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Shaw regains Diamond Open 9-Ball Professional Players Championship title

Jayson Shaw

Previously, on Reports from the SBE . . .

By Sunday morning, the field at the 30th Annual Diamond Open Professional Players Championship, held at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, PA from April 11-14, had come down from its 128 entrants to eight. They’d gone through a monster 128-player, double-elimination bracket until there were eight left on each side of the bracket. Those 16 entered a single-elimination phase, which opened up on Saturday night, immediately reducing the field to the aforementioned eight in the event’s quarterfinals.

Jayson Shaw returned from the loss side of the double-elimination phase of the tournament, entered the single-elimination phase and went undefeated from there to claim the title; his second Diamond Open Pro Player Championship, having won the event in 2022 and lost in the 2023 finals to Jonas Souto Comino.. Shaw was challenged in the final by Lithuania’s Pijus Labutis, who won four straight in double elimination, and advanced through the single-elimination bracket to challenge Shaw in the finals.

After Shaw defeated Tyler Styer 11-7 in the first round of single elimination on Saturday, he returned on Sunday morning to meet and defeat Lukas Fracasso-Verner 11-6 in one of the quarterfinals. Shaw drew Shaun Wilkie in the semifinals. Labutis opened his single-elimination work with a victory over Mortiz Neuhausen 11-8, before downing Darren Appleton 11-7 in the quarterfinals and drawing BJ Ussery, Jr. in the other semifinal.

As he had done in a double-elimination match versus Tommy Kennedy, Shaw let Wilkie get out to a substantial lead in their semifinal match. The two traded racks to a 1-1 tie before Wilkie set out on a five-rack run. Ahead 6-1, Wilkie made a tough, though successful cut at the 6-ball in rack 7 and scratched. Jayson finished the rack, but Wilkie came right back with one to regain his five-rack lead at 7-2.

Jayson began a run that would pull him within one, winning four straight, including the first break & run of the match. At 7-6, Shaun responded to make it 8-6 and then, chalked up his first break and run to go ahead 9-6. 

Rack 16 proved pivotal, as Wilkie made an unforced error shooting at the 8-ball. Shaw pounced and won the first of three, including his second break & run to knot thing at 9-9. Wilkie took advantage of an unforced error by Shaw to reach the hill first, but Shaw came right back with his 4th break and run to force a double-hill, deciding game. Wilkie broke and scratched. With ball in hand, Shaw stepped to the table and won.

In a match that went back and forth through multiple ties and lead exchanges, BJ Ussery and Pijus Labutis were battling the other semifinal out on a nearby table. Ussery, having been responsible for sending Shaw to the loss side in double elimination, may have been looking ahead to a second matchup against Shaw in the final. He and Labutis played three less games than Shaw and Wilkie but took more time doing it. They’d kept it close until Labutis began to edge out in front, winning it finally 11-7.

In the final that began about half an hour after the final 9-ball dropped in the semifinal, Labutis won the lag and immediately chalked up the match’s first break & run. Perhaps mindful of previous matches during the event in which he’d had to struggle when his opponent got a little too far out in front, Shaw stepped up to the table and got to work right away.

Shaw broke and dropped a ball in rack #2, but failed to pocket the 1-ball. Labutis made a mistake shooting at, Shaw stepped up and ran the table to create the first, and as it turned out, only tie at 1-1. Shaw won the next eight racks to take a commanding 9-1 lead before Labutis registered his second break and run to make it 9-2.

Labutis won the next two, but Shaw won rack #14 to reach the hill first. Labutis came back with something of a desperate run, winning three in a row and chalking up his third break & run to pull within three at 10-7. Shaw closed it out, winning rack #18 to claim the event title.

“Pool’s a funny old game,” said Shaw after the match, “and (Labutis) played a good, good set.”

While musing just a bit about the folly of depending on safety play too much – “How many times do you play safe and when you come back to the table, you’re in (a bad position). I figure what’s the point? I’m just going to go for it. Most of the time, I’m going to make (the shot) anyway, so why am I playing safe in the first place?” – Shaw went on to express satisfaction with where he’s ‘at’ presently.

“I’m just happy to be playing well again,” he said, “and I feel like I’m in good shape.”

Hard to find somebody who competed in the 30th Annual Diamond Open Professional Players Championship who disagreed with him. 

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Diamond Open 9-Ball Pro Players Championship down to its quarterfinals eight

Brandon Shuff

Total prize fund is growing as the SBE contributes to prize fund from live streaming passes

As a matter of perspective, the 30th Annual Diamond Open 9-Ball Professional Players Championships at the Super Billiards Expo was at a ‘120 down, 8 to go’ juncture when the sun rose over the Greater Philadelphia Convention Center in Oaks, PA this morning (Sun., April 14). With a little bit of luck, it should be over before the sun goes down. 

This may be the first tournament anywhere at which players are content to not know the payouts until the final day. That’s because the prize fund is growing, day by day. That is happening because Allen Hopkins’ Super Billliards Expo is contributing directly to the prize fund with a portion of every Streaming Pass purchased as the event goes on. The money-added to the prize fund has also grown with Sponsorship Opportunities and is currently at $24.5k. The total payouts as of 10:30 a.m. this morning was at $83,514. If you have an interest in any of the matches that remain, you’ll know that when you sign on to watch through the SBE Web site (link listed below), you’ll personally be contributing to what the top finishers are paid.

We noted in a report that appeared here on Friday that the 128 initial entrants “made for a diversified, skill-level field that blended upper-tier, regional tour players with some of the best in the world.” That dynamic has survived four winners’ side and five loss-side rounds of double elimination, along with one ‘in the money’ single-elimination round. 

