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Brothers goes undefeated to claim 1st Annual DE State Bar Box 8-Ball title

Kevin West and Josh Brothers

Delaware’s Josh Brothers and Kevin West made their first appearances in the AZBilliards database about three months apart, 22 years ago. They were both playing on the Planet Pool Tour at the time and while West beat Brothers to the database by those three months by finishing in the tie for 9th on the tour’s first stop in 2000, Brothers joined at Stop #5 in April, finishing in the tie for 13th place. West finished in the tie for 7th that weekend, one of a dozen times that he chalked up a cash finish on the tour that year. This past weekend, June 25-26, they went head-to-head twice at the 1st Annual Delaware State Bar Box 8-Ball Championships. Brothers, with a Fargo Rate one point higher than West (701/700) won both matches to claim title to the event that drew 45 entrants to Milford Billiards in Milford, DE.

Brothers got by Tom Kozloski, Chris Jenkins and Joe Scott by an aggregate score of 18-6 to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against Maryland State’s 2022 8-Ball Champion Steve Johnson. West, in the meantime, played one more match than Brothers to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal, opening up with an 18-2 run against Donnie Keith, Orlando Huertas (2) and Sean Mason. He then faced his first serious challenge – a double hill battle versus Eric Brobst – which he won to pick up Dave Barnes in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Brothers sent Johnson to the loss side 6-2, as West was doing likewise to Barnes 6-1. Brothers took their first match 6-3 to claim the hot seat.

On the loss side, Shaun Wilkie, among the top vote-getters to win this event, had, after being sent over by Barnes in a double-hill, third-round match, defeated four opponents by an aggregate score of 20-4, recently eliminating Don Painter (3) and Joey Bean (1) in the process. He picked up his no-doubt sought for rematch against Barnes, with Brothers in the hot seat, hearing his footsteps. Johnson drew Joe Stem, who’d lost his opening round match, double hill to Chris Jenkins and embarked on a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that would take him as far as the quarterfinals. He’d recently eliminated tour director Tarek Elmalla 5-3 and survived a double hill battle against Rick Winpigler.

Wilkie won his rematch against Barnes 5-1 and in the quarterfinals, drew Stem who’d shut out Johnson. Wilkie then stopped Stem’s loss-side streak at seven with a 5-2 win in those quarterfinals.

Now there were only two pairs of footsteps left, neither one of them calculated to provide Brothers with any sort of comfort. Wilkie and West battled to double hill before West prevailed to earn his rematch against Brothers. In a repeat of their hot seat match, Brothers claimed the event title 6-3.

Tour director Elmalla thanked Leo and Sherrie Weigand and their Milford Billiards staff for their ongoing support and hospitality, along with Travis Parker for the stream and commentary, Ray Netta for remote support, Tuff Cuts, Ran Ji for “being on top of the bracket,” Andrea Thomas and Joe Norton.

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Brothers double dips Morrow to win the Dynaspheres Cup 9-Ball Memorial Day Shootout

Josh Brothers

If it had been a horse race, the trio of Josh Brothers, Shayne Morrow and Russell Redhead would have yielded an outstanding trifecta payout. None favored, really, although Brothers, who won the Dynaspheres Cup 9-Ball Memorial Day Shootout this past weekend (May 28-29), was the third pick among those expressing an opinion. Ahead of him were Shaun Wilkie and Lucas Fracasso-Verner, who finished 24th and 17th, respectively, as Brothers came from the loss side to double dip Morrow, chalking up his first (recorded) event win in almost a decade; since he won a stop on the Mezz Pro Am Tour in February of 2013. The event, held under the auspices of and streamed by Billiard Sports Network (BSN Media), drew 55 entrants to Bank Shot Bar & Grill in Laurel, MD. 

“That was the great thing about this tournament,” commented BSN Media owner and event tour director, Jake Lawson. “You had two guys who were not favored on paper (finishing) 2nd and 3rd. And Shayne (Morrow; 3rd) won the hot seat.”

