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New Champions Launch at Space City Open IX

Roberto Gomez

Gomez, Bayaua, Compton, Almaraz, and Martinez, III Earn Titles

Roberto “Superman” Gomez captured the Space City Open IX, 128-player 9-ball division, defeating John “Mr. Smooth” Morra in the finals, 9-2, 7-5, taking home his first 9-ball division title. Gomez earned a well-deserved, $1,500 bonus, and new “All-Around” title, for his stellar play across all three divisions. Taking home first titles, Houston’s Ernesto Bayaua showed off his skills, defeating Alex Calderone in the one pocket division final, 4-3, while Oklahoma’s Chip Compton ousted Las Vegas’ Gary Lutman in the 9-ball banks division final, 4-3. In the ladies open 9-ball division, Mille Almaraz went undefeated, besting Ming “The Empress” Ng in the finals, 7-4. Finally, in the junior 9-ball division, Lazaro “Little Laz” Martinez, III, defended his 2019 title, marking up three consecutive title wins in his division. 

The Derby-like, Space City Open IX, was held December 2nd-5th, 2021, at Big Tyme Billiards in Spring, Texas, with four days of free live streaming provided by Southern Streaming. The event featured 178 players, competing in five divisions, over four days. The event drew players from Oklahoma, New Mexico, Nevada, and even Canada. Roberto Gomez returned to defend his 2019 one pocket title, along with champions John Morra, Chip Compton, Tommy Tokoph, Ernesto Bayaua, Manny Chau, Alex Calderone, Charlie Bryant, and WPBA Touring Professional, Loreejon Jones, all vying for a piece of the $56,195 payout and $1,500 “All-Around” bonus. 

Space City would like to thank those who were instrumental in the production of this event; John Newsome, Kim Newsome, Ruth Paine, Chuck Adams, Mike Fabacher with Southern Streaming, owners and staff at Big Tyme Billiards, Mike McDonald and Alamo Billiards, Poison by Predator Cues, Predator Cues, Outsville Billiards, Jerry Olivier, and Brutal Game Gear. Vendors for this event included Jerry Olivier Cues and Cue Repair, Joe Salazar Connoisseur of Custom Cues, and Brutal Game Gear. Special “thanks” to Jerry Olivier Custom Cues and Cue Repair and Brutal Game Gear who added an additional $500 to this year’s junior division. 

The open, ladies, and junior 9-ball divisions were played on twenty-four, Diamond bar tables. The one pocket and banks were played on six, nine foot tables. Predator Arcos II ball sets and Accu-Racks were used on all tables, supplied by event sponsors Predator Cues and Outsville Billiards, respectively. Big Tyme Billiards provided a smoke-free environment, and some of the best playing equipment Texas has to offer, for the billiard extravaganza.

 

Roberto Gomez (Chris Castaneda)

The true double elimination, 128-player open 9-ball division kicked off Saturday morning at 10am, and concluded on Sunday evening. In the final sixteen on the winners’ side, Ernesto Bayaua sent Manny Chau west, 9-2, Eric Aicinena overwhelmed Felipe Yniguez, 9-4, and John Morra overpowered Joey Bourgeois, Jr., 9-3. Las Vegas’ Scott Kitto slid by Andy Jethwa, 9-7, Roberto Gomez denied Kenneth Price, 9-5, and Austin’s Justin Espinosa eased past Steve Lenz, 9-8. Derek Fontenot beat Eric Cantrell, 9-4, and San Antonio’s Rick Moreno outplayed Jessie Moore, 9-4. The next round witnessed Aicinena oust Bayaua, 9-4, Morra deny Kitto, 9-3, and Gomez detour Espinosa, 9-3. Rounding out the final four, Fontenot bested Moreno, 9-3. 

 

Advancing to the hot seat, Morra thwarted Aicinena, 9-2, while Fontenot upset Gomez, 9-4. Morra defeated Fontenot in the hot seat match, 9-6. On the one-loss side, Steve Lenz fought his way into the final eight with wins over Charlie “Hillbilly” Bryant, 7-3, Price, 7-3, and Bayaua, 7-2. Blaine Barcus eliminated eight players, including Cantrell, 7-3, Moore, 7-2, and Kitto, 7-4. Chau dusted off New Mexico’s Donivan Pedroncelli, 7-3, Cesar Arrechiga, 7-2, and Espinosa, 7-2, while Moreno ended Bourgeois, Jr., 7-3. Barcus maintained momentum, ousting Lenz, 7-4, but falling to Gomez by the same score. Chau handily beat Moreno, 7-2,  and Aicinena, 7-4. Gomez defeated Chau, 7-2, and Fontenot, 7-1, to meet Morra in the finals. In the first set, Morra could not gain ground, while Gomez had the break down cold. Gomez dominated the first set, 9-2. In the second set, Morra seemed to regroup, but Gomez inched ahead to capture the second set, 7-5, and his first, Space City, open 9-ball division title.

 

Ernesto Bayaua

In the single elimination, 38-player one pocket division, teeing off in the final eight, Alex Calderone defeated Roberto Gomez, 4-2, while Kenneth Price made quick work of J.C. Torres, 4-1. Ernesto Bayaua slid past John Morra, 4-3, and John Gabriel overwhelmed Mark Nanashee, 4-1. Final four action witnessed Calderone eliminate Price, 4-1, and Bayaua escape Gabriel, 4-3. In the final match, it was a fight to the finish for Calderone and Bayaua. Players traded safeties and games, for hours, until a determined Bayaua pulled ahead to close out the set, 4-3, earning his first Space City, one pocket division title.

 

In the single elimination, 36-player 9-ball banks division, final eight action witnessed Chip Compton defeat Alex Calderone, 4-1, and John Morra shut out Kenneth Price, 4-0. Local favorite, Tommy Tokoph, curbed Mark Nanashee, 4-1, and Gary Lutman sent Gabriel packing, 4-1. Down to the final four, Compton struck a blow against Morra, 4-2, and Lutman upset Tokoph, 4-3.  In the final match, Compton edged out Lutman, 4-3, to win his first, Space City, 9-ball banks division title.