The final eight were an hour away from beginning their day as this report was being written and the eight will likely be down to the four semifinalists before somewhere between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. (EST) this afternoon. The tour directors are playing the scheduling ‘close to their vest’ to allow for any long matches that could (and often do) delay progress. Their calculations incorporate opportunities for competitors to take a breath between the three remaining rounds; not a big one that might interrupt momentum or too short to be of any value. Just enough, combined with the uncertainty of match lengths to keep the balls rolling at a steady pace to the final.

Of the eight competitors who lost their opportunity to advance to single elimination in the last winners’ side qualification round, six of them chalked up a successful, single round on the loss side to join the final 16 from that side of the bracket. Francisco Sanchez-Ruiz, who’d lost his first match to Darren Appleton 11-9 in that last qualifying round, downed Eddie Abraham 11-5 on the loss side to join the final 16. He drew Michael Feliciano, who’d lost his winners’ side qualifying round to Jonas Souto Comino, the event’s defending champion.

Thorsten Hohmann, who’d lost to fellow countryman Moritz Neuhausen 11-8, returned from the loss side after defeating another fellow countryman; The Kaiser, Ralf Souquet 11-7. In the opening round of single-elimination, Hohmann drew Shaun Wilkie, who’d won three on the loss side, including an 11-7 victory over Jeremy Sossei to the join the final 16. David Alcaide, who’d been defeated by Shane Wolford 11-6 on the winners’ side, eliminated Jeffrey DeLuna on the loss side and joined the final 16, drawing Lukas Fracasso-Verner. Fracasso-Verner, who’d lost a double-hill match to Hohmann on the winners’ side, survived an opening, double-hill loss-side round to Raphael DaBreo before eliminating Rodney Morris 11-5 and Mika Immonen 11-9 to join the final 16.

Tyler Styer, who’d lost to Canada’s John Morra 11-5 on the winners’ side, defeated Cong Thanh Nguyen 11-6 on the loss side to join the final 16 party. Styer had the daunting task of facing Jayson Shaw in the opening, single-elimination round. Shaw had been defeated in the last winners’ side qualification round by BJ Ussery, Jr. 11-7 and on the loss side, ended the run of Earl “The Pearl” Strickland 11-7.

The opening round of single elimination got underway just after 9 p.m. on Saturday, with a number of intriguing matchups that reflected the ‘skill-level diversity of the field.’ Spain’s Francisco Sanchez-Ruiz, who topped the AZBilliards Money Leaderboard in 2022, dropped just a bit in 2023 (to #4) and is currently in the #7 spot, faced Filipino Michael Feliciano, who’s never been higher than #66 on that same list (his current position). To our knowledge, he has not recorded a major win, anywhere, so definitely the ‘underdog’ to Sanchez-Ruiz’ status as a ‘favorite.’ Last night, the ‘underdog’ sent the favorite ‘home,’ so to speak, 11-8.

In this morning’s opening round (ongoing), Feliciano drew Shaun Wilkie, a mid-Atlantic journeyman who was runner-up to Shane Van Boening at this event in 2008. Wilkie had joined the final 16 from the loss side and in the first, single-elimination round had eliminated Thorsten Hohmann, double hill. As of just after noon, Wilkie was leading Feliciano 5-3 in the quarterfinals.

Lukas Fracasso-Verner, who’d defeated David Alcaide 11-5 in the first single-elimination round was facing Jayson Shaw, who’d eliminated Tyler Styer 11-7 to reach him. Shaw was ahead 5-4.

Brandon Shuff eliminated Shane Wolford last night 11-9 and in the morning matchup, faced BJ Ussery, who’d previously defeated John Morra 11-9. Shuff was leading this morning action 4-3. Darren “Dynamite” Appleton, who’d spoiled defending champion Jonas Souto Comino’s shot at a second straight title with an 11-4 win last night, was facing Pijus Labutis, who’d previously defeated Moritz Neuhausen 11-8. Last heard, Labutis was ahead of Appleton 8-5.

If you have interest in streaming what’s left of the SBE’s Diamond Open 9-Ball Players Championship, the semifinals are up next, as noted, at around 2 p.m., with the finals loosely ‘expected’ to get underway somewhere in the vicinity of 5 p.m; possibly sooner, possibly later. To catch the action, go to https://superbilliardsexpo.com/watch/ and to follow along with the online brackets, head to https://digitalpool.com/tournaments/2024-diamond-open-at-super-billiards-expo/viewer/stage-1.  

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Friday-night at the SBE sends up some drama at the Diamond Pro Players Championships

Jayson Shaw

Sanchez-Ruiz defeats The Pearl, as Kennedy/Shaw create drama that sends Kennedy over

It’s difficult at best, approaching impossible, to watch two pool matches at the same time. While you can certainly pay attention to more than one at a time, your divided attention has a way of missing some of the action. The modern technology of multiple screens offered by a streaming service exacerbates this problem because it makes shifting your attention from one screen to another that much easier. You end up doing it more and while you’ll certainly be able to track the score progress of multiple matches, you tend not to really ‘see’ any of them; the give and take between two competitors, the ebb and flow that defines individual games and match progress as it plays out over time. The basics of what makes a good pool match so much fun to watch in the first place. 

So it was, that on Friday night (March 12), at the evening session of the 30th Annual Diamond Open 9-Ball Professional Players Championships at the Super Billiards Expo, in-person spectators and distant streamers had some tough choices to make. What to do when, for example, Earl Strickland and Francisco Sanchez-Ruiz are playing a match, while at the same time, Tommy Kennedy and Jayson Shaw are doing so a matter of a few feet away? And those were just two of the 16 matchups that got started at (or near) 9:15 p.m. last night.

