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Shaw comes back from a hot seat loss to down Varias and win Dynaspheres Cup 10-Ball Open

Josh Setterfield: Owner at BSN, Jayson Shaw: Champion, Jake Lawson: Owner at BSN (Shaun Wilkie – Get Some Photography)

Evidence that pool can be a tricky game can be found in a variety of circumstances, up to and including whether a given player, at a given location, competing against a given set of opponents is having a good or bad day. It was by no means a ‘sure bet’ that Jayson Shaw, surely one of the better pool players on the planet at the moment, was going to win the Dynaspheres Cup 10-Ball Open, held this past weekend (Aug. 14-15) at Bank Shot Bar & Grill in Laurel, MD. 

A good bet, mind you, but the notion that it was a ‘sure bet’ got a jolt from a well-known pool-reality button when Shaw lost the event’s hot seat match to a mid-Atlantic competitor, who, though he’s cashed in many events over the past eight years, has never actually won a major tournament (recorded by us here at AZBilliards). A regular on the Action Pool Tour, Jimmy Varias has been runner-up at two stops on that tour, five and seven years ago; both times, taking the same path of claiming the hot seat and then being defeated in the finals, by Shaun Wilkie in 2014 and Brian Deska in 2016. 

All things considered, the competition in this $1,500-added event that drew 48 entrants seemed to underperform. None of the event’s final four competitors managed to tally a game-winning average above 68%. Combined, their game-winning average was only 64%. That said, the final four played most of their games on the winners’ side of the bracket. Altogether, the four of them played only seven matches on the loss side. On both sides of the bracket, the final four recorded only three shutouts (third-place finisher Grai “Pookie” Rasmechai was involved in two of them, a win and a loss) and were involved in only two double hill matches.

It should be noted, as well, that there were junior competitors on hand, fresh from competition at the BEF Junior Nationals. Silver Medalist Skylar Hess (14 and Under Girls) lost her first match in this event, won her first match on the loss side and then fought mid-Atlantic veteran competitor Steve Fleming to double hill before being eliminated. The Vaughan brothers, Garret and Grayson were also on-hand, each winning two winners’ side matches. Elder brother Garrett won a loss-side match before being eliminated in a double hill fight.

After being awarded an opening round bye, Shaw went through Kevin West, Erick Toledo and Robert Cord to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal matchup versus Grai “Pooky” Rasmechai. Varias, in the meantime, without a bye, defeated Curtis Branker, Sunny Nassif, Del Sim and Eric Lyons to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal matchup against Shaun Wilkie.

In one of the two shutouts in which he was involved, Rasmechai was sent to the loss side by Shaw (“Pooky” had earlier shutout Billiard Sports Network’s Josh Setterfield). Varias and Wilkie battled to double hill before Varias prevailed to face Shaw in the battle for the hot seat. Varias won it in a match that fell a game short of double hill at 7-5.

On the loss side, Wilkie picked up fellow mid-Atlantic competitor, Kevin West, who’d won his opening match over Rob Hess, only to run into Shaw playing his opening match. West was the beneficiary of a loss-side forfeit by Tim Metter before embarking on a six-match, loss-side winning streak that had recently eliminated Del Sim 6-4 and Robert Cord 6-3. “Pookie” drew Erick Toledo, who was working on a modest four-match, loss-side streak that had just eliminated Eric Lyons 6-3 and Roger Haldar 6-1.

“Pooky” advanced to the quarterfinals on the heels of a 6-2 win over Toledo. Wilkie joined him after downing Hess 6-1.

“Pooky” took the quarterfinal match 6-4 over Wilkie, at which point, more than just a few were wondering whether Shaw’s hot-seat loss was just a fluke and whether a “Pooky”/Jimmy Varias was possible. It was, of course, but it didn’t happen. Shaw defeated “Pooky” 6-3 and turned his full attention to the finals.

Shaw had to win twice in the finals and won the opening set 7-3. As had happened in their hot seat match, they battled back and forth to a single game shy of double hill in the second set. Unlike the hot seat match, it was Shaw who edged out in front to win the second set and claim the event title 6-4. 

