Team Washington wins 1st Northwest Cup over neighboring Oregon.
Skip Maloney
Apr. 10, 2018
(l to r): Ed Hobbs, Eddie Mataya, Tim Tweedell, Cindy Sliva, Damian Pongpanik & James Davee
(l to r): Ed Hobbs, Eddie Mataya, Tim Tweedell, Cindy Sliva, Damian Pongpanik & James Davee
In what might me a harbinger of things to come, two pool teams from the northwest corner of the country got together to play a Mosconi-Cup-style team tournament in Auburn, WA last weekend (April 7-8). According to Washington State’s captain, Damian Pongpanik, the event, won by his team 11-5 over Oregon, is likely to be the first of many more to come.
 
“I’ve played singles pool for a long time, and I’ve never seen an atmosphere like this,” said Pongpanik. “This kind of event is the kind of thing that is eventually going to drive players, fans and sponsors to the game.”
 
“It creates an exciting atmosphere that people can really rally behind,” he added.
 
This 1st Northwest Cup competition had a predecessor. Three months ago, a team from Las Vegas faced off against a team from Phoenix, AZ in what was labeled The Desert Cup. Organized by CSI General Manager Ozzy Reynolds, following up on a brainstorming idea generated by CSI staffer Jack Murray and an Arizona friend of his, Junior Flores, they selected teams, “anointed” Reynolds as the Las Vegas team captain and determined at the start that each team’s total FargoRate be capped at 3,900 points (a practice repeated in the Northwest Cup event).
 
“I actually argued that there shouldn’t be a cap at all,” said Reynolds, “but the guys in Arizona at the time felt that there was no way that they could compete against the quality of players here in Vegas.”
 
As it turned out, Phoenix didn’t have a lot to worry about, as they went on to defeat the Las Vegas team 11-3 in the 1st Desert Cup. As it also turned out, the defeated Oregon team, the day after the Northwest Cup, reached out to Reynolds to determine interest in an Oregon/Las Vegas matchup sometime in the near future, perhaps within the next month or so. At the end of the live stream of the Northwest Cup, a commentator said “Congratulations to Team Washington,” and then, speaking unofficially for Team Arizona, called the hypothetical toin coss for a future match (Tails). As a CSI Executive, the event model is of interest to Reynolds.
 
“I’m a huge fan of the concept,” said Reynolds. “I could see it as something that CSI could get behind.”
 
There are, Reynolds noted, a “few flaws” in the concept as it is playing out at the moment, but he is already working on ways to fine tune it. He describes CSI’s current interest as being at “the concept stage of building a viable model” for such competitions.
 
The 1st Northwest Cup drew two teams of six players from each of the two states. Oregon had a seventh, non-playing captain, Matthew McInnis, whose company, Big Ern Billiards Productions and Events, along with Pongpanik’s firm, Jam Up Apparel, sponsored the event. An entry fee of $200 per player was supplemented by $1,200 of added money, contributed by Big Ern, Jam Up Apparel and the venue, The 15th St. Grill, in Auburn, WA. The winner-take-all prize purse was $3,600.
 
Playing for Washington (with FargoRates in parentheses) were Pongpanik (718), Eddie Mataya (663), James Davee (662), Tim Tweedell (651), Ed Hobbs (615), and Cindy Sliva (589). Playing for Oregon were Peter Gates (677), Mike Deitchman (673), Bob Zack (670), Paul Marquez (657), Darin Walding (635) and Stephanie Hefner (540). Team Washington had an overall 46-point FargoRate advantage in the matchup.
 
Formatted, like the Mosconi Cup, as a race to eleven team wins, with a variety of individual match formats from full-team, to Scotch doubles and singles, the event opened on Saturday with what seemed like an interminable match between all of the players on both of the teams, playing one right after another, in a 9-ball race to 7 (all other matches were races to 5). It was a back-and-forth opening session that stretched beyond two hours of what turned out to be 11 hours of broadcast time by Rail2Rail Productions (available on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_BGcDnWPu0). Oregon pulled out ahead at the end to win the opening team match.
 
The Washington Scotch Doubles Team of Pongpanik and Davee then took the first of three straight for their team 5-2. Davee won a singles match against Dietchman 5-3, before Hobbs and Silva chalked up third straight win 5-3 against Zack/Marquez. Zack won Oregon’s second, 5-2, in a singles match against Mataya.
 
A Scotch Doubles win for Tweedell/Davee against Oregon’s Gates/Walding was followed by a shutout singles win by Pongpanik over Walding. The Oregon Scotch Doubles team of Marquez/Hefner won that team’s final match of the opening day 5-3 over Washington’s Davee/Mataya. Two straight Scotch Doubles wins for Washington ended the day, with Washington ahead 8-3 in the race to 11.
 
Marquez opened Day Two with one of Oregon’s two remaining victories, downing Tweedell 5-3. Washington took the next two, putting them on the hill, ahead by six, 10-4. Oregon’s Bob Zack won his team’s last match, double hill, over Pongpanik, before Washington’s Davee closed the proceedings with a 5-2 win over Oregon’s Darin Walding.
 
“You know,” said Pongpanik the day after the victory, “I’ve played in front of a lot of people, in a lot of (event) finals, and this was a pressure, unlike anything I’ve ever felt.
 
“It’s a different kind of pressure when you’re representing your state or city,” he added, “and pool could use something like this, to be honest.”