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Sim downs Hohmann in second set of NBL 8-Ball double elimination final to claim event title

Del Sim

Originally from Scotland, the man they call The Highlander – Del Sim – has chalked up two breakout performances in the past two weeks. On the weekend of April 9-10, he finished as runner-up to Jeremy Sossei at Stop #13 on the 2021/2022 Joss Northeast 9-Ball Tour and then, this past weekend (April 16-17), he went undefeated to win the National Billiard League’s (NBL) 8-Ball Championships, hosted by the league’s flagship venue, Sandcastle Billiards in Edison, NJ. Combined, those two finishes have earned Sim more than all of his (reported to us) payout finishes over the past six years. This past weekend was the only victory (reported to us) since he won a stop on the Tri-State Tour in 2016.

“Well, well, well. . . I finally snapped off a title,” he wrote on the NBL’s Facebook page. “Doesn’t happen very often.”

“I feel reborn,” he wrote later, noting that the victory meant a lot to him for reasons that went beyond the tables. In addition to 8-ball being his favorite game among the many available, the win brought back cherished memories of his father, who would “beam with pride” when he would win in league play as a younger player.

“(It’s been) 8 years since he passed, almost to the day,” he added, “and I feel he would have enjoyed this one the most, with lots of drama and high-level play by all.”

Arguably, the highest drama of the event came in the second set of the double elimination final. Having been defeated by Thorsten Hohmann 8-2 in the opening set, Sim stepped to the table, on the hill at 5-3, with all of his striped balls on the table. Six of Hohmann’s solids were ‘running interference’ against any hopes that Sim was harboring of running to the 8-ball and finishing things right then and there.

“I knew this could be my last opportunity,” he would say later, as he provided commentary to a three-minute video clip of the event’s final rack. 

He stepped to the table and ran the rack. Game, set and match.

“Del played a great second set against me,” commented Hohmann, “and made a heck of an out to win.”

That ‘out’ entailed a planned route for the cue ball, which came off striking Sim’s last striped ball. The target ball dropped into a corner pocket, while the cue ball embarked on a journey that ran above, through and below four of the six solid balls still on the table, coming to rest in a position that allowed Sim to line up and pocket the winning 8-ball in the only pocket that it could have been done.

Del Sim and Thorsten Hohmann

The field of 32 for this NBL 8-Ball Championship, which, due to last-minute cancellations,  became 29 by the time it got underway, was drawn from 13 out of 16 scheduled qualifying events that took place around the country over the past few months. It is a formula that was part of the plan from the beginning, according to league founder Ed Liddawi and employed to hold the league’s 10-Ball Championships this past December.

“The three slots that were available,” explained Liddawi, “were filled by a runner-up and two, third-place finishers from the largest-field qualifiers.”

“We ended up with 16 amateurs and 13 Pros,” he added.

The NBL was to have been launched at about the time the country began its ongoing battle against the pandemic. Its start was delayed and as it has slowly begun its re-launch, it has been designed with far fewer qualifiers and main events than originally planned; a circumstance that Liddawi is planning to rectify in 2023.

Everything at this 8-Ball Championship, according to Liddawi, went according to plan, with (as featured in December’s 10-Ball championships) live music, a comedian (Frank Del Pizzo, with, reportedly, some pool humor in his repertoire) and a mixture of amateurs and pros facing off against each other at various points throughout the event. Two amateurs battled for the hot seat, as, on the loss side, Thorsten Hohmann, was finishing up what would be an eight-match, loss-side winning streak that started with a 6-1 loss to amateur competitor Joe Dupuis and eventually, took him to the finals.

Sim’s path to the winners’ circle went through Kenny Tran, Jason Lynch and John Morra to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against Shane Albaugh. Al Lapena, in the meantime, got by Jerry Dunne, Lukas Fracasso-Verner (double hill), and Frankie Hernandez, to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal against BJ Ussery.

Lapena and Ussery locked up in a double hill fight that eventually sent Ussery to the loss side. Lapena was joined in the hot seat match by Sim, who’d sent Albaugh over 8-5. Sim claimed the hot seat 8-6 over Lapena and watched, no doubt with some level of anxiety, as Hohmann worked through the final stages of his loss-side run.

On the loss side, Albaugh drew Hohmann, who’d recently chalked up loss-side wins #4 & #5 against Frankie Hernandez 6-3 and Dennis Spears in a shutout. Hohmann got by Albaugh 6-4 and in the quarterfinals, faced Morra, who’d survived a double hill match versus Ussery.

Hohmann and Morra (predictably) locked up in a double hill match that did eventually send Hohmann to the semifinals, where he eliminated Lapena 6-2. The Pro vs. Amateur battle was joined. The recent Hall of Fame inductee versus a competitor looking for his first (recorded) win in six years.

Things didn’t look too good for the amateur in the opening set of the true double elimination final. The Hall of Famer took that set 8-2. Sim ‘caught a gear’ in the second set, getting out in front in the shortened race-to-6 and on the hill, two racks ahead at 5-3. In the final rack, which took a little less than four minutes and was later to be commented on by Sim himself, Sim stepped to the table and ran the rack, taking it, as always recommended, one step at a time. He finished with a commendable display of skill and proverbial nerves of steel that earned him the event title. 

