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Apex Wisconsin Open Down to Final 16

The 21-year-old Russian Fedor Gorst is certainly not a stranger to the U.S. Pro Billiard Series’ format, having won back-to-back Arcadia Arizona Opens.

Friday evening, Gorst saw plenty of the dramatic twists and turns that can occur in the short-race, shootout-deciding matches as he jumped out to big advantages in the first set only to lose the second and have to survive a shootout to advance.  It wasn’t easy, but he punched his ticket for the final day of play of this weekend’s Apex Wisconsin Open, defeating American Chris Reinhold and Canadian John Morra to advance at Ho-Chunk Resort and Casino to advance.

After a straight sets victory against Mason Koch to begin his day, Gorst was able to take advantage of two scratches and a missed shot by Reinhold to cruise to a 4-1 opening set victory. The script completely flipped in the following set, with Reinhold breaking and running the opening rack and winning the next game when Gorst missed a 2 ball in the side pocket. The Russian appeared to be positioned to climb onto the scoreboard after a Reinhold error but missed a 3 ball in the corner pocket in one trip to the table and scratched in the side pocket in the next, handing his opponent a 3-0 lead.

Gorst clawed out two victories thanks to a Reinhold scratch and a safety exchange in the fifth rack. He had a chance to tie the match in the next game but missed a combination shot on the 10 ball. He had another opportunity after Reinhold scratched during a safety battle but missed the 8 ball, allowing the American to close out the set, 4-2, and force a shootout. The two competitors were perfect through the first four innings of the spot shot contest, but when the format moved the cue ball back a diamond and switched to sudden death, Gorst pocketed his first shot while Reinhold missed.

A couple of hours later, Gorst was facing Morra for a chance to reach Saturday’s single-elimination phase. The first set was nearly a carbon copy of his opening round against Reinhold, with the Russian using two break and runs, a victorious safety exchange and a Morra miss to pitch a 4-0 shutout. After he used a risky bank shot on the 1 ball to run out the opening rack of the second set, it appeared Gorst could be making quick work of his Canadian counterpart. That was until Morra used a safety battle along with a break-and-run to take a 2-1 lead.
Gorst took advantage of a scratch on the break by his opponent to tie the score then used a successful table-length jump shot on the 1 ball to run the rack and take a 3-2 lead. As he cleared the balls in the sixth game, Gorst appeared to be closing out the set but drew the cue ball halfway down the table and into the corner pocket while trying to secure position on the 5 ball. Morra made him pay for the mistake, clearing the rack to tie the score and then using a carom shot on the 10 ball to steal the game, win the set, 4-3, and force a shootout.
Although he struggled with ball pocketing in the second set, Gorst was robotic in the spot shot contest, pocketing four straight balls while his opponent missed twice.

The Russian began the tournament with an opening round victory against Eklent Kaci, who also advanced to the final 16 with three consecutive straight sets victories over Justin Martin, Thorsten Hohmann and Kuwait’s Omar Al Shaheen.

Kaci was virtually perfect in his opening set against Al Shaheen, breaking and running three consecutive times and surviving a short safety exchange to pitch a 4-0 shutout. The Kuwaiti, who was a runner-up in last year’s World Pool Championships, used a break-and-run and a misplayed safety on the 8 ball by Kaci to win the first two matches of the second set. Kaci’s opportunity to mount a comeback arrived in the third rack when his opponent failed to pocket a ball on the break, as the Albanian cleared the table and then won the next two racks to take a 3-2 lead. Al Shaheen had an opportunity to tie the set but wasn’t able to secure position on the 9 ball, then misplayed a safety on the ball which allowed his opponent to close out the rack for a 4-2 win.

Meanwhile, Billiard Congress of America Hall of Famer Darren Appleton continues to play more and more like the competitor who won the World 9-Ball championship a decade earlier, defeating former U.S. Open 9-Ball champion Mika Immonen in straight sets, 4-1, 4-2. Immonen, who has been appearing at the top of leaderboards more frequently himself in recent months, rallied on the one-loss side by defeating Evan Lunda in straight sets to earn a spot of his own in Saturday’s final day of competition.

Qualifying for the single-elimination phase from the winner’s side are Appleton, Dimitris Loukatos, Filipino Lee Van Corteza, Michigan Open champion Aloysius Yapp, Robbie Capito, South Dakotan Danny Olson, Jesus Atencio and World Pool Masters champion Alex Kazakis. The remaining eight players on the one-loss side include Kaci, Gorst, Immonen, Denis Grabe, Roland Garcia, Jeremy Seaman, Mickey Krause of Demark and Kuwait’s Bader Alawadhi.

