Dennis Orcollo and Kelly Fisher Named AzB Players of the Year

Choosing the Players of the Year is one of our most daunting tasks. Many other publications only look at events in their part of the world to choose their POY. But at AZB we see the sport of pool as being truly an international affair so we look at all of the major events played around the world to make our choices. And that is not always easy to do. Asian players are at a disadvantage in this process because many of their National Federations are not efficient communicators. The WPA world #1 ranked player is Jung Lin Chang, but we did not consider him for POY because we can only find records of him playing in a total of five events last year and that is not enough events to allow him in our running. He may play in more events than that which we could consider majors but we are never given access to the results of these events or even made aware that the events have taken place. It is our hope that these lines of communication will open up in the future so that we can make our decisions in these matters based on a full plate of results for all players.

With the information that we do have, we then have to decide where the events rank in relation to one another and then try to find a way to compare how well a player did in an event in the Philippines and how that relates to how well someone else did in an event in the United States. There are a lot of apples and oranges comparisons to be made and all we can do at the early stage is whittle the field down to two or three players. Then we try to compare the players against one another by analyzing the results they had in events in which they all played.

And we have to decide what our bars are. We long ago found that we could not just pick the POY by looking at total prize fund winnings. When players at the top of their game earn less than $150,000 per year, a top pro could resign from the pro circuit, play in regional events each weekend with weak fields, and be a threat to take the top money spot for the year.  It is not unfeasible that a player of (for instance) Earl Strickland's ability could do just that and never play in a major event. So again, it comes down to how well the contenders do in events that they have in common and to any head to head competitions within those events that we may find.

Dennis Orcollo of the Philippines has taken the honor of being named AZBilliard's Male Player of the Year for 2012. Orcollo played a rock-solid 2012 and was around on the final day of major events more often than any other player. Orcollo won The US Open 10-Ball Championship in Las Vegas and the China Open in Shanghai.  Out of the fifteen major events that he played in last year Orcollo finished in the top 5 seven times and within the top ten eleven times.  He won an average of just over  $6,840 every time he entered an event.

The Player of the Year honors are always close and this year's runner-up, Shane Van Boening, had a great year. He won more money than Orcollo by playing in more events and he had a very impressive run of events here in the United States. But he did not travel as well this year as he has in the past and it was his performance in events where both he and Orcollo competed that gave the final nod to Orcollo.

The two men played in ten events in common in 2012. In seven of those ten instances Orcollo came out ahead in the standings. Orcollo came out on top in the World 9-Ball Championship, the Diamond Ten Ball Challenge, The US Open 10-Ball Championships,  the World Pool Masters, the All-Japan Open and the Hard TImes 10-Ball Championship. Finally, in a best of three disciplines TAR match in August, Orcollo bested SVB in the One Pocket and Ten Ball while Van Boening won the Eight Ball event.  Of the nine other events, SVB came out ahead of Orcullo only at the Derby City 9-Ball, The U.S. Open 9-Ball, and the Southern Classic 9-Ball.

For Orcullo, 2012 found him doing well when it really counted. His first major victory at the US Open 10-Ball Championship only began a year that found him claiming another Major Championship at the China Open.  He took second at the U.S. Open (to Van Boening) and 3rd at the World Pool Masters.  He had top-five finishes also at the All-Japan Championships, the World Series of Pool, and the Derby City 9-Ball division.  He won the Hard Times Ten Ball Open by beating Shane Van Boening in the finals.

Dennis Orcollo has risen from Philippine fisherman to international Billiard superstar. Our 2012 honoree has paid his dues.

Kelly Fisher Captures Player of the Year

Kelly Fisher stormed her way into Player of the Year by just beating everybody.  She won the World 9-Ball Championship in Shenyang, China when she was the lone westerner in the final field of eight players.  She once again trounced all of the excellent Asian players when she won the China Open. In fact, of the seven major events that Fisher competed in this past year she had a top-five finish in five of them plus a 9th and a 17th. She fears no one and has the confidence now to match her skills.

Our runner-up this year was Ga Young Kim.  Kim won the World Ten Ball Championship in Manila and had a fine year with high finishes at WPBA Tour Championship, The WPBA Masters and the Amway eSpring Open.  But the major event season for women was too short in 2012 for Ga young Kim to be able to overcome Fisher.

The major holdback for Fisher is now simply an absence of events.  Her event count in 2012 was almost half of what it was just two years earlier. If the current outlook for more events in 2013 proves true, Fisher is poised to be the player to watch at any event that finds her connecting her cues. The battles to come between Fisher and Kim should be of great interest to all fans of the game in the coming years.