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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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Stottlemyer takes two out of three vs. Spohr to claim MD State Bar Table 9-Ball Championship

Brett Stottlemyer

The last time Brett Stottlemyer won On the Hill Production’s MD State Bar Table 9-Ball Championships in 2020, he came from the loss-side, faced a teenager, Dylan Spohr, in the semifinals and went on to double dip Oklahoma’s Joe Tomkowski in the finals. Two years later, this past weekend (April 9-10), Stottlemyer and now, an officially adult (21) Spohr faced each other three times; once in a winner’s side semifinal and twice in a double elimination final. Stottlemyer sent Spohr to the loss side in the first, Spohr took the second and Stottlemyer claimed the 2022 MD State Bar Table 9-Ball title with a victory in the third. The $2,500-added event drew 75 entrants to Brews & Cues on the Boulevard in Glen Burnie, MD.

After being awarded an opening round bye, Stottlemyer’s path went through Todd Michael,  before he faced and defeated the ‘favorite’ in the race, Shaun Wilkie in a double hill fight. He followed with wins over Deomark Alpajera and Glen Loveland to draw Spohr in their winners’ side semifinal matchup.

Meanwhile, Rick Miller, looking for his first recorded win since he came back from a loss, battling for the hot seat, to meet and defeat Andrew Cleary in the finals at a stop on the former Predator Pro Am Tour four years ago, worked his way through four opponents, two of which (Ricardo Diaz and Russ Redhead) gave him a double hill run for his money, two others who came within a game of double hill (Rick Molineiro and Scott Haas; 7-5) and Norman Wagner, his first opponent, who chalked up four against him. Miller faced Bobby Pacheco in the other winners’ side semifinal. 

In their first of three, Stottlemyer downed Spohr 7-4 and by the same score, Miller sent Pacheco to the loss side. Stottlemyer claimed the hot seat over Miller 7-3 and waited on Spohr’s return.

On the loss side, Spohr picked up Jimmy Rivera, who, after losing to Pacheco 7-4 in a winners’ side quarterfinal had eliminated Paul Oh 7-4 and Scott Haas 7-3. Pacheco drew Wilkie, who’d followed his double-hill loss to Stottlemyer with six straight on the loss side, including recent wins over Moe Mozannar 7-1 and Molineiro 7-2. 

Wilkie and Pacheco locked up in a double hill fight that eventually sent Wilkie to the quarterfinals, as Spohr downed Rivera 7-4 to join him. Wilkie’s loss-side run came to end at seven matches in those quarterfinals, with Spohr advancing 7-2 to meet and defeat Miller in the semifinals 7-4.

Momentum went to work for Spohr in the opening set of the finals. Coming off his three loss-side wins, Spohr rolled into that opening set and gave up only three racks. The second set was a much tighter race until the very end. Tied at 3-3, Stottlemyer won two straight before Spohr came back to take the 9th rack, giving him a chance to break and tie it up again at 5-5. 

Things went pretty smoothly in that 10th rack, with Stottlemyer up 5-4, and with four balls left, it looked like Spohr would, indeed, be tying things up. He lined up to shoot the 6-ball into a corner pocket; a pretty straight-forward shot, running it straight up, about three inches off the rail, with enough of an angle to give him good position on the 7-ball. As the 6-ball moved in the right direction, it looked pretty good. Until it didn’t. It caught an edge of the pocket and rattled in the doorway before deciding to stay outside.

Spohr collapsed forward on the table. He knew he hadn’t just missed a shot. With Brett Stottlemyer stepping to the table, Spohr was fairly certain that he’d just missed his chance at winning the title. He was right. It wasn’t precisely over at that point. Stottlemyer did finish the 10th rack to move out in front 6-4 and Spohr got to break and did win the 11th rack to pull back within one at 6-5. But on the hill, Stottlemyer broke, dropping three balls, and then, ran out to claim the title.