The two most-likely-to-be-popular matches (a subjective opinion) are generally placed in front of the two risers that accommodate the Championship Arena’s seating capabilities. There are about 32 seats in each two-level riser. There are 11 folding tables that surround the arena, seating about four per table.  

The ’feature’ match on the digitalpool streaming system with its visible scoring and commentary, was between Strickland and Sanchez-Ruiz, but you could choose to watch any of the other 15 matches, as long as you were willing to keep score yourself. Or, if you had an appropriate device, you could monitor the ‘live’ brackets on digitalpool.com, switching back and forth between streaming the match and the score. Tuning in to watch a match that doesn’t provide a score is almost pointless because a lot of a match’s inherent entertainment value derives from a spectator’s awareness of where the match is ‘at,’ so to speak, at any given moment; whether the competitors are tied or one is ‘on the hill’ or in the midst of three games in a row, or . .  whatever.

Sanchez-Ruiz got out to an early 2-0 lead over Strickland that he never relinquished. By game 6, it was a four-point lead (5-1), by game 13, it was five points (9-4) and two games later, Sanchez-Ruiz closed it out at 11-4. Sanchez-Ruiz was scheduled to play at 4 p.m. today (Saturday) against Darren Appleton, who’d defeated Alex Osipov 11-9. The (Saturday) afternoon, winners’ side matches will put eight players into the 16-entrant, guaranteed money, single-elimination phase of the event. Strickland was scheduled to take on Bucky Souvanthong on the loss-side at 1:45 p.m.  

The Kennedy/Shaw match was only a matter of feet away, next to the Strickland/Sanchez-Ruiz table, but closer to the opposite seating area. It offered some instantaneous drama as Kennedy, almost assuredly the ‘underdog’ in the matchup, got out to a 4-0 lead that by game #9 had become a five-point lead at 7-2. Shaw was literally and figuratively ‘cold’ at the outset.

“It was so cold,” he would comment after the match, “that I didn’t even want to be here. It was like 61 degrees, blowing on the back of your neck.”

The two offered distinct differences in ‘style.’ Shaw’s performance in a match is characterized by a very business-like attitude. When he’s at the table, there is no wasted energy. He finds his shot, aims and strokes in almost one movement that would reset a shot clock (not used at this event) before it counted down more than 10 seconds. Shaw doesn’t waste any energy when he steps away from the table either.  He sits down and looks like one of those newer cars that shuts off the engine when it stops moving. Until he gets back up, he looks as though he could be waiting for a bus, idly wondering what he might want to order for dinner. 

Kennedy’s ‘work’ is much more of a production. He spends as much time looking for (or at) a shot and deciding to get down on it than Shaw generally spends between getting up and getting back down. The amount of time Kennedy spends between getting down to take his shot and then actually taking it, will vary widely. Though rarely long enough to challenge a shot clock, his ‘routine’ at the tables tends to be more deliberate and thoughtful as he takes the time available to double-check things before finally letting the stroke go. He tends to ‘look’ more engaged when he’s waiting for his turn at the table. 

Shaw got warmed up at the conclusion of Kennedy’s 7th game win. One game at a time, he kept chipping away at Kennedy’s lead. He banked the 9-ball into a hole to tie things up at 7-7, then took his first lead and added another at 9-7. Kennedy took advantage of a ready-made combo on the 9-ball to come back to within one, but Shaw came right back to reach the hill. Kennedy got within one a second time, but Shaw finished it 11-9. 

At 4 p.m. today (Saturday), Shaw is scheduled to face BJ Ussery, Jr., who defeated Sam Henderson 11-7 last night. Kennedy moved to the loss side and at 4 p.m., will take on Wiktor Zielinski. 

Also advancing to the 16-player winners’ side matches for a 4 p.m. meetup today were Jonas Souto Comino and Michael Feliciano, Moritz Heuhausen and Thorsten Hohmann, Pijus Labutis and Jeremy Sossei, David Alcaide and Shane Wolford, Brandon Shuff and Mika Immonen and John Morra and Tyler Styer.

As of 2 p.m. this afternoon, other players still in contention for the eight, loss-side slots for single elimination included (though not restricted to) Matt Krah, Oscar Dominguez, Raphael DaBreo, Lukas Fracasso-Verner, Rodney Morris, Donny Mills, Dylan Spohr, Ralf Souquet and Shaun Wilkie.

If you have interest in streaming SBE’s Diamond Open 9-Ball Tournament, go to https://superbilliardsexpo.com/watch/ and to follow along with the online brackets, head to https://digitalpool.com/tournaments/2024-diamond-open-at-super-billiards-expo/viewer/stage-1.  

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A diversified, skill-level talent pool completes Day One at the SBE

Francisco Sanchez-Ruiz

Featuring a range of Fargo Rates from 495 (Eric Martin) to 841 (Francisco Sanchez-Ruiz), the 30th Annual 2024 Diamond Open at the Super Billiards Expo in Oaks, PA got underway yesterday (Thurs., April 11). Of the 118 competitors, who (literally) got the ball(s) rolling on Thursday morning, 29 of them entered the event without a (reported) Fargo Rate, leaving 89 competitors with an average Fargo rate of just under 700. The ‘700’ range had the most players (49), with unrated (29), ‘600’ (25), ‘500’ (8) ‘800’ (4) and a lone ‘400.’ 

It made for a diversified field that blended upper-tier, regional tour players with some of the best in the world, like Sanchez-Ruiz, Jayson Shaw, David Alcaide, Thorsten Hohmann and Wiktor Zielinski (to name just a few). Though there weren’t a lot of surprises in the opening two rounds on the winners’ side of the bracket, there were a few compelling matches.