Tournament director Billiard Sports Network’s Jake Lawson extended thanks to the ownership and staff at The Bank Shot Bar & Grill for their ongoing hospitality throughout the Dynaspheres series of events, as well as title sponsor Dynaspheres Balls, Lucid Ballsports (Predator Arena Light), Gina Cunningham (Keller Williams Integrity), East Coast Prime Meats, Courtyard Marriott, Fort Meade, MD, Rachel Moran and Shaun Wilkie (Photography), Integrity Cues, Break Out Billiards Apparel, AZBilliards, Premier Billiards,, The League Room,  JB Cases, American Billiard Covering, DFE Billiards Cue Repair and Run Out Renegades. The event was live-streamed throughout the weekend by Billiard Sports Network. The next event in the Dynasphere’s Cup Series, back at the Bank Shot Bar and Grill, scheduled for Oct. 2-3, will be the Dynasphere’s Juniors 9-Ball Open. 

Wolford goes undefeated to claim MD State Bar Table 9-Ball title

Loye Bolyard, Rick Molineiro, Matt Krah, Shane Wolford and Rick Scarlato, Jr.

Shane Wolford is hard at work making a name for himself. After a few years as a junior competitor, he has stepped up in the ranks with a series of notable event victories and competitive performances. Starting about four years ago, as a teenager, when he first started showing up on the payout lists of the Viking Cues Q City 9-Ball Tour, Wolford has gone on to compete in the Derby City Classic, the Action Pool Tour, and a number of Maryland state championship tournaments. 

Wolford has been a winner on the Q City 9-Ball Tour on a couple of occasions, and last year, teamed up with another ‘young gun,’ Nathan Childress, to win the Maryland State Scotch Doubles 9-Ball Championship. In November, he and Childress signed on for the Maryland State 8-Ball Championship and though Childress got sent to the loss side in a winners’ side quarterfinal by Mike Davis, Wolford eventually met and defeated Davis in a winners’ side semifinal, after which he defeated Matt Clatterbuck to claim the hot seat. Davis came back to down him in the finals of that event, but in the brief time he’s been around, Wolford has rung a few pool-community bells that at this stage of his career, are not likely to be unheard.

Well, ring-a-ding-ding, Wolford signed on to the 2021 Maryland State Bar Table 9-Ball Championships this past weekend (April 10-11) and went undefeated through the field of 118 competitors to claim that title. The event was hosted by On the Hill Productions and Brews & Cues on the Boulevard in Glen Burnie, MD.

By luck of the draw, Wolford had the opportunity to chalk up a few victories before he moved into the ‘meat’ of the field that included the likes of Shaun Wilkie, Brandon Shuff, Steve Fleming, Jason Trigo, BJ Ussery, Pooky Rasmeloungon (who hasn’t been heard of, officially, since he finished 4th at a stop on the Action Pool Tour, seven years ago), Matt Krah and last year’s MD State Bar Table 9-Ball Champion, Brett Stottlemeyer.

Wolford opened up by shutting out Joshua Oesterboro, then defeated Karl Friedenberg, Shane Clayton and Joseph Wright, before running into BJ Ussery and defeating him 7-4 in a winners’ side quarterfinal. This set Wolford up against Pooky in a winners’ side semifinal; Pooky had just sent Shaun Wilkie west 7-4 in one of the other winners’ side quarterfinals. Meanwhile, Rick Molineiro and Matt Krah met in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Molineiro sent Krah to the loss side 7-5. Wolford joined him in the battle for the hot seat after defeating Pooky 7-5. Wolford then claimed the hot seat, downing Molineiro 7-3.

On the loss side, Krah picked up BJ Ussery, who followed his loss against Wolford by shutting out Josh McCauley and eliminating Shaun Wilkie 7-2. Pooky drew Rob Cord, who’d been sent to the loss side by Krah in a winners’ side quarterfinal and then defeated Brandon Shuff 7-3 and Ron Frank, Jr. 7-1.

Krah and Pooky advanced to the quarterfinals, chalking up identical 7-4 wins over Ussery and Cord, respectively. The two veteran pros, each of whom has been around pool longer than the man in the hot seat had been alive, locked up in a double hill fight in those quarterfinals. Krah hung on to win it and face Molineiro in the semifinals.

According to our records, Krah hadn’t been in the finals of an event since 2015, when he was involved in five of them; that year’s VA 10-Ball Championship (won by Shaun Wilkie), three stops on the Mezz Tour (one of which he won by virtue of being in the hot seat when a final match was not held) and a Labor Day 9-Ball shootout in Maryland (also won by Shaun Wilkie).

