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Shotgun Shoots Down Boyes In Pro Cup

The 2014 season’s inaugural Pro Cup was contested between Karl Boyes and Craig Osborne. The new format of winner breaks, double elimination to 8 players and race to 11 was guaranteed to bring out the highest quality pool from the highest quality players on the tour.
Boyes started off his quest for another piece of silverware with a comfortable 11-2 victory over Scotland’s Michael Valentine to put him into a winner’s bracket showdown against another former Mosconi Cup player in the form of Daryl Peach. The two Blackpool residents fought out a relatively one sided contest, with Boyes winning through into the quarter finals 11 racks to 4. Another Michael was waiting in the last 8, but this time it was Michael Rhodes who attempted to derail Guapo. Boyes’ relentless form continued however, with an 11-3 victory setting up a quarter final against Malta’s one and only Tony Drago. His electric style of play would often blow an opponent away, but the tables were turned here as Boyes took an incredible 11-0 whitewash with what is a tour record of SEVEN break and runs in one match against the Tornado to seal his place in the final.
Ossie got his campaign underway in a close fought match on which he found himself the wrong side of the scoreline. Daryl Peach defeated the Shotgun 11-8 to set up his ill-fated match with Boyes and put Osborne one match from defeat. he kept his hopes alive by handing Michael Valentine his second and final defeat of the competition. 11-4 was the score in favour of the Ipswich shooter, knocking Valentine out of the Pro Cup and putting Osborne into the losers qualification side to face Dave Nelson. It was to be a case of different opponent, same score – Osborne wrapping up his second straight 11-4 victory to pit him against Mark Gray in the last 8. Ossie had hit top gear now, and an 11-2 win comfortably saw him into the semi-finals. Here he met Benji Buckley, playing his debut season in the Pro Cup competition, but the Derby University student couldn’t quite secure his spot in the final. Osborne grinded to an 11-6 win to meet Karl Boyes in the final.
Both players have faced each other a number of times before in their GB9 careers, so both knew to expect one almighty match in the final. The spectators were treated to some excellent pool, with Osborne earning himself the first Pro Cup of the season with an 11 racks to 9 victory over Boyes.

Hill Wins Inaugural GB9 UK Open

Mick Hill

The first ever GB9 UK Open kicked off less than 24 hours after the completion of the final ranking event of the season, and many players disappointed with their finishing positions in the British Grand Prix were looking to make amends here. Many of the tour regulars, including some new faces, were eager to get going and pave their way to the final. However, it was two British faces – Mick Hill and Phil Burford – which were to compete in the final showdown of 2013. The format for this competition was slightly different to other events of the season; races to 10 on the winners side and from the last 32 onwards, races to 9 throughout the one-loss side and winner breaks in all matches. This format was sure to be a hit with the professionals, and so it appeared as the match unfolded.
Hill's route to the final started in the most peculiar of ways: he suffered a heavy defeat. Scotland's Michael Valentine was in inspired form, putting in four break and runs in beating Hill 10 racks to 2 and leaving him with a one-loss match against Nottingham's Dave Hopkin. Hill found some better form here in winning 9-3 and setting up a losers qualification match against Mark Parker. A high quality and close match was to follow as Hill made three break and runs in making his way to the last 32 and winning 9-7. Things didn't get any easier in his first two single knockout matches when he first came up against Davy Piergiovanni and then Darryn Walker. He took both men out by the same score line, with back to back 10-8 victories ensuring safe passage through to the quarter finals where he was due to meet Ben Buckley. Another gruelling counter followed as Hill defeated the Derby University student in a brilliant encounter by a score of 10-9 and set up a semi-final showdown against none other than Michael Valentine once again, his nemesis from the opening round of the tournament. The score line was completely different this time around – a close match with a different winner. A second consecutive victory on the hill saw Hill into his second final of the season with a brilliantly fought 10-9 win over the Scot.
Burford was looking to pick up where he left off in winning the British Grand Prix title just the previous say, but even his route to the final started in defeat. Italy’s Bruno Muratore saw his safe passage through to the winners’ qualification round with a gritty 10-9 win over the Locomotive. Eager to pick his form up, however, Burford ploughed his way through his two one-loss side matches by first defeating Bradley Parker 9-2 before following that up with a 9-4 win over Ian McCormick. He had to step his game up significantly to beat his next opponent – none other than fellow pro Chris Melling. Another classic tussle saw Burford come through victorious, winning 10 racks to 8 and heading into the last 16 to face GB9 debutant Zoltan Kojsza. An impressive first run came to an end for Kojsza as Burford progressed through to the final 8 with a well-deserved 10-4 win. As Mark Gray had done in the British Grand Prix, Phil Burford was to deny Shaun Storry in the last 8 once again. The Essex potter just count get over the second from last hurdle at either attempt during the two tournaments and succumbed to a heavy 10-1 defeat which saw Burford through to the semi-finals. His last opposition prior to the final was that of Russia’s Ruslan Chinahov in a match that Burford later described on Facebook as a ‘mental game’. After taking an incredible 9-0 lead, Chinahov edged his way back into the match to come within 2 at 9-7. Burford managed to stop the rot in the 17th rack, however, winning through 10 racks to 7 to set up a final with Hill.
That left two Englishmen, with three of the season’s five ranking event titles between them, to fight it out for the first ever UK Open crown. An undoubtedly high quality match was in store, and the fans were not let down. Burford was denied back to back crowns and what would have been his third GB9 title win of the season – Mick Hill saw through 11 racks to 7 to add the UK Open to his Paul Medati Trophy title won back in April. The former English 8-ball World Champion will surely look to this as a shot of confidence ready for the start of the 2014 GB9 season which commences in February.