 

Mille Almaraz

The 34-player, ladies open 9-ball division, featured defending champion, Ming Ng, returning champion, Natalie Rocha, Indiana’s Toni Tucker, and Canadian, WPBA Touring Professional, Suzanne Peters. Making their way to the winners’ side, final four, La Le overcame Mary “Princess” Avina, 7-6, Michelle Yim, 7-4, and Suzanne Peters, 7-2, while Ming “The Empress” Ng passed Michelle Abernathy, 7-3, Toni Tucker, 7-4, and Christy Grigsby, 7-4. Mille Almaraz detoured Ruth Paine, 7-3, Yvonne “The Casher” Asher, 7-1, and Natalie Rocha, 7-6. Laurie Clouette came on strong, with wins over Sara Bork, 7-4, Brandi Scott, 7-5, Loretta Miller, 7-2, and Teresa “Princess of Pool” Garland, 7-6. On the west side, reaching the final eight, Tucker shut out Rocha, 5-0, while Garland took out McHaney, 5-3. Peters overwhelmed Pierce, 5-2, and Petrosino sent Grigsby home, 5-3. On the winners’ side, Ng bested Le, 7-2, and it was Almaraz over Clouette, 7-2. In her hot seat match debut, Almaraz took down the defending champ, 7-5, further securing her position in a very tough field. Back on the one-loss side, Tucker took out Garland, 5-2, and Le, 5-3, while Petrosino ended Peters, 5-3, and Clouette, 5-0. Tucker claimed five matches before Petrosino stopped her run, 5-3. This was Petrosino’s eighth, match win, an incredible run to reach the final three, after losing her very first match to Melissa Smith, 7-5. Petrosino was forced to settle for third place, after suffering a 5-3 loss at the hands of Ng. The rematch between Almaraz and Ng was set in motion. A confident Almaraz took control of the first set, and did not look back. She defeated Ng, 7-4, to capture her first, Space City, women’s open 9-ball division title.

 

Lazaro Martinez III

The junior 9-ball division commenced on Sunday, featuring 13 competitors from across Texas. On their way to the winners’ side, final four, Gabriel Martinez defeated Aniyah Maldonado, 7-2, and Ace Smith, 7-2, while Lazaro “Little Laz” Martinez, III, bested Vania Davila, 7-0, and Jayden Holt, 7-1. Mary Grigsby outran Makenzlee Cameron, 7-4, and Cameron King, 7-4, while Kevin Gallegos slid past Nathan Garay, 7-6, and Eva Grigsby, 7-4. On the one-loss side, after suffering a first round loss to Holt, Tyler Miller was on a mission, eliminating Davila, 5-2, King, 5-0, and Maldonado, 5-3. Holt dusted off Cameron, 5-1, while Smith ended Garay, 5-2. Smith vanquished Holt, 5-2, and along with Miller, reached the final six, and the money. On the east side, the Martinez brothers faced off in the final four, with Gabriel advancing, 7-1, while M. Grigsby lost her bid for the hot seat to Gallegos, 7-2. G. Martinez made quick work of Gallegos, 7-0, to capture the hot seat. On the west side, Laz ousted Miller, 5-2, and M. Grigsby defeated Ace, 5-3. Laz went on to eliminate Grigsby and Gallegos, to meet brother Gabriel in the finals. Gabriel gave it his best shot, but was outmatched by Laz, suffering a two-set defeat. With this victory, Laz secured his third, consecutive, Space City, junior 9-ball division title.

 

The Space City Open is the largest pool tournament in Texas, featuring five divisions, and is held annually, the first week in December. For more information, visit www.SpaceCityOpen.com. 

Tokoph Takes The Title

Justin Espinosa and Tommy Tokoph

Congratulations to Tommy Tokoph for winning the Covid 9-Ball Classic! This was a full 64-player bracket due to safety number restrictions. The event was held at Damifino Billiards in Angleton, Tx.

Great weekend for a 9-ball tournament. It all started Saturday with 64 players. Sunday play featured the last 16 remaining, in the end, it came down to Justin Espinosa vs Tommy Tokoph in the finals. Justin went undefeated all weekend to earn the first spot in the finals. Tommy fought his way through the one-loss side to earn the 2nd spot.

First set seemed to go one way as Tommy won the match 7-0. Next up was the 2nd and final set, games went back and forth with Justin taking the first lead of the match 5-4. Tommy fought back and played meticulously to secure the win with a score of 7-5, double dipping Espinosa. Fantastic match play fellas!

Leon Contreras earned a hard-fought 3rd place with some amazing shooting. Good job by Chris Robinson securing 4th place. Fantastic job everyone!

Additional raffle Congratulations to James Lompe, who won the nice JB case and Blane Barcus for winning the Aramith TV Ball set!

We would like to give a hearty thanks to Damifino Billiards owner David Wauson, and his staff for hosting this amazing tournament.

PoolActionTV.com would also like to give a huge thanks to Larry Schwartz for his expert commentary.

We would also like to thank all our regular sponsors and fans for another fantastic event! Our sponsors include Lomax Custom Cues, John Barton of JB Cases, Durbin Custom Cues, Aramith, Hanshew Custom Cues, Simonis, Fort Worth Billiards Superstore and Diamond Billiard Products . Thanks for your support!

Lot of high powered action brewing! We’ll announce our next event when we have all the details! Thanks again!

www.PoolActionTV.com

Aranas goes undefeated to win Diamond 10-Ball Pro Players Championship at 27th SBE

James Aranas (Photo courtesy of Erwin Dionisio)

With just a touch of exaggeration, in about as much time as it takes to state the official tournament name – The 27th Annual Allen Hopkins’ Super Billiards Expo’s Diamond Open 10-Ball Pro Players Championships (or, AHSBEDO10-BPPC), held on the last weekend in March at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, PA – Zoren “James” Aranas from the Philippines went undefeated through a full field of 64 entrants to capture the event title, its $10,000 first-place prize and the Waterford Crystal trophy that went along with it. Aranas had won last year’s SBE ProAm Bar Box Championships. The trek to the winners’ circle entailed seven matches for Aranas; the first three, in a double elimination bracket that advanced him to a single-elimination, final round of 16 that featured four matches. He faced Oscar Dominguez in the finals, who played one extra loss-side match, which advanced him to the final 16, and eventually, after winning three, earned his slot in the finals against Aranas.
 