The seeding will be re-drawn and competition will begin Saturday morning.

The Apex Wisconsin Open is the second event of the year for the Predator U.S. Pro Billiard Series and the first ever to be staged at Ho-Chunk Resort, a sprawling facility north of Madison which offers a 302-room hotel as well as spacious gaming and convention space.
Follow the Apex Wisconsin Open draw on the Predator US Pro Billiard Series FargoRate’s dedicated page

The Apex Wisconsin Open is streamed for free all week on Billiard TV and the World Billiard TV YouTube channel.
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Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour launches series of seasonal Open events

Lisa Cossette

Martin and Cossette take Open and Ladies events at inaugural Winter Classic

In the future, there’ll be a Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall Classic on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour. They are a component of a larger plan that tour director Herman Parker is initiating to feature more Open (non-handicapped) events on the tour schedule. In the inaugural Winter Classic, held this past weekend (Feb. 5-6), Justin Martin and Lisa Cossette went undefeated through the Open and Ladies fields to claim the two titles. 

“I want to attract the culture of people who want to play in Open events, rather than handicapped events,” he said, following the completion of the Winter Classic. “I’m planning on 10-12 this year and my goal, down the road is to have it be 50-50; that’d be ideal.”

“I don’t know if it’ll get there,” he added, “but this year, I want to do, on average, about one (Open event) a month.”

The inaugural Winter Classic, featuring its Open tournament and a Ladies event, which, according to Parker, is a side of the tour that he is trying to grow. Three women who competed in the Ladies tournament, also competed in the Open event. The $1,500-added events ($1,000 in the Open and $500 in the Ladies) drew 52 and 18 entrants, respectively, to Break Time Billiards and Sports Bar in Winston-Salem, NC. The 18 women were the largest number of female entrants to ever compete in an Open event on the tour. One of them, 11-year-old Noelle Tate, who finished 4th, became the youngest competitor of either gender to cash in a Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball event in the nine years of its existence.

So, we’ll start there and focus on the 11-year-old for a moment. Noelle Tate is just one member of a family of competitors who are making a name for themselves at the pool tables. Noelle is a younger sister to Bethany and Joey Tate. They were all competitors during last year’s nation-wide series of events, known as the Junior International Championships (JIC), which began its second season just last month. JIC founder, tour director and something of a ‘parental unit’ at JIC events, Ra Hanna, had announced, prior to the start of the JIC’s second season, that part of the second-year plan was to move the junior competitors into the arena of regional tours and Open events. Noelle Tate and (in the Open event) Landon Hollingsworth are manifestations of that plan. Tate came into the event and lost her second-round match to Marianne Merrill. She went on to win four on the loss side, including a 5-2 win over the woman who was favored to win the tournament, Christy Norris. She was eliminated in the quarterfinals by Katie Bischoff 5-3.

The eventual winner, Lisa Cossette, advanced through the field to a winners’ side semifinal against Norris, as Shannon Johnson and Amanda Mann squared off in the other one. Cossette and Johnson, following victories over Norris (double hill) and Mann (7-4), advanced to the hot seat match, at which Cossette prevailed 7-3.

Norris moved to the loss side and ran into Tate, who’d recently eliminated Casey Cork, double hill and Beth Allen 5-2. Mann picked up Katie Bischoff, who’d downed Marianne Merrill and Allie Tilley, both 5-2, to reach her. Tate defeated Norris 5-2 and was joined in the quarterfinals by Bischoff, who’d shut Mann out.

Bischoff eliminated Tate in that quarterfinal (5-3), but not soon enough to keep the 11-year-old out of the money in what was the first money round. Bischoff moved on to defeat Johnson in the semifinals 5-3. An appropriate double hill fight ensued in the single-match finals with Cossette claiming the title over Bischoff 7-6.

Justin Martin

Martin and Ussery battle twice to claim first Winter Classic title

Nine times out of 10, the winner and runner-up of an event, if they’ve competed against each other twice, have done so in the hot seat match and finals. Not so, this time around. Justin Martin and BJ Ussery, both heavily favored as potential winners of the event, met first in the third round. Martin sent Ussery to the loss side 7-1, where he began a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that would offer him a second shot against Martin in the finals.