On the Hill Productions’ Bolyard and Rick Scarlato, Jr. thanked the ownership and staff at Brews & Cues on the Boulevard, as well as sponsors AlleyKat Cue Sports, AZBilliards.com, Aramith Balls, Bull Carbon, Simonis Cloth, TAP Chesapeake Bay Region, Safe Harbor Retirement Planners, Whyte Carbon Fiber Cue Shafts, OB Cues and MB Cues.

On the Hill Productions will be back at Brews & Cues on the Boulevard at the end of the month, when they bring event #4 in the Bar Box Bonanza Series, a FargoRate 8-Ball tournament (April 30-May 1).

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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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Wilkie goes undefeated to claim inaugural B & L 2022 Open 10-Ball Championship

Brian Kilgore, Shaun Wilkie and Lai Li

Inaugural events in the pool world, can be fraught with any number of issues. It takes a clear idea of what needs to be done and an extraordinary amount of perseverance and assistance to assure that it does. It requires the patience of a saint and the temperament of a seasoned psychiatrist, especially when the inaugural event draws a long list of Atlantic coast pool veterans, as the inaugural $5,000-added B & L Open 10-Ball Championships did this past weekend (Feb. 19-20), drawing 106 entrants to Center Pocket Café and Billiards in Bowie, MD.

“I think they did a great job,” said the event’s winner, Shaun Wilkie, who went undefeated to claim the title, downing runner-up, Raphael DaBreo twice; in the fourth round and again, in the finals.

Wilkie noted that while the inaugural B & L Open 10-Ball Championships weren’t Kilgore and Li’s ‘first rodeo,’ from his perspective, their previous tournament experience tended towards smaller venues and decidedly smaller crowds. The Center Pocket Café and Billiards venue helped, too, in that with 29 tables, they were able to keep matches moving throughout the two-day event.

“Those extra tables can get you more players, moving through the bracket,” said Wilkie. “Speeds it up.”

“Sometimes, too, you get pool rooms wanting their tables back (for use by the general public),” he added, “but the room made sure that all of the tables were available. We had tables available for the whole first day.”

Runner-up Raphael DaBreo, who has, as he put it, “dabbled’ in the experience of running tournaments himself, noted that the B & L organization was “very punctual and professional the way they ran it.”  

“From the player meetings right on through getting everyone playing by noon,” he said. “They were super transparent, too, and if they keep going in the direction of their inaugural event, they have a bright future ahead of them, in my opinion.”

DaBreo also noted that the ongoing proliferation of tournaments and operators is likely a reaction to what players in these tournaments perceive about them; that they’re not done well, and that they, personally, could do a better job.

“I’ve always felt that you wouldn’t have so many tournaments and operators, if someone was doing it right,” he said. “But sometimes you run into situations where it’s not being done well; funds are disappearing or there are discrepancies with skill levels or with local tournaments, maybe someone hasn’t paid. There always seems to be something that comes up.”

“They did it right,” he added of B & L’s inaugural efforts at a much larger event.

They join a wealth of tournament organizations, promoters and tournament directors who get it right, as well, more often than not. Once established, though, the good ones rarely get the credit they deserve. Their efforts can be taken for granted in tournament narratives that focus on the players, so here and now, at B & L’s inaugural ‘big’ event, credit where credit’s due. 

Wilkie and DaBreo ran through a gauntlet of the aforementioned Atlantic coast’s best to reach the finals. The five competitors Wilkie defeated on his journey to the hot seat match could have been the final five in any number of Atlantic coast tournaments over the past decade. Wilkie opened against Brian Dietzenbach and Joey Mastermaker, defeating them both 7-2, before running into DaBreo, whom he sent to the loss side 7-4. And as if that wasn’t enough, he drew BJ Ussery in a winners’ side quarterfinal. Ussery got to within a game of double hill, but Wilkie finished it at 7-5 to draw Thomas Haas in one of the winners’ side semifinals. 

