Muller runs loss-side table to win Tri-State stop

(l to r): Justin Muller & Matt Klein
It doesn’t happen often. While event victories by competitors who spend time on the loss side of a double elimination bracket are common, the number of them that do so after losing their opening match and ‘running the table’ on the loss side of the bracket are rare. Justin Muller did just that on the Saturday, January 13 stop on the Tri-State Tour. He would meet the player who’d defeated him in the opening round of play, Victor Dabu, in the event semifinals, and go on to defeat hot seat occupant Matt Klein to claim the event title. The $1,000-added event drew 25 entrants to Shooter’s Family Billiards in Wayne, NJ.
As Muller began his eight-match, loss-side winning streak, Dabu advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Tony Ignomirello. Klein, in the meantime, squared off against Shweta Zaveri. Dabu and “Tony Iggy” battled to double hill, before Dabu finished it to advance to the hot seat match. He was joined by Klein, who’d sent Zaveri to the loss side 7-4. Klein claimed the hot seat in a double hill match and sent Dabu to the semifinal re-match against Muller.
On the loss side, with three wins already, Muller defeated Brian Cap 7-4 and Joe Rubino 8-6 to draw Ignomirello. Zaveri picked up Mike Strassberg, who’d gotten by Luis La Puenta 6-4 and Jim Gutierrez, double hill. Muller and Strassberg handed Ignomirello and Zaveri their second straight loss, both 8-6, and advanced to the quarterfinals.
Muller ended Strassberg’s day 8-6 in those quarterfinals, and turned to face the opponent he’d more or less been waiting for all day; Dabu. The two locked up in something of a predictable double hill fight for a shot at Klein in the hot seat. Muller won that battle and turned his attention to Klein. Muller completed his mostly-loss-side run with an 11-5 victory over Klein and claimed the event title.
Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Shooter’s Billiards, as well as sponsors John Bender Custom Cues, Ozone Billiards, Sterling Billiards, Kamui, Digicue, Billiards Digest, Human Kinetics, Blue Book Publishing, Phil Capelle Publications and Joe Romer Trophies. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, scheduled for the weekend of January 20-21, will be hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.