Martin advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Graham Swinson, as Corey Sykes and Jeff Abernathy squared off in the other one. Martin shut out Swinson and was joined in the hot seat match by Sykes, who’d sent Abernathy west 7-1. Martin claimed the hot seat in a double hill fight over Sykes.

On the loss side, Swinson drew Ussery, three matches into his loss-side streak, which had recently eliminated Thomas Sansone 7-5 and Josh Padron 7-1. Abernathy picked up junior competitor Landon Hollingsworth, who’d defeated Niko Konkel and Barry Mashburn, both 7-1. Mashburn had been afforded the opportunity to face Hollingsworth when, in the previous round, Christy Norris, one of the three women who competed in the Open event, along with Allie Tilley and Beth Allen, forfeited her match to Mashburn.

Ussery downed Swinson 7-2 and was joined in the quarterfinals by Abernathy, who’d defeated Hollingsworth 7-3. Ussery then eliminated Abernathy 7-2 and in the semifinals, Sykes in a double hill match. Martin defeated Ussery a second time in the finals, this time 7-2 to claim the inaugural Winter Classic.

Tour director Herman Parker thanked the ownership and staff at Break Time Billiards, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, BarPoolTables.net, Dirty South Grind Apparel Co., Realty One Group Results, Diamond Brat, AZBilliards.com, and Federal Savings Bank Mortgage Division. The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for this weekend (Feb. 12-13) will be hosted by Gate City Billiards Club in Greensboro, NC.

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Garcia and Martin split top prizes on 1st stop back for the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour

Roland Garcia

Five days before the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour got back to the business of pool tournaments, the governor of South Carolina, Henry McMaster, gave restaurants in the state the ‘green light’ to open up at 50% capacity. A day later (May 12), he signed an Executive Order extending South Carolina’s specific State of Emergency for 15 days, while noting that as of that day, the state had identified 7,927 cases of COVID-19, to include 355 deaths. According to Tour Director Herman Parker, that occupancy percentage was adhered to during the tour’s two-day stay at Break & Run Billiards in Chesnee, SC, where, this past weekend (May 16-17), Roland Garcia and Justin Martin split the top prizes at the $500-added event that drew 52 entrants. Parker estimated that total occupancy at any given time during the two-day event was about 80 people and that while no one was utilizing masks, an informal social distance protocol was able to be maintained.

 

Garcia and Martin opted to split the event’s top two prizes shortly after Martin won the first set of a true double elimination final on Sunday evening, thereby evening their match results at that point to 1-1. Garcia was declared the official winner of the event.

 

They’d met first in a winners’ side semifinal, as Justin Duncan and Landon Hollingsworth met in the other one. Garcia sent Martin to the loss side 12-4 (Martin racing to 10). Duncan dispatched Hollingsworth to the left bracket 6-4, and then, followed him over when Garcia downed him 6-4 to claim the hot seat.

 

On the loss side, Martin began his trek back to the finals against Sammy Manley, who’d defeated Clint Clark 5-6 (Clark racing to 8) and Billy Fowler 5-7 (Fowler, racing to 9). Hollingsworth picked up Hunter White, who’d lost his opening match to Romy Malonzo, and then embarked on an eight-match, loss-side winning streak that had most recently included victories over Jacob Brooks 9-4 and Kelly Piercy 9-2.

 

The four of them played 22 games for the right to advance to the quarterfinals. Manley and Hollingsworth won only three of those 22; Manley chalking up two against Martin and Hollingsworth managing only one against White.

 

Martin ended White’s eight-game winning streak 10-6 in those quarterfinals and then, spoiled Duncan’s hopes for a re-match against Garcia with a 10-4 victory over him. With that ever-intangible, though never underestimated ‘loss-side momentum,’ Martin battled Garcia to double hill in the opening set of the true double elimination final and then won it, to force a second set.

 

They didn’t play it. They opted to split the top two prizes and allow Garcia to claim the official event title.

 

Tour directors Herman and Angela Parker thanked the ownership and staff at Break & Run Billiards, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, Bar Pool Tables, Delta 13 Racks, AZBilliards, and Tickler Pool Ball Washing Machine. The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour is being planned. Visit the tour’s Facebook page for specific information on the date and time.

 

Davis comes from the loss side, and returns to NC State Open 9-Ball winners’ circle

Mike Davis, Jr.