Earl Strickland (772) got by his first opponent, Gary Serrano (618) readily enough 11-5 in the opening round, but had a local competitor, Kevin Clark (716), who’d shut out his first opponent, throw him a double-hill scare in the second round. Joss Tour veteran and winner of the 2023 New England Pool & Billiards Hall of Fame 9-Ball Open, Jeremy Sossei, sent this year’s US 8-Ball Open and McDermott Classic Champion, Poland’s Wiktor Zielinski to the loss side 11-8.

US Open 9-Ball Champion (1992), Tommy Kennedy brought his (Corrected) 735  Fargo Rate to the table and defeated two ‘698’s in a row; Jimmy Rivera and Matt Krah. In a marquee match-up promoted on the SBE Web site, Darren “Dynamite” Appleton defeated Johnny “The Scorpion” Archer 11-8 in the opening round. Jeffrey DeLuna gave up just a single rack in his first two matches. Jason Shaw, who played his first match at 11:30 p.m. last night (Thursday), had his opponent open by dropping the 9-ball on the break, but recovered nicely to win 11-6.

Thorsten Hohmann, Jeremy Seaman fight representative battle for winners’ side advancement

Arguably, most indicative of the skill-level(s) caliber of play at this year’s Diamond Open, and the relative unpredictability of any handicapping system in the world of pool was a second round match between a journeyman competitor from Battle Creek, MI – Jeremy Seaman (762), who’s been cashing in events all over the US map since 2003, though, as far we know, has never won an event – and World Champion Thorsten Hohmann (789), whose career started two years earlier than Seaman’s.

Hohmann opened the race to 11 with a win off Seaman’s break and broke and ran his own rack for a quick 2-0 lead; ‘off to the races,’ you’d think, but not so fast. Seaman won a rack and Hohmann added two to make 4-1. Seaman won two to pull within one and Hohmann chalked up another to make it 5-3. At that point, Seaman stepped to the table and chalked up three in a row to tie and then take a lead at 6-5. It proved to be the longest run of racks in the match. The two traded racks, back and forth, to a 7-7 tie when, off his own break, Seaman ran to the 8-ball, which stubbornly rattled in a corner pocket and did not fall. Hohmann took the 8-7 lead.

Hohmann dropped two on his break in Rack 16, but scratched. Seaman ran the table to tie it up again and broke Rack 17. He did not, however, win it. Hohmann, at a critical juncture, took the lead 9-8 and on his break, reached the hill, ahead by two. Seaman came back to win the 19th rack, setting up the fateful last rack of the match at which Hohmann broke dry. They chased the 1-ball for what seemed like ages before Seaman broke through, advancing to the 6-ball, at which point he made a critical unforced error that cost him the game and the match, as Hohmann closed it out. 

And in so doing, provided a generalized answer to the question “Which of the upcoming matches should I watch, either in person, or via digitalpool streaming?” Answer: Any of them.    

All of the Diamond Open matches on Opening Day were winners’ side matches, allowing that side of the bracket to get through two rounds. As a result, the winners from yesterday will not be competing until this evening (Friday), beginning at around 9:15 p.m. 

The winners’ side 9:15 matches are:

Earl Strickland/Francisco Sanchez-Ruiz                     David Alcaide/Hunter Lombardo
Darren Appleton/Alex Osipov                                     Shane Wolford/Shaun Wilkie
Jonas Souto Comino/Eric Roberts                               Ralf Souquet/Brandon Shuff
Michael Feliciano/Dylan Spohr                                   Konrad Juszczyszyn/Mika Immonen
Rodney Morris/Moritz Neuhausen                              John Morra/Nicholas DeLeon
Thorsten Hohmann/Lukas Fracasso-Verner                Tyler Styer/Francesco Candela
Pijas Labutis/Jeffrey DeLuna                                       BJ Ussery, Jr./Sam Henderson
Jeremy Sossei/Jake Sollman                                        Jayson Shaw/Tommy Kennedy

Notable competitors currently on the loss side: Johnny Archer, Danny Olson, Jonathan Pinegar, Wiktor Zielinski, Robb Saez, Bucky Souvanthong, Donny Mills, Nathan Childress, Ray Linares, Oscar Dominguez.

Dependent on the timely advance of both sides of the bracket, there may be 11:30, winners’ side matches or they may just bring the 16 competitors looking to advance to single elimination back on Saturday.

If you have interest in streaming SBE’s Diamond Open 9-Ball Tournament, go to https://superbilliardsexpo.com/watch/ and to follow along with the online brackets, head to https://digitalpool.com/tournaments/2024-diamond-open-at-super-billiards-expo/viewer/stage-1.

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Mike Davis, Jr. wins 5th NC State 9-Ball Championship on PremierBilliards TOP Tour

Mike Davis

After the 1st NC State 9-Ball Championships were won by Larry Nevel in 2013, Mike Davis, Jr. won the next three between 2014 and 2016 He skipped three years in which Shannon Fitch (’17), Reymart Lim (’18) and Keith Bennett (’19) won, before returning to the annual event in 2020, downing Justin Martin in the finals. BJ Ussery claimed the title in 2021 and Jesus Atencio won it last year. Mike Davis, Jr. chalked up his fifth NC State 9-Ball Championship title this past weekend (Feb. 25-26), going undefeated and downing Brian White twice; hot seat and finals. The $1,000-added event, held under the auspices of the PremierBilliards.com TOP (The Open Players) Tour, drew 38 entrants to Breaktime Billiards in Winston-Salem, NC.

A previously-scheduled Ladies event did not occur when it drew only 5 women, including a pair of junior competitors, Hayleigh Marion and Skylar Hess. The women were offered the opportunity at a reduced entry to compete in the Open event and did so, comporting themselves quite well actually.

