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Mike Davis, Jr. comes from the loss side to capture $3.7K-added, MD State Bar Box 10-Ball title

Mike Davis

It’s been a good year for Mike Davis, Jr., who’d already chalked up his best (recorded) earnings year since 2016, when he travelled to Maryland this past Thanksgiving Day weekend (Nov. 26-27) and competed in the MD State Bar Box 10-Ball Championships. He got sent to the loss side by his eventual opponent in the double elimination final, Tom Zippler, and defeated him twice in the double elimination final to claim the title. The $3,750-added event drew 86 entrants to Brews & Cues on the Boulevard in Glen Burnie, MD.

The battle for this title was, by close-match standards, fierce; 38% of the tournament’s last 18 matches (7) went double hill, including the hot seat match, semifinal and first set of the true double elimination final. Mike Davis’ campaign opened up with a double hill battle that he won over Scott Haas. Davis followed up with wins over Clint Clayton (4), Mike Saleh (4) and Steve Fleming (5), to arrive at his first match against Zippler, in one of the a winners’ side semifinals. Zippler’s path started out easy enough, with a shutout over Matt Broz, but grew increasingly competitive as he got by Tony Manning (2), Michael Miller (3), Roger Haldar (4) and then, had to battle Brett Stottlemeyer to double hill in a winners’ side quarterfinal that did send him (Zippler) to that first battle with Davis. In the meantime, Kevin West, working at the other end of the bracket, sent Garrett Vaughan (1), Steve Johnson (2), Bobby Pacheco (double hill) and Grayson Vaughan (4) to the loss side and drew Brandon Shuff in the other winners’ side semifinal.

West and Shuff locked up in a double hill battle that eventually did advance West to the hot seat match. He was joined by Zippler, who’d won his first (and, as it turned out, last) match against Davis 7-3. Zippler and West fought to double hill in that hot seat match, with Zippler prevailing and waiting in the hot seat for Davis’ return.

On the loss side, Davis would play three matches against three of the mid-Atlantic region’s (country’s) toughest competitors; in order, Shaun Wilkie, BJ Ussery, Jr. and then, Kevin West. Upon arrival, Davis faced Wilkie, who’d lost a winners’ side quarterfinal to Brandon Shuff and then defeated Matt Krah 7-5 and Jeff Abernathy, double hill. Shuff drew BJ Ussery, who didn’t give up a rack through his first two winners’ side matches and then, was defeated by Thomas Haas 7-5. Ussery went on a six-match, loss-side winning streak to get to Shuff, which included the most recent eliminations of Steve Fleming, by shutout, and, junior competitor Nathan Childress, double hill.

Davis defeated Wilkie 7-4 and in the quarterfinals, faced Ussery, who’d given up just a single rack to Shuff. Davis ended Ussery’s loss-side streak at seven, downing him 7-2 in the quarterfinals before he and West locked up in the second-to-last double hill battle of the tournament, struggling for a seat in the finals.

Davis prevailed and walked right into the last double hill battle of the weekend in the opening set of the true double elimination final against Zippler. He won it and then, came within a game of a second double hill match, before getting out ahead and finishing it 7-5. 

It should be noted that the event was attended by a number of female competitors, veterans of the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour, most of them, including its tour director, Linda Shea, who went 2-2, finishing in the tie for 25th. The two highest female finishers were Tina Malm, who won three on the loss side before encountering Brett Stottlemeyer in the winners’ side fourth round, battling him to double hill before being sent to the loss side and finishing in the tie for 17th with a 3-2 record. And Bethany Sykes, who finished in the same position; sent to the loss side in the second round and winning two there, before being eliminated. Eugenia Gyftopoulos and Stefanie Manning also competed.

The event also featured a few junior competitors, among them Nathan Childress, who finished in the tie for 7th/8th, Brent Worth (25th) and Garrett Vaughan (33rd). 

Tour director Loye Bolyard thanked the ownership and staff at Brews & Cues for their hospitality, as well as sponsors AlleyKat Cue Sports, Bull Carbon, AZBilliards, Aramith Balls, Simonis Cloth, TAP Chesapeake Bay Region, Safe Harbor Retirement Planners and Whyte Carbon Fiber Cue Shafts. 

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Brothers goes undefeated to claim 1st Annual DE State Bar Box 8-Ball title

Kevin West and Josh Brothers

Delaware’s Josh Brothers and Kevin West made their first appearances in the AZBilliards database about three months apart, 22 years ago. They were both playing on the Planet Pool Tour at the time and while West beat Brothers to the database by those three months by finishing in the tie for 9th on the tour’s first stop in 2000, Brothers joined at Stop #5 in April, finishing in the tie for 13th place. West finished in the tie for 7th that weekend, one of a dozen times that he chalked up a cash finish on the tour that year. This past weekend, June 25-26, they went head-to-head twice at the 1st Annual Delaware State Bar Box 8-Ball Championships. Brothers, with a Fargo Rate one point higher than West (701/700) won both matches to claim title to the event that drew 45 entrants to Milford Billiards in Milford, DE.

Brothers got by Tom Kozloski, Chris Jenkins and Joe Scott by an aggregate score of 18-6 to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against Maryland State’s 2022 8-Ball Champion Steve Johnson. West, in the meantime, played one more match than Brothers to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal, opening up with an 18-2 run against Donnie Keith, Orlando Huertas (2) and Sean Mason. He then faced his first serious challenge – a double hill battle versus Eric Brobst – which he won to pick up Dave Barnes in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Brothers sent Johnson to the loss side 6-2, as West was doing likewise to Barnes 6-1. Brothers took their first match 6-3 to claim the hot seat.

