Joshua Filler completes a strong week at the tables to win American 14.1 Straight Pool Championships

Joshua Filler (File photo courtesy Euro Tour)

Germany’s Joshua and Pia Filler – The Killer Fillers – finished their week in Virginia Beach, VA by appearing in both finals of the 16th Annual American 14.1 Straight Pool Championships. Joshua faced Russia’s Fedor Gorst in the Men’s final, while Pia met an undefeated Kelly Fisher, playing in her first professional straight pool tournament (see separate report on the Ladies event). Joshua downed Gorst to claim the men’s title, while Pia finished as the Ladies event runner-up to Fisher.

Joshua finished 9-1, overall. He lost his last Round Robin match to Alex Kazakis in what proved to be one of the closest matches of the week 125-114. He also finished with a +897 ball differential, in spite of that single loss. That differential was boosted substantially by his 125-to-minus-one match against Alex Pagulayan and his 150-and-out match against arguably the strongest European competitor in attendance, Albin Ouschan. His opponents averaged about 48 balls per match, even with Kazakis’ 125 balls in that last Round Robin match.

Day Five of the Championships began at noon today (Saturday) with four semifinal matches; two each in the Men’s and Ladies events. Filler faced Mieszko Fortunski in one of the men’s semifinals, while the event’s defending champion (from 2019), Ruslan Chinahov squared off against countryman Fedor Gorst. 

Filler eliminated Fortunski 150-59, as Gorst was busy spoiling Chinahov’s plans for a second straight title 150-96. Filler got out in front in the finals versus Gorst and stayed there, finishing at 150-89 to claim the title.

In a brief award ceremony at the end – of the match and week – event founder Peter Barrows, as he’d done after the Ladies had completed their final match, thanked all of the players who’d attended and to the agreement of those who’d gathered in the gallery to watch the final match, told everyone that it was “nice to see straight pool coming back.” He advised everyone that the 17th Annual 14.1 Straight Pool Championship was “going to be bigger and better.”

“It’s one of the best events I’ve ever played in,” Joshua Filler commented, adding that the last time he played in a straight pool tournament was six years ago, when he entered the World Tournament of Straight Pool in New York, at which he finished fifth. 

Filler particularly liked the group stage of this event, which guaranteed participants at least five matches.

“Sometimes when you play straight pool,” he said, “you get two opponents who play straight to 100 and you’re out already.”

“(Straight pool) is my favorite game and I love to play it,” he added. “I wish we had more tournaments (with it).”

As Kelly Fisher had noted about her victory in the ladies event, Filler, too, found room for improvement. Though he conceded that his shot-making at this event was “just good enough to win,” there’s work to be done.

“To be honest,” he said, “my straight pool game needs to be improved, especially with my break shots, because (here) I misjudged every break shot. I really need to put more time into it and next year, I’ll be much better.”

Peter Burrows thanked the ownership and staff at Q Master Billiards for their hospitality, and the combined efforts of AZBTv and IStreamPool, which, in spite of a few Internet connection glitches during the week, kept the free live stream running smoothly and afforded (literally) thousands of viewers to watch the events unfold. Over 600 watched the Men’s finals and 2,300 (+/-) watched the two semifinals. A match early in the week, featuring Shane Van Boening and Earl Strickland drew over 4,000 viewers.

Burrows also thanked a number of individual and corporate sponsors, including but not restricted to Iwan Simonis, Aramith Billiard Balls, the Predator Group, Bob Jewett, Dennis M. Walsh (attorney at law), Billiards Digest, George Hart, Doug Desmond, John Lavin of Red Shoes Billiards, Richard Klein, Diamond Billiard Products, Rebecca Snow Burrows & Erik R. Addington, Michael Frank, Alex Borukhovich, Alan Duty (Gem Laser Printing), Nick Varner Cues & Cases, Richard Eselman, Bob & Vicki Paski and Ned & Karen Redick.