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Aranas wins Predator Pro Am qualifier to CSI Predator World 10-Ball Championship

Omar Al Shaheen and James Aranas

It’s rare, if not downright unheard of, that a pool tournament, especially among the sport’s elite, is set up as a winner-take-all scenario. That, however, is just what occurred on Sunday, June 23, when 15 competitors gathered at Raxx Billiards in West Hempstead, NY vying for a single, winner payout in a $500-added event, which would qualify that winner for the upcoming, $100,000-added CSI/Predator World 10-Ball Championships, set for July 22-26 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Zoren James Aranas won four matches in a row in a single elimination format to claim the $1,500 first-place prize and a paid entry to the Vegas event next month.

The event was held under the auspices of the Predator Pro Am Tour, which, concurrently, held its 10th tour stop of the year, a $1,000-added A/B/C/D event that drew 80 entrants to Raxx Billiards. Between the Open/Pro event qualifier, the A/B/C/D tour stop and two Second Chance events, 124 players (with some event overlap) traveled out to Long Island for this multi-event weekend. A report on the A/B/C/D tournament and the two Second Chance events will be posted separately.

The qualifier event featured exactly 201 games of pool. In winning, Aranas won 40 of the 51 games in which he competed (78%). His opponent in the finals, Omar Alshaheen, won 35 of 63, for a game-winning average of 55%. Alshaheen’s opponents chalked up an average of six games against him and he faced a double hill battle in the third, semi-final round. Aranas’ opponents won an average of just under three games per match.

Aranas opened with a 10-1 victory over Pat Fleming, as Alshaheen downed Jeremy Sossei 10-6. In the second round, Aranas defeated tour and event director Tony Robles 10-5. Alshaheen, in the meantime, defeated Jimmy Rivera 10-3.

In the semifinals that followed, Elvis Rodriguez, who’d defeated Mike Dunn 10-5 and Holden Chin (owner of Raxx Billiards) 10-8, was eliminated in a shutout by Aranas. Thorsten Hohmann, who’d defeated Mike Badsteubner and Joey Korsiak, both 10-6, forced a 19th and deciding game against Alshaheen, who advanced to meet Aranas in the finals.

In the final match, Aranas downed Alshaheen 10-5 to claim the top prize and his literal (ticket) on a plane to Vegas for the CSI/Predator 10-Ball Championships next month.

Melling, Steadman, Tian and Zhang earn World Snooker Tour cards

2012 Mosconi Cup MVP Chris Melling

Chris Melling, Craig Steadman and Chinese duo Zhang Anda and Tian Pengfei were the four players to earn two-year tour cards from 2014 Q School event one.
The quartet came through a tough field in Gloucester to reach the semi-finals and book a place on the World Snooker circuit for the next two seasons.
Yorkshire's 35-year-old Melling is best known as a pool player, a former eight-ball World Champion and world number three at nine-ball. He previously played professional snooker in 2001/02 and 2003/04 but struggled to make an impact.
Now the player nicknamed the Magician believes he is ready to succeed on the green baize. "When I played pro snooker before there were only seven tournaments, played in Prestatyn and it was hard to get through the qualifiers," said Melling, who edged out Welshman Duane Jones 4-3 today with breaks of 86, 60 and 75.
"These days there are a lot more tournaments plus the flat draws give everyone a much better chance to get to the venues, and I love playing in front of a big crowd. In the past the top 16 were too protected.
"When I was a snooker player before I was mixing it with pool, which is difficult. I will still play a few pool events next season but mainly I will be focussed on snooker and I am really enjoying playing at the moment.
"It was only because the pool calendar went downhill that I started playing snooker a couple of months ago, for the first time in five years. I bought a cue, and on the third day of practice I made a 147. So I decided to give Q School a try, and now I'm on the tour for two years."
Melling also revealed that tips from a former World Champion had paid off. "I play at the Cue Gardens club in Bradford and Joe Johnson has been a big help to me, giving me free practice and a lot of advice about safety. I have never had anyone to really push me before but he has given me a lot of confidence, and if I don't complete the routines he gives me, he lets me know about it."
Steadman dropped off the tour at the end of last season, but bounced straight back by winning five matches at Q School, losing just two frames in the process. He finished with a 4-0 defeat of John Sutton, highlighted by breaks of 70 and 84.
"I played well all the way through, although just winning was the main thing," said Lancashire's 31-year-old Steadman. "It's just a relief to be back on tour because I felt I was improving at the end of last season so now I have the chance to keep that going. 
"I got to the last 16 of the China Open, then the ferrule fell off my cue and I lost to Mike Dunn, which was a shame because I felt I could have done more damage in that event. But I left it too late to get into the top 64 and keep my place. At least with Q School you have the chance to get straight back on.
"There are a lot of good players here and people were talking about the best parts of the draw to be in. But I didn't look at the draw once, I just found out what time I was playing each day. The best of sevens are short sprints but I've got plenty of experience at that from the European Tour events."
China's 26-year-old Tian and 22-year-old Zhang also regained their tour places having been relegated at the end of last season. Tian saw off Eden Sharav today with top breaks of 92, 58 and 127, while Zhang edged out Jamie Clarke 4-3 with 86, 71 and a crucial 54 in the decider.

