Kiamco comes from the loss side to win final WCS 10-Ball Challenge at Freezer’s Ice House

Warren Kiamco (Photo courtesy of Erwin Dionisio)
There was, at the end of it all, a celebratory feel to the thing. There are times when the end of a pool tournament can feel like a funeral, as the winner and runner-up in a given tournament try their best to set aside the exhaustion and lingering sense of the grim-faced competition they’ve been a part of, and smile (sort of) for a camera. At the very end of the West State Billiards/POVPool’s 2018 West Coast Swing (WCS), which came to its conclusion at Freezer’s Ice House in Tempe, AZ on Sunday, July 15, Scott Frost, gripping two microphones, tried to conduct a post-finals interview with the winner (Warren Kiamco) and runner-up (Omar Al-Shaheen) in the $10,000-added 10-Ball Challenge, which had drawn 96 entrants to the closing event of the 2018 WCS.
Frost tried. He really did. But his interview efforts were stymied by the unexpected appearance of Dennis Orcollo, carrying his over-sized check for $3,000 (earned by winning the One Pocket event the day before) into the camera shot, and hugging Frost like a teddy bear he’d decided he wanted to take home with him. Orcollo had finished 4th in the 10-Ball Challenge (defeated in the quarterfinals by Kiamco) and had apparently spent a good deal of time between the quarterfinals and end of the finals match, at the bar. Beyond its humor value, the attempted interview and its interruption were emblematic of one aspect of the 2018 West Coast Swing that had nothing to do with the pool games that were played or the money they’d all earned.
It was, according to POVPool’s Daniel Busch, “the overwhelming response from professional players” which stood out in his mind as the most memorable thing about the 2018 West Coast Swing that had begun with the 6th Annual Cole Dickson Memorial, as June turned into July, and culminated with a goofy interview, two weeks later, at the conclusion of the last WCS event. Busch and his broadcast crew at POVPool streamed free, selected matches at all of the venues.
“They really appreciated the string of events,” said Busch. “There was an amazing amount of friendship, a feeling of family, and an overwhelming display of camaraderie.”
This, he went on to say, was the result of what he called the ‘theme’ of the West Coast Swing; to “awaken the road player within.”
“The West Coast Swing has set the stage for these guys,” said Busch. “(Given them) the opportunity to travel the West Coast for a couple of weeks and make appearances at some of the country’s best venues.”
The one thing that Scott Frost did manage to get out of Warren Kiamco, when he asked him for comment on his victory (prior to Orcollo’s good-natured interruption), was a glowing endorsement from Kiamco about Freezer’s Ice House, which Kiamco called “the best pool room in the country.”
Kiamco had won last year’s WCS 9-Ball Challenge, losing to Thorsten Hohmann in the hot seat match, but returning to double-dip him in the finals. He opted for the loss-side route in this year’s 10-Ball Challenge, as well. Following an 8-2 victory over John Hall to launch what would prove to be his winning campaign, Kiamco shut Aaron Morgan out, and then, in order, downed Alex Pagulayan 8-3, Corey Deuel 8-6, and Orcollo 8-4 to draw Al-Shaheen in one of the winners’ side semifinals. With a slightly less problematic series of draws, Shane McMinn got by Chris Baginski, George Teyechea, Abie Padilla, Tim Daniel and Bobby Emmons to reach Ruslan Chinakhov in the other winners’ side semifinal.
Al-Shaheen sent Kiamco to the loss side 8-3 and in the hot seat match, faced the somewhat improbable McMinn, who’d dispatched Chinakhov to the loss side 8-5. McMinn and Al-Shaheen fought a double hill hot seat match, which eventually sent McMinn to the semifinals and left Al-Shaheen in the hot seat.
On the loss side, this (and other) country’s best players still lurked going into the money rounds (17th through 24th), including (among others) Orcollo, Jeffrey De Luna, Eklent Kaci, Tony Chohan, Hohmann, Chip Compton, Brandon Shuff, Josh Roberts, Corey Deuel, and Zoren James Aranas, representing an average Fargo rating of 777 (Orcollo at the top with 805, and Shuff at the bottom, with 735). Joining this crowd at a point in time when only one of them (Orcollo)  had advanced to the 5th/6th matchups, Kiamco (791) drew Max Eberle (739), who was on a six-match, loss-side winning streak that had most recently eliminated T-Rex (Chohan) 8-5 and Bobby Emmons 8-4. It was Chinakhov drawing Orcollo, who, following his defeat at the hands of Kiamco in a winners’ side quarterfinal, had defeated Compton (who’d just eliminated Josh Roberts) and De Luna, both 8-5.
Ranking high in the probability department, Kiamco and Orcollo advanced to a quarterfinal re-match; Kiamco 8-5 over Eberle and Orcollo 8-3 over Chinakhov. Kiamco and Orcollo came within a game of double hill in those quarterfinals, but Kiamco just did edge out in front to win it 8-6. He then finished a terrific run by McMinn, defeating him in the semifinals 8-5.
Kiamco took command of the final, single race to 13, early and often. He completed his run with a 13-5 victory over Al-Shaheen (who, as yet, has failed to secure a Fargo rating) that secured the West Coast Swing’s 10-Ball Challenge title.
This final event of the 2018 West Coast Swing featured nine of the 14 US players who have been named to the initial Mosconi Cup team. Five of them (Josh Roberts, Corey Deuel, Chris Robinson, Brandon Shuff and Chip Compton) made it into the money rounds (Billy Thorpe, Tyler Styer, Oscar Dominguez and Mitch Ellerman did not). Chip Compton finished in the tie for 9th place. The 2018 West Coast Swing clearly attracted the best (minus five, and a few more) US talents to the tables over the past two weeks; a circumstance that POVPool’s Busch hopes to duplicate as plans begin to coalesce around the 2019 West Coast Swing.
“It’s two weeks of brutal hard work, with 11 months of planning and promotion behind it,” said Busch, adding that this year’s event might not have been as successful as it was, were it not for the cooperation of the rooms that hosted the events – Family Billiards in San Francisco, California Billiards in Fremont, CA, and Freezer’s Ice House in Tempe, AZ.
“You don’t normally get that kind of cooperation between rooms,” Busch noted, “but (in this case) they all worked at helping to promote each other’s events in the Swing.”
Busch thanked the ownership and staff at all of the venues, in addition to title sponsor West State Billiards,  Cohen Cues, Big Time Threads, KD Cues, Ariel Carmeli (AC) Cues, Tiger Products and JB Cases. The four cue representatives were all a part of the West Coast Swing's Cuemakers’ Showcase, held at two of the venues (California Billiards and Freezer’s Ice House), which garnered a “better than expected” interest and response from the players.  Busch expects to announce plans for the 2019 West Coast, sometime in January.