Mike Davis, Jr. won the first three NC State Open 9-Ball championships from 2014 to 2016. After relinquishing the title for three years, to (in order) Shannon Fitch (‘17), Reymart Lim (’18) and Keith Bennett (’19), Davis returned to compete in the 7th Annual NC State Open 9-Ball tournament and in spite of having his path to victory re-routed through the loss side of the event’s bracket, returned to meet and defeat Justin Martin in the finals and reclaim the title. The $500-added event drew 43 entrants to Randolph’s Billiards in Hickory, NC.

Davis advanced through the field to draw Justin Martin in one of the winners’ side semifinals, as Barry Mashburn faced Brian Capps in the other one. Martin sent Davis to the loss side 7-4 and in the hot seat match, faced Mashburn, who’d defeated Capps 7-5. Martin claimed the hot seat 7-4 over Mashburn and waited on Davis’ return.

On the loss side, in the first money rounds, Davis picked up Josh Heeter, who’d shut out Kirk Overcash and eliminated Jeff Abernathy 7-3 to reach him. Capps drew Mackie Lowery, who’d eliminated Hank Powell, double hill, and Edwin Delacueva 7-3.

Capps sent Mackie Lowery home with some cash in a 7-5 win. He was joined in the quarterfinals by Davis, who’d survived a double hill battle versus Heeter. Davis then denied Capps a second shot at Mashburn by downing Capps in those quarterfinals 7-2.

Davis moved on to deny Mashburn a second shot at Martin with a 7-3 win in the semifinals. In the finals that followed, Davis was looking to regain a title he’d last held in 2016. His opponent, Justin Martin, was looking to break a three-year streak of being the NC State Open 9-Ball tournament’s runner-up.

Davis won his fourth NC State Open 9-Ball title and handEd Martin his 4th runner-up finish. Davis completed his run with a 9-4 win in the finals.

Tour directors Herman and Angela Parker thanked the ownership and staff at Randolph Billiards, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, Bar Pool Tables, Delta 13 Racks, AZ Billiards and Tickler Pool Ball Washing Machine. The next stop on the tour, scheduled for March 7-8, will be a $500-added event ($1,000-added with 64+ entrants), hosted by Break & Run Billiards in Chesnee, SC.

Ussery comes from the loss side to win win VA State 10-Ball Championships

(l to r): Reymart Lim, TD Tiger Baker & BJ Ussery

Taylor becomes only 4th woman since 2013 to win VA State Women’s 10-Ball title
 
It’s a little early to start making predictions or get too much of a ‘read’ on a tour’s point standings (at least those that run on a calendar year schedule), but the Action Pool Tour’s second stop provided some intriguing information. It wasn’t so much about who’s in the top spots at this point, but who, among last year’s top players are apparently starting out a little slow. Stop #2 on the Action Pool Tour – the 2020 VA State 10-Ball Open Championships – drew 73 entrants to Diamond Billiards in Midlothian, VA on the weekend of February 15-16. Six of last year’s top 10 players in the tour’s final standings competed in this event. Two finished out of the money, including the event’s defending champion, RJ Carmona. Three, including last year’s tour champion, Chris Bruner, finished in the first money round. Reymart Lim, who finished in 4th place overall last year and won this year’s season opener was this event’s runner-up. In his first appearance on the tour in seven years, BJ Ussery came from the loss side to earn a finals rematch against Lim, which he won to claim the event title.
 
Meanwhile, the 2020 VA State Women’s 10-Ball Championships drew 16 women to the same location. As they did last year, Liz Taylor and Janet Atwell battled twice to claim this title. The results of those two battles were a reverse of last year’s; Atwell, winning the first and Taylor, winning the final (more on this a bit later).
 
Ussery’s appearance on the Action Pool Tour is a reflection of his desire to play generally stronger opponents than those he tends to face on regional handicapped tours. The last time he’d appeared on the APT, he’d finished 7th in the inaugural (2013) VA State 10-Ball Championships.
 
“I’m hoping to play in more of these (APT events) this year,” said Ussery. “I want to play against better players and compete in the some of the bigger events, like the US Open or the Super Billiards Expo.”
 
Any time at table, ultimately, is good time at table, but playing in a handicap system, no matter which one it is, carries a downside. According to Ussery, it’s less about the game and more about human nature.
 
“I get so used to giving up a handicap,” Ussery explained, “that when I get into a non-handicap game, it’s hard for me to bear down.”
 
