Mika Immonen Awarded Player of the Year by AZB

Mika Immonen

With his winnings for 2009 hovering around the $250,000 mark it comes as no surprise that Mika Immonen is the AZBilliards Player of the Year.  His year has been nothing short of incredible. The two events that brought him greatest recognition are the US Open, where he won his second consecutive title, and the World Ten Ball Championships, where he won his second World Title of the decade.

But let us not forget, he also won the $25,000 Challenge of Champions, two Joss Tour stops, three Predator stops, the Blackpool Open, the $40,000 Qatar International, the Mezz Classic, and the World Classic 10-Ball in Galveston. You might say this has been his year.

A truly remarkable achievement for the year was his second consecutive win at the US Open. This is a nearly impossible feat and Mika is only the second man in history (Nick Varner is the other) to have accomplished it. The over-200 man fields make for a tough run for anyone and Mika made the majority of his run this year through the one-loss side.  After besting Jerry Fitchett in the opening match he fell to Chris Bartram in the second round and then had to beat 9 players running before he got his revenge on Bartram and knocked him out of the tournaments 11-6 to graduate into the finals chart. To top it off, he had to get past a very determined Ralf Souquet in the finals, which he did with some very convincing cuemanship 13-10.

Immonen began the year as the man to beat. He came into 2009 as the defending US Open Champions and a member of the winning Mosconi Cup team, helping Europe claim the cup in Malta. His quiet, low-key attitude often put opponents off. Time after time Mika would massage table layouts into surrender and gain big leads on impressive opponents, leads so large that they just could not make the comeback effort. Immonen controls the table. If he cannot make a shot, or if making the shot carries no positional advantage, he is very adept at putting people behind bars with safety play that is downright devastating. Players who engage him in safety wars rarely win. Even if they manage to put him in trouble his kicking skills are more than capable of firing right back at the aggressors.

Immonen has been nothing if not consistent. He has been at the top of his game for at least the last three years, something that most players (who tend to run hot and cold) simply cannot pull off. And there is the continuing danger for all who face him. Immonen is still young and aggressive. His eyes are still razor-sharp and he has immense confidence in his arm and his judgment. He is in no way ready to settle down or rest on his laurels. He is working out and practicing just as hard as ever. As large a force as he was in 2009, he could be even more dangerous in 2010.

AZBilliards congratulates Mika Immonen on his fantastic year in 2009 and we look forward to chronicling his achievements in the coming year.