Thorsten Hohmann Wins U.S. Open 10-Ball Championship

Our final day at the U.S. Open Championships at the Rio hotel in Las Vegas began with two one-loss side matches. On table one Sal Butera and Shane Van Boening were locked in battle while table two saw Shane McMinn facing Dennis Orcollo. Shane drew first blood against Butera while McMinn took the first mark on his table.

The Butera/Van Boening match stayed tight early on as we were tied at two apiece while Dennis Orcollo slid out to a slim 3-1 lead on his table. When McMinn broke dry in rack #5 Orcollo saw an opportunity to stretch that lead into something impressive. But when Orcollo played a safety off the two ball McMinn dug deep and jumped into the two ball which comboed the ten ball into the corner for the win. At 3-2 Orcollo would have to await another opportunity to stretch out. When McMinn took the next rack to tie things up that opportunity moved further away. McMinn took the next rack as well to lead Orcollo 4-3. McMinn had defeated Alex Pagulayan the night previous and his confidence was remaining unperturbed. With the lead in his possession McMinn took the next game as well and then led 5-3 while owning the break for the next rack. Now it was Orcollo's turn to fret.

Van Boening was doing nothing spectacular, he just played steady, solid pool and soon led Butera 5-2. Butera was not making any errors, but Van Boening can make the tough shots that count when he needs them and the table was under his command. After the next rack Van Boening led 6-2 and Butera was looking for any opportunities he could find. Van Boening does not sell opportunity cheap and the balls kept falling away for him. Soon it was 7-3. When Butera broke dry in the next rack the skies grew dark in the Butera corner. Two racks later Van Boening was on the hill at 9-2. Then Butera took the next rack to bring us to 9-3. That would be his last hurrah as Van Boening ran the next rack to take the match 10-3.

Orcollo took a break to regroup. He then won the next rack to get within one game at 5-4. In the next game Orcollo missed a safety and left McMinn a shot on the one. He took a chance on a three-ten combo that missed, however, and Orcollo was back shooting. But Orcollo let go of the cue ball when he made the four and whitey rolled into the corner for a scratch. That was all McMinn needed to get back to a two-game margin at 6-4. In the next rack McMinn had to bank in bothe the four and the five and then shoot a thin cut on the six down the rail into the corner. When he succeeded at all of that Orcollo conceded the rack to trail 7-4.

Orcollo broke and ran the next rack and then McMinn broke dry, turning control of the table back over to Orcollo. Orcollo made quick work of this rack with a two-ten combo and just like that he was back in the match trailing only by a single game at 7-6. After the next rack we were tied at seven and our race to ten had become a do or die race to three to stay alive. Two racks later McMinn was on the hill 9-7 and it was his turn to break. THe table broke too tough to run and after some back and forth Orcollo was able to clean up and pull us to 9-8.

Orcollo now had the chance to break and run to get to the hill with McMinn. The one ball dropped on the break but the two ball went and hid behind the ten ball. He pushed out and McMinn took on the shot and left Orcollo with a pretty good safety. Orcollo made the hit and left a nice safe of his own. The safeties ended with Orcollo in control and he made it to the hill. 9-9. A race to one for the match. It was McMinn's break. He made a ball but faced a tough bank on the one. He missed the bank and left Orcollo with the one sitting in the corner pocket and an open shot to begin his run. Orcollo ran the table and looked forward to his next match against Darren Appleton as McMinn packed his cue thinking about what might have been.

The next round was one-loss action as Dennis Orcollo took on Darren Appleton while Corey Deuel faced Shane Van Boening, When we joined the fray Orcollo was leading 4-1 and Shane Van Boening was ahead 4-3.

After twenty minutes of solid playing on both tables our scores were 5-2 with Orcollo leading Appleton while Shane Van Boening led Corey Deuel 6-4. Orcollo scratched on his next break and Appleton had no choice but to try a six-ten combo that he converted to trail 5-3. On his table Van Boening broke and ran to lead 7-4. Deuel helped Van Boening along when he scratched on his next break. Van Boening ran out to lead 8-4. Van Boening then broke and ran to get to the hill and lead 9-4.

Orcollo tried to extend his lead but missed the six ball to give Appleton the table and the bead to bring him within one at 5-4. But Orcollo ran the next rack and got a little wiggle room at 6-4.