“So, pretty crazy weekend,” he added. “It’s why I love doing this.”

Neither of the two competitors favored in the event faced the winner. Wilkie didn’t make it out of the second winners’ side round or the third loss-side round. Fracasso-Verner won two on the winners’ side but only one on the loss side.

After an opening round bye, Brothers’ path to the hot seat match went through John Moody, Sr., Vietnam’s Tuan Chau (who would later, on the loss side, eliminate Wilkie), and eventual third-place finisher, Russell Redhead, arriving at a winners’ side semifinal against Scott Haas. Morrow, in the meantime, defeated Donald Painter, Justin Mast, Jimmy Varias and Curtis Branker to arrive at his winners’ side versus Jeff Jones, Jr.

Morrow fought a double hill battle before advancing to the hot seat match, as Brothers sent Haas to the loss side 7-2 and joined him. In his second straight double hill battle, Morrow, at 6-6, took a chance on an extraordinary, not to mention low-percentage, three-rail bank shot at the 9-ball that travelled back from what looked to be an impossible angle off the second rail to hit the 3rd rail and travel cross-table to drop into a side pocket. He was in the hot seat.

On the loss side, Jones drew Redhead, who’d followed his loss to Brothers with victories over Fred Crislip, Jr. 6-3 and a double hill win over Thomas Haas. Scott Haas picked up Eric Yoo, who was working on a four-match, loss-side streak that had recently eliminated Tuan Chau (fresh from his elimination of Wilkie) 6-4, John Newton 6-3 and Mike Miller (double hill).

Scott Haas put a stop to Yoo’s loss-side trip 6-4 and in the quarterfinals faced Redhead, who’d knocked Jones out 6-2. Redhead chalked up his last match victory eliminating Haas 6-3 in the quarterfinals.

Brothers stopped Redhead’s streak at three in the semifinals to earn himself a rematch against Morrow, waiting for him in the hot seat. Brothers took the opening set of the true double elimination final 7-4. He and Morrow battled back and forth to 5-5 and a single game for all of the proverbial marbles. Brothers won it.

Tour director Jake Lawson thanked the ownership and staff at Bank Shot Bar and Grill, as well as sponsors Dynaspheres, Championship Billiard Fabric, Lucid Ballsports (Predator Arena Light), JB Cases, Gina Cunningham (Keller Williams Integrity), East Coast Prime Meats, Integrity Cues, Break Out Apparel Co., AZBilliards, Premier Billiards, Cue Score, The League Room, American Billiard Covering, B&R Productions (Rich France & Bruce Carder), DFE Billiards Service/XLR. For information on BSN Media productions, including upcoming Dynaspheres Cup 8-Ball, 9-Ball and Juniors 9-Ball competition, visit their Web site at http://www.thebilliardsportsnetwork.com/. 

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Earl Strickland Booking Appearances Across The Country

Earl Strickland

Fans of five time US Open 9-Ball Champion, Earl Strickland, are getting more and more opportunities to hear his thoughts on the game and interact with him in their local rooms. 

In addition to his massively popular “Earl Strickland Presents” series of videos on the Billiard Network’s YouTube channel, Strickland has also been booking appearances all over the country. 

Strickland is recently back from trips to Pennsylvania, Montana, and Idaho where he appeared alongside Josh Brothers, Shane Van Boening and Oscar Dominguez. These appearances have included challenge and exhibition matches, Q&A sessions, autograph signings and private lesson opportunities from one of the top players that the game has ever seen. 

Strickland already has the following upcoming appearances booked:

March 23rd – Yale Billiards Wallingford, Connecticut
March 26th – Racks Billiards Vernon, Connecticut
August 13th – Keys Pool Hall, Winnemucca, Nevada

Earl is also scheduled to compete in the Diamond Open 10-Ball Pro Players Championship at the Super Billiards Expo, as well as the Earl Strickland Invitational Open in Montego Bay, Jamaica on July 25th – 27th.