History is not something generally brought to the tables in a pool match. By player inclination, the job at hand is playing the game in front of you, whether your opponent is a veteran of the game or a barely-out-of-teen-years junior player. The junior player prevailed in Maryland this time out. Wolford completed his undefeated run with a 7-3 win that earned him Maryland State’s Bar Table 9-Ball Championship.

Loye Bolyard and Rick Scarlato, Jr. thanked the ownership and staff at Brews & Cues on the Boulevard, 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 Retirement Planners. The event was streamed throughout the weekend by Bolyard and Scarlato’s On the Hill Productions.

Rasmechai takes two out of three over Shuff to win MD State 10-Ball Bar Table Championship

(l to r): Brandon Shuff & Grai (Pooky) Rasmechai

In most double elimination pool tournaments, the winner usually ends up taking down the runner-up, twice; again, usually in the hot seat match and finals. It’s what happened at the 2018 MD State 10-Ball Bar Table Championships, when Johann Chua defeated Jesus Atencio twice to claim the title. This year, on the weekend of November 30-December 1, a veteran of the mid-Atlantic pool scene returned to the tables after something of a protracted absence and a few appearances on the Action Pool Tour over the past few years. Formerly known as Pooky Rasmeloungon, he has returned to the scene as Grai Rasmechai, maintaining the "Pooky" as a nickname. Pooky had to defeat an opponent, Brandon Shuff, twice this past weekend, but had to face him three times to claim the 2019 MD State 10-Ball Bar Table Championships. They and a number of competitors in this event have been familiar opponents over the years on (among other tours/events) the Falcon Cue 9-Ball Tour. To get a sense of just how familiar the winner and runner-up in this event have been as been as opponents over the years, it should be noted that they tied for 5th place in the Pennsylvania State 9-Ball Championships, 15 years ago. The $2,000-added event this past weekend drew 103 entrants to Brews & Cues on the Blvd. in Glen Burnie, MD.
Rasmechai got by Heath Willard, Joey Scarlato, James Aranas, Clint Clayton and Brandon Sluzalis to face Shuff for the first time in a winners’ side semifinal. Shuff had defeated Joe Chester, Rick Miller, Alvin Thomas, Shane Wolford, and Shaun Wilkie to reach Rasmechai. In the meantime, Dylan Spohr and Chuck Sampson squared off in the other one. By identical 7-5 scores, Sampson and Rasmechai sent Spohr and Shuff to the loss side. Rasmechai followed his victory over Shuff with a 7-3 victory over Sampson to claim the hot seat.
On the loss side, Shuff picked up Thomas Haas, who’d defeated Rick Molineiro 7-1 and survived a double hill fight against Rob Cord to reach him. Spohr drew Shaun Wilkie, who, following his defeat at the hands of Shuff in a winners’ side quarterfinal, had eliminated Scott Haas 7-2 and Bob Pacheco 7-5.
Anyone familiar with the mid-Atlantic region pool scene who happened to be in attendance or possibly watching the live stream of the event (courtesy of Billiard Sports Network) could see a potential rematch between Shuff and Wilkie looming. Shuff did his part, downing Haas 7-4. Spohr, though, spoiled the reunion by defeating Wilkie 7-1.
Shuff defeated Spohr 7-2 in those quarterfinals and then found himself locked up in a double hill fight versus Sampson in the semifinals. Shuff eventually prevailed to earn himself a spot in the finals.
Shuff walked into a second straight double hill fight in the opening set of the true double elimination final and won it to force a second set. Rasmechai got out in front in the second set, winning it eventually 7-4 to claim his first event title since (according to our records) he won the opening stop of the Seminole Tour's 2005 season.
On The Hill Productions will return to Brews & Cues in Glen Burnie on the weekend of February 8-9 for the Maryland State 8-Ball Bar Table Championships.
Event directors Loye Bolyard and Rick Scarlato, Jr. thanked Anthony and Stefanie Manning and their Brews & Cues staff for their hospitality, as well as sponsors McDermott Cues, Lights Out Billiards Apparel, TAP Pool League-Chesapeake Bay Region, Billiards Sports Network, AZBilliards, Aramith Balls and Simonis Cloth.