With some overlap (players in multiple events), the 2019 SBE drew over 3,000 entrants to its 11 events, which included a warm-up event, a Second Chance event and two junior events. A separate report will be posted regarding the results of the Ladies Open Event (47 entrants), the ProAm Bar Box Championships (32), the Open Amateur (1,024 entrants), Open Seniors (384), Super Seniors (192) and Women Amateurs (188). According to Allen Hopkins, it was the highest attendance figure in the event’s 27-year history.
 
There were, this year, a number of pro players, who were conspicuous by their absence, including (in the 10-Ball Open) the defending champion, Mike Dechaine, who, after registering, had to bow out for personal reasons. As a random example of those among the missing, of the 10 players who competed in the 2018 Mosconi Cup for the European and American teams, only three (all Americans) competed in this year’s SBE. All five of the European 2018 Mosconi Cup team members (as well as recent German ‘phenom,’ Joshua Filler) and two of the Americans (Shane Van Boening & Skyler Woodward) spent the same weekend in close proximity to the Rock of Gibraltar, competing in the 27th annual Dafabet World Pool Masters Championship, which featured a total prize fund ($100,000) that was over twice the total prize fund ($48,000) for the SBE’s marquee event – the Diamond Open 10-Ball Pro Players Championship – and featured less than half the players (24) of the SBE event (64). Last year’s World Pool Masters event was held in the first week of March and there is little or no information as to why that date was changed in a way that conflicted with the (scheduled way ahead of time) SBE.
 
The end result more or less allowed Aranas to navigate his way through a field that, for him, did not feature anyone with a higher FargoRate and no one closer than 20 points on that scale. With a FargoRate of 805 (going in), Aranas’ average opponent (of the seven he faced) had a FargoRate of 740. His closest competitor in that regard was Mika Immonen (785) and Aranas opened his seven-match run against a competitor (Matt Krah) with a 677 rating. It should be noted that pool has something of an “Any Given Sunday” rule, which dictates that at the upper levels of competition, with players sporting wide disparities in FargoRates, anything can and often does happen. This is not to say that Aranas wasn’t challenged in his seven-match march to the finish line, because he was, primarily in the single elimination phase of the event.
 
Though he would enter the finals with a 66.3% game-winning average (69-35), Aranas’ average over the three matches in the single elimination phase of the event was 59% (39-27). Once Aranas had sent Matt Krah to the loss side 10-1 in the double-elimination opening round, he went on to defeat Hunter Lombardo 10-5 and Jeremy Sossei 10-2, which moved him among the winners’ side final eight for advancement to single elimination. Joining him on the winners’ side final eight were ‘young gun’ Chris Robinson, Mika Immonen, Martin Daigle, Roberto Gomez, Jason Klatt, Ralf Souquet and Raymund Faraon, who’d just sent Oscar Dominguez to the loss side 10-7.
 
Dominguez opened his runner-up campaign by defeating Tommy Tokoph 10-8, and then, downing Jeremy Seaman 10-7. Raymund Faraon then sent him to the loss side 10-7, where he defeated Mahmut Sami Koylu 10-2 to qualify for the losers’ bracket final eight. Joining him from the loss side of the bracket among the Final 16 were John Morra, Thorsten Hohmann, Mosconi Cup USA team member Tyler Styer, Zion Zvi, another Mosconi Cup team member Billy Thorpe, Shaun Wilkie and Omar Alshaheen.
 
The final 16 featured two former US Open 9-Ball Champions – two-time champion Mika Immonen (‘08/’09) and Ralf Souquet (2002). Among those who competed, and conspicuous by their absence from the event’s final 16, were four other US Open champions; Johnny Archer (1999), Tommy Kennedy (1992), Corey Deuel (2001) and Gabe Owen (2004). Also MIA from the final 16 were Tony Robles, and Billy Thorpe. Former two-time US Open champion Darren Appleton (‘10/’11) was among the original 64 competitors, but after winning his opening round 10-8 over Robert Casanzio, he learned that his mother had passed away and went home to be with his family.
 
The first four to drop from the winners’ side final eight were Chris Robinson (to Aranas 13-11), Martin Daigle (to Immonen 13-9), Jason Klatt (to Gomez 13-7) and Ralf Souquet (to Faraon 13-5). This set up a winners’ side bracket set of semifinals that saw Aranas down Immonen 13-5, as Faraon eliminated Gomez 13-7. In the winners’ side final, Aranas defeated Faraon 13-11.
 
To the best of our knowledge, linked to the accuracy of SBE’s published brackets, there were only 12 matches in this entire event that went to double hill. As it turned out, Thorsten Hohmann was involved in three of them. Two of those three occurred during his three-match run among the final 16. He was one of the four who advanced to the losers’ bracket semifinal, defeating John Morra, double hill (the SBE Web site has this match result wrong). It was Hohmann’s second, double hill match; his first was in the event’s opening round against Chris Robinson. Hohmann’s losers’ bracket, semifinal opponent was Tyler Styer, who’d defeated Zion Zvi 13-16. Oscar Dominguez, in the meantime, bound for the event finals, had gotten by Billy Thorpe 13-9 and in his losers’ side semifinal, faced Omar Alshaheen, who’d eliminated Shaun Wilkie 13-6.
 
Dominguez downed Alshaheen 13-6 and in the twelfth and final double hill match of this Pro Players Championship, Oscar Dominguez eliminated Hohmann in a true, nail-biting, double hill match that never for a moment seemed in complete control by either of them.
 
For those seeking further information about the match specifics of any individual players or a more thorough understanding of the overall progress of the event toward its eventual outcome, you can visit the Super Billiards Expo Web site (superbilliardsexpo.com). You should be made aware, however, that while it features a preliminary, double elimination bracket that shows the final 16 that advanced to single-elimination play, and the winners’ and losers’ side brackets of that single-elimination play, it does not indicate that a final match between Aranas and Dominguez ever happened.
 
