Shuff slices through a field of 79 to claim inaugural MD State 10-Ball Championships
Skip Maloney
Sep. 27, 2018
Brandon Shuff (Photo courtesy of Erwin Dionisio)
Brandon Shuff (Photo courtesy of Erwin Dionisio)
Aranas wins nine on the loss side to challenge him in the finals
 
Brandon Shuff chalked up his first 2018 major event victory at the On the Hill Productions’ 2018 Maryland State 10-Ball Championships, navigating his way through a field of 79 entrants at Champion Billiards in Frederick, MD on the weekend of Sept. 22-23. He went undefeated through that field.  In the end, he claimed the title by defeating, in his final two matches, Earl Strickland for the hot seat and in the finals, Philipines’ Zoren James Aranas, who'd won nine on the loss side to challenge him and was looking to earn his eighth 2018 title.
 
It was an extraordinarily robust field of entrants for an event with a total prize package of just under $6,000 ($5,925) and included a list of this and other country’s top players, beginning with Shuff, Aranas and Strickland. Also on hand were Shaun Wilkie, Zion Zvi, Alex Osipov, Matt Krah and Jorge Rodriguez. There were women competing, as well; among them, Karen Corr, Jennifer Barretta and Kia Sidbury.
 
It was, said Shuff, in a post-finals interview with Billiard Sports Network, the first time that he’d been able to leap the ‘Zoren James Aranas’ hurdle. They’d met, most recently, in April at the 2nd Annual Barry Behrman Memorial, where Shuff was defending the title he’d won in the inaugural event. Aranas sent Shuff to the loss side in a winners’ side quarterfinal match, and though he’d come back through five loss-side matches to challenge him in the finals, Aranas defeated him a second time to claim that title.
 
This time, it was Aranas coming from the loss side. It was Shaun Wilkie who sent Aranas over 7-5 in the second round, which launched the nine-match, loss-side streak that ended in the finals. Shuff in the meantime, was launching his own uninterrupted winners’ side streak with victories over Mark Nanashee 7-2, Kenny Rutman 7-1, Matt Krah in a double hill fight, and Jennifer Barretta 7-4. Shuff drew Eddie Abraham in one of the winners’ side semifinals.
 
Also in the meantime, Earl Strickland was working on the winners’ side toward a meetup with Shuff in the hot seat match. Strickland had downed Eric Gonzalez 7-3, shut out Corey Rausch, defeated Dylan Spohr 7-2, sent James Blackburn west 7-1 and got into a winners’ side semifinal match against Del Sim with a 7-3 win over Wilkie.
 
Strickland got into the hot seat match with a 7-1 win over Sim. Shuff joined him after a 7-5 victory over Abraham. In the battle for the hot seat, their respective Fargo Ratings – 775 for Strickland and 738 for Shuff – gave Strickland a 68.1% edge in their race to 7. In the first of two straight matches, Shuff defied the odds and claimed the hot seat with a 7-4 win.
 
Meanwhile, back at the loss-side ranch, Aranas was working his way through to a meetup with Abraham. Aranas had most recently defeated Joey Korsiak 7-4 (loss-side win #6) and eliminated Wilkie (#7) 7-5 to reach him. Sim drew Jennifer Barretta, originally sent to the loss side by Shuff in the fifth round, who’d most recently defeated Tom Matikainen 7-4 and survived a double hill fight against Adam Kielar.
 
Aranas advanced to the quarterfinals with a 7-3 victory over Abraham, and was joined by Sim, who’d eliminated Barretta 7-4. Barretta’s finish in the tie for 5th place made her the top finishing female at this event. Corr finished just out of the money in the eight-way tie for 25th.
 
Aranas and Sim then locked up in a quarterfinal, double hill fight which eventually sent Aranas to a semifinal match against Strickland. Aranas got his shot at Shuff in the hot seat with a 7-3 win over Strickland.
 
Shuff and Aranas entered the finals with a 68-point differential in their respective Fargo Ratings; Aranas with the advantage, 806 to 738. The calculated ‘odds’ gave Aranas an 80.6% advantage in their race to 7.
 
Shuff didn’t get the Fargo memo. He downed Aranas 7-5 in those finals to win his first 2018 title and claim the first Maryland State 10-Ball Championships.
 
Tour directors Loye Bolyard and Rick Scarlato, Jr. thanked the ownership and staff at Champion Billiards for their hospitality, as well as sponsors McDermott Cues, Navigator Tips, Phillippe Cues, Lights Out Billiards Apparel, TAP Pool League (Chesapeake Bay), Billiards Sports Network, Aramith Balls, and Simonis Cloth. The next On the Hill Productions’ event, scheduled for the weekend of Nov. 3-4, will be the Maryland State 10-Ball Bar Table Championships, to be hosted by Bank Shot Bar & Grill in Laurel, MD.