“Even when they lost,” said tour director, Herman Parker, “the fact that they’d won a few, collectively, against some strong (male) competition was pretty significant.”

Skylar Hess, a regular on the Junior International Championship circuit (JIC), defeated Jason Blackwell before losing to Barry Mashburn and Kirk Overcash. Hayleigh Marion won two on the winners’ side and one on the loss side before being knocked out by Q City 9-Ball veteran and multiple event winner, Reid Vance. Christy Norris, who plays on the tour regularly in mixed-gender events, came within of match of advancing to the first money round, before she forfeited a match against her significant other, Barry Mashburn (who promptly loss in the subsequent round, which led to some gentle ‘ribbing’ after the fact).

“I was super-impressed with the womens’ play this past weekend,” said Parker.

Davis and Brian White met first in the hot seat match after Davis had defeated Clint Clark 7-3 in one of the winners’ side semifinals and White had downed Don Lilly 7-1 in the other one. Davis claimed the hot seat 7-4 and waited on White’s return.

On the loss side, Davis actually had two “White”s to watch, because Hunter White was working his way through the bracket on the loss side as well. Hunter had eliminated Mark Bolton 7-3 and in the first money round, Barry Mashburn 7-4 to draw Lilly. Clark picked up Josh Padron, who’d recently defeated Kelly Farrar 7-3 and to enter that first money round too, survived a double hill battle versus Scott Howard to reach him.

Hunter White defeated Lily 7-3 and in the quarterfinals, met up with Clint Clark, who’d eliminated Padron 7-4. Hunter White then downed Clark 7-2 in those quarterfinals, leaving Davis (waiting in the hot seat) in the position of wondering which “White” to watch as the two of them squared off in the semifinals.

One “White” won as the other went down. Brian defeated Hunter 7-3 for a second crack at Davis in the finals. Davis and Brian White mirrored their hot seat match score, which gave Davis his fifth NC State 9-Ball Championship title.

Tour director Herman Parker thanked the ownership and staff at Breaktime Billiards for their hospitality (and sponsorship of the tour), as well as title sponsor PremierBilliards.com, BarPoolTables.net, Dirty South Grind Apparel Co., Realty One Group Results, Diamond Brat, AZBilliards.com, Federal Savings Bank Mortgage Division and TKO Custom Cues. 

The next stop on the PremierBilliards.com TOP Tour, scheduled for the weekend of March 18-19 will be the 2023 West Virginia State 9-Ball Open, to be hosted by The League Room in Parkersburg, WV. The next stop on the PremierBilliards.com Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for this coming weekend (March 4-5), will be hosted by West End Billiards in Gastonia, NC.

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Overcash Goes Undefeated To Win His First Premierbilliards.Com Q City 9-Ball Tour Stop

Kirk Overcash

He’d cashed in only three Q City 9-Ball Tour events before this past weekend (Jan. 14-15) and finished as runner-up to BJ Ussery in one of them, three years ago. Kirk Overcash, who in addition to competing, helps sponsor the tour through TKO Custom Cues and Realty One Group, ended that drought this past weekend with an undefeated run on a $500-added tour event, which drew 47 entrants to Breaktime Billiards in Winston-Salem, NC.

He and Tim Nelson, also looking for his first win on the tour, battled twice to claim it. Both won double hill matches in the winners’ side semifinals for advancement to the hot seat match; Overcash defeated tour veteran Hank Powell 5-7 (Powell racing to 8), as Nelson was getting by Joey Palazzolo 6-4 (Palazzolo racing to 5). Overcash claimed his first hot seat with a 5-1 victory over Nelson.

On the loss side, Powell picked up Clint Clark, who was working on a six-match loss side streak that was about to come to an end and had recently eliminated Chris Clary 8-3 and, in the first money round, Jamie Bowen, double hill 8-5 (Bowen racing to 6). Palazollo drew Runal Bhatt, who’d lost his opening match to Clary and was working on an eight-match, loss-side winning streak that would take him as far as the quarterfinals. He’d recently shut out Travis Shelton and downed Jeff Underwood in the first money round 7-2.

Clark’s loss-side run came to an end with a defeat at the hands of Powell 8-6. Bhatt advanced one more step, downing Palazzolo 7-3. Powell then stopped Bhat 8-3 in the quarterfinals.

With Powell racing to 8, Nelson earned his second shot at Overcash with a 6-5 win in the semifinals. Nelson, racing to 6, made their second match a little more competitive, but in the finals, Overcash defeated him a second time, 5-4 to claim his first event title.

Tour director Herman Parker thanked the ownership and staff at Breaktime for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor PremierBilliards.com, along with title sponsor PremierBilliards.com, Breaktime Billiards (Winston-Salem, NC), BarPoolTables.net, Dirty South Grind Apparel Co., Realty One Group Results, Diamond Brat, AZBilliards.com, Federal Savings Bank Mortgage Division and TKO Custom Cues. The next stop on the Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for this weekend (Jan. 20-21), will be hosted by Borderline Billiards in Bristol, TN.

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Mike Davis, Jr. comes from the loss side to capture $3.7K-added, MD State Bar Box 10-Ball title

Mike Davis

It’s been a good year for Mike Davis, Jr., who’d already chalked up his best (recorded) earnings year since 2016, when he travelled to Maryland this past Thanksgiving Day weekend (Nov. 26-27) and competed in the MD State Bar Box 10-Ball Championships. He got sent to the loss side by his eventual opponent in the double elimination final, Tom Zippler, and defeated him twice in the double elimination final to claim the title. The $3,750-added event drew 86 entrants to Brews & Cues on the Boulevard in Glen Burnie, MD.