Corey Deuel was trying hard to get back into the match but an unfortunate kiss put him in trouble on the three ball. He tried to bank it but came up a tad short. But he did not leave much, only a long-rail bank shot that did not fall. Deuel then had to go rail first on the three ball to have any chance at position on the next ball. While he failed the shot the cue ball rolled safe and Van Boening had to shoot a carom that would not go. Deuel made a thin cut on the three in the side and the shot caused the six ball to snuggle up near the eight. Deuel played safe but left Van Boening a look at the six which he would have to bank if he were to continue at the table. He chose to play safe instead. Deuel could not escape the safety and left an open table for Van Boening who converted that into the win 10-4.

Darren Appleton won the next rack against Dennis Orcollo and trailed 6-5. Orcollo ran the next rack to take us to 7-5 and then Appleton made an error in the next rack and snookered himself behind the eight. Orcollo had to navigate a tough cut on the five but made it and finished off the rack to go three ahead at 8-5. Now Appleton had to win five games before Orcollo won two to be able to win. Orcollo would have none of that as he broke and ran to get to the hill.

For Appleton the hole had gotten deep. But it was his break and he never just rolls over and plays dead. His break sank a ball but he had to carom off of the one to make the three and that did not work. He did leave a big problem on the table in that the three was behind the five near the corner and had to be either broken out or made with a three-ball combo. Orcollo broke it out with a bank on the two but forgot to tell the two to fall. When Appleton missed his next shot because he was jacked up over a ball he conceded the match and Orcollo took the win 10-5.

Our next match found Shane Van Boening playing Dennis Orcollo. The loser of this match would take fourth place while the winner got to fight on. Van Boening surged out to an early 4-1 lead and Orcollo was keeping busy trying to kick himself into an opportunity. He got that chance in rack #6 and took it home to trail 4-2. But he broke dry in the next rack and left Van Boening an open shot on the one ball. That was all he needed to bring us to 5-2. He then broke and ran to enlarge his lead to 6-2.

Orcollo made the five ball on the next break but the one ball was not makable. Orcollo played safe and left Van Boening a table length away with blockers. Shane kicked into a safety. Orcollo made the hit and Van Boening was forced to play safe again, this time locking Orcollo up against a ball. Orcollo could not find a hit and Van Boening had ball in hand. All the remaining alls had a pocket and Van Boening filled them all to lead 7-2.

Van Boening broke and ran the next rack. 8-2. Orcollo made three balls on the next break but had no opening shot. He attempted a jump shot but fouled and turned the table over. Van Boening cleaned up to go to the hill and lead 9-2. Van Boening broke and the table held early trouble. He had to play safe on the two and the safeties that ensued ended when Orcollo took an intentional foul to tie up another pair of balls. That worked well enough to cause Van Boening to miss a combo on the three ball and that allowed Orcollo to access the rest of the rack to finally win another rack and trail 9-3. Orcollo had to bank the one ball in the next game and left it hanging in the pocket. But Van Boening over-ran his shape and scratched on his three ball attempt. Orcollo ran out to fill the hole a little as the score stood at 9-4.  

Van Boening scratched on his next break. Orcollo cleared the table to get the score into respectable range at 9-5. When he broke and ran the next rack we stood at 9-6 and the comeback began to feel real. Next it was Van Boening's break and he made a ball and had an easy opening shot. He had a problem though as the four ball had no pocket, being nestled up near the five ball. He was able to break it out when he shot the three but all it left him was a bank shot with questionable odds of being able to get shape for the next shot. He chose to play safe and Orcollo was staring at a four ball seven feet away in the middle of the head rail. He made an unreal thin cut to put it away into the corner pocket but he would have to hop over the edge of the ten to make the five-six combo that was wired into the side. He made it and all the rest to bring himself well within reach at 9-7. Remember, when he began this march he was behind 9-2.

Orcollo broke dry but left little for Van Boening. The opening shot was a bank combo that he really used to make a safety. The one ball was near the head rail while the cue ball was two diamonds up from the foot rail. Orcollo tried to bank the one to the left and send the cue ball right but he did he did not quite hide the ball. Van Boening banked into another safety. Orcollo safed back. The safety play went on only a short while longer before Van Boening got an opening. He took it all the way home to win 10-7.

Our next match featured Justin Hall V Thorsten Hohmann playing for the hot seat.. These two gentlemen had both come this far without a defeat and both had been displaying remarkable skills in the previous two days.  Hohmann had taken out Darren Appleton and Mike Dechaine as well as Tony Robles to get here while Justin Hall had toppled the likes of Jayson Shaw and Jason Klatt and Erik Hjorleifson.

Hohmann won the lag and broke two balls into the pockets but was left with only a kick or jump on the two. So he elected to push into a bit easier kicking situation. Hall gave him the shot back and Hohmann tried to kick into a safety but the two ball leaked out from behind cover and Hall had an opening. He took full advantage and grabbed the first bead to lead 1-0 and own the break.

