US Open Round One Analysis

As the opening round of play began at the US Open 9-Ball Championships in Chesapeake, VA, 15 of the 24 previous winners were on-hand.  Mika Immonen was looking to be the only player in Open history to win three in a row. Earl Strickland was looking for his sixth title. Mike Sigel was looking for his third, as was Nick Varner, who was the first to take back-to-back titles in 1989 and 1990. Looking for their second title were Shane Van Boening (2007), John Schmidt (2006), Alex Pagulayan (2005), Gabe Owen (2004), Corey Deuel (2001), Ralf Souquet (2000), Rodney Morris (1996), Johnny Archer (1999), Efren Reyes (1994), Tommy Kennedy (1992), and Mike Lebron (1988). Thirteen of these 15 advanced to the second round in their individual winners' side brackets, of which there are four (Van Boening and LeBron dropped their opening matches). 

The opening round of play at this year's US Open featured a total of 2,035 individual games of pool (for the purposes of all calculations, forfeits, of which there were three, were considered as 11-0 victories for the advancing player).  Players advancing to the second round in all four winners' side brackets won their opening games by an average score of 11-5 (statistically, it was actually 4.92). There were 10 double hill matches among the 125 played, and four shutouts.  Overall, advancing players  (winners) were maintaining a winning percentage of 69%.

Things were a little tougher in some of the four winners' side brackets, than in others. In the bracket designated as “Winners 1,” which featured defending two-time champion Mika Immonen, along with Gabe Owen, Johnny Archer, Stevie Moore, Shane Van Boening, Mike LeBron, and Mike Dechaine, the average match score for those that failed to advance was down a rack from the average to 11-4. The bracket featured three of the four total shutouts and no matches that went to double hill. Winners recorded a 73% winning percentage.  It was the proverbial ‘tough crowd.'

The ‘easiest' bracket (if there is such a thing at the US Open) was the “Winners 3” bracket. The 31 matches that were played in this bracket (one forfeit) featured the highest number of games played ; 583 (101 more games than were played in the Winners 1 bracket).  This bracket featured the lowest number of returning champions (two; Sigel and Strickland), along with the likes of Lee Van Corteza, Thorsten Hohmann, Francisco Bustamante, Donnie Mills,  and Jonathan Pinegar. The average score in this bracket was 11-5.8; opponents of those advancing to the second winners round put up the toughest fight, forcing more games and closer scores. In a reverse of the Winners 1 bracket, there were no shutouts, and three double-hill winners. Winners in this bracket advanced with the lowest winning percentage – 60%.

The Winners 2 bracket shared the highest number of returning champions with the Winners 1 bracket; Souquet, Varner, Morris, Pagulayan, and Kennedy were on hand, as were Ernesto Dominguez, Larry Kressel, Charlie Williams, Mike Davis and Ronnie Wiseman.  This bracket featured the second highest game total (515) and the second highest score among players who failed to advance; average score was 11-5.1. It was third in winning percentage for advancing players (68%), had no shutouts and three double hill matches.  All of its returning champions advanced to the second winners' round.  

The Winners 4 bracket recorded the second highest winning percentage among advancing players (70%), and the second lowest average score for players failing to advance; 11-4.7. The bracket had three returning champions – Schmidt, Deuel and Reyes – along with Israeli champion Zion Zvi, Jason Richko, Ronnie Alcano, and the only player who's faced Immonen twice over the past two years and defeated him once ('09) – Chris Bartram (Donnie Mills, who's in the Winners 3 bracket, has faced Immonen twice as well, but is 0-2, including a double hill battle in last year's semifinal).