2012 US Open 9 Ball Championships Summary

Last week was the 2012 US Open championships and what a week it was. I bought the PPV from Accu-Stats, like I have done the last 3 years and it just keeps getting better. Cool I know not everyone can watch pool all day and all night, so I did what I could and live-tweeted the matches I was able to catch.  You can find all of them here if you're interested.

So many great matches and this year was one of the strongest fields I've seen.  Efren Reyes was playing as good as I've seen him in at least 2 years. Earl Strickland seemed to be really on it as well. Jose Parica was a terror until he hit Shane van Boening in the final 12.  Darren Appleton was a real threat to win a 3rd consecutive US Open until he played Efren Reyes and if it hadn't been for an incredible fluked 9 ball he might have continued on the winner's side a round or 2 longer. As it was, he still put a strong showing together, taking out Hao Xiang Han, then Oscar Dominguez, then Earl Strickland, then Corey Deuel then finally Johnny Archer all on the west side.  But it was Dennis Orcollo that proved too much for Darren in the quarter-finals.

Efren stayed on the winner's side through the quarter finals as well, until he ran into Alex Pagulayan where The Lion ran over The Magician 11-5 and sending Reyes to the left.  Reyes made a wonderful comeback to take out Ronnie Alcano, but just couldn't withstand Dennis Orcollo.

Alex's luck changed when he hit the brick wall that is Shane van Boening.  Shane put together a couple of 3 packs and nothing went Alex's way at the table.  Alex looked out of sorts early and never really got into gear.  Shane wins it 11-5 to stay on the winner's side into the semi-finals.

Meanwhile, Dennis Orcollo took out He Wen Li, then Darren Appleton, then Jose Parica then Efren Reyes and now faced Alex Pagulayan for the 3rd place spot or the chance to win the whole thing.

Both guys started off slow and neither one in their present form would pose any challenge to Shane if they kept this up.  Once each player took a break and reset themselves, things turned around.  They turned on better for Dennis than Alex and The Lion was forced into a 3rd place finish this year.

A few hours later, the finals of the US Open began and it was clear that Dennis was ready to play.  But Shane was quite intent on not letting him play much. After a couple of safety battles and each player running out it was tied at 2 games each.  And that's when things changed.  Shane builds a 4-pack on top of a 2 pack with a safety battle in the middle to win the next 7 games.  It's now 9-2 in a race to 13.  After Shanes 4-pack (which only ended because the CB was kicked into the side pocket), Dennis takes a break to gather himself.  He comes back shortly and runs out.  From here, Dennis starts his own run and builds his own 4-pack to make it 9-7.  Unfortunately, that was all the juice Dennis could conjure. Shane starts running out from everywhere, playing great safes and generally just not letting Dennis to the table with anything but a full-table jump or kick.  Shane breaks and runs out the final rack to win the match 13-7.

Shane van Boening is the 2012 US Open Champion!

You can see the final brackets here (click to view full size) and you can see the entire tournament bracket at USOpen.AZBilliards.com

2012 US Open Final Bracket

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Filed Under: 9-Ball · Tournaments

Break and Run - Twice!

Last night I had APA Masters league, and it was the best night of pool I've had in ... well, almost ever.  I wish, I WISH I would've recorded it.  I had two milestones happen: I broke and ran out in 8-ball - first time in APA.  Then when on the hill I broke and ran in 9-ball - also my first in the APA!!  In addition to all of that, I just never gave the other guy a chance. I think with 2 exceptions, each rack was about 1 or 2 innings.  If the guy missed, I ran out.  And unfortunately, he did miss 4 balls (though a few of them were kicks or jumps because of my safeties.  Here's the 8-ball break I found myself with to get my first BnR of the night:

 

After I broke, I looked at the table and knew I *should* be out here.  But, as with so many racks before this, I just looked for where I'd mess it up.  I started with the 14, then the 10 and spun it above the 6. I was dead straight on 13, but took the 9 instead as I could cue easier around the 6 ball.  From there I got on the other side of the 6 which gave me a hair of an angle to draw off the 13 towards the 8 a little, leaving the window for the 12.  I hit the 12 smoothly and the CB floated to to around the side pocket, leaving me the entire 8 ball.  I called it, took a deep breath, calmed my brain, and shot it.  When it dropped, I was ecstatic inside, but didn't do anything noticeable. I walked back to my table and marked the game on the scoresheet (with a big smile of course).

Then we started playing 9-ball (as that was the last 8ball match and I was up 4-1 at that point).  I continue my smart playing, easy positions, taking the table gives me and just focusing on making the ball.  Just two racks later, after some late misses by opponent, I'm on the hill and breaking!

 

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Filed Under: 8-Ball · 9-Ball · League

Getting Called Out

I realize it's been a while since my last post, but I've been pretty busy between the day job, three leagues and housework/prep for Halloween (which I do take fairly seriously).  A lot has happened in the last 2.5 weeks, where to begin?