Hall's break evaporated two balls from the table and left him a very thin cut on the one with little hope of position on the two. But the ten ball was in the area and Hall bravely called a one-ten combo that he fired into the center of the pocket to lead 2-0. Hall was sending a message early that he was not one with whom you could easily trifle.

Hohmann's next break served up some better fare. He had a shot on the one ball and everything had a pocket it could find if coaxed. There were two troublesome position moves that would need to be negotiated, however. This was no roadmap. Hohmann unexpectedly missed the three ball and left it in the jaws. Hall again pounced on the opportunity and quickly led the match 3-0.

Hall made the one ball on the next break but the only shot he had at the two was a kick-combo on the ten. He freaking made it. Now Hohmann was in a dark corner. His opponent had four marks and he was yet to leave the gate. But there is no give-up in the German. He gave the next break a huge lick but everything just ran around the table real fast and stayed up. Hall made a thin cut on the one in the side and then needed to break the three ball away from the six when he made the two. His shot was a little bashful and while he got the contact he wanted there was not enough energy left to break them far apart. But it was enough. He tickled the three against the side of the six and the three fell into the side.

Hall was beginning to believe. He ran through the balls and was now halfway home at 5-0. He made four balls on the next break but one of them was white. Now it was Hohmann's turn to seize an opportunity. He did. 5-1. He then broke and ran the next rack to get to 5-2.

Now it was Hall's break. This one shot could make a huge swing in the match. If Hall wound up with no opening shot Hohmann could get back within two  and own the break for a chance to be right back in the match. ANd the table broke tough. THere was no way to break out the tow ball from the six so Hall called aa two-rail bank that failed to open. But it was a two-way shot that left Hohmann only very tough cut. That shot did not go but he did get Hall safe behind blockers. Hall kicked the two all past a cluster of balls ad left the cue ball on the other side. Hohmann went for his jump cue. He made the jump ad had a shot on the four but the five was hidden from the closest pocket by the five. He needed to find a way to make something happen. He cut the four in the corner with extreme left english had a shot on the five into the far corner. When it fell the rest of the table looked like a rose for the picking. 5-3, Hohmann breaking.

Hohmann made the two ball on the snap and had a shot on the one. But it was nearly straight in and he had to pound/stun the shot. He still came up shy of shape and was again jumping. The shot did not go but the safety that he got was impressive. Justin could easily kick to the hit but the there was no pocket open to accept the ball.  The shot he left Hohmann had no future in it except for a safety. He got a good one but Hall swerved the cue ball and made the shot. The rest of the table was waiting for him and Hall walked it home even though he had to bank the final shot to lead 6-3.

Hall's next break was beautiful. Three balls down and a connect the dots layout. He wound up on the fifty yard line on the ten ball, however, and gifted the game to Hohmann with the ten ball just sitting in the pocket. 6-4, Hohmann breaking. But Hohmann scratched on the break. Justin Hall with ball in hand is a dangerous animal. The table was not easy. The four ball lay tough with only a single side pocket. Hall got the shape and the shot. That would send us to 7-4 with Hall on the break.

The break was good. Two balls down and a shot on the one but no easy way to get to the two. He played for a safe but left Hohmann an alley to the one. Not quite wide enough to make the shot but good enough for a return safety. Hohmann made contact and left Hall a table length away with blockers. The kick was one rail and Hall only had a bank safety which he executed very well. Hohmann tried a jump shot that exceeded its' goals and left the table. Hall ran out for the 8-4 lead.

Hohmann broke dry but left not a cherry on the tree. The one was easy but four balls were tied up nearly in a line. There was lots of work to be done. Hall was pretty straight on the two so he elected to make that, stop, and play safe. He tucked the three ball behind the six with the cue ball on the other side.  Hohmann made the hit but Hall could see an edge. But he miscued, fouled, and Hohmann sprang back to the table. The miscue had broken up the problem line of balls and Hohmann marched the rest of them home. 8-5.

The table was just breaking tough. Blockers were common. Hall had a terribly tough cut on the one that he hung up and Hohmann was able to convert the rack to bring himself closer at 8-6. On his break Hohmann had no shot but he could catch an edge of the one for safe or he could push out. He pushed the cue ball into the jaws of a corner pocket and Hall could see about a quarter of the one. He left Hohmann able to make full contact but with no pocket except for banked ones. Hohmann used the edge for a safety and left Hall a bank into the side. Hall took it on and made it plus he got good shape on the three. He got out from there and breathed the air one finds on the hill 9-6.