Strickland thanked all of the fans that he has met out at the events. “I would like to take time to thank everyone involved in my exhibitions recently. It has been a blessing to me, especially after the disappointment of not being able to play for the Mosconi Cup last year. 

I also want to thank all the pool fans everywhere. Pockets billiards is a wonderful game and it excludes no one. I still play everyday and can’t get enough of it.

It’s great that I have the opportunity to work with these poolrooms because we need to help the pool rooms and pool in general. We all love this game and we have to do everything we can to keep it strong and thriving. 

Thanks again to all the pools fans.” 

If your local poolroom is interested in booking an appearance from Strickland, they can contact Diana Hoppe at (828) 674-6485. 

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Gorst goes undefeated to claim title to 1st Annual Delaware State Barbox 9-Ball Championship

Fedor Gorst and Matt Krah

There were more than just a few folks who wondered how Fedor Gorst, who, in addition to holding only a few short world titles less than the number of years he’s been alive (22 years alive, come May), is currently at the top of the AZBilliards Money Leaderboard and is featured on the cover of this month’s Billiards Buzz, found himself competing in a first-time event in Delaware that offered a $1,000 first-place prize. He’d have had to win at least that amount, attending approximately eight events every month for the last year, to hit the number that’s put him atop our 2022 Leaderboard. Very few people wondered how he managed to come out on top, going undefeated through the 64-entrant field that showed up this past weekend (Sat., March 5) to compete in the 1st Annual Delaware State Barbox 9-Ball Championships at Milford Billiards, DE.

According to event and tour director Tarek Elmalla, Gorst was not originally going to compete and had come to Delaware more as a measure of support for the event and its participants. Eventually, though, Gorst, along with his friend and countrywoman, Kristina Tkach, did sign on to compete. He entered the tournament with a FargoRate (823) that was 78 points higher than anybody else; the closest being Shaun Wilkie (745), followed by Tkach and Brett Stottlemyer (715). Josh Brothers (707) rounded out the four entrants with FargoRates in the 700s. The next closest Fargo rate after those five was Matt Krah (685), who won nine on the loss side to finish as the event’s runner-up.

So, who and what’s behind this first annual event that managed to attract one of the best pool players in the world to compete? Well, Elmalla to begin with. He’s no stranger to event organization, promotion and tour direction, having been putting together small, local tournaments for a while now. This 1st Annual Delaware State Barbox 9-Ball Championships is, he said, “the very biggest one.” So far. In the overall scheme of things, Elmalla, who’s a software engineer is the software face of the organization (social media pages and various programs), while Ray Netta is the hardware guy; cameras for the stream and other technical equipment to get the job done. They’ve partnered with Leo Weigand, owner of Milford Billiards, who applied and received rights to the varied “Delaware State” names that will be attached to tournaments going forward. He also responded quickly to requests for new lights, carpeting and felt for the tables.

“We asked for them,” said Elmalla, “and they were ordered and put in. The lights were installed the night before the tournament began.”

They set things up for the live stream with multiple cameras on multiple tables and a function for viewers which would allow them to search for a player and be ‘taken’ via the stream to the relevant table and match. The designated TV table (three cameras, including an overhead) streamed the event’s featured matches. That ‘search’ functionality remains available for players and anyone interested in watching specific matches at a later date, all at http://www.amateursportsstreams.com

Though he was not surprised at the relatively sudden and enthusiastic response to the tournament that led the capped-at-64-entrant field to have 15 names on a waiting list within about 24 hours of posting the tournament notice on a new Facebook page/group, he was a little surprised at the geographic response.

“I wasn’t expecting it to be that good,” he said, “with people coming from all over; Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania.”

