Fisher comes from the loss side to win second WPBA Virtual 9-Ball Ghost Challenge
Skip Maloney - AzB Staff
Jun. 8, 2020
After a slow start in which she won two winners’ side matches and was then moved to the loss side by Jeannie Seaver, UK’s Kelly Fisher came back and won five in a row for a shot at Chinese Taipei’s Wei Tzu Chien, waiting for her in the hot seat. Fisher took full advantage of the opportunity she’d created for herself and won her second straight WPBA Virtual 9-Ball Ghost Challenge, held from June 1-6, primarily in the US, but also from the UK (Kelly), Norway (Line Kjorsvik) and Chinese Taipei (Wei Tzu-Chien).
 
In addition to winning the event for the second time, Fisher also had the highest individual score in both events (120). Each rack, if run from the break, can represent either 10 or 15 points, depending on whether you take BIH after the break (10) or you don’t (15). If you fail to run the rack, you score the number of balls you did pocket in that rack. In this second event, the field of 16 averaged 64.43 points per rack (3,737 total points over 29 matches featuring 58 players). Though she’d fail to score above 90 points in her first two matches (85, 81) Fisher would finish the event (eight matches, 83 racks) with an average of 94.6 per match, which was achieved, in part, by scoring over 100 in two of her last three matches and 99 in a fourth.
 
Fisher seemed to be headed in the wrong scoring direction at the outset, as she defeated Kristie Bacon 85-46 in the opening round and was then defeated by Jeannie Seaver 87-81. Wei Tzu-Chien moved into the hot seat match with a 93-59 win over Seaver and was met by Webb, who’d sent Little to the loss side 88-28. In one of only three matches (Fisher scored the other two) that saw either competitor score over 100 points, Chien claimed the hot seat over Webb 107-74.
 
Over on the loss side, Seaver ran into Line Kjorsvik, who’d been sent to the loss side by Jennifer Barretta in a 74-73 nail biter in the opening round and was working on a three-match, loss-side winning streak that saw her send Dawn Hopkins (97-76), Ashley Burrows (73-63) and Kristie Bacon (61-45) home; check that, they were already home. It was Little who had the misfortune of running into Fisher, working on her (eventual) five-match, loss-side streak, having eliminated Kia Sidbury 86-36, and in a rematch featuring the winner and runner-up of the first event’s hot seat and finals, Jennifer Barretta 93-62.
 
Seaver advanced into the quarterfinals with a 70-66 win over Kjorsvik. Fisher joined her after eliminating Little 99-34. Seaver ended up as the unfortunate competitor on the other side of the event’s highest score (120-81) in those quarterfinals.
 
Fisher slipped a little in the semifinals that followed. Her loss side average dropped from 99.5 down to 95.6 when she defeated Webb 80-57 in those semifinals. Though she’d not maintained her high average, she’d prevailed for a chance to win it all.
 
“I feel good,” said Fisher at the conclusion of her match against Webb. “I had a little trouble in the last couple of matches, but so it goes; a couple of awkward layouts, a couple of unforced errors and a couple of silly errors. 
 
Fisher’s reputation, as represented by her nickname (Kwikfire), was enhanced by her work in the finals. In the extended race to 13 racks, she was done, with a score of 113, as Tzu-Chien was preparing to break her 9th rack, having already scored 68 points. The dynamic of this created something of a nail-biter for Fisher, as she watched Tzu-Chien draw closer in the final racks. Those watching the stream watched Fisher, watching Tzu-Chien.
 
Tzu-Chien took ball-in-hand at the start of rack #9 and ran the table to bring her score to 78; 35 points away from Fisher with four racks to go and needing to score an average of 9 points per remaining rack to defeat Fisher. Tzu-Chien snookered herself shooting at the 6-ball in rack #10, and missed the shot, giving her 83 points total; 30 points away with three racks to go. If she were to use the ball-in-hand option for the remaining three racks and assuming a successful runout of each of them, she’d tie Fisher at 113 and the event would move to a rack-by-rack tie breaker.
 
Tzu-Chien took BIH in the 11th rack, but missed a shot after dropping four. Now at 87 points, Tzu-Chien would need to run the final two racks without BIH. Running one rack with and one rack without BIH would net her 112 points, one shy of a tie.
 
She broke the 12th rack and as it was her only option, she began her run without BIH. With Fisher watching anxiously, she ran to the 9-ball and then missed it. She scored only eight points, for a total of 95, which put the win out of reach. She broke the 13th rack anyway, dropped a single ball and missed the next one to finish the match.
 
For the second time, Fisher had nothing but praise for the WPBA and the individuals who organized and coordinated this and the previous ghost challenge events.
 
“I know it’s a tough schedule for you,” Fisher told event organizer Angela Janic and fellow stream commentator, Dawn Hopkins at the conclusion of the week-long event. “We really do appreciate all your hard work. It allows us to play, to do what we enjoy doing, and what we do for a living. Without you guys we couldn’t do that, so we really do appreciate it.”
 
Fisher and runner-up Wei Tzu-Chien are long-time opponents and friends and noting this friend’s frustration at the end of the match, Fisher suggested to the woman she knows as “Wei-Wei” to not say what she was thinking.
 
“I can’t speak English, right now,” said Tzu-Chien. “There is an appropriate Chinese term for what just happened.”
 
“Aiyee ya!!,” she added.
 
1st Kelly Fisher $655
2nd Wei Tzu-Chien $395
3rd Monica Webb $240
4th Jeannie Seaver $150