Kang Lee, in the meantime, got off to a shaky start, with Josh Thiele battling him to double hill. Lee prevailed to send Coen Bell, Henry Cha and John Moody, Sr. to the loss side and face Thomas Zippler in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Wilkie downed Haas 7-4, as Lee dispatched Zippler 7-5. Wilkie gave up just a single rack in the battle for the hot seat and waited in it for DaBreo’s return.

On the loss side, the two Thomases (Haas and Zippler) ran right into their second straight loss. Haas had the relative misfortune of running into DaBreo, who was four matches into his loss-side streak, that had most recently included the elimination of John Moody, Sr. 6-2 and Derek Benavides. 6-3. Zippler picked up a re-match against Paul Krimes, who’d sent him to the loss side in a match that kept Krimes out of the winners’ side quarterfinals. Krimes won five straight to get to the rematch, including victories over Justin Muller 6-4 and to the surprise of many (likely, his opponent among them), BJ Ussery 6-4.

DaBreo downed Haas 6-1, while Krimes was wreaking his 6-1 vengeance on Zippler for the earlier defeat. Krimes’ satisfaction with the results of his rematch was short-lived, as DaBreo didn’t grant him a rack in the quarterfinals that followed.

The semifinals weren’t really the ‘pre-party’ to the finals that DaBreo was hoping for. Lee battled tooth and nail to double hill before DaBreo prevailed for his second shot against Wilkie, waiting for him in the hot seat. 

The finals weren’t too much of a ‘party’ for DaBreo, either. Wilkie completed his undefeated run with a 7- 2 win over DaBreo to claim the inaugural B + L 10-Ball Championship title.

It was Wilkie’s first win since he won the MD State Bar Table 10-Ball Championship this past November. A tumultuous couple of months followed that saw him place 25th in Turning Stone XXXIV last month (Jan. 6-9). On January 25, the man who’d started him playing pool, his grandfather, passed away. He’d been spending a lot of time, before and especially after, with his grandmother, and in a way, brought his grandfather with him to the tournament.

“I had him in my heart the whole time,” he said, “and I was really happy to pull it off, for me and him.”

Brian Kilgore and Lai Li thanked the ownership and staff at Center Pocket for their hospitality, as well as all of the players who signed on to make their inaugural B & L 10-Ball Championship a success. 

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Turning Stone Classic XXXIV – Brandon Shuff vs Shaun Wilkie

Wilkie goes undefeated to claim MD State 10-Ball Barbox title

Loye Bolyard, BJ Ussery, Shaun Wilkie and Rick Scarlato, Jr.

The top four finishers, and a sizeable handful of others from the 2020 MD State Bar Table 10-Ball championships returned to compete in the 2021 event, held this past weekend (Nov. 28-29). Among those returning were defending champion Brandon Shuff, 2020 runner-up BJ Ussery, Rick Molineiro (who finished 3rd in 2020) and Shaun Wilkie (who finished 4th last year). Wilkie went undefeated to claim the 2021 title, downing BJ Ussery, who repeated as runner-up. Rick Molineiro finished in the first money round this year (13-16th), while Brandon Shuff had the misfortune of going two-and-out. The event drew 56 entrants to Brews & Cues on the Boulevard in Glen Burnie, MD.

Wilkie’s opponents were gaining on him, almost from the start. He opened with a 7-1 victory over Kevin Ping, but Joshua Mccauley scored three against him, while Kevin West and Joonick Jun, in succession, chalked up four each. This brought Wilkie into a winners’ side semifinal matchup against BJ Ussery, who, though he arrived at the match having allowed opponents two less racks than Wilkie (12-10), had numbers moving in the opposite direction. From a 7-5 start versus Russ Redhead, Ussery went on to give up three versus Kamrin Kohr, none at all against Tina Malm, and two against Joseph Wright, Jr., which brought him to the match versus Wilkie.

Thomas Haas worked his way through four opponents for a 28-15 aggregate score when he arrived at his winners’ side semifinal matchup against Steve Fleming. Fleming showed up to meet him, having allowed 17 racks to be chalked up against him.