It did. Aranas completed his undefeated run with 13-10 victory over Dominguez (another very entertaining match) to claim the 2019 AHSBEDO10-BPPC.
 
Allen Hopkins thanked the management staff of the Greater Philadelphia Convention center, as well as his two tournament directors; Doug Ennis for the two Pro events and C.C. Strain for the Pro Am Bar Box and all Amateur events. Sponsors for this 27th Annual SBE were Tiger Products, Diamond Billiards Products, Simonis Cloth, TAP League and Run Out Sportswear.

Day 2 of the World Pool Series Predator Grand Final Done; Final 16 Left

Alex Kazakis

On Thursday night, Mieszko Fortunski watched as a late lead evaporated against Jayson Shaw, with the reigning Turning Stone Classic Champion using a late rally to defeat the Pole, 11-9.
 
One night later there would be no such late match drama, as Fortunski capitalized on a handful of unforced errors and breaking struggles from Jesus Atencio to easily handle the Venezuelan, 11-3. The victory clinched a spot for the Pole in Saturday’s single-elimination final 16 brackets of the Predator Grand Final at Astoria’s Steinway Billiards. Fortunski will face Filipino Dennis Orcullo at 2 PM, one of eight matches to take place tomorrow morning and afternoon with a slot in the quarterfinals on the line.
 
The action gets underway with four matches Saturday morning at 11 AM Eastern time, including Klenti Kaci taking on Darren Appleton on the live streaming table. Other morning matches include James Aranas taking on Petri Makkonen, Mika Immonen facing Mike Dechaine and Jayson Shaw matching up against Ralf Souquet.
 
Familiar foes will face each other on the streaming table during the afternoon matches when Joshua Filler re-matches with Alex Kazakis. The two, who locked horns in the semifinals of the WPA World 9-Ball Championships last month, staged one of the more dramatic matches of the day Friday.
 
It appeared that Kazakis might win the set handily during the early stages of the match as he jumped out to an early 4-1 advantage then increased his lead to 8-3 as Filler struggled with position play and some unfortunate rolls. The young German slowly chipped away at his deficit, narrowing the score to 9-6 as Kazakis began struggling with cue ball control. Filler slashed the advantage to two games when Kazakis misplayed position on the 7 ball.
 
As the match became closer, Kazakis’s pace of play slowed significantly as he pondered and studied each shot intently. He increased his lead back to three games after using a safety battle to slowly and methodically run out the 17th rack. The Greek appeared positioned to close out the match in the 18th game but missed a sharp cut shot on the 9 ball, again allowing Filler to climb to within two games. The lead was cut to a single game when Kazakis committed a foul kicking at the 1 ball in the following rack.
 
Again, Kazakis battled not only his opponent but his nerves during the tension-filled set.
 
“You have to try to not think about it,” Kazakis said after the match. “You have to play every game like it’s the first game of the match. You have to try to focus on every ball in the match.”
 
In the 20th game, the ball both players were focused on was the 4 ball, as another safety exchange ensued shortly after the break. With the ball tucked near the 7 ball and the corner pocket, the Greek used a nifty carom shot off of the 7 to cut the object ball into the pocket, then watched as the cue ball traveled three rails for position on the 5 ball to finish the rack and the match.
 
Filler moved to the one-loss side of the bracket, where he jumped out to an early lead against John Morra and easily defeated the Canadian, 11-4 to secure a position for Saturday. Morra had been flirting with disaster throughout most of Friday. He spotted Hunter Lombardo an early 5-2 lead in his first match of the day – eventually pulling out an 11-8 victory – then needed to gut out a sudden death shootout to defeat Poland’s Konrad Juszczyszyn.
 
Finland’s Makkonen advanced to Saturday in a nip-and-tuck match against Thorsten Hohmann of Germany which concluded with a sudden death shootout. The two trading pocketed shots through the first four innings but Makkonen took the match when he sunk his shot in the fifth inning while Hohmann followed by pushing the object ball into the side rail.
 
Souquet, who began competition with an opening round loss to Dechaine, earned a spot in the final 16 with three straight victories on Friday – defeating Michael Leahy 11-0, Omar Alshaheen 11-6, and Denis Grabe 11-6.
 
Appleton recovered from an 11-4 loss on the winner’s side to Aranas with a convincing 11-5 victory against upstart American Tommy Tokoph, earning an entry into weekend play. 
 
Dechaine reached the tournament’s third day by posting a convincing 11-2 victory against Gary O’Callaghan and Tony Robles advanced by defeating American Matt Krah, 11-8.
 
The other afternoon matches include Ruslan Chinahov going up against Robles and Chris Melling playing Zion Zvi, who needed to come from behind to beat European teen star Kristina Tkach, 11-9.
 
This last event of the 2018 World Pool Series, The Predator Grand Final, is being held at Steinway Billiards in Astoria, Queens, New York City from January 17-20, 2019. The World Pool Series is sponsored by Predator, Poison, Aramith, Rasson, Iwan Simonis, Tiger, and Kamui. Our suppliers and partners are Billiards Digest, CueScore, Let’s Go Print, Outsville, UpState Al, and the WPA.
 
For more information on the World Pool Series, please visit www.worldpoolseries.com
Follow the World Pool Series on social media:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/worldpoolseries/
Twitter: @WorldPoolSeries
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Shaw Wins Sixth Turning Stone Classic Title

Jayson Shaw (File photo courtesy of Dave Thomson – Medium Pool)

With his win over Shane Van Boening in the finals of the Turning Stone Classic XXXI, Jayson Shaw has now tied Johnny Archer with six career Turning Stone Classic wins. 
 
A 9-7 loss to Finland’s Petri Makkonen on Saturday left Shaw in unfamiliar territory on the one loss side, and his first match on the left side of the board was a close one, with John Morra falling one rack short of sending Shaw home early. 
 
