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Wilkie double dips Ussery in finals of Delaware State 10-Ball Bar Box Championships

Shaun Wilkie, Tarek Elmalla and BJ Ussery

Shaun Wilkie and BJ Ussery entered the AZBilliards database for the first time at the turn of the century. Wilkie’s first recorded payout finish came when he finished 9th at a stop on the Planet Pool Tour in June, 2000. Ussery’s came in September that year, when he finished in a tie for 65th place in the 25th annual US Open 9-Ball Championships; won for the fifth and last time by Earl Strickland. 

Together, Wilkie and Ussery are part of a core group of Mid-Atlantic elite players whose names have appeared consistently, registering victories and cash payout finishes for over two decades. Together, along with a number of other well-known, consistent performers among the Mid-Atlantic pool community (Brett Stottlemeyer, Steve Fleming and Chris Wilburn, among others) and a few from the further-North-Atlantic community (Raphael Dabreo and Miguel LaBoy, among others), they signed on to compete in the 1st Annual Delaware State 10-Ball Bar Box Championships, held last weekend (May 7-8). Together, they advanced to the hot seat match and later, played in the finals. Ussery claimed the hot seat before, together, they appeared in the finals, treating spectators and viewers on a live stream to a pair of double elimination matches that eventually earned Wilkie the event title. The event drew 57 entrants to Milford Billiards in Dover, DE.

Ussery’s path to the hot seat match went through five opponents, who, combined, chalked up only 10 racks against him; Henry Taylor (2), Nelson Tull (1), Steve Fleming (3), Miguel Laboy (3) and, in a winners’ side semifinal, Vinny Cimarelli (1). Wilkie’s opponents on his way to the hot seat match chalked up 14; Mike Saleh (1), Zachary Paitsel (3), Dave Barnes (3), Marty Ciccia (2) and, in the other winners’ side semifinal, Lukas Fracasso-Verner (5). 

The opponent racks-against tipped even further in Ussery’s direction, as he claimed the hot seat 7-4. Ussery was in the hot seat with a 42-14 record (a 75% game-winning average), as Wilkie headed off to the semifinals at 39-20 (66%). 

Neither of them, as it turned out, would have to face the one competitor who’d recorded the most racks against either of them, Fracassso-Verner. He moved to the loss side and picked up Raphael Dabreo, who’d lost his second-round match to Rick Miller and embarked on an eight-match, loss-side winning streak, which would end in the semifinals against Wilkie. Dabreo had just recently eliminated Miguel Laboy 7-4 and Russ Redhead 7-3. Cimarelli drew a re-match against Kirill Rutman Kenny, whom he’d defeated in a winners’ side third round match and had gone on five-match winning streak that had recently included the elimination of two of the aforementioned Mid-Atlantic elites;  Brett Stottlemeyer 7-5 and Steve Fleming 7-1.

Dabreo eliminated Fracasso-Verner 7-5, as Kenny extended his loss-side streak to six matches with a 7-4 win over Cimarelli. Kenny didn’t give up his streak easily, as he and Dabreo fought to double hill in the quarterfinals; the first of four straight double hill matches at the very end of the championship event. The second came in the semifinals, as Dabreo battled Wilkie to a single deciding game before Wilkie earned his rematch against Ussery. 

One can’t ask much more of a regional event final than to have two of its strongest competitors battling to double hill. Twice. And they did. By winning the hot seat match, Ussery had, in effect, extended Wilkie’s match count by one. Wilkie made him pay for that extra match he’d had to play, defeating him twice in what was described as “a very wonderful two sets of pool” that closed out the 1st Annual Delaware State’s 10-Ball Bar Box Championships with Wilkie in possession of the title.

Tour director Tarek Elmalla extended thanks to Leo and Sherrie Weigand and their Milford Billiards staff for their hospitality and to all of the players who came from near and far (New York, Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and more) to compete. He also thanked the folks at https://www.amateursportsstream.com, including Ray Netta and to everyone who joined him in the booth for the live streaming, which, for feature matches, utilized three camera angles that heightened the experience for all of its viewers. And in the ‘keeping everything smooth’ department, Elmalla also acknowledged the assistance of Travis Parker, Ran Ji, Jennifer Benton Boxwell and Eric Probst.

The next item on the Delaware State Championship agenda will entail a switch to 8-Ball, when the 1st Annual DE State 8-Ball Bar Box Championships, scheduled for the weekend of June 25-26, opens the doors, once again, at Milford Billiards in Dover, DE.