Haas and Wilkie advanced to the hot seat match. In their first of two, Wilkie sent Ussery to the loss side 7-5, while Haas dispatched Fleming 7-3. Already assured a better finish than last year, Wilkie claimed the hot seat 7-3 over Haas and assured himself a position of either winner or runner-up.

On the loss side, Ussery drew Tommy Zippler, who’d been defeated by Haas in a winners’ side quarterfinal and gone on to defeat Kevin West 7-4 and Dylan Spohr 7-5. Fleming picked up Matt Krah, who’d been the first to defeat Brandon Shuff in the winners’ side second round and then, followed him over when Zippler defeated him 7-1. Krah was working on a four-match, loss-side streak that had recently eliminated Joonick Jun 7-5 and Joseph Wright, Jr. 7-3.

Ussery ended Zippler’s brief loss-side trip 7-3 and was joined in the quarterfinals by Krah, who limited Fleming’s loss-side matches to one, downing him by the same 7-3 score. Ussery then put a stop to Krah’s loss-side campaign 7-5 in those quarterfinals.

Ussery went on to limit Thomas Haas’ loss-side campaign to a single match as well, downing him in the semifinals 7-5. And then, in something of a stunning finish, Wilkie claimed the event title without giving up a single rack to Ussery in the finals.

Tour directors Loye Bolyard and Rick Scarlato, Jr. thanked the Mannings (Anthony and Stephanie) and their Brews & Cues staff for their hospitality, as well as Mezz Cues, Turtle Racks, AlleyKat Cue Sports, AZBilliards.com, Aramith Balls, Lucid Ballsports (Predator Arena Light), Simonis Cloth, TAP Chesapeake Bay Region & Safe Harbor Retirement Planners. 

On The Hill Productions will hold the Maryland State 10-Ball Championships, scheduled for the weekend of Dec. 11-12, at 7 Billiards Shady Grove in Gaithersburg, MD.

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, CueScore.com, 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. 

Shuff double dips Ussery in finals of MD State Bar Table 10-Ball Championships

Loye Bolyard, BJ Ussery, Brandon Shuff and Rick Scarlato

Brandon Shuff was runner-up to Grai Rasmechai, known as Pooky, in the 2019 MD State 10-Ball Bar Table Championships. Pooky had sent him to the loss side in a winners’ side semifinal and Shuff had to win three on the loss side to get back to the finals. Shuff took the opening set of a true double elimination final, only to have Pooky come back and win the second set to claim the event title. In the immortal words of Yogi Berra, this year’s MD State 10-Ball Bar Table Championships were, to a point, as Yogi once said (of Mantle and Maris hitting back-to-back home runs in a game), “like déjà vu all over again.” For the second year in a row, Shuff found himself at work on the loss side of the bracket in this annual event to earn a shot in the finals. This time, though, he got to the loss side earlier for a nine-game winning streak and eventually won both sets of a true double elimination final to claim the 2020 title. The event, held under the auspices of On the Hill Productions, drew 81 entrants to Brews & Cues on the Boulevard in Glen Burnie, MD.

Shuff was awarded an opening round bye before winning his first opening match against Louis Wehage 7-1. In his second round match, Shuff was sent to the loss side 7-5 by the opponent that he’d defeated in the quarterfinals last year, Dylan Spohr. Spohr followed Shuff over when he was defeated by Nathan Childress in the next round, 7-5. Childress, a former two-time BEF junior champion (’15 & ’16; 14 & under), had (after a bye) chalked up an opening round shutout over Dylan Carr, before defeating, in order, Brett Stottlemeyer 7-4, Spohr, and Johnny Archer 7-5, to draw Rick Molineiro in one of the winners’ side semifinals.

In the meantime, BJ Ussery, who’s recently been popping up and winning all over the US landscape (most recently, Nov. 19-22, as runner-up to Jeffrey DeLuna in the 9-ball division of the 1st Annual Meucci Classic in Florida) was working his way to the hot seat. He’d opened with a shutout over Josh Harget and followed with victories over Jordee Palmieri 7-4, Joshua McCauley 7-2, Joseph Tomkowski 7-5 and Tom Zippler 7-5, to arrive at the other winners’ side semifinal, versus Redgie Cutler.