Shuff chalks up second straight Action Pool Tour win over Wilkie

Brandon Shuff

For the second time in a row, Brandon Shuff met Shaun Wilkie in the finals of an Action Pool Tour event and won. In March, Wilkie was sent to the loss side in the opening round of play and worked his way back through nine matches on the loss side to face Shuff in the finals. Shuff's victory ended a six-event winning streak for Wilkie on the tour (four at the end of last season, two at the beginning of this current tour season). On the weekend of April 4-5, at an event hosted by Breakers Sky Lounge in Herndon, VA, which drew 61 entrants, Shuff once again took the undefeated route to the event title. Wilkie took the easier (shorter) undefeated route, as well this time, until the two met in the hot seat match and the finals.
Each of their winning percentages went down since the earlier meeting; Shuff winning 67% of his 97 games this time out (down from 72% of games won in March), Wilkie winning (just shy of) 60% of his 114 (down from 70% in March). Wilkie gave up over twice as many racks to opponents per match in this latest event – 2.5 per match to 5.75 – while Shuff's opponents improved from 2.8 racks per match to 4.57. 
Shuff's trail went through Pooky Rasmeloungon, R.J. Carmona, Alex Travino, and Dominic Noe, before coming up against Paul Helms in one of the winners' side semifinals. Wilkie got by Troy Miller, Will Moon, Paul Oh and Matt Krah before facing Mike Davis in the other winners' side semifinal. Shuff downed Helms 9-3, while Wilkie made short 9-1 work of Davis. In their first of two, Shuff gained the hot seat over Wilkie 9-7.
Helms moved to the loss side and met up with Jimmy Varias, who was in the midst of an eight-match, loss-side winning streak (including a bye) that began when he'd been sent west in the opening round of play. Varias survived a double hill match against Tom Zippler and eliminated Matt Krah 7-3 to pick up Helms. Davis drew Carmona, who'd gotten by Steve Ball 7-5 and Noe 7-4.
Helms ended the Varias loss side streak, and Davis knocked Carmona out of action, both 7-4.
Davis then eliminated Helms 7-1 in the quarterfinals and got a second shot at Wilkie. Though he'd do a lot better than the earlier 7-1 match and force a 13th and deciding game, Davis fell a second time to Wilkie. Wilkie then fell a second time to Shuff, who completed his second straight, undefeated weekend on the Action Pool Tour 11-9.
Shuff, who missed the first two stops on the tour, has a long way to go to catch Wilkie in his perch at the top of the current APT rankings; a trip made even more difficult by Wilkie's runner up finish in the last two events. The tour's next stop (May 9-10 at Clubhouse Billiards in Lynchburg, VA) will mark the midway point of the 10-event schedule.

Deska becomes first to win three straight on Action Pool Tour, claiming #1 ranking

In the absence of Shaun Wilkie, Brian Deska took command of the Action Pool Tour rankings with a third straight win on the tour. He became the first in the tour's history to accomplish the feat, during the 6th stop on the tour; June 7-8, in a field of 54, hosted by Breakers Sky Lounge in Herndon, VA.
Though he would go undefeated, Deska did not go unchallenged. He gave up an average of five racks per match; 30 over six matches and 48 games, prior to the finals. Kim Whitman challenged him with six in the opening round and Tuan Chau battled him to double hill in a winners' side semifinal. In the hot seat match, challenged by Troy Miller, who'd defeated Paul Oh 8-6, Deska gave up his match average, but there he sat, in the hot seat, on the brink of three straight.
Tuan Chau moved over and picked up Alan Duty, who'd gotten by Rocky Guell 7-4 and Jimmy Endara 7-5, to reach him. Oh drew Pooky Rasmeloungon, who'd shut out Jeremy Perkins and defeated Rich Glasscock 7-3. Chau defeated Duty 7-4, as Rasmeloungon eliminated Oh 7-3. Chau survived a double hill quarterfinal against Rasmeloungon, and then had his four-match, loss-side winning streak ended by Miller, 7-5, in the semifinals.
Deska brought his 61% winning average into the finals and completed his undefeated run by winning 71% (10) of the final 14 games. Runner-up Troy Miller, from Virginia Beach, finished with an overall winning average of 56% percent, winning 48 of the 86 games he played.
Shaun Wilkie (former #1), Larry Kressel (#9) and Raymond Walters (#10) were not on-hand for this event, while Alan Duty (#5) and Paul Oh (#7) finished in the tie for 5th place. Rick Glasscock (#8) finished in the tie for 7th place. Dan Madden (#3) and Steve Fleming (#4) finished out of the money, among the four tied for 13th place, while Pat Carosi (#6) also finished out of the money in the tie for 33rd place.
Stop #7 on the Action Pool Tour will again be hosted by Breakers Sky Lounge in Herndon, VA. The 10-ball event is scheduled for September 6-7.