On the loss side, Shaun Wilkie, among the top vote-getters to win this event, had, after being sent over by Barnes in a double-hill, third-round match, defeated four opponents by an aggregate score of 20-4, recently eliminating Don Painter (3) and Joey Bean (1) in the process. He picked up his no-doubt sought for rematch against Barnes, with Brothers in the hot seat, hearing his footsteps. Johnson drew Joe Stem, who’d lost his opening round match, double hill to Chris Jenkins and embarked on a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that would take him as far as the quarterfinals. He’d recently eliminated tour director Tarek Elmalla 5-3 and survived a double hill battle against Rick Winpigler.

Wilkie won his rematch against Barnes 5-1 and in the quarterfinals, drew Stem who’d shut out Johnson. Wilkie then stopped Stem’s loss-side streak at seven with a 5-2 win in those quarterfinals.

Now there were only two pairs of footsteps left, neither one of them calculated to provide Brothers with any sort of comfort. Wilkie and West battled to double hill before West prevailed to earn his rematch against Brothers. In a repeat of their hot seat match, Brothers claimed the event title 6-3.

Tour director Elmalla thanked Leo and Sherrie Weigand and their Milford Billiards staff for their ongoing support and hospitality, along with Travis Parker for the stream and commentary, Ray Netta for remote support, Tuff Cuts, Ran Ji for “being on top of the bracket,” Andrea Thomas and Joe Norton.

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Brothers double dips Morrow to win the Dynaspheres Cup 9-Ball Memorial Day Shootout

Josh Brothers

If it had been a horse race, the trio of Josh Brothers, Shayne Morrow and Russell Redhead would have yielded an outstanding trifecta payout. None favored, really, although Brothers, who won the Dynaspheres Cup 9-Ball Memorial Day Shootout this past weekend (May 28-29), was the third pick among those expressing an opinion. Ahead of him were Shaun Wilkie and Lucas Fracasso-Verner, who finished 24th and 17th, respectively, as Brothers came from the loss side to double dip Morrow, chalking up his first (recorded) event win in almost a decade; since he won a stop on the Mezz Pro Am Tour in February of 2013. The event, held under the auspices of and streamed by Billiard Sports Network (BSN Media), drew 55 entrants to Bank Shot Bar & Grill in Laurel, MD. 

“That was the great thing about this tournament,” commented BSN Media owner and event tour director, Jake Lawson. “You had two guys who were not favored on paper (finishing) 2nd and 3rd. And Shayne (Morrow; 3rd) won the hot seat.”

“So, pretty crazy weekend,” he added. “It’s why I love doing this.”

Neither of the two competitors favored in the event faced the winner. Wilkie didn’t make it out of the second winners’ side round or the third loss-side round. Fracasso-Verner won two on the winners’ side but only one on the loss side.

After an opening round bye, Brothers’ path to the hot seat match went through John Moody, Sr., Vietnam’s Tuan Chau (who would later, on the loss side, eliminate Wilkie), and eventual third-place finisher, Russell Redhead, arriving at a winners’ side semifinal against Scott Haas. Morrow, in the meantime, defeated Donald Painter, Justin Mast, Jimmy Varias and Curtis Branker to arrive at his winners’ side versus Jeff Jones, Jr.

Morrow fought a double hill battle before advancing to the hot seat match, as Brothers sent Haas to the loss side 7-2 and joined him. In his second straight double hill battle, Morrow, at 6-6, took a chance on an extraordinary, not to mention low-percentage, three-rail bank shot at the 9-ball that travelled back from what looked to be an impossible angle off the second rail to hit the 3rd rail and travel cross-table to drop into a side pocket. He was in the hot seat.

On the loss side, Jones drew Redhead, who’d followed his loss to Brothers with victories over Fred Crislip, Jr. 6-3 and a double hill win over Thomas Haas. Scott Haas picked up Eric Yoo, who was working on a four-match, loss-side streak that had recently eliminated Tuan Chau (fresh from his elimination of Wilkie) 6-4, John Newton 6-3 and Mike Miller (double hill).

Scott Haas put a stop to Yoo’s loss-side trip 6-4 and in the quarterfinals faced Redhead, who’d knocked Jones out 6-2. Redhead chalked up his last match victory eliminating Haas 6-3 in the quarterfinals.

Brothers stopped Redhead’s streak at three in the semifinals to earn himself a rematch against Morrow, waiting for him in the hot seat. Brothers took the opening set of the true double elimination final 7-4. He and Morrow battled back and forth to 5-5 and a single game for all of the proverbial marbles. Brothers won it.

Tour director Jake Lawson thanked the ownership and staff at Bank Shot Bar and Grill, as well as sponsors Dynaspheres, Championship Billiard Fabric, Lucid Ballsports (Predator Arena Light), JB Cases, Gina Cunningham (Keller Williams Integrity), East Coast Prime Meats, Integrity Cues, Break Out Apparel Co., AZBilliards, Premier Billiards, Cue Score, The League Room, American Billiard Covering, B&R Productions (Rich France & Bruce Carder), DFE Billiards Service/XLR. For information on BSN Media productions, including upcoming Dynaspheres Cup 8-Ball, 9-Ball and Juniors 9-Ball competition, visit their Web site at http://www.thebilliardsportsnetwork.com/. 

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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.