Ussery got into the hot seat match with a 7-1 victory over Cutler. Molineiro joined him after sending Childress over 7-3. Ussery claimed the hot seat 7-2 and waited for the fateful return of Shuff.

Over on the loss side, Shuff was not being handed any sort of a free ticket back to the finals. Though he started with a 7-1 victory over Jimmy Bird and a 7-2 win over Stottlemeyer, Shuff’s next few opponents started adding more and more beads to their side of the wire. He downed Joseph Tomkowski 7-3, Kevin West 7-5, Clint Clayton 7-5 and downed Mike Saleh 7-3 (Saleh had just eliminated Johnny Archer in a double hill battle). It was Cutler who picked him up, those six wins into his loss-side winning streak. Shaun Wilkie, who’d won three matches on the winners’ side before Cutler had sent him to the loss side 7-2, got right back on the ‘horse,’ to down Shane Wolford (partner with Nathan Childress in winning the October MD State Scotch Doubles 9-Ball Championship) and Tony Long, both 7-5, to draw Childress.

Shuff chalked up loss-side win #7 against Cutler 7-4. Though there was a high degree of anticipation in place for the Wilkie/Childress match, based primarily on the young man’s winners’ side victories in this event and recent success in other On the Hill Productions’ tournaments, the hoped-for ‘nail biter’ didn’t happen. Wilkie shut the young man out and advanced to face Shuff in the quarterfinals.

The quarterfinals, too, were a highly anticipated match between two of the mid-Atlantic’s powerhouse players. And that match, to a certain extent, lived up to its billing. Shuff and Wilkie came within a game of double hill, but in the end, Shuff edged out in front to win it by two, 7-5.

Shuff took his final step toward a place in the finals with a similar 7-5 win over Molineiro in the semifinals.

It was getting late and there was little doubt that the two players in the finals – Shuff and BJ Ussery – were already tired. Though true, it is assuredly not an excuse that any player uses to validate poor play, or losing a match. Ussery lost the opening set of the final 7-2, and though he put up a fight in the second set, Shuff won the double hill second set to claim the title.

“Brandon’s a great player,” acknowledged Ussery. “I knew going in that he was the kind of player who maybe was only going to make one mistake, and not a big mistake at that.”

“He played absolutely perfectly,” he added. “He kicked the 10-ball in twice.”

On the Hill Productions, in the persons of Loye Bolyard and Rick Scarlato, Jr. thanked the ownership and staff at Brews & Cues on the Boulevard for their hospitality, as well as sponsors the Chesapeake Bay TAP League, Aramith Balls, and Simonis Cloth.

Childress goes undefeated to win On the Hill Production’s 9-Ball Fall Shootout

Loye Bolyard, Nathan Childress, Raphael DaBreo and Rick Scarlato

In an event that drew a few refugees from the dormant Tri-State New York area pool scene, as well as a few from the VA-based Action Pool Tour, two-time Billiards Education Foundation Junior National Champion Nathan Childress (2015Rick Scarlato Jr/2016; 14 & under), himself a competitor on the Action Pool Tour, went undefeated to win On the Hill Production’s 9-Ball Fall Shootout this past weekend (Sept. 12-13). It was, according to our records, the young man’s first major win, following a 2nd place finish on the Action Pool Tour’s season opener in January and a 7th place finish in the VA State 10-Ball Championships in February.  The event drew 71 entrants to Brews and Cues on the Boulevard in Glen Burnie, MD.

Childress went through eight opponents to include meeting and defeating one of those Tri-State New York players, Raphael DaBreo in the finals. DaBreo had won five on the loss side for the right to meet him. Childress opened with a victory over Robert Vannatta and went on to defeat Jeff Ball and John Hergett, all by an aggregate score of 21-3. Then, he ran into Brandon Shuff who battled him to double hill before giving way. Childress moved on to down Eric Heiland and face Jimmy Varias in a winners’ side semifinal.

