The "Kid" chalks up another one, going undefeated at the 3rd Annual 8-Ball Classic in Duluth
Skip Maloney
Jun. 6, 2018
Efren Reyes - Photo courtesy of On The Wire Media
Efren Reyes - Photo courtesy of On The Wire Media

 

Efren Reyes, in the midst of a ‘retirement tour,’ scheduled to conclude this August, chalked up the latest in an incredibly long list of US and world championship titles with an undefeated run on the 3rd Annual 8-Ball Classic, held on the weekend of June 2-3. The event drew 16 of the world’s best talents at the table to The Break Room in Duluth, MN.
 
He’s known as “Bata,” which translates into “Kid,” because when he was younger, there was another player with the same name. As the younger of the two, he was designated “Bata” to distinguish him from the other player. The need to make that distinction disappeared a long time ago, as year after year, the “Kid” morphed into “the man” at the tables. In spite of eye surgery in 2005 and his own admission that he’s been ‘slowing down,’ the only difference between the younger and older versions of “Bata” Reyes can be found in his motion as he moves around the table. He’s never been a speedball at the table strolls, when he’s assessing the lay of the balls and choosing his target, but he’s a little slower and deliberate now. What hasn’t changed is what has often been described as his ‘genius’ in making shots, which has earned him a secondary nickname as “The Magician.’ To many of us otherwise normal human beings, some of these magical shots can seem downright impossible. He made more than just a few of his signature ‘genius’ shots at this 8-Ball Classic, including some in his second and finals match against Dennis Hatch. His pre-shot routine doesn’t vary much, and motionless beyond the movement of his right arm in the practice strokes, he’s the same as he ever was, up to and including a monster break.
 
Reyes opened strong with a 15-7 victory over Danny Olson, allowed Vince Chambers to get a little closer, but advanced with a 15-13 victory over him to face fellow countryman, “The Lion” – Alex Pagulayan – in a winners’ side semifinal. Hatch, in the meantime, after downing Sergio Rivas 15-11, defeated Shane Van Boening 15-12 to draw Corey Deuel in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
By identical 15-11 scores, Reyes and Hatch sent Paguyalan and Deuel to the loss side. By a third 15-11 score, Reyes claimed the hot seat over Hatch, and waited for his return.
 
On the loss side, “The Lion” drew Can Salim, who’d been defeated on the winners’ side by Deuel and then eliminated Danny Olson 15-9 and Billy Thorpe 15-11. Deuel drew a re-match against Jason Klatt, whom he’d defeated in the event’s opening round, and was in the midst of a five-match, loss-side streak that would take him as far as the semifinals. He eliminated Michael Perron, Jr. 15-10, Vince Chambers 15-9 and Roberto Gomez 15-13 to earn a re-match against Deuel.
 
Klatt wreaked his vengeance on Deuel for the earlier loss with a 15-13 win that sent him to the quarterfinals against Pagulayan, who’d sent Salim home 15-8. Klatt then downed Pagulayan 15-13 and squared off against Hatch in the semifinals.
 
Hatch, who was instrumental in the production of this event, stopped Klatt’s loss-side run 15-11 in those semifinals, and then turned to face the “Kid” a second, and if he wanted to take home the title, a third time in the double elimination finals.
 
The two started out with a typical trading of racks through the opening rounds, until Reyes began to pull out in front, eventually to a 9-4 lead. Hatch mounted a comeback, slowly but surely, to draw within two at 11-9. Reyes, though, re-widened that lead and reached the hill, five racks ahead (14-9). Hatch closed that gap with four in a row to draw within one at 14-13. Hatch broke what proved to be the final rack but came up dry. Reyes, significantly sunk his first high ball, and broke a solid ball away from the 8-ball, which had, until that moment, presented him with his toughest challenge of the layout.
 
Reyes proceeded to run the table to claim the event title. He concluded with a fist-pumping, smile-enhanced little dance around the table before stepping to Hatch for a handshake.
 
It is a final match worth watching and thanks to On the Wire Media, and its owners/commentators Ra Hanna and Beau Runningen, who streamed selected matches of the event throughout the weekend, can be found on On the Wire Media’s Facebook page.
 
Last summer., Reyes interrupted the early stages of his own retirement tour to return to the Philippines, citing fatigue. In an interview/article with a Filipino television station last summer, the author (Dominic Renor) noted that “Father Time has caught up with him; that his eyesight isn’t as dependable as it used to be, making long-range shots more difficult to convert. His wrist isn’t as steady as before.” That said, Reyes was back in form for this 3rd Annual 8-Ball Classic and looks to add a few more master strokes to his already considerable legacy as his retirement tour continues.