaxed it into the jaws of the pocket. It rattled a little yet everyone knew it was destined to fall. Suddenly, the rattling stopped. The ball hadn’t dropped. The deep shelf had held the 8 on the tabletop. Jayson jumped out his chair and stared at the black orb in disbelief. Careful not to breathe too heavily as his inhale might have sucked it into the pocket, he quickly approached the table. The remaining 3 balls were sunk with ease: It’s hill-hill. Emotions in check, careful not to get too big on the break, Shaw ran faultlessly to the finish line. There, he allowed himself relief. Elated, he let loose to run screaming into the Finals.
Semi’s #2: Phillipines vs Greece, round 2: Carlo Biado and Alex Kazakis. First timers on BIG Foot and in the semi’s? Both players were overjoyed to have accomplished so much. Biado was wary of Kazakis as he’d seen what he’d done to Pagulayan. His “A” game hadn’t shown up. In fact, truth be told, he hadn’t approached his potential all tournament. Kazakis seemed to play off of Biado’s “B” game rather than his reach for his own capability. That, we’d gotten a glimpse of against Pagulayan. As they struggled, Carlo managed to get atop the hill two games ahead of Alex. There, his real struggle began. He couldn’t complete the deal. The pressure he put on himself was palpable. The weaker his performance got, the more the Kazakis killer instinct kicked in. Before long, Biado had allowed Alex to join him on the hill.
Even though both competitors were emotionally wrecked, Biado’s fate was sealed. Kazikis, when dropping the winning 10-Ball was so relieved that we first saw a sign of his relief as he fist-pumped his way to face Shaw in the finals. The good news for Biado? His salary had doubled from $4K to 8. Now, Kazakis had 2 hours to regroup…and prepare for the biggest payday of his life: $16 thousand, The runner up would garner 8.
Shaw was well ready. His year was off to a flying start. He was AZ Billiard’s 2016 Player of the Year and he won his 5th Turning Stone title out of 6. Plus, he had the emotional cushion of knowing that he’d beaten, arguably, the sport’s greatest rotation player, Shane Van Boening, in last year’s BIG Foot final. A formidable opponent indeed. In this match’s final encounter, Shaw was a little surprised: Kazakis had come to compete. He’d picked up on the two-stroking Scot’s pace and, pretty much, held serve until they were tied at 7. Then, his momentous bombshell exploded. He, inexplicably, fumbled ball-in-hand. Kazakis later confessed, “I was feeling so good, so confident, that I lost focus. I, still, can’t believe I missed that 5 ball.”
Shaw could. He’d seen it with his own eyes. He then, mercilessly, ran out the set! 35 balls disappeared in about 10 minutes. And, he was the back-to-back BIG Foot Challenge Champion. It had looked dark for a moment. Only Corteza had challenged Shaw’s prowess. His Final’s .911 TPA wasn’t only an enviable accomplishment, it was also a distress call for the upcoming 9-Ball field.
BTW: Jayson went immediately upstairs to the George Fels Memorial Straight Pool Challenge and ran 98 balls in about 21 minutes. The 9 foot, Diamond Pro AM looked like a bar box.
The DCC Bank Pool Championships
10 players remain: The rumor in the arena is that Billy Thorpe is the one to watch. Piggy Bank’s last words on being beaten by him were, “Billy’s not guessing. His banks are going straight into the middle of the pocket.” Billy is the first to admit he’s playing well. “My goal is to win undefeated.” He’s not bragging here as he might just do that: In ten rounds, he’s lost only 3 games: Out of 30 racks! In the past, players have been known to run 15 balls and out on opponents but, to lose only 10% of one’s games in 10 rounds, that’s unheard of! How long do you have to be in stroke to maintain that statistic? We’ll see tomorrow.
Here’s the latest: Billy and Warren Kiamco, still undefeated, have buy-backs. Billy eliminated Orcollo, Brumback is no longer in contention as he was first defeated by nemesis Jason Miller then, Evan Lunda; Chris Melling sent Piggy Banks packing, as did Kiamco to Shane Van Boening. Earlier, Olinger got Shaw, Frost got Juniors’ Champion, and Skyler’s road partner, Manny Perez. The Finals will air Tuesday night from the Accu-Stats Arena: Time, TBD.
Don’t forget there’s more disciplines to come:
At noon, LIVE from the Accu-Stats Arena: The American 15 Ball Rotation Championship Series VIII. James Blackburn of Gate City Billiards, Greensboro NC VS. Chris McDaniel of Felt Billiards, Denver CO Best of 3 sets, race to 60 points each set.
The DCC One Pocket Championships is underway with 347 players. No known favorites have lost their matches. Stay tuned. Many will crash and burn tomorrow.
The George Fels Memorial Straight Pool Challenge is streaming at billiardnet.tv Dennis Orcollo’s 198 still stands as does Shaw’s 168, Mika Immonen entered the fray with 146 while England’s Chris Melling sported a competitive 143.Taiwan’s Li Wen Lo’s 138 is still good and John Schmidt upped his 98 before running out of gas at 125. Johann Chua’s 115 and Thorsten Hohmann’s 112 round out the top 8. Mika, Chris, and John won $300, $200, and $100, respectively, for Monday’s high runs. The 14.1 event runs thru the week until the 8 highest run holders face off in single elimination for a prize fund of $22,000. If scheduling permits, Accu-Stats will stream, at least, the finals.
The DCC 9-Ball Championships commences Wednesday.
BANKS RING GAME, on the Accu-Stats screen on Friday the 27th, will have the winner-take-all battle for the cash as, typically, the last 2 are usually banking for near a thousand a ball.
Don’t miss a stroke at accu-stats.com
Accu-Stats thanks its Arena Sponsors: Diamond Billiards, Simonis Cloth, Cyclop Balls, Cue and Case, MEZZ Cues, McDermott Cues, National Billiard Academy, OB Cues, and Samsara Cues.
Photography courtesy of David thomson, MediumPool.com