It was Hall's break. All he needed was one good break and spread to take this baby home. He got his wish with one exception. The six ball was fully behind the eight ball in the jaws of the corner pocket. It had to be broken out or conboed in. Perhaps that problem is what made Hall miss the three in the side. Hohmann tried to get rid of the trouble right away by shooting the three off the rail into the cluster and into the pocket. But he missed the two balls on the way into the pocket and that threw his po on the four off. He missed a tough masse and Hall was astraddle the table again. Hall played a fantastic shot on the five where the cue ball came over and edged the eight all out of the way. He finished off the last two balls and owned the hot seat. Whomever wins the semis of Hohmann V Van Boening will have a tough nut to crack to get past Hall in the finals.

Our semi-final began with Van Boening winning the lag. He broke well but the one ball was only a bank opportunity. Van Boening tried a safe but fell short of the goal and Hohmann had an opening. That was all he needed. Hohmann claimed the rack and our first mark at 1-0. Finally the table broke open wide.  Hohmann had a tough shot on the four to get to the five ball but otherwise the table was a cherry. He got that shape he needed and stormed home to lead 2-0.

Now Van Boening had to break. He had seen the way Hohmann had broken the table open and he would try to mimic the result in his own style. He succeeded. But then he missed a shot on the one ball, a slide two feet down the rail, that no one had expected him to miss. The ball just stopped short of the pocket. Hohmann was back at the table. But when he got to the five ball he had to shoot jacked-up over the eight and missed the shot. He left Van Boening only a safety or  thin reverse cut to the corner or a carom. Van Boening took the carom and the table to get on the board trailing 2-1.

Hohmann's break was now working well. He made three balls with shape on the one. The rest of the table was soon history and Hohmann led 3-1. Van Boening broke and the one was hidden by the four ball. He played safe by using the cue ball into a jump shot position. Hohmann went for his jump cue. But at the last moment he turned down the shot and sent Van Boening back to solve his own riddle. The shot was narrowly missed but Hohmann would have to bank the one cross-corner.He played a two-way shot and got the safe but not the bank. Van Boening kicked and left a one-ten combo down the rail that Hohmann converted to stretch his lead to 4-1. This was twice now that he won off of Van Boening's break.

Again Hohmann made three balls on the break but he would have to bank the one to proceed. He did and wound up with fifty-yard line shape on the two. When the two fell away the rest of the table was no challenge. Hohmann leads 5-1. Van Boening broke the next rack and had an early problem where he would have to carom the two off of the six to get into the side pocket. He made it look easy and cruised through the rest of the rack to get himself to 5-2. The goal for Van Boening now was to win the rest of his break racks and two of Hohmann's.   

When Hohmann broke dry Van Boening went to work. He needed this rack. But he had no direct shot at the one ball. There were at least two balls locking his path. He measured a kick shot and pulled the trigger and the one ball fell away. There was till a lot of traffic on the board that would need to be avoided. He steered himself cleanly through the rack and won one off of Hohmanns break. This put him back in reasonable action at 5-3 with the next break being his.

Van Boening just could not find the sweet break he needed. Again he wound up with the one near a pocket but with interfering balls blocking his path. He pushed. Hohmann took on the jump shot and actually hung it up but the cue ball came down and nudged it into the hole. Hohmann then played a safe on the two, wedding the cue ball to the side of the six. Van Boening made the hit but left Hohmann a long cut up the rail which he made with shape on the three. Hohmann got out to lead 6-3 and he did it off of Van Boening's break so that hole widened out once again.

Hohmann sent three balls home again on the break and had a nice shot on the one. He swept the table to extend his lead to 7-3. With the alternating break format Van Boening's odds of winning the match now stood at less than 20%. He would still give it his all. He broke the next rack well and finished off the rack to trail Hohmann 7-4. Hohmann had the next break and created a runable table. The three was behind the 6 but he had two shots to use to get into position to manage that. He got a bit out of line for the two ball and that made the three ball problem larger. Hohmann solved that one by using the five ball as a rail to send the three into the corner. He was out from there and led 8-4. His nostrils had begun to pick up the scent of the finish line.

Still, Van Boening would not shake. His arm was as fluid as ever and he worked effortlessly through the next rack. 8-5. Hohmann was well on his way home when an unfortunate rub scratched him on his bank of the four ball. Van Boening again won off of Hohmann's break and was now behind 8-6. He then broke and ran the next rack to close the gap to 8-7.  He would still need to win another of Hohmann's break racks.