His opening matches tended to demonstrate this. Ussery opened with an 8-6 win over Reggie Jackson, had a strong 8-1 victory over Jonathan Syphanthavong, and then gave up five against Shorty Davis. He had to win a deciding, 15th game in his fourth match, against Justin Martin. Nathan Childress chalked up six against him next, but Ussery prevailed and advanced to his first meeting against Reymart Lim, in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Lim had downed Barry Mashburn, RJ Carmona, Larry Kressel and shut out Greg Sabins (last year’s #12 in the point standings) to reach Ussery. Shane Wolford and Eric Moore (the APT’s 2016 Tour Champion) squared off in the other one.
 
By identical 8-1 scores, Lim and Wolford advanced to the hot seat match over Ussery and Moore. Lim and Wolford then locked up in a double hill fight that eventually sent Wolford to the semifinals and left Lim in the hot seat.
 
Ussery opened up on the loss side against Mike Davis, who was working on a five-match winning streak that was about to end and had included recent wins over Kelly Farrar 7-3 and Justin Martin 7-2. Moore picked up Scott Roberts, who’d been shut out by Greg Sabins in the second round and was working on his own seven-match, loss-side streak that included a successful 7-5 rematch against Sabins and a 7-5 victory over Nathan Childress, which led to Moore.
 
Ussery ended Davis’ streak 7-3 and in the quarterfinals, faced Roberts, who’d defeated Moore 7-4. Ussery ended Roberts’ streak and Wolford’s short visit to the loss side in the semifinals, both 7-5.
 
Going into the final match, Ussery was mindful not only of the earlier matchup, in which Lim had allowed him only a single rack, but previous matchups, as well. They’d faced each other on a number of occasions over the years, and playing against him, Ussery knew what the difference was.
 
“I knew he was a good player when we’d met before,” said Ussery, “but I knew then, that part of the reason he was beating me was that he’d been putting in the time.”
 
“These days,” Ussery added, “I’m as prepared as anybody.”
 
Ussery spoiled Lim’s bid for a second straight win on the APT. He defeated him 10-8 to claim his first APT title.
 
Taylor spoils Atwell’s bid for a third straight, sixth overall VA State 10-Ball Woman’s title.
 
[photo id=51605|align=right]Since 2013, there have been four women who’ve claimed the VA State Women’s 10-Ball title. Tracie Majors won it in 2014 and Meredith Lynch captured the title in 2017. Janet Atwell has claimed the title five times; once in its inaugural year (2013) and then, back-to-back, twice (’15,’16, ’18, ’19). Last year, Atwell was defeated by Liz Taylor, double hill, in the hot seat match and came back to down Taylor 8-2 in the finals to claim her second straight and fifth overall title.  This year, at the event that drew 16 entrants (one more than last year), they reversed things. Taylor was defeated in the hot seat match and came back to defeat Atwell in the finals and claim the 2020 women’s title.
 
It took them each three matches to meet for the first time in the hot seat match. Atwell got by Nicole King, Tina Nash and, in a winners’ side semifinal, shut out Hayleigh Marion. Taylor defeated Soo Emmett, Christy Norris and, in her winners’ side semifinal, survived a double hill match against Lisa Cossette. Atwell claimed the hot seat 6-1.
 
Taylor’s return faced a stiff challenge from Deeqa Nur, who’d been defeated in the opening round of play by Cheryl Sporleder and came back through five opponents to draw Taylor in the semifinals. Nur battled to double hill against two of those opponents. She picked up Hayleigh Marion, coming over from the winners’ side semifinal and defeated her, just ahead of downing Lisa Cossette in a double hill quarterfinal. Taylor spoiled the strong, loss-side bid 5-3 in the semifinals.
 
And so it was, that for the second year in a row, Liz Taylor and Janet Atwell battled for the State of Virginia’s Women’s 10-Ball title. In a reversal of fortunes, Taylor gave up only one rack to Atwell in claiming the event title 8-1.
 
Tour directors Kris Wylie and Tiger Baker thanked the ownership and staff at Diamond Billiards for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Full Stroke Billiards Apparel and Haselman & Hunt, D.D.S., P.C. Family Dentistry. The next stop on the Action Pool Tour, scheduled for March 28-29, will be a Double Points event – The East Coast Landscaping Bar Box Bash – to be hosted by Peninsula Billiards in Newport News, VA.

Lechner’s Win over Van Boening Highlights International Open Day Three

Max Lechner

Wednesday morning at the International 9-Ball Open, began with a round from the one-loss side. Here, the winners stay in the tournament while the losers pack for home. Che-Wei Fu sent David Tickle home 11-5 while Roland Garcia rolled over Frankie Alvarez 11-1. Roberto Gomez defeated Raphael Debreo 11-6 and Naoyuki Oi won over Donny Mills 11-8.  Maxim Dudanets ruined the day for Johnny Archer 11-5 and Tommy Kennedy did the same for Jeremy Jones at 11-4. Albin Ouschan beat Matt Krah 11-3  while Niels Feijen danced over Dario Woodside 11-3. Finally, Billy Thorpe lost a close one to Ta Li Lin 11-9.
 
