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DJ Brads sets Q City 9-Ball record, wins 12 straight to claim event title

There’s a reason that you don’t find evidence of pool players opting to forfeit their opening match so they can spend all of their tournament time on the loss side of a double elimination bracket, waiting for a metaphoric ‘sword’ over their heads to descend and cut them out of the competition. Roanoke, VA’s Damien “DJ” Brads, former US Marine, seems to have developed an affinity for the loss-side experience.

Brads has only been competing on the Q City 9-Ball Tour for about a year now, cashing in five events since last March. He’s won two of them (last March and this past weekend, Feb. 18-19). Both times, he lost his opening match and ended up winning the two sets of a double elimination final to claim the title. In March, 2022, at The Clubhouse in Lynchburg, VA, he won eight on the loss side to finish with 10 straight wins, matching a tour record set by Larry Nevel in 2014. At a $250-added event which drew 39 entrants to Mickey Milligan’s in New Bern, NC this past weekend, he broke that record by winning 10 on the loss side and the two sets of the final.

Brads battled to double hill in his opening match before Brian Blankenship sent him off to chalk up his record-setting 10-match, loss-side winning streak. In the meantime, the tour event was playing host to the return of JT Ringgold. Though he’d made limited appearances on the tour in the past two years (three cash finishes since 2021, including two in which he finished as runner-up), he was a long way from the days of 2018/2019, when he cashed in a total of 27 events (nine in events other than the Q City 9-Ball Tour) and won five of them. He returned with his ranking unaffected, needing in this most recent event to win 10 games every time he stepped to the table.

The eventual runner-up, Ringgold advanced through the field, as did Justin Knuckles, who’d lost to DJ Brads in the semifinals of Brads’ win last March. Ringgold and Knuckles squared off in one of the winners’ side semifinals this past weekend, while Jack Whitfield and Eddie Williams met in the other one.

Ringgold advanced to the hot seat match with a 10-1 win over Knuckles. Whitfield and Williams battled to double hill before Whitfield prevailed. Ringgold and Whitfield battled to double hill as well, before Ringgold grabbed the hot seat 10-6 (Whitfield racing to 7).

On the loss side, Brads had won five when he eliminated Joshua Shultz, double hill and Michael Yamuni 6-2 to draw Eddie Williams. Knuckles picked up Tracy Hardie, who had her own loss-side story to tell. Racing to 4 throughout, she’d won two on the winners’ side before she ran into JT Ringgold, whom she battled to double hill before he prevailed, sending her west in the bracket toward a quarterfinal matchup against Brads. She’d eliminated Donna Sellman 4-2 and survived a double hill battle against Chris Gehrki to meet Knuckles.

With Knuckles racing to 7, Hardie advanced to the quarterfinals 4-3. Brads downed Williams 6-2 to join her. It was clear that both competitors had a lot at stake in the quarterfinals, which was reflected in the double hill match that ensued and eventually (6-3) sent Brads to the semifinals against Jack Whitfield.

By the same 6-3 score, Brads defeated Whitfield (racing to 7) and advanced to the double elimination finals against Ringgold. There was a lot at stake for both competitors in this pair of matches, too. And like the quarterfinals, it was reflected in the double-hill, first-set match score of 6-9 that forced a second set. The first set seemed to have a way of taking the wind out of Ringgold’s metaphoric sails. Brad won the second set 6-3 to set the tour’s longest-run-to-the-winner’-circle record.

Tour director Herman Parker thanked the ownership and staff at Mickey Milligan’s, as well as title sponsor, Breaktime Billiards (Winston-Salem, NC),, Dirty South Grind Apparel Co., Realty One Group Results, Diamond Brat,, Federal Savings Bank Mortgage Division and TKO Custom Cues. 

This weekend, Feb. 25-26, Breaktime Billiards in Winston-Salem, NC will play host to the 11th Annual NC State 9-Ball Open. The Q City 9-Ball weekend will feature a $1,000-added Open tournament and a $250-added 3rd Annual Ladies event. 

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Teacher (Harrell) defeats student (Swinson) on Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour

Mac Harrell

It was playwright David Mamet who made the observation that “old age and treachery will always beat youth and exuberance.” It’s hard to designate the two matches of the double elimination final on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour this past weekend (Dec. 3) as a victory of ‘old age’ and ‘treachery’ over ‘youth’ and ‘exuberance,’ because while it’s true that the winner, Mac Harrell, is older than the runner-up, Graham Swinson, Harrell could not reasonably be considered to be in the realm of ‘old age’ or to have applied ‘treachery’ in double-dipping Swinson in the two matches that they played against each other. Hard to argue with Swinson’s youthful exuberance though.

Swinson is 22 now, but he and Harrell have known each other for a number of years, dating back to a time when Swinson was attending Riverside High School in Williamstown, North Carolina and Mac Harrell was his math teacher. Q City 9-Ball Tour Director, Herman Parker, recalled that the two have played against each other over the past few years or so, but never, to his recollection, in the finals of an event before. They have both won stops on the tour, almost exactly a year apart, at the same location; Harrell four months ago and Swinson, a year and four months ago. The meeting led to some boisterous commentary on both sides in the $250-added event that drew 18 entrants to Mickey Milligan’s in New Bern, NC.

“The teacher taught the student a lesson,” said Parker, “and the teacher had to beat the student twice in the (straight-up race to 8), double-elimination final.”

“There was definitely some good-natured trash talk going on,” he added with a laugh.

Swinson caught Harrell at the tail end of what has been his best (recorded) earnings year since he started showing up on payout lists back in 2008, when Swinson was in grammar school. Swinson, on the other hand, with his runner-up finish in this event, came within about $60 of matching his best recorded earnings year – 2021.  

They both advanced through the field to a winners’ side semifinal. Swinson faced Delton Howard, while Harrell squared off against Jeff Underwood.

Swinson advanced to the hot seat match 8-5 over Howard, but Harrell got shuttled off to the loss side by Underwood 7-6 (Harrell racing to 8). With Underwood racing to 7, Swinson claimed the hot seat, double hill, 8-6 and waited for ‘teach’ to return, which he did.

On the loss side, Harrell picked up Jerry Canon, who’d defeated Ron Ford and Jacob Stein, both 6-1, to reach him. Howard drew Michael Yamuni, who’d recently won two straight double hill battles versus Jack Whitfield and Chris Gehrki.

With Howard racing to 8, Yamuni defeated him 5-3. Harrell, in the meantime, advanced to the quarterfinals 8-2 over Cannon and followed that up with another 8-2 victory over Yamuni in those quarterfinals.

Jeff Underwood managed to get one more rack against Harrell than either of his (Harrell’s) last two opponents, but still fell short in the semifinals. Harrell won 8-3 and entered the ‘double-elimination final’ classroom, prepared to teach. 

He gave up only a single rack to his former student in the opening set, winning it 8-1. The student rallied in the second set and came within a game of forcing a double-hill final match. Harrell stayed ahead of him though and took the second set 8-6 to claim the event title, his second on the tour, to date.

Tour director Herman Parker thanked the ownership and staff at Mickey Milligan’s for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, Breaktime Billiards (Winston-Salem, NC),, Dirty South Grind Apparel Co., Realty One Group Results, Diamond Brat,, 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, Dec. 10-11, will be hosted by the Gate City Billiards Club in Greensboro, NC.

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