Final features a player who recorded his first payout, 10 days before his opponent was born

Both events, Matt Krah’s first recorded payout here on AZ and Fedor Gorst’s birth day, occurred in May of 2000; Krah’s first payout, ahead of Gorst’s birth by 10 days (May 21-May 31). One might speculate that it was the age gap that led to Krah’s slow start in this Delaware State Barbox 9-Ball Championships, but it was more likely the amount of time between appearances in competitive action that told the story between Gorst’s win and Krah’s runner-up finish.

Krah had yet to win, or even cash, in a 2022 event when he stepped to the tables in Delaware. Though active and pretty much always into the ‘mix’ of things at major tournaments, he hadn’t chalked up a major win in seven years, since he won the opening event of the Mezz Pro-Am Tour in Pennsylvania in 2015. He was runner-up to Shaun Wilkie in that year’s VA State 10-Ball Championships. This past weekend, he and Wilkie missed matching up in the quarterfinals by one set of matches that advanced Krah and left Wilkie in the tie for 5th/6th.

By comparison, Gorst arrived at the tables having chalked up five victories from among 10 appearances in just a little over two months of this year. He’d won the Arizona Open in mid-January, before moving on, a week later, to win two events (Banks and One Pocket), along with a runner-up finish in the Bigfoot Challenge at the Derby City Classic, where he was awarded that event’s Master of the Table prize.

In the end, though, it was an expected strong performance by a young world champion against a gritty, nine-match-on-the-loss-side performance from a wily veteran who proved he can still give hot seat occupants, of any age, fits when they watch him come back.

At the outset, Gorst worked his way through two matches before anyone had chalked up a rack against him and when the first competitor to do so, did so, finally, it was only the one. John Moody, Sr. ended up giving him a run for his money in a winners’ side quarterfinal (7-5), which set Gorst up against Wilkie in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Vincent Cimarelli, in the meantime, had worked his way through Pampi Pamplona, Al Campo and John Pavlosky before running into Kristina Tkach in a winners’ side quarterfinal. Cimarelli spoiled any hope of a Gorst/Tkach match on the winners’ side, though not before Tkach had forced a 13th deciding game. Cimarelli picked up Mid-Atlantic stalwart, Brett Stottlemeyer in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Gorst resorted back to giving up a single rack at a time and sent Wilkie to the loss side 7-1. Cimarelli downed Stottlemeyer 7-5 to join Gorst in the hot seat match. Gorst gave up two in that match and sat in the hot seat, watching Krah come back.

On the loss side, it was Stottlemeyer who drew Krah, six matches into his loss-side streak that had recently eliminated John Moody, Sr., double hill (the only double hill threat he faced) and shut out Pampi Pamplona. Wilkie picked up Mike Saleh, also six matches into a loss-side streak that had just eliminated Tkach 6-4 and Joe Stem 6-3.

Saleh chalked up loss-side win #7 against Wilkie 5-2 and in the quarterfinals, met Krah, who’d defeated Stottlemeyer 5-2. Krah than ran up two straight 5-3 scores, against Saleh in the quarterfinals and Cimarelli in the semifinals.

Gorst reverted back to allowing no racks at all in the finals. He shut Krah out to claim the first Delaware State Barbox 9-Ball Championship title.

Tarek Elmalla thanked Leo Wiegand and his staff for all that they did to make this first event of theirs happen, along with Ray Netta for his ‘hardware’ assistance, and Ran Ji, for her able assistance in helping Elmala run the tournament. The next event on the Delaware State Championships calendar, scheduled for the weekend of May 7-8, will be the Delaware State 10-Ball Championships, hosted again by Milford Billiards in Milford, DE. 

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Colonial Cues Announces 2nd Annual Great Dismal Swamp 9-Ball Classic

Colonial Cues

While the place to be for every pool fan in America will be Norfolk Virginia from October 16th – 22nd, the place to be on October 14th – 15th will be 45 miles south of Norfolk at Colonial Cues in Elizabeth City North Carolina for the Great Dismal Swamp 9-Ball Classic. 
 
