One Man’s Opinion: Bonus Ball Makes History

Whether or not it becomes officially recorded for future reference, the period of May 30 thru June 2, 2013 was a time when billiard history was made in Las Vegas, Nevada.  On that weekend at the address of 6745 Surrey Street – and inside a stunning new arena built specifically for its intended purpose – the World Professional Billiard League made good on its long-overdue promise to formally launch the game of Bonus Ball.  
Considering all the setbacks the WPBL had to endure over the past year, the fact that they were finally able to open their doors at all is not only a fact for the history books, it’s one that probably cost more than a few doubting bettors some lost money.
Besides the surprising start, however, there were a number of other things unique to the WPBL that I observed while I attended the opening Bonus Ball matches on that exciting weekend, and I will now note those things here: 
The WPBL is the first organization to successfully enlist many of the world’s top players and form them into teams that are designed to play as a league on a seasonal schedule. That concept is a departure from the stand-alone tournaments involving individual players that we have all come to think of as professional pool.  Also, naming the teams after major cities, in anticipation that those teams will someday be playing out of those cities, is another never-before-seen concept in pool. 
The WPBL is also the first entity to offer a dedicated facility that is equipped to provide comfort and convenience to both the players and the spectators.  The playing arena is a spot of functional comfort.  The spectators’ seats that surround the arena on three sides are comfortable theater chairs and they are elevated and tiered for easy viewing from any spot.  The competing players sit on cushy bench seats in the pit, and that area is partitioned off so that no foot traffic can interfere with play.  There is also a “VIP Skybox” that is available for those who wish to pay for the privilege of viewing matches in private comfort. The area outside the arena is filled with a lobby, a concession counter, a bar, a practice room, a players’ dressing room, a production room, and a commentary room.  In short, the WPBL’s new studio lacks nothing and represents another milestone in pool. 
And in addition to all that, the WPBL employs their own full-time production crew, plus they have recently hired the services of a full-time photographer/reporter.   
The WPBL also made history when they broke with tradition and introduced professional pool players to the Rasson table, and introduced Rasson Billiards to the world of professional play, rather than taking the easily accepted route of selecting one of the already-established commercial tables on the market.  But the beautiful table Rasson designed especially for Bonus Ball, along with its super tight pockets and super fast cloth, will most likely set a new standard for professional play.  Chalk up one more first for the WPBL. 
There was one more thing – check that, two – that contributed to billiard history in the first week of Bonus Ball.  First, Thorsten Hohmann, in a shootout to break a tie between his Minnesota Outlaws and Scott Frost’s Phoenix Fire, set a benchmark record of 60 points, a feat that will probably take quite a while to top. And then, after the match, Thorsten and his teammates proceeded to distribute hand-wrapped (by them) candies to the audience in appreciation for their support.  I’ve never seen anything like that in the sport of billiards before.
It’s too early to know if Bonus Ball will be a resounding success, but on that weekend in Las Vegas in late May/early June, billiard history was made by the WPBL, and no one can take that away from them.  I’m very happy that I was there to witness it.