Jayson Shaw Excels to Take Turning Stone XXII

Immonen, Shaw, Zuglan

Jayson Shaw captured Turning Stone XXII by taking the long road. He lost his second round match 9-3 to Alain Parent but from then on he was unstoppable as he took on all conceivable shots and his safety play was magnificent.

On the one-loss side he defeated Ed Sauer 9-6, Ron Casanzio 9-0, Matt Krah 9-4, Dan Hewitt 9-3 and Kevin Guimond 9-5. Then he ran into tournament favorite Shane Van Boening, who had just been defeated by Mike Dechaine 9-8.  Earlier in the evening Van Boening had pulled off one of the greatest shots this reporter has ever seen. On the hill against Thorsten Hohmann (who only trailed by one rack) Van Boening came to a table that had no pocket for the one ball. The cue ball was in the back of the kitchen, the one was past the side pocket and the nine ball was perhaps a foot outside the left corner pocket.  The combination was anything but straight in. Van Boening would have to cut the one ball and then make perfect contact on the nine in order to complete the shot. He fired the one into the nine at rocket pace and made the shot to secure the victory as the crowd, at first stunned, erupted into applause.

Mike Dechaine had a great week. His shotmaking was sharp as a tack and his cue ball seemed more then willing to obey his wishes. Prior to defeating Van Boening he had disposed of John Morra 9-5. In his next match he was mostly just a spectator as Rodney Morris was in his automatic mode where he makes every shot appear very easy. No stress ever shows on Rodney’s face and he approaches each shot as if it were a given that the shot will work. When his confidence is working that well Morris is one tough match. Morris took down Dechaine 9-3 and then had to face new Hall of Fame inductee Mika Immonen.

Immonen had already taken down Donny Mills 9-8, Rob Saez 9-4, and Dan Hewitt 9-5. When Immonen beat Morris 9-7 he relaxed in the hot seat to await his final challenge.

Hunter Lombardo and Mike Dechaine both spoke with me prior to the first round and both expressed their disappointment at not being chosen to be a member of the ‘tryout’ squad for the Mosconi Cup. Four of the eight prospects did not attend Turning Stone, something we found curious as it seems logical that they need to prove themselves to make the cut when the final five players are chosen and they need to keep themselves under fire from champions on the tables. So both Lombardo and Dechaine wanted to send a polite message that they need to be considered next year. Neither voiced any negative comments towards the current squad or coach Mark Wilson, they just want to be on the radar for 2015.

Lombardo sent his message by defeating MC team candidate Brandon Shuff 9-3.  To be fair, this was not Shuff’s best effort of the week and he proved his worth by finishing the event in 9th place, the same position as Lombardo and Van Boening. The other Mosconi Cup candidates finished as follows: Oscar Dominguez finished out of the money after he ran into World 8-Ball Champion Huidje See and then, two rounds later, was forced out 9-7 by sharpshooter Donny Mills.  Jeremy Sossei finished one slot further back than Van Boening and Shuff at 13th when he was eliminated on the hill by Ernesto Dominquez.

Our final Four wound up as Shaw, Immonen, Morris and Dechaine. Each of these players had a cadre of fans who were convinced no one could beat their man. They all deserved great praise for their play all week as this was one of the strongest fields ever to play at Turning Stone.

Immonen was undefeated and in the hot seat. Morris was awaiting the winner of Shaw and Dechaine to fight for the B side title and a ticket into the finals.  Dechaine and Shaw fought tooth and nail all the way until the match stood at double-hill.  Early on the match Shaw came to the table with no shot on the one ball. He was inside the head string with the cue ball and he would have to kick off of either the side or foot rail in order to hit the one ball. The nine ball sat in the jaws of the corner pocket. Shaw measured the angle he needed off of the side rail to kick the one ball over toward the nine ball.  When he pulled the trigger it appeared at first that the nine ball would not be moved. But the one came off of the rail and brushed the nine ball into the pocket for a thrillingl victory created by a kick-combination shot under extreme pressure. Had the nine ball not fallen Dechaine would have almost certainly run the table.

Shaw then had to face Morris for the semi-finals and the chance to play in the finals. Morris had a lot of momentum on his side and was shooting instinctively as if he could not miss any shot.  The crowd favored Morris to take the win simply because he appeared immune to pressure and he was making every shot. But Shaw totally dominated the match. He ran rack after rack and never gave Morris the opportunity to get rolling. Shaw shot his way to the final dance with a 9-2 trouncing of Morris in a match that took less than 30 minutes to complete.

Our finals were contested between Jayson Shaw and Mika Immonen. The room was nearly evenly divided on which player they thought would win but Immonen barely got that nod as his experience in World Championships and major events around the world seemed to give him the edge.

That experience proved to be of little aid to Immonen. They were tied early at one apiece but after that it became the Jayson Shaw show and Shaw moved steadily ahead of Immonen by stringing together racks and denying Immonen good starting points. Immonen did contribute to his own demise, however, by jawing  balls on three separate occasions in the lower left pocket, ducks for Shaw to pick off easily. In the end Shaw proved to any doubters that he belongs at the Big Boy’s table whenever dinner is served as he took down the Iceman 13-6.