The next round was back on the winner’s side and featured Mika Immonen against Shane Van Boening. The famous SVB break wasn’t quite there today, but he still cleared Immonen 11-7. John Schmidt wasted no time in beating Bryan Farah 11-2 as Lee Van Corteza beat Chen-Yu Chang 11-3.
 
Max Eberle helped his Mosconi Cup hopes by putting down Skyler Woodward 11-6 and Thorsten Hohmann mowed the tall grass by besting Ko Pin-Yi 11-7. Another match worth noting was World #1 Joshua Filler taking down Ruslan Chinakhov 11-9. Filler has gained quite a fan base this week for his honor at the table. He called a foul on himself that no one else saw on Monday and then called himself on an illegal break yesterday. Two very close matches worth noting were Darren Appleton escaping from Kenny Cheng 11-9 while Denis Grade nipped David Alcaide 11-10.
 
Our third round of the day found Alex Pagulayan in form as he ran over Marco Teutscher 11-3. Ko Ping-Chung got by Kai Lin Hsu 11-9 and Jayson Shaw managed to catch a gear after he and Quac Hoang Duong were tied at 8 and Shaw took control to win 11-8. James Aranas had a great match where he destroyed defending champion Chang Jung-Lin 11-3 and Tommy Kennedy blasted Maxim Dudanets 11-5.
 
John Morra defeated Petri Makkonen 11-4 and Alex Kazakis continued his fine week taking off Fedor Gorst 11-7. Finally, Justin Martin just slid by Niels Feijen 11-10 and Dennis Orcollo edged Corey Duel 11-10 when Deuel hung the 5 in the corner on his way to clear the final rack.
 
There were only five matches on the one loss side at 6:30, and the feature match was Aloysius Yapp vs Ko Pin-Yi. Readers might want to remember the name of Aloysius Yapp. The Singapore native has had a great week here in Norfolk. First he beat the younger Ko brother Ko Ping-Han and then tonight on the TV table he had to take on the older Ko, one of the few players who can claim two World Championships in the same year. 
 
Yapp was not concerned though. He went out and played flawless pool and dominated Pin-Yi throughout the match. He took an early lead and just kept stretching it out farther and farther. In the end he was leading 10-5 when Ko tried to draw for position on the 9 ball and drew his rock into the corner pocket, giving Yapp ball-in-hand on the 9 for the 11-5 victory. Yes, Yapp should be a name in this game for years to come. 
 
In other matches, Ruslan Chinahov beat Lin Ta-Li 11-4 in a match that wasn’t even that close, and Roberto Gomez lost to Nick Ekonomolous. Gomez had a very vocal cheering section this week, but they had very little opportunity to make any noise as he quietly dropped his match to Ekonomopolous 11-4. 
 
The 8:30 round eliminated another thirteen players with Chris Melling, John Schmidt, Ralf Souquet, Tommy Kennedy, Petri Makkonen and US young gun Justin Martin all dropping matches. 
 
The final round of play on Wednesday featured four matches on the winner’s side. While last year’s runner-up Ko Ping-Chung was beating BCA Hall of Famer Alex Pagulayan on the feature table, Austria’s Max Lechner and Shane Van Boening were putting on a show on one of the outer tables. Lechner had already gotten the attention of the crowd in Norfolk with his 11-4 opening match win over Skyler Woodward. The fan’s hadn’t seen anything yet though. Lechner held an early 2-0 lead over Van Boening when he ran six straight racks for an 8-0 lead. He extended that lead to 9-0, before Shane started doing what he does. Van Boening started creeping back into the match and although Lechner had opportunities at the table, he wasn’t able to capitalize on them. Nine racks later, the score was tied at 9-9 and every eyeball in the room was glued to this match. Van Boening took the hill first at 10-9, but Lechner dug down deep and took control of his nerves to tie the score at 10-10 with him breaking. The break turned out to be very important as Lechner broke the balls and watched along with the standing room only crowd as the 9-ball made a beeline to the corner pocket, giving Lechner the 11-10 win. 
 