The battle for this title was, by close-match standards, fierce; 38% of the tournament’s last 18 matches (7) went double hill, including the hot seat match, semifinal and first set of the true double elimination final. Mike Davis’ campaign opened up with a double hill battle that he won over Scott Haas. Davis followed up with wins over Clint Clayton (4), Mike Saleh (4) and Steve Fleming (5), to arrive at his first match against Zippler, in one of the a winners’ side semifinals. Zippler’s path started out easy enough, with a shutout over Matt Broz, but grew increasingly competitive as he got by Tony Manning (2), Michael Miller (3), Roger Haldar (4) and then, had to battle Brett Stottlemeyer to double hill in a winners’ side quarterfinal that did send him (Zippler) to that first battle with Davis. In the meantime, Kevin West, working at the other end of the bracket, sent Garrett Vaughan (1), Steve Johnson (2), Bobby Pacheco (double hill) and Grayson Vaughan (4) to the loss side and drew Brandon Shuff in the other winners’ side semifinal.

West and Shuff locked up in a double hill battle that eventually did advance West to the hot seat match. He was joined by Zippler, who’d won his first (and, as it turned out, last) match against Davis 7-3. Zippler and West fought to double hill in that hot seat match, with Zippler prevailing and waiting in the hot seat for Davis’ return.

On the loss side, Davis would play three matches against three of the mid-Atlantic region’s (country’s) toughest competitors; in order, Shaun Wilkie, BJ Ussery, Jr. and then, Kevin West. Upon arrival, Davis faced Wilkie, who’d lost a winners’ side quarterfinal to Brandon Shuff and then defeated Matt Krah 7-5 and Jeff Abernathy, double hill. Shuff drew BJ Ussery, who didn’t give up a rack through his first two winners’ side matches and then, was defeated by Thomas Haas 7-5. Ussery went on a six-match, loss-side winning streak to get to Shuff, which included the most recent eliminations of Steve Fleming, by shutout, and, junior competitor Nathan Childress, double hill.

Davis defeated Wilkie 7-4 and in the quarterfinals, faced Ussery, who’d given up just a single rack to Shuff. Davis ended Ussery’s loss-side streak at seven, downing him 7-2 in the quarterfinals before he and West locked up in the second-to-last double hill battle of the tournament, struggling for a seat in the finals.

Davis prevailed and walked right into the last double hill battle of the weekend in the opening set of the true double elimination final against Zippler. He won it and then, came within a game of a second double hill match, before getting out ahead and finishing it 7-5. 

It should be noted that the event was attended by a number of female competitors, veterans of the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour, most of them, including its tour director, Linda Shea, who went 2-2, finishing in the tie for 25th. The two highest female finishers were Tina Malm, who won three on the loss side before encountering Brett Stottlemeyer in the winners’ side fourth round, battling him to double hill before being sent to the loss side and finishing in the tie for 17th with a 3-2 record. And Bethany Sykes, who finished in the same position; sent to the loss side in the second round and winning two there, before being eliminated. Eugenia Gyftopoulos and Stefanie Manning also competed.

The event also featured a few junior competitors, among them Nathan Childress, who finished in the tie for 7th/8th, Brent Worth (25th) and Garrett Vaughan (33rd). 

Tour director Loye Bolyard thanked the ownership and staff at Brews & Cues for their hospitality, as well as sponsors AlleyKat Cue Sports, Bull Carbon, AZBilliards, Aramith Balls, Simonis Cloth, TAP Chesapeake Bay Region, Safe Harbor Retirement Planners and Whyte Carbon Fiber Cue Shafts. 

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Hennessee is Big Man at Big Boi Classic

Jonathan Pinegar

Bobby Jack Conner welcomed players and fans to his room, Peyton’s Place in Knoxville, TN, for the 4th Annual Big Boi Classic.

The $7,500 added event was nine ball played on seven foot Diamonds. Seventy three players put up their $125 entry fees to compete in this double elimination event. The format was alternate breaks with races to 9/7.

Presented by Peyton’s Place and PoolActionTV.com, additional sponsors were Outsville and Rosner Cue Repair as well as special sponsor Formby Painting and Wallcovering.

The event kicked off on Friday night with the players auction, players meeting and draw.

With most players drawing first round byes, Jon (“Hennessee”) Pinegar and Robbie Langford weren’t so lucky – Hennessee pounded Robbie 9-3. His next match was a little tougher but after a battle, David Givens went down 9-7. He blew through his next three opponents – Ricky Chitwood, Chris Gentile and Ryan Williams – all 9-2.

Young gun, Eric Roberts, had also marched through the bracket. After drawing a first round bye, he defeated Arron Kinnunen 9-3 and notched a forfeit over Kenneth Stewart. Next match proved to be tougher but he prevailed over Germany’s Can Salim 9-4. Eric followed this with a victory over Michael Rudd 9-3. Next match was Hennessee – it was a close match but Eric lost 9-7 and headed over to the one loss side while Pinegar moved on to the hot seat match.

The bottom portion of the bracket was filled with killers – Josh Roberts, Shane McMinn, Shannon Murphy, BJ Ussery, Shane Little and another young gun, Kashton Keaton.

BJ started his tear through the bracket with a win over Jason Floore 9-2 and then defeated Shane McMinn, Daniel Autrey, Kelly Green and Adam Pendley – all 9-5.

Josh Roberts was on a similar path – he also drew a first round bye and then spanked Carey Stringfield 9-1. His next victims were Mike Patton 9-5 and Marcus Pendley 9-3 – Kash Keaton went down 9-5.

Josh and BJ then vied for a berth in the hot seat match – BJ took the match 9-7 and Josh headed west.