Kelly Fisher : “I Love winning. I love the feeling”

Kelly Fisher during the Press Conference



(Shanghai)–When Great Britain’s Kelly Fisher won the 2012 China Open 9-ball in Shanghai last September, she knew straight away that she now sat on the mountain top of women’s professional pool.

The realization, however, didn’t stem from just this one impressive victory through a stacked field of the world’s best women players. A few weeks earlier she had won the Women’s World 9-ball Championship in the north eastern Chinese city of Shenyang with a marvellous all-around performance. Prior to that, in August, 2011 Fisher nabbed the Women’s World 10-ball Championship in Manila. After years of toil, with boat loads of failure and near misses in far away lands, Fisher had not only broken through to the winners circle, but was now dominating women’s professional pool.

“This is my peak in pool,” an elated Fisher said right after her 9-2 drubbing of China’s Zhou Doudou in the final of the 2012 China Open.  “I played for 8 years in the States and I was always asking myself, ‘Was it going to happen? Could I win the big international events?’ I knew I could do it. But actually doing it is another thing”

Fisher’s two victories in China, which led her to be named WPA 2012 Player of the Year, were extra special for the 34 year old because of how brutally difficult it can be for foreigners to win in the world’s most populous nation. Foreigners here have to contend with jet lag, unfamiliar cultural conditions such as the language and food.  In addition the women’s game is massively popular in China, with its players like the legend Pan Xiaoting, 2010 World 9-ball champion Fu Xiaofang, and 2009 World 9-ball Champion Lui Sasha enjoying celebrity status wherever they go.  Tournaments are aired on national television and Chinese fans are heavily partisan towards one of their own. The pressure can be daunting.   

Fisher, though, looked at the obstacles as nothing more than challenges to overcome. She returned again and again to China over the last few years, tasted plenty of defeat, spent lots of her own money, time and effort all with the conviction that, with enough hard work, success would eventually come.

 “For a long time I seemed to struggle playing in Asia,” Fisher said recently. “But maybe due to the amount of events there now I have become accustomed to it and I seem to have managed to bring my ‘A’ game here. In China the events are always first class and very well organized. The players are always treated really well. The live TV coverage along with the fans is like nowhere else in the world. 

“Also, there are a number of tough opponents in China. We have so many great players now and the standard is so high. Which is great for the game. But I try not to think too much of my opponent and focus more on my game.”

Fisher has clearly kept that focus through the down months that are standard for professional pool at the end and beginning of the calendar year.  This past March Fisher let it be known to the rest of women’s pool that she plans on continuing her walk on the high wire of success in 2013. She won the prestigious Amway Cup in Taiwan with a come from behind 11-8 win in the final over Austria’s Jasmin Ouschan . Fisher cruised through the field untouched winning an amazing 28 of 35 total games.