This will be the second running of the event, which will feature some of the most talents 9-ball players in America competing for $10,000 in guaranteed prize money. 
 
Last year, Shane Van Boening came out on top of a sold out field of 17 players from 6 countries. Due to overwhelming response from players, the owners have decided to expand the field to 32 players and make it a 2 day event. While the prize money has doubled, the entry fee of $250 is the same as last year. This year, Joe Blackburn will also be on site doing cue repairs. The players list for this event is already full of top talent including Shane Van Boening, Oscar Dominguez, Tommy Kennedy, Justin Bergman, Skyler Woodward, Vilmos Foldes, Gabe Owen, Mario He and Josh Brothers.
 
If that isn't enough to bring the fans out, Colonial Cues will be serving some of the best North Carolina BBQ all weekend long. 
 
Players interested in competing in this event can contact Ashley Cartwright at 252-455-2129 to sign up.
 

Wilkie comes back from semifinals to down Krah in finals of Labor Day 9-Ball Shootout

Shaun Wilkie

The last time Shaun Wilkie and Matt Krah met in the finals of an event was back in February during the VA State 10-Ball Championships, held under the auspices of the Action Pool Tour (APT). They had met, as well, in the hot seat match of that tournament. Wilkie shut Krah out to grab the hot seat, and survived a double hill battle in the finals to complete his sixth straight win on the APT. At the 4th Annual Labor Weekend 9-Ball Shootout in Cambridge, MD, the two clashed in the hot seat match and finals again. This time, though, Krah survived a double hill hot seat match, only to have Wilkie come back from the semifinals to defeat him in the finals. The $500-added event drew 58 entrants to Great Slates Billiard Cafe in Cambridge.
 
Wilkie ended up playing 10 more games than Krah, 83 to Krah's 73, and prior to the finals, Krah had the better winning percentage – 72.4% over Wilkie's 70.5%. When it was over, those percentages had shifted (obviously). The addition of six game losses dropped Wilkie's percentage down by two points to 68.6%, but with the addition of nine losses, Krah's dropped by about seven points, down to 65.7%. Together, they recorded a total of five shutouts in 15 matches; two by Wilkie and three by Krah.
 
Wins over Will Johnson, Coen Bell, Steve Cahal, Jr. and Joe Stem put Wilkie in a winners' side semifinal against Kevin West. Krah had defeated Rick Winpigler, Brandon Welch, John Moody, Sr. (back-to-back shutouts), and Jason Kochenour to meet up with Josh Brothers in the other winners' side semifinal. Wilkie sent West west 7-4, while Krah was sending Brothers over 7-5. The hot seat battle went double hill, eventually sending Wilkie to the semifinals.
 
Over on the loss side, Joe Wright, having been sent there by Brothers in a winners' side quarterfinal, was working his way back to a re-match in the event quarterfinals. Wright got by  , TJ Moore and Kochenour, both 7-4, and picked up West. Brothers drew Rick Winpigler, who'd defeated Joe Stem and Danny Greene, both 7-5. Wright and Brothers advanced to their re-match; Wright 7-5 over West, and Brothers in a shutout over Greene.
 
Brothers downed Wright a second time in the quarterfinals, by the same score he'd chalked up on the winners' side 7-5. By that same score, Wilkie stopped Brothers' run in the semifinals. Wilkie then claimed the event title with the single race 9-6 victory in the finals.

Appleton Wins New Jersey State 10-Ball

Darren Appleton

The Mezz Pro-Am New Jersey State 10 Ball was hosted by Sandcastle Billiards March 8th & 9th. A Strong field came out to play. Players like Darren Appleton, Adam Kielar, Matt Krah, Josh Brothers, Daniel Dagotdot, Dennis Spears, Caroline O’Neil, James Conn, and Travis McKinney.
 