Shaw got things together nicely on Sunday and scored back-to-back lopsided wins over Zion Zvi (9-3) and Tommy Tokoph (9-2). Estonia’s Denis Grabe gave Shaw a bit more of a challenge in a 9-6 match and then Jeremy Sossei fell to Shaw 9-4 in the semi-finals. 
 
The extended final race to thirteen against Van Boeing started out a little slow with safety battles on each rack. Shaw was able to take his first multi rack lead at 4-2 and he then quickly built on that lead with a 4 pack to give himself a comfortable 8-2 lead. Van Boening fought back, but struggles with his break kept him from being able to mount any major comeback as Shaw went on to score a 13-6 win for Turning Stone Classic Title #6. 
 

Turning Stone Classic XXXI – Jayson Shaw vs Tommy Tokoph

Turning Stone Classic XXXI Final Day

Tommy Tokoph (Photo courtesy of Erwin Dionisio)

The Turning Stone Classic XXXI will crown a winner on Sunday and the final day of play sees a field of eight players remaining with a chance to earn this title. 

 

Enjoying his first even Turning Stone Classic, America's Tommy Tokoph is still undefeated after wins over Jia Li and Denis Grabe on Saturday. Tokoph will face Jeremy Sossei on the winner's side Sunday morning. Sossei too the better part of a year away from the game but isn't showing any rust from his time away. The other winner's side match will pit four time Turning Stone Classic Champion Shane Van Boening vs Finland's Petri Makkonen. On the one loss side, five time Turning Stone Classic Champion Jayson Shaw will play Zion Zvi and Canadian Danny Hewitt will take on Grabe. 

 

AzBilliards has online brackets and real time scoring for the duration of the event, and Upstate Al is streaming the event on Facebook. All of the links are available on our live page

 

Turning Stone Classic XXXI Day Two Complete

Jia Li, Kevin West and Annie Flores (Photos courtesy of Erwin Dionisio)

Day two is complete at the Turning Stone Classic XXXI, and what day one might have lacked in surprising results, day two more than made up for. 

 

One player who has drawn her share of attention is Jia Li (top). Li opened her day with a match against Sean Morgan that saw her race to an early lead. At 7-0 though, the wheels seemed to come off and Morgan won seven racks of his own to tie things at 7-7. Li dug down from there and won the next two games for the 9-7 win. There was no problems at all in Li's late match, as she ran over Eric Cloutier 9-2. She will face Tommy Tokoph on Saturday afternoon.

 

Fresh off of her win last weekend in the NAPL championship, Annie Flores (bottom right) is proving that she belongs here. Flores won a hill-hill battle over The Queen of the Hill Loree Jon Hasson in her early match, but fell to Canadian champion Erik Hjorleifson in her evening match. Flores will either face Hendrick Drost or Brent Boemmels in an Afternoon match.

 

Kevin West (bottom left) started her tournament on Thursday with 9-2 win over Paul Dryden, but he looked to a tougher hill to climb on Friday when he faced World Champion Thorsten Hohmann. It turned out that match wasn't a problem at all for West, as he cruised over Hohmann 9-4. West then finished off his Friday with a 9-5 win over Jay Goyer. West will face Zion Zvi (fresh off sending Johnny Archer to the one loss side) on Saturday.

 

AzBilliards has online brackets and real time scoring for the duration of the event, and Upstate Al is streaming the event on Facebook. All of the links are available on our live page
 

Champions Reignite at Space City Open VII

Josh Roberts (Photo courtesy of Chris Lue, Next Action Media)

James Davis, Jr., “Junior”, of Austin, Texas, went undefeated in a 128-player field, to win the Space City Open VII, open 9-ball title, becoming the second player to win it twice. Josh “The Beast” Roberts not only defended his one pocket title, but finished second in banks, and thirty-third in the 9-ball, earning himself the “All-Around” title, and a hefty $1,500 bonus. First-time competitor, Evan Lunda of Detroit, Michigan, cleaned up in the 32-player, 9-ball banks division, going hill-hill with only a single opponent. In the 32-player, ladies 9-ball, Ming “The Empress” Ng redeemed herself in the second set of the true, double elimination final, securing her second title, and becoming the first, two-time winner in this division. Nine junior players, including eight young men, and one young lady, traveled from across Texas to compete in their very own division. Lazaro “Little Laz” Martinez, III, of San Antonio, Texas, went undefeated in this category, earning the first win in this division debut.
 
For years, Space City Open has featured top players from across America, and this year was no exception. Former Mosconi Cup players, contenders, and champions alike were in attendance, vying for a piece of the $53,415 payout. Space City Open superstars included Justin Hall, Josh Roberts, Danny Smith, Shane McMinn, John Morra, Charlie “Hillbilly” Bryant, Richie Richeson, Alex Calderone, Sylver Ochoa, Ernesto Bayaua, James Davis, Jr., Can Salim, Chris Robinson, Evan Lunda, Jamie Baraks, Manny Perez, Justin Espinosa, Tommy Tokoph, and Jesus Atencio.  
 
This year’s $7,500 added, Space City Open VII, was held December 6th-9th, 2018, and implemented a number of positive changes, including a $1,500 All-Around bonus, and a seventeen-and-under, juniors 9-ball division. In its seventh year, the “derby-like” event, now hosting five divisions over four days, was also held at a brand new venue. Big Tyme Billiards in Spring, Texas, stepped up to host, generously adding $4,000 to the purse, providing twenty Diamond bar tables and six nine foot tables, on which to compete. Twenty-six, brand new, Cyclop “Zeus” ball sets, and Accu-Racks by Outsville, were provided by Space City. The bar tables were a popular change from the eight foot tables used in previous years (for the open 9-ball division), and the format changes for one pocket and banks were also a huge hit. These divisions were still held on nine foot tables, but in a single elimination format as opposed to double, and the consensus was clear. Players loved the expediency, along with the added pressure and intensity of the “one-and-done” arrangement. For the first time, all divisions filled, with players on stand-by.
 
