Introducing the Premier Billiard League
Nathan Dumoulin
May 7, 2019
Despite growing participation over the past two decades, cue sports have failed to adapt and modernize along with other sports, resulting in a significant decline in exposure worldwide. This imbalance has created a demand for a unified world billiard organization that is capable of modernizing the game and recapturing spectator interest.
 
The Premier Billiard League has been developed to accomplish this task. For the inaugural year, Premier will consist of six teams, each representing a major global market. The teams are North America, North Europe, Central Europe, Eurasia, Northeast Asia, and Southeast Asia. Each team will be comprised of five high profile players from its respective region, including superstars such as Jayson Shaw (Scotland), Mika Immonen (Finland), and Alex Pagulayan (Canada).
 
While some aspects of Premier are specific to the game of pool, many concepts and features have been borrowed from other successful sporting entities. The regular and playoff season structure, a shot clock, a team format that promotes interaction between teammates, live player and team statistics, etc. These are integral aspects of any successful broadcast sport, that until now, have been lacking in the billiard industry.
 
From the NFL's Skycam, to curling's cable camera, specialized camera systems offer spectators a unique viewing experience. For the first time in billiards, Premier will be bringing a new remote-controlled camera system that suspends a camera on a 4-meter motorized arm that pivots outward around the center of the pool table. The unique angle offers viewers a dynamic 'floating' perspective that is ideal for pool productions.
 
Another innovative element created specifically for Premier, is the real-time compositing software. The system processes the live video and enables the commentary team the ability to diagram shot physics that are composited under the moving players and balls, yet over the table felt. The diagrams automatically indicate the angle and distance of the shot, as well as the path of the cue ball after contact. The commentators can also use an interactive diagram of a cue ball to change the spin applied to the shot, which folds out of the interactive graphics package. This technology will help to better analyze the table layout, while educating the audience on game theory, ball physics, and pattern play.
 
Arguably the most impressive production tool for Premier, is the proprietary software for real-time statistics. The software calculates accuracy for individual shot types (breaking, pocketing, jumping, kicking, banking, etc), average run size, break speeds using an automated radar system, break and run percentage, balls on the break, break speeds, fouls, etc. Each statistic is calculated individually for triples, doubles and singles play, as well as per match, and per season. Statistics for all players are recomputed instantly after each shot, resulting in a total of 3,120 statistics.
 
As an effort to help build an active community and increase engagement, Premier has developed two types of fantasy leagues. The first allows members to score points for correctly predicting the outcome of each frame, while a second more advanced league allows members to build their own pseudo dream team by drafting their favorite Premier players using a mock salary cap. Members accumulate points throughout the season based on their selections, and become eligible for substantial prize giveaways courtesy of Predator Cues.
 
The Premier Billiard League has been in development for three years, and all of the aforementioned features and technologies are completed and operational. The official league launch date is tentatively scheduled for 2020, however a proof of concept "All-Star" exhibition match will be held this fall, with a more specific date soon to follow.
 
The Premier Billiard League is proudly supported by Rasson Billiards, Predator Cues, PoolDawg, Aramith, and the APA. Details about the league can be found at premierbilliardleague.com.