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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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Wending his way south, Korsiak goes undefeated at MD State 9-Ball Championships

Loye Bolyard, Nathan Childress, Joey Korsiak and Rick Scarlato

Though known to travel wherever necessary to compete, Joey Korsiak, whose residence is listed as Ronkonkoma, NY (about 50 miles east of Manhattan on Long Island) is known primarily for haunting pool tables in the Northeast corridor. In what was his best year at the tables (2005), when he cracked the top 100 on our AZB Money Leaderboard, five of the 10 events in which he cashed that year were on the NY-based Joss Tour and two others were in Pennsylvania (SBE Players Championship; 5th) and Rhode Island (16th Ocean State 9-Ball Championship; 17th). The other three were Derby City’s 9-Ball Division (Louisville, KY; 38th), the BCA Open (Las Vegas; 13th) and the US Open 9-Ball Championships (Virginia Beach, VA; 33rd). 

He began his 2021 campaign with a single event in Connecticut in February and then has embarked on a southern journey, which took him to Maryland earlier this month (May 1-2), where he competed at the Dynaspheres Cup 10-Ball Championships and finished 3rd behind Van Boening and Raphael Dabreo. Then, onward, south, to Gastonia, NC (about 30 miles west of Charlotte), where he competed in the 1st Annual Ron Park Memorial Tournament, won by Jesus Atencio, in which he finished in the tie for 9th. This past weekend (May 15-16), he headed back north to Maryland, where he went undefeated to chalk up his first victory of the year at the 3rd Annual Maryland State 9-Ball Championships. The event, which would have been the ‘4th Annual,’ but did not occur during the year-that-wasn’t, was held under the auspices of On the Hill Productions and drew 90 entrants to Champion Billiards in Frederick, MD.

Along the way, Korsiak defeated the event’s 2019 champion, Brandon Shuff, and later, much later, in the finals, had to contend with one of the country’s hot ‘young guns,’ two-time Billiard Education Foundation champion, Nathan Childress (‘15/’16, 14 & under boys). As might have been expected, these MD State championships were packed with some of the top competitors in the Mid-Atlantic region, including, though not limited to Shuff, Shaun Wilkie, Paul Oh, Steve Fleming, Brett Stottlemeyer, Matt Krah and the Mastermaker brothers, Danny and Joey. We’d be remiss if we didn’t include Loye Bolyard and Rick Scarlato, Jr. from On the Hill Productions in that crowd (Done!).

Korsiak’s path went through Harshit Kedia, Dylan Spohr, and Robert Calton before he ran into the defending champion, Brandon Shuff. Shuff chalked up just one less rack against him than all three of his previous opponents combined (6-5), but Korsiak prevailed and advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Mike Saleh. Jose Mendez, in the meantime, who’d defeated Daniel Sharlow, James Ward, and Danny Mastermaker, drew Shaun Wilkie in a winners’ side quarterfinal. A 7-4 win set Mendez up to meet Nathan Childress in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Korsiak got into the hot seat match on the heels of a 7-2 victory over Saleh and was joined by Mendez, who’d sent Childress to the loss side 7-5. The hot seat match was Mendez’ second double hill challenge and Korsiak’s first. Korsiak won it and sat in the hot seat, awaiting what turned out to be the return of Childress.

On the loss side, Saleh picked up Jason Kochenour, who was working on a six-match, loss-side winning streak that had recently eliminated Jimmy Acosta 7-3 and narrowly, the aforementioned Rick Scarlato, Jr. Childress drew Danny Mastermaker, who’d defeated Christopher Funk 7-5 and then downed another, ‘young gun,’ more recently out of his teens than Childress, Lukas Fracasso-Verner 7-3.

Saleh and Kochenour locked up in a double hill battle that eventually sent Saleh to the quarterfinals. Childress and Mastermaker almost had themselves a double hill match, but Childress pulled out ahead at the end and won it by two 7-5. 

Childress downed Saleh 7-4 to earn his rematch against Mendez in what turned out to be a double hill semifinal. Childress closed it out for a shot at Korsiak in the hot seat. Korsiak shut Childress down early and claimed the event title with a 7-2 win in those finals.

On the Hill Productions, in the persons of Rick Scarlato, Jr. and Loye Bolyard thanked the ownership and staff at Champion Billiards, as well as sponsors AlleyKat Cue Sports, AZBilliards, Aramith Balls, Lucid Ballsports (Predator Arena Light), Mezz Cues, Turtle Racks, Simonis Cloth, TAP Chesapeake Bay Region and Safe Harbor Investments. The next event on the On the Hill Productions’ schedule will be the 2021 9-Ball Summer Slam, to be held on the weekend of June 12-13 and hosted by Brews & Cues on the Boulevard in Glen Burnie, MD.