“I was so surprised and thrilled to have won the Amway.  It was the big event that I hadn't won and I really wanted to get that title under my belt.”  

 Fisher’s “surprise” at winning stemmed from some recent personal obstacles that she has had to overcome. Her partner, Val Finnie, was denied a US green card. After living in North Carolina in the USA for 9 years, the pair packed up and moved to Finnie’s hometown of Dumfries, Scotland. 

 “It was a big move,” Fisher said. “Scotland is cold. After living in North Carolina for so many years, it’s not easy to get used to. I have got my own table all set up for practice, which wasn't that easy. I've also been practicing with some of the British male players like Chris Melling and Michael Valentine.”

 Then in January, Fisher’s father passed away. Fisher had been close with her dad, always sharing her  victories and defeats with him over Skype no matter where in the world she was playing. In Taiwan, Fisher said she knew her dad was watching over her, and she used it to her advantage.

“I went into the event with very little expectations of doing so, due to my father’s passing and moving and no table to practice. So it really meant a great deal to me to win. It's one of my favorite events and I felt my dad with me all the way.”

Fisher realizes that with so much recent success, all eyes will be on her this week in Shanghai to hold on to her China Open title and world number 1 ranking, and continue her amazing streak. She knows better than anyone, however, just how fleeting success can be in the professional game. As usual with the affable Brit, she knows  the key to success is to keep things in perspective.

“Obviously I am thrilled with the year I had in 2012. I always believed I could do it but it was still amazing to actually pull it off. I played solid throughout the year and really dug in deep. Things went my way and I managed to take advantage of that. 

“I love winning. I love the feeling. I really want to try and keep that going for as long as I can. My ambition now is to try and retain some of my titles and keep that number 1 spot.  I do realize that this is a high ambition with the standard of play but it sure would be nice.

“I would love nothing more than to retain my (China Open) title and I know it's possible and I'm capable to do so. However, I'm just going to go into the event hoping to play well and take it one match at a time and try my best. I don't want to put any pressure on myself, so I can only give my all and see what happens.”

Wizard Leaves Shotgun Spellbound Again

Jayson Shaw

Jayson Shaw and Craig Osborne made their way each into yet another final in the first Pro Cup of the season. With the newly revamped double-elimination 16-man field coming into effect in the competition, the field truly has become an elite group of the finest 9-ball players Great Britain has to offer.

Picking up where he left off after his British Grand Prix victory back in November, Shaw’s first victory of the season came over good friend Chris Melling. Nothing short of a top draw match was in order, with Shaw coming away 9-5 victor. In his winners bracket match he came up against Chris Hall, being pushed all the way to the hill before qualifiying for the quarter finals with a 9-8 win. the curiousities of the draw meant a rematch with Melling came next. It was a case of different result, same winner, as Shaw came through another hill-hill battle on top to make the semi-finals. His third consecutive hill-hill match came in the form of Daryl Peach and once again it was Shaw who came out on top to make his second straight GB9 final.

Osborne made slightly harder work on his way to the final, but still showed the quirky style of grit and finesse we’ve grown to love with Ozzy. His opening match against Pro Cup returnee Damian Massey was a real grinder, but he came through 9-8 to set up a winners’ bracket match with Daryl Peach. The wheels temporarily fell right of the Ozzy bandwagon and a 9-3 victory for Peach meant Osborne went into the losers’ bracket. A steady 9-6 victory over Karl Boyes saw him find his feet again and set up a quarter-final against James Kay. He came through that match 9-7 to set up a semi-final against Michael Valentine, a match which finished with the same scoreline and the same winner, sending Osborne through to yet another final.

Good friends off of the table, these two are nothing short of nemeses when playing against one another –a quality final was guaranteed for all the spectators. Perhaps surprisingly, therefore, the margin of victory in the final was the largest of any match in the whole competition: it was Shaw who kept up his unbeaten record against Osborne with a crushing 9-2 score line to take his first gold medal of the season along with the £1,000 winner’s cheque