Nathan Childress

Shaun Wilkie, who’d gotten by Johnny Blume, Dwayne Laub, Dylan Spohr and Justin Mast, ran into a  double hill challenge from Thomas Haas in a winners’ side quarterfinal match. He survived that challenge to face Joseph Wright in his winners’ side semifinal.

Childress shut Varias out and in the hot seat match, faced an ‘out of the frying pan into the fire’ opponent in Wilkie, who’d sent Wright to the loss side 7-4. Childress sent Wilkie to the loss side 7-2 and waited in the hot seat for what turned out to be the return of Raphael DaBreo.

On the loss side, DaBreo, who’d been sent west by Joseph Wright in the 5th round had defeated Rick Scarlato, Jr. 7-2, and Thomas Haas 7-5 to draw Varias. Wright picked up Tommy Zippler who was working on a modest three-match, loss-side winning streak that had included victories over Eric Heiland 7-4 and Bryan Jones 7-3.

Raphael DaBreo

DaBreo advanced to the quarterfinals with a 7-1 victory over Varias. Zippler extended his loss-side winning streak by one with a 7-2 win over Wright that advanced him to the quarterfinals, as well. DaBreo ended Zippler’s streak with a 7-5 victory in those quarterfinals and then got a shot at Childress in the hot seat with a 7-4 victory over Wilkie in the semifinals.

Childress completed his undefeated run with a 7-3 victory over DaBreo to claim his first major event title.

Tour directors Loye Bolyard and Rick Scarlato Jr thanked the ownership and staff at Brews & Cues, as well as sponsors Aramith Balls, Lucid Ballsports (Predator Arena Light), Mezz Cues, Turtle Racks, Simonis Cloth, TAP Chesapeake Bay Region and AZBilliards.

“Jawz” Joins Team Break Out

BreakOut Apparel would like to welcome our newest member to the family, D’Angelo “Jawz” Spain! We can’t say enough about this young man. At only 9 years old, he is an absolute beast on the table. He not only competes against other juniors but adults as well. He learned how to play pool at the young age of 4 years old. He is currently coached by his father, Frank Spain, and we are excited to see what the young man can do. He’s poised, confident, respectful, and a fierce competitor on the table. Check out his list of accomplishments at only 9 years old.

TOURNAMENT ACCOMPLISHMENTS
2020 – Brews and Cues 9 Ball Tournament (Glen Burnie, MD)
• 1st Place
2020- TAP Short Stack 8 Ball Tournament (Glen Burnie, MD)
• 1st Place
2020 – Joss North East 9 Ball Juniors Event (Amsterdam, NY)
• 1st Place 12 & Under
2019 – APA Junior Nationals Tournament Skill Level 5’s (St. Louis, MO)
• 49th place out of 101 players
2019 – Summer Classic Scotch Doubles Tournament (Baltimore, MD)
• 1st Place
2019 – APA Juniors National Qualifier (Laurel, MD)
• 1st place – Advanced to Nationals in St. Louis in July
2019 – Maryland State Juniors BEF 9ball Tournament 12&U (Laurel, MD)
• 3rd Place
2019 – Billiards Education Foundation Nationals Qualifier (Greenville, SC)
• 5th Place

His other SPONSORS include:
• Jacoby Custom Cues • Risky Shotz Billiards

Please welcome “Jawz” to the #BreakOutFamily. Jawz is the second junior player to join the Break Out Family, joining Skylar Hess. The complete roster of Break Out players is Allison Fisher, Loree Jon Hasson, James Aranas, Shaun Wilkie, Del Sim, James Blackburn, Ashley Burrows, Manny Perez, Clint Palaci, Steve Fleming, Tina Malm, Chuck Sampson, Dylan Spohr, Shanna Lewis, Skylar Hess and D’Angelo Spain.

We have more exciting news in the works, so stay tuned to your news feed!

You can follow Jawz on Facebook & Instagram:
@JawzSpain