Meanwhile, after losing his second match to Ussery, McMinn put his head down and barreled through David Head 7-5, Ricky Chitwood 7-6, Robert Wilkerson 7-5, Matt Shaw 7-4, Shannon Murphy 7-5, Michael Rudd 7-0, Ryan Williams 7-0, Josh Roberts 7-4 and Can Salim 7-4. Shane then cooled his heels and awaited the results of the hot seat match.

The hot seat match was a good one but it was Hennessee who took the win 9-5. Ussery then played McMinn to see who would face Jon in the finals. Shane was finally defeated 7-4 and finished with a well-earned third place.

Since this was true double elimination, BJ would have to defeat Hennessee twice to win the tournament but it was not to be. Hennessee won the match 9-5 to claim the title!

PoolActionTV.com would like to thank Bobby Jack Conner and his staff for laying out the red carpet for all the players and fans. Tournament Director Jason Hill had a team of volunteers helping him out – they included Steve McDonald, Ricky Chitwood and Aaron Kinnunen.

We’d also like to thank Larry Schwartz, Ray Hansen and Mary Kenniston for their excellent commentary.

In addition, PoolActionTV.com would like to thank our fans and sponsors. Our sponsors include JB Cases, Hanshew Jump Cues, Durbin Custom Cues, Simonis, Aramith, Lomax Custom Cues, Diamond Billiard Products, Formby Painting and Wallcovering, Savage Billiard Apparel, the Action Palace of Dayton, OH and Fort Worth Billiards Superstore of Fort Worth, TX.

Our next event is the $8,000 added Space City Open X at Big Tyme Billiards in Spring, TX! Featuring 9 Ball Banks, One Pocket, Open 9 Ball, Ladies 9 Ball, Junior 9 Ball as well as an All Around Bonus, the place will be hopping! Hope to see you there!

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Yapp wins 9-ball and 10-ball events at $10K-added, 3rd Annual Meucci Classic

Silviana Lu and Aloysius Yapp

Silviana Lu wins Ladies 9-ball

Yep, Yapp won ‘em both. And his girlfriend, Silviana Lu won the other one. 

The 3rd Annual Meucci Classic at Racks Billiards Sports Bar & Grill in Sanford, FL this past weekend (Nov. 10-13) gave Singapore’s Aloysius Yapp his third and fourth 2022 event victory, which added to his already-best (recorded with us) earnings year since we recorded his first two cash winnings in September of 2012, a week apart; a 17th place finish at the Party Poker World Cup of Pool in Quezon City in the Philippines (won by Mika Immonen) and a week+ later, a 33rd place finish at the China Open in Shanghai (won by Dennis Orcollo). 

So, the Meucci Classic was nowhere near his first rodeo. By the same token, Yapp’s presence outside of a fairly consistent group of world-travelling pool professionals had him flying under a lot of the US pool-playing radar until he showed up in the finals of the 2021 US Open 9-Ball Championships in Atlantic City and battled in the finals (unsuccessfully) against Carlo Biado. He became a much more consistently-present figure for the rest of the year, with appearances in (among others) the American 14:1 Straight Pool Championships (9th), the International 9-Ball Open (17th), the International Open’s Big Foot 10-Ball (3rd behind Joshua Filler and Mika Immonen) and a win on the Predator US Pro Billiard Series in Battle Creek, Michigan.

He’s cashed in 19 events this year, winning four of them, runner-up in two and 3rd in three. He won this year’s Michigan Open and the Sandcastle Open before heading to the eastern shores of Virginia where he finished 9th at this year’s International Open 9-Ball tournament and was 3rd for the second time at the Big Foot 10-Ball event; this time, behind the juggernaut known as Fedor Gorst and Joshua Filler. He shuffled off to Sanford, FL last weekend, where he went undefeated through seven opponents, downing Austria’s Max Lechner twice; double hill in the hot seat match and 9-5 in the finals of the $4,000-added, 121-entrant 9-Ball tournament.

Left in the good-company dust (among others) were Austria’s Wiktor Zielinski, Poland’s Mieszko Fortunski, Germany’s Moritz Neuhausen, Finland’s Mika Immonen, Austria’s Mario He, Greece’s Alex Kazakis and Estonia’s Denis Grabe. Lithuania’s Pijus Labutis finished the tournament with the distinction of having won the most consecutive matches, 10 of them on the loss side, before he was stopped by Lechner in the semifinals. Leading the American charge for the title was BJ Ussery, Jr., who finished 4th; an outstanding finish for the South/mid-Atlantic competitor. Also in the US lineup were local stalwarts Anthony Meglino, Donny Mills, Mike Delawder, Raymond Linares, Bobby Garza and 1992’s US Open 9-Ball Champion, Tommy Kennedy.

The 3rd Annual Meucci Classic’s $5,000-added, 63-entrant 10-Ball Tournament was a different story. Same ending, just a different story. The 10-Ball battles preceded and overlapped the 9-Ball battles, so Yapp availed himself of the six-opponent practice opportunity, with an extra ball in the game, and went undefeated. He got by Poland’s Konrad Juszczyszyn and two Americans, George Saunders and Alan Rolon Rosado, to advance to the 16-player, single-elimination phase of the event. Yapp was joined in the winners’ side advancement by Wiktor Zielinski, Bosnia/Herzegovina’s Sanjin Pehlivanovich, Dmitri Loukatos, Taipei’s Jung Lin Chan and Jeffrey DeLuna. BJ Ussery, Jr., who’d go on to finish fourth in the 9-Ball competition, advanced, as did Donny Mills. Joining them from the loss side were Adam Wheeler, Max Lechner, Pijus Labutis (who would not get the most consecutive win prize in this event), Jani Uski, Mika Immonen, Mario He, David Singleton and Denis Grabe.