The open 9-ball division presented a monstrous, challenging field, played on the great equalizer; the bar table. On the road to victory, James Davis, Jr. defeated Matt Williams, Charlie Bryant, 9-8, Evan Lunda, 9-8, and Shelby Green, 9-5, to reach the winners’ side final eight. Espinosa logged wins over Angelina Dean, 9-1, Marshal Ward, 9-2, Eric Aicinena, 9-4, and Victor Rojas, 9-7, while Danny Smith defeated Mike Landry, 9-2, Colton Berzins, 9-1, John Morra, 9-5, and Mike Alonzo, 9-8. Jamie Baraks made quick work of Beto Cavazos, 9-3, Rick Moreno, 9-3, David Thomas, 9-7, and Shane McMinn, 9-4. Houston’s Andy Jethwa passed Grady Cooper, 9-1, Mark Galicia, 9-5, Sylver Ochoa, 9-8, and Corey Flud, 9-6. Richie Richeson ousted Alan Myers, Jerry Miller, 9-8, David Chow, and Billy “Big Tyme” Sharp, 9-4, while Alex Calderone overcame Chase Wheeler, 9-2, Ricki Casper, 9-6, Aaron Springs, 9-7, and Germany’s Can Salim, 9-8. On the one loss side and in the money, Kenneth Price upset Chris Robinson, 7-5, and bested Flud, 7-7, while Morra topped Curt Sheldon, 7-3, and Shelby Green, 7-2. Bryant subdued Angel Mentzel, but fell to Sharp by the same score, 7-2. Galicia upended Aicinena, 7-4, but fell to Salim, 7-2, while Moreno won an impressive five matches, ousting Springs, 7-3, and Rojas, 7-4. Following a second round loss to Morra, Ernesto Bayaua made a phenomenal comeback, securing five matches, including wins over Derek Fontenot, 7-3, and Poon, 7-0. Jesus Atencio, on a similar mission, marked up five on the one loss side, among the ruins, Reginal Samples, 7-1, and Alonzo, 7-5. Jimmy Krone racked up five victories on the one loss side, but was stopped by Ochoa, 7-4. Ochoa was taken out by McMinn, 7-6, wrapping up top sixteen action. Back on the east side, Espinosa throttled Perez, 9-1, Baraks triumphed over Smith, 9-7, while Davis, Jr. snuck by Jethwa, 9-7, and Calderone inched by Richeson, 9-8. Espinosa squeaked by Baraks, 9-8, and Davis Jr. served it up cold to Calderone, 9-4. The hot seat match-up marked an Austin-area shoot-out, and a short-lived set for Espinosa, who sustained his first blow from Davis, Jr., 9-5. On the west side, Morra took a stand, ending Price, 7-3, and Perez, 7-2, while Salim took out heavy hitters  Sharp, 7-3, and Smith, 7-2. Bayaua recorded his seventh win on the one loss side, ending Moreno, 7-1, and Jethwa, 7-3. Ochoa finished off Atencio, 7-3, but fell to Richeson, 7-5. Salim went on to defeat Morra, 7-5, and Calderone, 7-3, while Bayaua buried Richeson and Baraks, 7-3. Bayaua registered his ninth win, but no more. Winning the case game against Bayaua, Salim secured his sixth win, and slid into third place. Espinosa was ready for Salim, but got off to a slow start. At a 6-3 deficit, Espinosa came back to win, 7-6, earning himself a second shot at Junior, and the title. Once again, Espinosa found himself in troubled waters, as Davis was in perfect rhythm with the table, and couldn’t be denied. Davis Jr. surged to a 9-3 win, and his second 9-ball title since the inception of Space City. 
 
In the one pocket division, Josh Roberts took no prisoners, eliminating Charlie Bryant, Jamie Baraks, and Chris Robinson, 4-3, while Alex Calderone defeated Greg Trent, Jim McCary, and Sylver Ochoa, 4-2. Local favorite, Richie Richeson, defeated Marc Garza and Manny Perez, by the same score, 4-1, and John Morra, 4-1. Ernesto Bayaua rounded out the final four, booking wins over Bobby Roland, Aaron Springs, 4-3, and Evan Lunda. In the final four round, Roberts shut-out Calderone, 4-0, and Richeson slid past Bayaua, 4-3. For the first time, Richeson found himself at the end of the board, facing the defending champion. The pressure was on, as both players were in close running for the All-Around bonus. In the final, numerous games came down to the case ball. The fans were treated to an offensive juggernaut; a display of maneuvers and banks, not soon forgotten, but even the creativity of the venerable Richeson, was not enough. With an accounting of two, eight-and-out runs, Roberts was up 3-2, with one ball remaining in game six. Following an unforced error by Richeson, Roberts took it home, along with his second, Space City Open one pocket title.
 
Evan Lunda was in charge of the banks. The Detroit product eliminated Jim Walker, 4-0, Danny Smith, 4-3, and Jose Barbosa, 4-1. His upcoming challenger, Shane McMinn, took out Mike Alonzo, Gail Eaton and James Davis, Jr. by the same score, 4-2. Josh Roberts overwhelmed Marc Garza, 4-1, Kent Berthelot, 4-0, and John Morra, 4-1, while Richie Richeson completed the final four, with wins over Bret Harlan, 4-0, Jamie Baraks, 4-2, and Justin Hall, 4-3. Lunda ended McMinn, 4-2, and Roberts robbed Richeson, 4-1. Lunda and Roberts found themselves in their first, banks final, vying for new milestones; Lunda, aiming for his first title, and Roberts, going for first-time champion of two different divisions. Lunda’s casual style showcased epic moves, and wowed spectators as he banked his way to victory. He shut out Roberts in the final of the single elimination schedule, 4-0, to win his first Space City Open title.
 
