As almost anyone familiar with the sport will tell you, when the game is bar table 8-ball, almost anything can happen. And usually does. What happened at The Break Room's 2nd Annual 8-Ball Classic (presented by Dennis Hatch and On the Wire Creative Media) this past weekend (June 1-4) was that Corey Deuel got himself into a 'break' rhythm that, try though they might (and did), his opponents had no answer for. Deuel went undefeated through the field of 14 to capture the $6,000-added event title, hosted by The Break Room in Duluth, MN.
With the winner breaking, Deuel won 75 of the 103 games he played over five rounds (73%). With all matches being races to 15, he gave up an average of just over five racks per match. If it hadn't been for Jason Klatt's 11-rack performance in the finals, that average would have been just over four racks per match.
In addition to finalists Deuel and Klatt, the event featured the likes of Dennis Hatch (doing double duty as promoter and player), Billy Thorpe, Earl Strickland, Johnny Archer and the runner-up of the 1st Annual 8-Ball Classic, Shane Van Boening (Dennis Orcollo defeated him in the finals), whose break worked against him in this event. At one point, after failing to make a ball on one of his breaks, Van Boening conceded an entire table to his opponent. His hot seat match opponent, Deuel, said in a post-match interview that he'd "never seen anybody break balls that solidly and not make anything."
The weekend in Duluth began with two Challenge matches on Thursday night, offering $500 to the winner. Both of the Challenge matches went double hill. Up first were two female opponents, representing opposite ends of the experience spectrum; the veteran, eight-time World Champion Loree Jon Hasson squared off against the five-time Junior Champion April Larson (both of whom would play in the main event, as well). The assembled spectators got to choose the game, which they decided would be 10-ball, and they decided, as well, on a race to 7. Hasson and Larson fought back and forth to a deciding game, before the veteran sunk the final ball to win it. At the conclusion of the match, Hasson, in an interview, spoke to her fellow female professionals.
"WPBA Ladies," she said. "Watch out! April is the real deal."
Later in the evening, Justin Bergman and Billy Thorpe went at it. The crowd selected 10-ball again, but in this case, opted for a race to 11. Like Hasson and Larson before them, the two fought back and forth to double hill, before Bergman closed it out.
Though 16 were scheduled to play in the main event, two had to drop out at that last minute, leaving a field of 14. Deuel got by Scott Tollefson 15-4, and then downed April Larson 15-5, which set him up in a winners' side semifinal against Thorpe. Shane Van Boening, in the meantime, following victories over Justin Bergman 15-13, and Johnny Archer 15-7, squared off against Michael Perron, Jr., who'd just sent Jason Klatt to the loss side.
Deuel defeated Thorpe 15-1, as Van Boening downed Perron, Jr. 15-4. Deuel, whose break at this point was setting up almost constant break-and-run opportunities, chalked up the hot seat win, 15-7, over Van Boening.
On the loss side, Thorpe picked up Klatt, who, following his defeat at the hands of Perron, Jr. went on to defeat Dustin Morris 15-8 and Johnny Archer 15-11. Perron, Jr. drew Earl "The Pearl" Strickland, who'd been defeated by Thorpe in the second round, and then, locked up in an epic, double hill fight against Hatch. Strickland won it and then won a second straight double hill match against Justin Bergman, to pick up Perron, Jr.
Klatt and Strickland advanced to the quarterfinals (the first, $2,000 money round); Klatt 15-3 over Thorpe, and Strickland 15-8 over Perron, Jr. Klatt ended Strickland's run in those quarterfinals 15-10, and then downed an increasingly frustrated Van Boening 15-11 in the semifinals, for a shot at Deuel in the hot seat.
Midway through the opening set of the true double elimination final, Deuel and Klatt were tied. Shortly thereafter, though, Deuel, still dropping balls with consistency on his break started to pull ahead. He got out in front by three to reach the hill first, and then closed it out.
"I felt like I played OK," said Deuel, humbly, after the match. "I've been working on my fundamentals for the past couple of years. I try to play as many different games as I can and maybe it helped me in this tournament."
"He outbroke me, pretty much," was Klatt's assessment of that final match.
Hatch, and OnTheWire Media representatives Beau Runningen and Ra Hanna (responsible for the live-on-Facebook stream throughout the weekend and all promotional material related to the event) thanked the ownership (Tom and Dan Witzman) and staff for their hospitality, as well as a long list of sponsors that made this now-firmly-established annual event possible; Fairfield Marriott Inn, Dan Summers Agency, Arrowhead Printing, Heritage Window and Door, Duluth Dodge, AllStar Service and Accessories, Diamond, Twin Ports Paper & Supply, Bernicks Food & Beverage Services, St. Louis County Title Company, Midwest Coin Concepts, Northstar Ford, Pabst Blue Ribbon, BAM Style, Superior Beverage, Uncle Loui's Cafe, Andrew Lesly, Duluth Sheraton, Viele Contracting, TNT Billiard Products, TwinPortsNightlife.com, Fitger's, Voyageur Lake Walk Inn, ReMax Prodigy, and Harley Davidson Sport Center.
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