Ussery would engage in the only double hill battle of the single-elimination’s first round, against Jani Uski, and it would knock him out of the 10-Ball competition. Three of the four quarterfinal matches went double hill; Immonen over Uski, Yapp over Labutis, and Grabe over Lechner. Zielinski downed Pehlivanovic 11-5.

Zielinski ‘iced’ the Iceman, allowing him only a single rack in one of the semifinal matches, while Yapp was a little busier, eliminating Grabe 11-7. Yapp claimed the 10-Ball title with a stingy 11-3 victory over Zielinski.

Indonesia’s Silviana Lu goes undefeated, winning 81% of her 37 games to claim Ladies title

In this, her first year as a cash-winning player in our AZBilliards database, Indonesia’s Silviana Lu has cashed in only two events. She finished in a tie for 5th place at the Asian Pool Federation’s 9-Ball Open, Women’s Division in August. A month later, she finished in the tie for 9th place at the WPBA’s Michigan Open. Her boyfriend, Singapore’s Aloysius Yapp finished in the tie for 17th in the former event and won the latter.

She has recorded her first event victory with us as a result of going undefeated through a field of 27 entrants in the $1,000-added Ladies 9-Ball event. And she did so by defeating her six opponents with an 81% game-winning average (30-7), shutting out half of them and not allowing any of them to chalk up more than three against her; Nicolle Cuellar, who has Florida-area tour victories and cash finishes going back 10 years to the former Flamingo Tour.

Note to competitors looking to take advantage of the increased amount of money being offered at Scotch Doubles events across the country: In addition to the Fillers (Joshua and Pia) and the Fedor Gorst/Kristina Tkach pairing, you might want to watch out for the Yapp/Lu partnership.

Lu’s trip to the winners’ circle went through Marge Soash (0), Cuellar (3), Palmoa Santana (1) and Jessica Human (1) to arrive at the hot seat match versus Jennifer Berzinski to whom she gave up two racks to claim the seat. Adriana Villar, who lost her opening match to Cuellar and won eight on the loss side (shutting out three and surviving a double hill match against Helene Caukin), challenged Lu in the finals. Lu shut her out to claim the event title.

In addition to the 218 participants in the three events (with some duplication), tour representatives thanked title sponsor Meucci Cues, the ownership and staff at Rack’s for their hospitality, Outsville, JB Cases, Carlos Sanchez productions, Fort Worth Billiards Superstore and Clutch Shot Billiards Apparel.

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Hall goes undefeated, downing room owner (England) twice on Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour

Colin Hall and Chris England

Collin Hall’s last victory on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour was just a little over three years ago, when he, sitting in the hot seat, was forced to split the top two prizes with BJ Ussery because the Gate City Billiard Club in Greensboro, NC had a curfew. This past weekend, Saturday, Nov. 12, Hall was in a similar position, having claimed the hot seat and waiting for the player he’d defeated to get back (or not) from the semifinals. There was a difference this time. There wasn’t a curfew to worry about at The Clubhouse in Lynchburg, VA and significantly, the competitor he faced in his last two matches owned the room.

Given that in addition to being competitors, Hall and Clubhouse owner Chris England were friends as well as workplace colleagues (Hall works security at the facility), tour director Herman Parker thought that the two might possibly opt out of the final, but they didn’t. They’d battled for the hot seat, to double hill, before Hall finished it. When England won his semifinal match, the shot at the title also represented his first chance at a title on the tour and he wasn’t about to give that up.

“Chris had never won on the tour before,” said Parker, with a laugh, “and he was on a mission.” 

It was almost ‘mission accomplished,’ because for a second time, they battled to double hill. Hall, though, had the last word and completed his undefeated run. The $500-added event drew 21 entrants to The Clubhouse.

They’d advanced to their respective winners’ side semifinal from opposite ends of the bracket. Hall faced Marc Becker, as England squared off against Robert Cuneo. England battled to double hill getting to the hot seat match, but did send Cuneo loss-side packing, while Hall was engaged with sending Becker to the loss side 7-3. Hall and England played their first double hill battle, which sent England off to the semifinals.

On the loss side, Becker and Cuneo walked right into their second straight loss. Becker drew Rich Cunningham, who’d just eliminated Calvin Godsey and Dustin Coe, both 7-2. Cunio picked up Bryan Glisson, who’d taken a bit of a roller coaster ride over his previous two matches, shutting out Barrett White before surviving a double hill match against Nick Call.

Glisson defeated Cuneo 5-3. Cunningham eliminated Becker 7-3. Cunningham then prevailed in the quarterfinals, 7-1 over Glisson. In what would prove to be his second of three straight double hill matches on his mission to claim the title, England defeated Cunningham 5-6 (Cunningham racing to 7).

England, entered the final phase of his mission and it almost paid off. Hall, though, completed his undefeated run with a second double hill win over his friend, his boss and his earlier hot seat opponent. 

Tour director Herman Parker thanked England and his Clubhouse staff for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, Breaktime Billiards (Winston-Salem, NC), BarPoolTables.net, Dirty South Grind Apparel Co., Realty One Group Results, Diamond Brat, AZBilliards.com, Ridge Back Rails, and Federal Savings Bank Mortgage Division.

The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for this weekend, Nov. 19-20, will be the tour’s 10th Annual Tour Championships, a $1,500-added event to be hosted by Breaktime Billiards in Winston-Salem. The two-time defending champion of the event and the only player in the event’s history to win it twice, Landon Hollingsworth, will not be in attendance, as he will be competing in Puerto Rico at the time; entry to the Puerto Rico Open was a prize he earned as the top-ranked player in the Junior International Championship Series’ ProAm division this year. The generally competitive field at this annual event will crown its first new champion since 2019.

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