On Sunday morning, thirty-two women started battling it out in the ladies 9-ball division. The 2013 ladies 9-ball division champion, Ming “The Empress” Ng, began her trek with wins over Terri Resendez, 7-2, two-time ladies 9-ball champion, Gail “Virginia Slim” Eaton, 7-6, and Kim “Texas Heat” Pierce, 7-1, as Robyn Petrosino plowed through Ruth Paine, 7-0, Brittany Kromer, 7-3, and Teresa “Princess of Pool” Garland, 7-1. Yvonne “Casher” Asher made her way to the cash, defeating Karen Reilly, Tam “MZ Tam” Trinh, 7-3, and Jillian Nickerson, 7-6, while Ricky “The Ghost” Casper, drifted past Matty Sword, 7-1, Sara Bork, 7-3, and Hopey “Hurricane” Lawrence, 7-2. Ng went on to shut out Petrosino, 7-0, and Casper stopped Asher, 7-4. In the hot seat match, Ng emerged victorious over Casper, 7-4. On the one loss side and in the final eight, Pierce and Eaton shut out Garland and Nickerson, respectively, 5-0. Pierce derailed Asher, and Eaton eliminated Petrosino, moving into the final four. Eaton went on to eliminate Pierce, 5-0, and Casper, 5-4, to meet Ng in the finals. Ng, going for her second title, and Eaton, searching for her third, battled to the bitter end. In the first set, Ng simply couldn’t get it together, and Eaton was on fire, taking the first set, 7-1. Following a five minute break, the second set got underway. This time, Ng took her turn, beating Eaton 5-3, to win her second, Space City Open title. 
 
Nine players, seventeen and under, competed in the inaugural, juniors 9-ball division. Lazaro Martinez, III, aka “Little Laz”, outplayed April Gonzales, 5-2, and Alex Fonseca bested Jonathan Cortez, 5-1. Jacob Gonzales beat John Benavides, but fell to Kyle Yi, while Gabriel Martinez passed Nathan Garay, 5-1. Martinez, III logged a third win against Fonseca, 5-2, and G. Martinez ousted Yi, for a brother versus brother, hot seat match-up. G. Martinez denied his brother, and awaited his final opponent. On the one loss side, and in the final six, Fonseca eliminated Garay, and Yi overcame Benavides. Yi eliminated Fonseca, but fell to Martinez, III. Once again, “Little Laz” faced off with brother, Gabriel, in the final. The final told a different story, as Little Laz overwhelmed Gabriel, 5-2, 5-3, to win his first Space City Open title.
 
Space City Open VII goes down in the record books as the most successful one to date. “I have no words for the outpouring of support from the Texas pool community. Even with the last minute venue and format changes, the event over-filled. Billy Sharp and Deborah Sharp of Big Tyme Billiards came through for all of us” commented Kim Newsome, Space City Open Founder and Director. Space City Open extends a heartfelt “thank you” to everyone involved in the production of this event; John Newsome and Johnny Gonzales of Eagle Plumbing who sponsored the $1,500, All-Around bonus; staff members Kim Newsome, John Newsome, Erica Hanlon, and Chuck Adams who managed every facet of the event; Ceferina Ramirez and Ruth Paine for their contributions; Mike Fabacher with Southern Streaming who provided a free, four-day live stream; Chris Lue of Next Action Media, whose photographs captured the essence of the event; sponsors Roger Schuett with the APA of North Harris County, Mike McDonald of VaporKnightsUSA.com, Poison by Predator Cues, Cyclop Pool Balls, Chris Renfro with Outsville Billiards, Charlie and Heather Bryant of Brutal Game Gear, and David Taylor and Teresa Garland with Houston Best of Billiards; vendors Jerry Olivier Cue Repair, Joe Salazar Connoisseur of Custom Cues, Arthur Politte with Qxtender.com, Darrold Stiehl with Champions Cues, and Brutal Game Gear. 
 
Finally, Space City would like to extend its deepest gratitude to the players who support this event, year in and year out. Without the players, none of this would be possible.
 
Space City Open is one of the biggest billiard events in Texas, and is held annually, the first week in December. For more information, visit www.SpaceCityOpen.com
 

Judgement Day Casts Out The Weak As Fantastic Final 64 Gets Set To Do Battle

John Morra

Judgement Day at the 2018 World 9-ball Championship in Doha came and went in a flash, with just two sessions on the losers side of each of the 16 groups. And while there were the usual jangling nerves rattling throughout the cavernous Al Arabi Sports Club, one thing that was definitely missing from this year’s final day of the group stages was the complete lack of upsets.
 
This means that the 64 players left in the competition, who begin a single elimination, race to 11 format on Monday at 10am Doha time(GMT +3), comprise the absolute best of the very best in professional pool. Over the next several days these greats of the game will duel it out for the most prestigious prize in the sport and a $40,000 top prize. If you are a fan of 9-ball pool, buckle up and get ready for the ride of your life.
 
A look at the players still standing tells us a lot about the state of pool, and where the world’s best practitioners come from. The Taiwanese lead the way with nearly 15% of the players left, 9 to be exact. Next up might be a surprise to some fans but not to those who follow the sport intimately: six players from Poland qualified, proof that the sport of pool in Poland is perhaps the most vibrant in the world at the moment.
 
The Philippines, Japan and China come in next with five players each. The Philippines is an interesting story because many Pinoy players stayed away from this year’s championship to play in boxer Manny Pacquiao’s event in his home town in the southern Philippines. If you are hard core fan that is no doubt a disappointing development. But the 5 Pinoy’s left, including defending champion Carlo Biado, all have a shot at going far.
 
The Japanese have put in their best showing in years, while the Chinese players have also looked strong. A Chinese player has never won a World 9-ball Championship.(Wu Jiaqing played for Chinese-Taipei when he won in 2005).
 
One of the most watched matches of the day came between the Philippines Roland Garcia, a runner up here last year, and American Billy Thorpe. The two stayed close throughout the first half of the match, splitting the first 8 racks. But Garcia pounced on several mistakes by Thorpe and then piled on the racks, winning 9-5.Garcia breathed a massive sigh of relief afterward because he had lost his very first match in Doha and had to win two straight to qualify.
 
In a battle of two former world champions, Germany’s Thorsten Hohmann took on China’s Wu Jiaqing. Wu jumped out to a big early lead, 6-2, before the German mounted a brief fight back. But Hohmann admittedly let the match slip away with too many unforced errors, as Wu advanced 9-6.
 