Lechner now joins Ko, Dennis Orcollo and Jayson Shaw in the final eight on the winner’s side. The other four players in that round will be determined Thursday morning. 

Ussery dethrones defending champ Davis at 4th NC State 8-Ball Open

(l to r): Mike Davis & BJ Ussery

Mike Davis had won three straight North Carolina State 8-Ball Open titles and arrived in Hickory, NC on the weekend of September 14-15 to chalk up his fourth. His path to the event victory went off-course early as he was sent to the loss side in the event’s second round. He would win seven matches on the loss side, but in the end, it was BJ Ussery, completing an undefeated run, who would unseat him from his 8-Ball Open throne and wear the crown for the first time. The $500-added event drew 28 entrants to Randolph’s Billiards in Hickory.
 
Davis was defeated in the second round by Jason Evans, who followed him to the loss side later. In the meantime, Ussery and Shannon Fitch advanced to winners’ side semifinals versus Mike Bumgarner and Justin Martin, respectively.
 
Fitch and Martin locked up in a double hill fight that eventually sent Martin to the loss side. Ussery punctuated his advance to the hot seat match with a shutout over Bumgarner. He then downed Fitch 7-4 to claim the hot seat and wait for the event’s defending champion to finish his loss-side run.
 
After chalking up his first two loss-side wins, Davis eliminated Chuck Ritchie 6-4 and survived a double hill fight against Daniel Gambill to draw Martin in the first money round. Bumgarner picked up Jason Evans, who’d shut out Travis Worden and then, in spite of being down 5-0 to Hank Powell, came back to defeat him 6-5 and face Bumgarner.
 
Davis and Evans advanced to their quarterfinal rematch; Evans over Bumgarner 6-2 and Davis over Martin 6-4. As Ussery had punctuated his advance to the hot seat match, Davis punctuated his advance to the semifinals with a rematch shutout over Evans. He then earned the right to defend his 8-Ball Open title with a 6-3 over Fitch in those semifinals.
 
The final match was a straight race to 9. Ussery won it 9-7 to claim his first NC State 8-Ball Open title.
 
Tour directors Herman and Angela Parker thanked the ownership and staff at Randolph’s Billiards for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, Bar Pool Tables, Delta 13 Racks, AZ Billiards and Professor Q-Ball. The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for this weekend (September 21-22) will be a $500-added ($1,000-added with 64 entrants) event, hosted by Break & Run Billiards in Chesnee, SC.

Ussery and Roberts split top prizes on Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour stop

BJ Ussery

Both competitors had something to play for in what would likely have been an entertaining final match of the August 31-Sept. 1 stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour. BJ Ussery would have entered the match looking for his fourth win and his eighth finish among the top three in eight events on the 2019 tour (he’d record the win, albeit with an *). Scott Roberts would have entered the match looking for his first 2019 win on the tour and his first since he won four events on the tour in 2017. Roberts had a little extra incentive, having been defeated in the second round of play and winning seven on the loss side to face Ussery, waiting for him in the hot seat. For undisclosed reasons, they opted out of the final match, leaving Ussery as the event’s official winner. The $500-added event drew 28 entrants to Speak Eazy Billiards in Sanford, NC.
 
With Roberts at work on the loss side of the bracket, Ussery advanced to a winners’ side semifinal matchup against Barry Mashburn. Tony Wall faced Anthony Mabe in the other one.
 
Ussery got into the hot seat match with a 12-7 win over Mashburn. He was joined by Wall, who’d defeated Mabe 5-5 (Mabe racing to 7). Ussery subsequently gave up only a single rack to Wall and claimed the hot seat 12-1.
 
It was Mashburn who ran into Roberts on the loss side. Roberts, four matches into his seven-match, loss-side winning streak had chalked up victories #3 and #4 against Richard Lynch (8-1) and 14-year-old Joey Tate (8-3). Just prior to meeting Roberts, Joey Tate had eliminated his 12-year-old sister, Bethany, from the competition. Mabe drew Gary South, who’d defeated Justin Martin 7-4 and Travis Guerra 7-1 to reach him.
 
Roberts defeated Mashburn 8-7 (Mashburn racing to 9). He was joined in the quarterfinal match by Mabe, who’d given up only a single rack to South.
 
Roberts took that quarterfinal match 8-2 over Mabe, and then, in what turned out to be the last match of the weekend, defeated Wall in the semifinals 8-4. He and Ussery agreed to the split with Ussery claiming the official event title.
 