Hohmann nearly scratched in the corner on the next break. The white ball was deep inside the jaws. He managed to hit the one and his safety was certainly challenging with the nine ball acting as a wall. Van Boening played safe and Hohmann missed his shot on the one and left an open table for Van Boening that Van Boening took to tie us at eight apiece with the break and a shot at gaining the hill first.

Van Boening broke in three balls next and the three ball wound up right  near the ten. He found position on that shot though and the rest of the table was his for the taking. Van Boening on the hill at 9-8. He was now favored to win 6-4. Hohmann broke the next rack well but the one was a super-thin cut that held a lot of risk. He elected to play safe and Van Boening would have to kick. He kicked into a position where Hohmann could only find the edge of the one ball. Hohmann used that edge to bank the one cross-side and go three rails for perfect shape on the two ball. The rest of the table succumbed to his shotmaking and we were at double-hill. One rack, with Van Boening breaking, to determine who would go to the finals.    

Van Boening broke and the table opened up nicely for him.  But Van Boening got funny on the four ball and would have to cut it all the way up-table or play safe. He took the safe and put the cue ball behind the eight. Hohmann kicked off of the side rail and sank the four in the corner. He still had a hill to climb as the six was now behind the eight ball. Hohmann played the five into the side and wound up with a thin cut on the six. He made it and took out the eight and the ten for the win.  Hohmann would move on to face Justin Hall in the finals while Van Boening was awarded third place.

Our finals was a race to thirteen. After three racks Hohmann led 2-1 and Hall was running out the next rack when he missed the five. Hohmann welcomed the unexpected gift and ran out to lead 3-1. After his break Hohmann faced a table with a few problems to solve.  He took care of the first one by caroming the six in off of the four and everything else consisted of positional challenges. One of those came up and bit Hohmann when he wound up blocked from the five ball by the ten. He kicked safe. Hall tried to jump and made contact but missed the shot. He did, however, leave a safe for Hohmann to tackle. Hohmann could only create distance and the five ball wound up on the rail less than a diamond from the corner. Hall tried to bank five safe but left a long cut on the five. Hohmann made the five in the corner and then walked through the rest of the rack to lead 4-1.

The next rack found Hall hiding Hohmann behind the four. Hohmann made a good hit on the one but left it straight in the side for Hall. Hall made the one through three balls but came up way short on his shape for four. Still, he was able to slice it in and he continued with a thin slice on the five to gain access to the rest of the rack which he then conquered to get himself to 4-2.

Hohmann had a tough table to get through after his next break. He just took the shots one at a time and had the cue ball on a string to win the rack and adjust the score to 5-2 in his favor. Hall broke well the next game but again the one ball could not be made. He pushed and Hohmann took the shot to play safe using both distance and blocking balls. But Hall kicked that ball in like it was nothing and got shape on the three to boot. With that shot to oil his arm he easily cleared the table and we stood at 5-3 in favor of Hohmann.

Hohmann sank three on the break with a thin cut left on the one. He made that but bumped the five into a position where it was blocked from the closest corner by the seven ball. He broke those two friends up on the next shot and that gave him the rest of the rack to bring us to 6-3. Hall broke and ran a tough table to get the next rack. 6-4.

Hohmann answered with a break and run of his own. 7-4. Hall scratched on the next break but four balls were within a diamond of one another laying up against the side rail. Hohmann used his ball in hand to break two of them, the six and nine, away from the side. They rolled together and clustered up again on the foot rail. Hohmann broke them up again when he made the four ball. With that effort behind him Hohmann claimed the rest of the table to lead 8-4.

Hohmann broke dry and the cue ball wound up so deep in the corner pocket that Hall could not hit the one ball and was forced to push out. Hohmann converted a bank-combo on the ten to take the rack home early. 9-4. When he also won the next rack the score went to 10-4 and Hall had only a 4% chance of winning.

Hohmann broke dry next rack but left a table with six balls clustered together. He missed his shot on the one ball and it was then up to Hohmann to negotiate all that traffic. Hohmann would take no foolish chances now. He did not need to do so with his lead. He went gently into the cluster off of the two ball and then played safe off the three. Hall kicked two rails to contact the three but left a shot for Hohmann who converted the opportunity into another rack win. 11-4. Hohmann had now won five consecutive racks. When Hall broke the one ball again went and hid. Again he would have to push, kick or jump to start the game. He chose the push and unfortunately left Hohmann an easy one-ten combo to get to the hill 12-4 and own the break.

Hohmann broke the table open. He easily took on the layout and ran home to win the U.S. Open Championship in convincing style 13-4.