Iceman returned home to win tournament named in his honor

Mika Immonen

A week before his appearance in this weekend's Guinness World Series 10-Ball Championships in Jakarta, Mika "The Iceman" Immonen returned to his homeland in Finland for a first annual tournament named in his honor.  To no one's surprise, the "Iceman" took home the top prize, besting a field that included a number of Finnish and world champions, including Miika Hirvonen (2011 Kaisa Finnish champion) and Marko Rautiainen (reigning Kaisa World Champion). In the semifinals, he defeated his twin brother, Kari. The first –ever Brunswick Iceman Open, sponsored by Biljardihuolto and Brunswick, with a $6,000  (€4,238.58; Euro) total prize fund, drew 56 entrants to Billiard and Bar Players, in Jyväskylä, Finland.

There was irony at work in this first-ever Brunswick Iceman Open, as area temperatures, normally in the mid-60s for the month of July, soared into the 90s.  With air conditioners operating at full power, the humidity still taxed players, who were forced to wear dress trousers and collared shirts.  A local newspaper headlined Mika's victory with the information that "The Iceman didn't melt in northern heat."

With players handicapped between "0" and "4" (Immonen was the only player ranked "0"), the tournament began as a double elimination affair, and turned into single elimination, once the field had been reduced to 16 players. In all, Immonen played a total of six matches – two in opening rounds, and four among the final 16 – and in his last four, gave up only 13 racks.

He opened the single elimination portion of the proceedings with a 7-3 victory over Mikko Kortelainen, and moved into the semifinals with a 7-5 victory over Sami Saariaho.  As Jussi Salomaa was busy moving into the finals with a double hill victory over Aapo Virrankoski, Mika and his brother Kari faced off in the other semifinal match. Mika prevailed over his twin brother 7-2 to face Salomaa. Salomaa, playing with a "2" handicap managed a single rack in the finals that earned The Iceman a victory in his first-ever namesake tournament.

"My break (was) working very well, so I was able to dominate the games," he said afterwards. "I liked the tournament very much.  It was nice to play with the (Brunswick Metro Tournament Edition table) tight pockets."

Designed as an annual event, Immonen has indicated to organizers and sponsors that he will return to defend his title. Those same organizers and sponsors expressed wry hope that next year, he'd leave the stifling heat back in the USA.