It was a proud day for the Kuwaitis who once again showed their prowess as a pool playing nation. Bader Alawadhi pulled off what could be the day’s biggest surprise when he shocked Spain’s David Alcaide, 9-7. Omar Alshaheen also booked his spot in the knockout rounds with a handy 9-6 win over Bosnia’s Sanjin Pehlivanovic.
 
It was also a good day for Finland. Petri Makkonen advanced with his second straight win, after taking down the always strong Chang Yu Leung, 9-6. Casper Matikainen put a halt to Filipino Marlon Manalo’s comeback with an easy 9-2 victory.
 
Austria’s former world champion Albin Ouschan struggled early but qualified with a 9 – 5 win over Myanmar’s Aung Moe Thu. Fellow Austrian Maximilian Lechner put an end to the hopes of South African Jason Theron, winning 9-5 after an early struggle.
 
Lebanon doesn’t often feature in the business end of things here, but Mazen Berjaoui held his nerve with a break and runout in the final frame to eliminate the USA’s Hunter Lombardo, 9-8.
 
Canada’s John Morra looked very strong in his 9-3 win over American Tommy Tokoph. Venezuela’s Jalal Al Sarisi(formerly Yousef), who went all the way to the quarterfinals last year, also qualified after handily beating the Netherland’s Ivar Saris, 9-6.
 
Monday’s action will be comprised of three sessions, with both the rounds of 64 and 32 being completed. The tournament will have a day off on December 18th due to it being the National Day of Qatar. The round of 16 and the quarterfinals will be held on December 19th, while the semis and final will take place on December 20th.
 
Play on Monday begins at 10am Doha time(GMT +3)
 
Fans around the world can watch four tables on our free live stream which can be accessed via the live scoring page here; http://www.esnooker.pl/live/en/tsnew.php
 Click the tables where you see the word "Video" and you will be taken to Youtube to watch the match. Tables 1, 7,8,9. Please visit the WPA Facebook Page for more information.
 
The winner of the 2018 World 9-ball Championship will receive $40,000. The runner up will receive $20,000. The total prize fund is $200,000.
 
To view the Final 64 bracket, please CLICK HERE.
 
*The 2018 WPA World 9-ball Championship takes place at the Al Arabi Sports Club Sports Club in Doha, Qatar from December 10-20, 2018. The event is hosted by The Qatar Billiard and Snooker Federation(QBSF), and is sanctioned by The World Pool Billiard Association, the governing body of the sport of pool.
 
The WPA is on Twitter; @poolwpa
 
Visit the official website of the WPA at www.wpapool.com
 
The players will compete on Wiraka DYNASTY  Tables with Simonis 860 Cloth, Electric Blue Color and using Aramith Tournament  Pro cup TV Pool Balls featuring the new Duramith Technology.
 
Media coverage of the 2018 World 9-ball Championship is being supported by the American Poolplayers Association(APA).  Join the world’s largest pool league today. Please visit join.poolplayers.com
 
Day 3 Results.
 
Losers Side Matches. Losers are out. Winners qualify for the final 64 knockout stage.
 
Group 1
Vitaliy Patsura(UKR)   9 – 6 Abdulatif Alfawal(QAT)
Woo Seung Ryu(KOR) 9 – 3 Meshaal AL Murdhi(KUW)  
 
Group 2
Radoslaw Babica(POL) 9 – 7 Matt Edwards(NZL)  
Mazen Berjaoui(LEB) 9 – 8 Hunter Lombardo(USA)     
 
Group 3
Roland Garcia(PHL) 9 – 5 Billy Thorpe(USA)
Bader Alawadhi(KUW) 9 – 7 David Alcaide(ESP)
 
Group 4
Omar Alshaheen(KUW) 9 – 6 Sanjin Pehlivanovic(BOS)
Johann Chua Gonzales(PHL) 9 – 3 Jeong Young Hwa(KOR)
 
Group 5
Petri Makkonen(FIN) 9 – 6 Chang Yu Lung(TPE)
Francisco Diaz-Pizarro(ESP)   9 – 5 Ahmed Tanvir(BAN)
 
Group 6
Jeffrey Ignacio(PHL) 9 – 6 Satoshi Kawabata(JPN)
Ruslan Chinahov(RUS) 9 – 2 Abdullah Alenzi(KUW)
 
Group 7
Ko Ping Han(TPE) 9 – 7 Xu Xiacong(CHN)
Yu Hsuan Cheng(TPE) 9 – 5 Hayato Hijikata(JPN)
 
Group 8
Sharik Aslam Sayed(SIN) 9 – 4 Roman Hybler(CZE)
Toru Kuribayashi(JPN) 9 – 6 Hasan Idan(IRQ)
 
Group 9
Nguyen Anh Tuan(VET) 9 – 5 Hoang Duong Quoc(VET)
Wiktor Zielinski(POL) 9 – 7 Sergey Lutsker(POL)
 
Group 10
Casper Matikainen(FIN) 9 – 2 Marlon Manalo(PHL)
Liu Haitao(CHN) 9 – 6 Martin Daigle(CAN)
 
Group 11
Wu Jiaqing(CHN) 9 – 6 Thorsten Hohmann(GER)
Maximilian Lechner(AUT) 9 – 5 Jason Theron(RSA)
 
Group 12
Yukio Akagariyama(JPN) 9 – 3 Ali Maghsoud(IRA)
Wojciech Sroczynski(POL) 9 -3 Richard Halliday(RSA)
 
Group 13
Jalal Al Sarisi(VEN) 9 – 6 Ivar Saris(NED)
Nikolaos Malaj(GRE) 9 – 8 Marek Kudlik(POL)
 
Group 14
Dang Jinhu(CHN) 9 – 6 Denis Grabe(EST)
Lin Ta Li(TPE) 9 – 6 Lo Ho Sum(HKG)
 
Group 15
Albin Ouschan(AUT) 9 – 5 Aung Moe Thu(MYR)
John Morra(CAN) 9 – 3 Tommy Tokoph(USA)
 
Group 16
Bing Chen Gao(CHN) 9 – 7 Damianos Giallourakis(GRE)
Wen Lo Li(TPE) 9 – 5 Kwon Hojun(KOR)