Race Is On To Keep Tour Places

Steve Davis

Snooker’s 2013/14 season is nearing the closing stretch, with many players battling for every pound to ensure their place on the professional circuit for another year.
There are still five ranking events to go this term – the Welsh Open, Haikou World Open, Players Championship, China Open and World Championship. But many of those on the World Snooker Tour will soon be getting out the calculators and working out what they need to do to keep their cards.
Crucially, the final event in the European Tour series is coming up this week – the Gdynia Open in Poland from February 7 to 9. That will be a vital event for many of those hoping to retain their pro status.
The following players will keep their place on the tour:
– Those ranked inside the top 64 on the two-year prize money list (NOT the ranking points list) following the 2014 World Championship
– Those on the first year of a two-year tour card.
The following players will be issued a new two year tour card:
– The top eight on the European Tour Order of Merit, not already qualified as above.
– The top four on the Asian Tour Order of Merit, not already qualified as above.
The Gdynia Open on the Baltic coast of Poland, then, will see players competing for crucial wins in order to climb the European Tour Order of Merit.
According to the prize money rankings issued following the German Masters 2014, the eight players who are currently in line to qualify from the European Tour Order of Merit are as follows:
1)       Gerard Greene
2)       Sam Baird
3)       Joel Walker
4)       Scott Donaldson
5)       Ian Burns
6)       Michael Wasley
7)       David Grace
8)       Tony Drago
Hot on their heels are the following:
9)       Martin O’Donnell
10)     Stuart Carrington
11)     Barry Pinches
12)     Mike Dunn
Snooker legend Steve Davis is one of the players not yet certain of his tour card for next season and potentially needing to win matches to be sure of continuing his unbroken 36-year stretch as a professional.
He currently lies 60th on the money list and 60th on the European Order of Merit. Jimmy White, meanwhile, is also in a precarious position, 62nd on the money list and 110th on the Order of Merit.
Six-time World Champion Davis said: “The last European Tour event is going to be make or break for some players. Particularly those who look very unlikely to get into the top 64 of the money list. A good run in Poland then becomes their best chance of staying on the tour.
“The big difference now is that one good run in a tournament can really shoot you up the prize money list, and it’s a much better system than using ranking points.
“If you break your wrist and miss a few tournaments, you’ve still got a chance because you can have a run to a quarter or semi-final and catch up fast. In the past, players were getting ranking points just for entering events, even if they lost their first match. Under the prize money system, if you lose your first match you get nothing, and that’s how it should be.
“Even for players who drop off the tour, there are still a lot of opportunities because they can play in Q School in May with a chance to regain their place, or as amateurs they can play in all the European Tour events.”
As for his own position, Davis added: “If I was that worried about staying on the tour or not, I wouldn’t have gone into the jungle. I missed the UK Championship and a couple of European Tour events so inevitably I have dropped back a bit. If I do drop off, I’ll enjoy the challenge of trying to get back on.
“I haven’t looked at the prize money list or the Order of Merit and tried to work out what I need to do. I’m looking forward to Poland just because I enjoy playing in tournaments. If I do enough to guarantee my place, that would be great. If not, I’ll look forward to the rest of the ranking events.”

Ace Trump Wins Antwerp Thriller

Judd Trump beat Ronnie O’Sullivan 4-3 in a sensational final at Players Tour Championship event nine in Antwerp, Belgium.

A high quality encounter between two of snooker’s most dazzling talents at the Lotto Arena was watched by a crowd of nearly 1,500. They saw O’Sullivan open with a break of 63 to take the first frame, before Crucible finalist Trump fired in 68, 65 and 65 to go 3-1 up. Back-to-back centuries, 118 and 132, saw O’Sullivan back to 3-3 but Bristol’s Trump took the deciding frame with runs of 44 and 41, aided by a fluke on match-ball.

It’s World No 7 Trump’s second PTC title this season and he is rewarded with 10,000 Euros and 2,000 ranking points. Trump, O’Sullivan and Neil Robertson have dominated the PTC series so far, winning two apiece of the nine events.

“It was a really special match because the atmosphere was like the World Championship final, ” said 22-year-old Trump. “Ronnie always gets more support so to deliver a performance like that against him gives me a boost. He makes big breaks and puts you under it. Even at 3-1 up I was just hoping for a chance to win it.

“This season has been pretty good so far, I’ve been more than happy with the way I’ve played. I lost my first match in the two main ranking events but I’ve done well in the PTC events and I’m really looking forward to the UK Championship and the Masters now because those are the big ones.”

As for the success of the tournament in Belgium, Trump added: “I definitely think we could have a full ranking event here. The fans have been great and the players would be more than happy to come back.”

The PTC is a series of 12 short events, with the top 24 on the final Order of Merit going through to the Grand Final in March, providing they have played in at least three domestic events and three overseas. The next tournament is PTC10 in Sheffield from November 27-30.

Results (last 16 onwards)

Last 16
Ronnie O’Sullivan 4-2 Stephen Lee
Neil Robertson 4-1 Michael White
David Morris 0-4 Jack Lisowski
Graeme Dott 4-2 Alan McManus
Judd Trump 4-0 Tom Ford
Mike Dunn 0-4 John Higgins
Aditya Mehta 4-3 Matthew Stevens
Martin Gould 4-3 Andy Hicks

Ronnie O’Sullivan 4-1 Neil Robertson
Jack Lisowski 2-4 Graeme Dott
Judd Trump 4-2 John Higgins
Aditya Mehta 1-4 Martin Gould

Ronnie O’Sullivan 4-1 Graeme Dott
Judd Trump 4-1 Martin Gould

Ronnie O’Sullivan 3-4 Judd Trump