That display is on display as an archived match at the NBL Web site. It is recommended that you watch the live stream of it and switch to the NBL Facebook page to watch Sim run the final rack and comment on his thinking, from start to finish.

The NBL will begin its next season in December, with a schedule of to-be-determined dates at 64 sanctioned locations. The plan, as it was originally intended, will feature four Pro/Am main events, fed by a 2-stage series of eight qualifying tournaments. Further information can be found on the league’s Web site at and on the National Billiard League’s FB page. In addition to its immediate success, defined by accomplishing stated objectives with no apparent serious ‘glitches’ in the logistics of it all, this latest 8-Ball Championship is a model for Liddawi’s larger plan for the NBL.

“It was,” he said, “a ‘proof of concept’ event to show that this business model works.” 

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Sim To Face Lapena For NBL 8-Ball Hot-Seat

Del Sim

Day two is complete at the National Billiard League’s 8-Ball Championships, and the hot-seat is going to come down to Del Sim vs Al Lapena. 

Sim is looking to build on the success he had at last weekend’s Joss NE 9-Ball Tour stop and no one has been able to slow him down in this event. He has wins over Kenny Tran, Jason Lynch, John Morra and Shane Albaugh, while Lapena has wins over Jerry Dunne, Lukas Fracasso-Verner, Frankie Hernandez and BJ Ussery. 

Action is fierce on the one-loss side today with six players battling it out for their share of the $28,000 prize fund available at this event. Fracasso-Verner will face John Morra on Saturday, with the winner taking on Ussery, and Thorsten Hohmann plays Dennis Spears with the winner playing Albaugh. 

Matches will get back underway Saturday at noon (EST).

Fans can follow all of the action with online brackets at They are also providing free online streaming of every table on their Facebook page. 

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Junior competitor Tanner Elliott goes undefeated on Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball tour

Tanner Elliott

In the end, really early on Sunday morning, April 3, the last two competitors standing at a stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour decided on a mutually-agreed-upon way to determine the event winner. Instead of just opting out of a final altogether, or beginning a potential two-set final at a time when the sun might have come up before it was done, they came up with a formula, turning the decision-making final into a single race, defined, not by their actual handicaps, but by the ‘race’ numbers they decided to employ for one match. Normally, Tri Hinton would have been racing to 8, while his 15-year-old opponent, Tanner Elliott, would have raced to 5 in a two-set final. Instead, they proposed a single 10-3 (Hinton-Elliott) race.

In the early hours of that Sunday morning, tour director Herman Parker was not inclined to question the somewhat arbitrary ‘race’ numbers they’d chosen, nor were the competitors. Officially, they might have played two sets that wouldn’t have exceeded 12 games each, instead, they played one set that wouldn’t have exceeded 12 games, which began with the handicap balance far more in favor of Elliott than it would have been otherwise. Elliott won the match, completing an undefeated run and claiming his first regional tour title at the $500-added event that drew 38 entrants to The League Room in Parkersburg, WV.

While the drama of the final match took all but the last block of the tournament’s time, there was some developing drama on the loss side of the bracket. Two competitors, Hinton and Joey Arbuckle, had been defeated by the same opponent on the winners’ side, Tyler Shultz, and then won seven on the loss side. Arbuckle’s seven came to an end in the quarterfinals. Hinton’s ended in the finals.

Elliott, racing to 5 throughout the tournament, advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Shane Albaugh (racing to 10). Dusty Yeager and Nija Conley squared off in the other one. 

Elliott downed Albaugh 5-5, and in the hot seat match, faced Yeager, who’d sent Conley to the loss side 6-5 (Conley racing to 8). Elliott claimed the hot seat 5-3 over Yeager and waited for Hinton to complete his seven-match, loss-side run.

On the loss side, Albaugh and Conley ran straight into their second loss, against the aforementioned Hinton and Arbuckle. Hinton had chalked up loss-side wins #3 and #4 against Jerald Hesson 8-5 and Norman Payne 8-3 to draw Albaugh. Arbuckle had recorded loss-side wins #4 and #5 against Ryan Hershman 9-2 and in a rematch, eliminated Tyler Shultz 9-4 to pick up Conley.

Hinton defeated Albaugh 8-2, as Arbuckle and Conley locked up in a double hill fight that eventually did send Arbuckle to the quarterfinals. In that match, Conley (racing to 8) reached the hill first, ahead by six racks 7-1 (Arbuckle racing to 9). Arbuckle then won eight straight to advance.

Hinton stopped Arbuckle’s loss-side run 8-7 in the quarterfinals and then, downed Yeager 8-3 in the semifinals. The plan for a single-set, 10-3 final match between Hinton and Elliott was formulated and agreed upon. Elliott claimed his first event title by winning three games in a row before Hinton had won any.

Tour director Herman Parker thanked the ownership and staff at The League Room, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues,, Break Time Billiards of 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 (April 9-10), will be a $500-added event, hosted by Rock House in Gastonia, NC. 

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