Aranas comes back from semifinals to down Woodward and win Beasley Custom Cues 9-Ball Open

James Aranas

The finals of the 2019 Beasley Custom Cues 9-Ball Open, held on the first weekend of June, was a rematch between the two finalists at the late January/early February 9-Ball division of the Derby City Classic in Indiana – the USA’s Skyler Woodward and Zoren “James” Aranas from the Philippines. At that earlier event, Woodward more or less swept the table (pun intended), winning not only the 9-Ball event (in which Aranas was runner-up) and the Bank Pool Ring Game, but he was the Classic’s Master of the Table winner, as well. Aranas came to the Beasley 9-Ball Open with a few impressive items on his 2019 resume, as well, including the runner-up finish in Indiana, a victory at the Pro Players Championship of the Super Billiards Expo in April, a victory at the Barry Behrmann Memorial and most recently, a 3rd place finish at the 9th Annual George “Ginky” Sansouci Memorial on Memorial Day weekend. That 3rd place finish necessitated the combined talents of Alex Kazakis in the hot seat match and Jayson Shaw in the semifinals to eliminate Aranas.

On the weekend of May 30-June 2, Aranas fell to Woodward in the hot seat match, but came back from the semifinals to defeat him twice and claim the Beasley Custom Cues 9-Ball Open title. Though more were expected and no one could argue with the overall quality of the field, the $10,000-added event drew 66 entrants to Brass Tap & Billiards in Raleigh, NC.

Aranas had much the rougher road on his way to the hot seat match against Woodward. Case in point: his opening round match against fellow countryman Dennis Orcollo, which went double hill before Aranas prevailed. He followed up with wins over David Tickle 9-4, and a somewhat surprising shutout over Dmitris Loukatos (who, like Aranas, had been knocked out of the Ginky Memorial by Jayson Shaw). In a winners’ side quarterfinal, Aranas defeated Brad Shearer 9-7 to draw (as if things weren’t tough enough) Francisco Bustamante in a winners’ side semifinal.

While pool does indeed operate with an “any given Sunday” kind of rule, meaning that at the highest levels of competition, almost anyone can be competitive and upset a generally stronger opponent, Woodward’s path to the hot seat match was, on paper at least, considerably less hazardous, and as the scores demonstrate, handled as might have been expected. He opened with a 9-1 victory over Michael Yingling, and followed with victories over Donald Williams 9-3, and Andrew Bruce 9-1, before running into arguably his toughest opponent to that point in a winners’ side quarterfinal – Omar Alshaheen. Again, the score told the story. Woodward prevailed 9-6 to draw Keith Bennett in the other winners’ side semifinal.

As Aranas was busy defeating 784-Fargo-rated Bustamante 9-4, Woodward appeared to be a little less busy, handing the 566-Fargo-rated Keith Bennett a shutout (an uncharacteristic match for Bennett). Going into the hot seat match, Woodward had won 80% of the games he’d played (45-11). Aranas, on the other hand, won 45 of his 68 games for a 66% winning percentage. Their averages both went down at the end of the hot seat match. Woodward, sporting the lower Fargo Rate (788) downed the higher Fargo-rated Aranas (803) 9-4 to claim the hot seat.

Over on the loss side, while there were quite a few recognizable names still standing as the bracket came down to its final eight, there were a few names missing, as well. Among them were Alex Kazakis, who lost to countryman Dmitris Loukatos to finish in the tie for 13th place. Home town (Raleigh, NC) favorite, 14-year-old Joey Tate, who is the reigning 14-and-under Junior National Champion got knocked out of the running by Dennis Orcollo and finished in the tie for 17th. Tony Chohan was missing at the end, as well, having been defeated on the winners’ side of the bracket by Mike Davis and falling in his second loss-side match to Orcollo.

Coming off the winners’ side semifinal, Keith Bennett picked up Mike Davis, who’d eliminated Brad Shearer 7-2 and Brandon Shuff 7-5 to reach him. Bustamante drew Omar Alshaheen, who’d finished Orcollo’s weekend 7-4 and eliminated Roberto Gomez 7-5.

“Busty” and Alshaheen fought a predictable double hill match before “Busty” prevailed to advance to the quarterfinals. Davis joined him after winning his fifth loss-side match, a 7-4 win over Bennett.

Bustamante made short work of Davis, eliminating him 7-3 in those quarterfinals. Aranas, though, very much ‘in stroke’ at this point, defeated Bustamante 7-4 in the semifinals and earned his re-match against Woodward in the hot seat.

Aranas dropped his overall winning percentage to 59% in the finals. He did so by defeating Woodward 13-10 to capture the 2019 Beasley Custom Cues 9-Ball Open title.

Tour director Jon Brown thanked the ownership and staff at Brass Tap & Billiards, as well as title sponsor Beasley Custom Cues, Simonis Cloth, JB Cases, Aramith, and Outsville Accu-Rack. Selected matches of the event were live streamed throughout the weekend by Ray “Big Truck” Hansen and his PoolActionTV staff.