Tour directors Herman and Angela Parker thanked the ownership and staff at SpeakEazy Billiards as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, Bar Pool Tables, Delta 13 Racks, AZ Billiards and Professor Q-Ball. The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for this weekend (September 7-8), will be hosted by Brown’s Billiards in Raleigh, NC.

Chasing dawn, Martin and Whitfield split top prizes on Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour

Justin Martin

With a little less than half of the field still in play, the Saturday, August 3 stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour featured a large number of its better players, as defined by their tour ratings. Justin Martin, who races to 10 in his matches, was among the event’s final 12 and went on to win the event, undefeated*. Also present among the final 12 were BJ Ussery (racing to 12 in his matches) and JT Ringgold (racing to 11). The $250-added event drew 29 entrants to Mickey Milligan’s Billiards in New Bern, NC.
 
Martin was to have faced Jack Whitfield twice in this one, but did so only once. Martin got into the hot seat match following a 10-5 victory over Danny Farren in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Whitfield joined him after a 7-5 win over Junior Avery in the other one. In what proved to be the title match, battling for the hot seat, Martin gave up only a single rack, downing Whitfield 10-1.
 
Farren and Avery moved to the loss side of the bracket and faced Ringgold and Travis Guerra, respectively, for advancement to the first money round. Ringgold eliminated Farren 11-6, as Guerra downed Avery 6-4.
 
The first money round match, the quarterfinals, came within a game of going double hill. It was Ringgold who fell a rack short of forcing a deciding game, and Guerra advanced 6-9.
 
In what proved to be the event’s final match, Whitfield earned a second shot at Martin in the hot seat with a 7-4 victory over Guerra. The final match did not occur. It was 6 a.m. on Sunday morning and Martin and Whitfield opted out, leaving the undefeatEd Martin as the event’s official winner.
 
Tour directors Herman and Angela Parker thanked the ownership and staff at Micky Milligan’s for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, Bar Pool Tables, Delta 13 Racks, AZ Billiards and Professor Q-Ball. The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for this weekend (August 10-11), will be hosted by a new venue for the tour, Shore Thing Billiards in Myrtle Beach, SC.  

Lowery comes back to double dip San Fillipo and win Viking Cues Q City 9-Ball Tour stop

Mackie Lowery

Mackie Lowery’s come-from-the-loss-side win on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour on the weekend of July 6-7 turned 2019 into his best earnings year, to date. He surpassed his previous best earnings year (2018) just a little over halfway through 2019, by chalking up his first win of the year. Lowery had to come back from a loss in the hot seat match and contend with a competitor, Barry Mashburn, who’d lost his opening match and proceeded to win 11 on the loss side to face Lowery in the semifinals. The $1,000-added event drew 66 entrants to Steakhorse Restaurant & Billiards in Spartanburg, SC.
 
Lowery advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Justin Martin, while Tavis San Filippo squared off against Alex Escamilla in the other one. Lowery sent Martin to the loss side 7-6 (Martin racing to 10), as San Filippo downed Escamilla 5-1 to join him in the hot seat match. Lowery and San Filippo battled to double hill before San Filippo prevailed 5-6 (Lowery to 7).
 
On the loss side, as Escamilla and Martin arrived, Mashburn was nine matches into his loss-side winning streak, that had most recently included back-to-back, double hill wins over Scott Green 9-4 and Ricky Bingham 9-6. Mashburn drew Martin. Escamilla picked up Dalton Messer, who’d defeated Landon Hollingsworth and Steven Ellis, both 6-4, to reach him.
 
Mashburn recorded his third straight double hill win, sending Martin to the figurative ‘showers’ 9-9. Messer recorded his third straight 6-4 victory, sending Escamilla home and then, opted out of a quarterfinal match, which leapfrogged Mashburn into the semifinals against Lowery.
 
Lowery stopped Mashburn’s 11-match loss-side run with a 7-6 win in those semifinals (Mashburn racing to 9) and turned his attention to his re-match against San Filippo, waiting for him in the hot seat. With San Filippo racing to 5 and already ‘in the money’ for the first time on the tour, he and Lowery played two sets and a total of 17 games. Lowery won all but three of those games, giving up three in the opening set and none at all in the second set to claim the event title.
 
Tour directors Herman and Angela Parker thanked the Dayne Miller and his staff at Steakhorse Restaurant & Billiards, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, Bar Pool Tables, Delta 13 Racks, AZ Billiards and Professor Q-Ball. The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for this weekend (July 13-14), will be hosted by Borderline Billiards in Bristol, TN.