Leading the top half of the bracket was Adam Kielar with wins over Antonio G.9-7, James Conn 9-3, Lee Holt 9-8 and TJ Moore 9-5. Leading the bottom half of the bracket was Darren Appleton with wins over Mike Couvetter 9-5, Ed Culhane 9-4, Dennis Spears 9-5, and Matt Krah 9-9.
 
Playing for the hot Seat was Adam Kielar vs Darren Appleton this was a great match that went hill hill but it was Appleton coming away with the win 9-8 and sending Kielar to the one lost side, Waiting for Kielar on the one lost side was Krah this was a good match that had Adam Keilar pulling away half way through the match to a 9-5 win and a rematch with Darren Appleton.
 
In the finals it was Adam Kielar VS Darren Appleton this event is a true double elimination so Kielar would have to win 2 set in order to win the event. It only took Appleton one sett as he won easily 9-5 to capture 2014 NJ State 10 Ball Championships.
 
I would like to thank all the players that came out to play I also would like to thank the following sponsors Mezz Cues, Gamblin Clothing Kumi Chalk, Allen Hopkins Super Billiards Expo, John Barton JB Cases, Jab Cues & Thing, Billiard Life USA, Inside Pool Magazine, and Mike Ricciardella

Shuff double dips Reynolds to take Action Pool Tour stop

Brandon Shuff (File photo courtesy of Jeff Smith)

Brandon Shuff won five straight on the loss side to meet and defeat Tour Director Ozzy Reynolds twice in the finals of the Action Pool Tour stop on the weekend of April 14-15. The event, streamed live via The Big Truck Show, drew 40 entrants to Break Time in Salisbury, MD.

Shuff was challenged immediately at this event, surviving a double hill battle versus Chris Garrett in the opening round of play. He went on to defeat Mike Mcnaughton 9-5, and then got caught up in a second double hill battle; this time, against Brett Stottlemyer. At double hill, Stottlemyer actually sunk the 9-ball, but the cue ball traveled multiple rails, and hung in a pocket, before dropping in to essentially give Shuff the victory. Shuff then ran right into Brian Deska and a third straight double hill match that sent him to the loss side.

Deska moved on to face Reynolds among the winners’ side final four. Joining them were Fred Scott and Danny Bell. Reynolds downed Deska 9-7, and moved into the hot seat match against Bell, who’d defeated Scott 9-6. Reynolds survived a double hill match against Bell, and for the first time since April of 2011 on the Great Southern Billiard Tour, he was in the hot seat.

Deska moved over to face Kevin West, who’d defeated Jeremy Perkins 9-6 and Paul Helms 9-2. Scott picked up Shuff, who, following his defeat at the hands of Deska, had defeated Josh Brothers 9-3 and Derek Schwager 9-1. Shuff downed Scott 9-5 and was denied a quarterfinal re-match against Deska, when West defeated him 9-3. Shuff defeated West 9-7 in those quarterfinals, and followed that with a 9-6 win over Bell in the semifinals.

In the opening set of the true double elimination finals, Reynolds appeared to be on his way to a single set victory. Shuff took the opening game, but Reynolds ran four straight, including two break and runs to take an early 4-1 lead. They traded racks to 6-3, and Reynolds added another to stretch his lead to four games at 7-3. Shuff won two in a row to narrow that lead to two games, and Reynolds won the 13th rack to reach the hill first. Shuff came back to win four straight and force a second set.

Reynolds opened the second set with a win, but Shuff came back to break and run the second rack and add five more for a commanding 6-1 lead. Reynolds took the next game, but it proved to be his last. Shuff won three in a row to win the second set.

Cheryl Sporleder claimed the 8-entrant Second Chance Tournament title on Sunday, defeating her husband, Sean Sporleder twice to do it. He’d defeated her in the hot seat match 5-2, and she’d gone on to shut out Paul Oh in the semifinals. She returned to double dip him in the finals.