In the APA league, I'm 4-0 in 8-ball so far.  Which is quite strange, since it's not my game.  Last week, I (SL6) was paired up against an SL4; which means a 5-3 race.  The entertaining thing about this is that I would've bet money my opponent was an SL3, so in my head, I thought I was playing a 5-2 race.  Which would make sense, since she's an SL3 in 9-ball.  So, when I dogged my key-ball and left her an open table, after a few safeties and coaches from her team, I ended up losing the first rack.  In my mind, I now needed 5 and her only 1. I focused as best as I could, while trying to keep a positive attitude about things.  The next rack, she picked away at some balls but missed halfway through. I started my run and picked away the clusters and ran out. :) I break dry, she does the same thing, and I again run out. Now I'm getting a good feeling of confidence.  I break, make some balls, but the CB is locked up.  We trade some safeties, but I win the battle and eventually get out.  Now it's 3-1 and the pattern repeats!  I break, but there are clusters, she misses a shot or a safety (can't remember right now) but I eventually get out, making it 4-1.  While she's racking I mention that "this one is for all the marbles" and she looks at me funny; but I didn't register it.  I commented to my teammate that it's hill-hill and they corrected me, saying she still needs two!  I was very happy to hear that.  But, I had to force myself not to let up on the pressure.  Even though I had a bit of breathing room, I couldn't let myself get wild.  The rack was played tight, several safeties - and I end up winning the match 5-1!  I never win 5 games of 8-ball in a row.  Never!  I was really happy - and it put me in 1st place on the 8-ball Top Gun list. 

My 9-ball match however, was not quite as fortunate.  I (SL7) played an SL6, meaning a 55-46 race.  I just couldn't get going and the luck factor has been depleted earlier it seemed.  I lost the match 47-46.  I can't trade points with a lower skill level, but that's all I was able to do. *shrug* It's still a long way before the end of the session; but if I had won that match I'd be in 1st or 2nd in 9-ball Top Gun list as well.  As it is, I'm stuck in 11th place.  But, with only 10 points between me and the leader and 9 weeks left of league, it's entirely possible. ;)

Move on to my Friday league out of Cue & Cushion.  I played pretty well this match.  Here's the first rack of the match; where once I got a makeable shot, I took it and ran out - but not without making it exciting.  I overhit the 6 ball and get nearly frozen to the 7. Then I overhit the 7 and corner-hook myself on the 8.  Thankfully, the 8 was just in front of the side pocket and the 2-rail kick was lit up like a roller coast in my eyes.  I get down and shoot it expecting to make a good hit, hoping to make it.  So when it drops into the pocket, I'm happy but not entirely suprised. :) I do ask that I not have to make that shot again.  I take an extra amount of time lining up the 9-ball because after that run, I had darn well better make it.  So, I take some time, but too much, follow my pre-shot routine and slice the 9 into the corner. :)

You can see the entire match here.

Over the weekend, fellow blogger and all around great person, Gail Glazebrook posted a very interesting entry: Surrender to Your Fears.  In it she talks about how people, in particular pool players, let fear decide their level of involvement.  The best example is a player, like myself, not enterting tournaments because they don't expect to do well. Personally, I expect to go 2 and out in any of the regional tournaments around here.  Why? Because I know how I play, and I'm not consistent enough to do what I need to do when I need to do it.  This fear of performing poorly stops me from entering tournaments - of any kind.  It keeps me from finding games with other players, both of those things keep me from moving forward in my game.  Which is ironic because if I were able to get some seasoning, I'd lose my fear; but fear is a tough little bastard and self-preservation is strong within ... so it makes sure I don't lose it by never picking a fight with it.  I thanked Gail for making me call myself on that stuff.

The next Midwest 9-ball Tour stop is in a few weeks out at Shooters in Olathe, KS and if things go well around the house (nothing else breaks), I'm going to go. And I'm going to play in it.  I went for the first time back in Feb and it was an absolute blast!  I didn't even care that I went 2 and out, it was my first time out there, my first time at this tournamet and I just picked up my new custom cue.  I was hoping not to go 2 and out, but I pretty much expected it.  You can read about my trip here

I'm tired of dogging balls. I'm tired of not playing to my expected level - both by me and the others in the leagues.  I can't lie, I like the fact some of the players are scared to play, that they expect to lose if they draw me that week.  Perhaps part of my problem is that I know that.  It's extra pressure to perform.  In the APA there are only a handful of SL7's, only one SL8 and SL9 that I can think of.  I feel like I need to perform at some sort of superior level because I'm a 7.  What I tend to forget is that being a 7 doesn't mean running out every rack. It means making the best decisions at the right time.  I need to keep this in mind over the next 2 months.  I might even write a little note to myself and keep it in my pool case so I'll be reminded before every match.

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Filed Under: 8-Ball · 9-Ball · Training

Bonus Ball Is Finally Here!

It seems that Bonus Ball has finally made its way out of the ether and into reality!

I remember a few years ago first hearing about this new game being developed with Johnny Archer and a few others as the driving forces behind it. The goal was to give professional pool a makeover and transform it into a marketable product while also inventing a game that the general public can support.  During one early interview with "The Scorpion", I recall part of his argument: (paraphrased from memory) "Every other organized sport in the world has teams, uniforms, arenas and a scoreboard, but not pool.  If we want to market pool to the world we need to integrate these things."

The game itself is completely new and it integrates elements of all other games. Believe it or not, there's 9-ball (the rack shape and order of balls pocketed), snooker (the points by color and balls spotted after a make), one pocket (limited pocket choices by team) and even straight pool (the continuous rack/break shot)! You can read more about the game and the future in the official press release.

On the Bonus Ball website you can watch a preview video with clips from a match between Archer and Klatt.  The screen shot below shows a little of what this game entails: Uniforms, scoreboard and multi-colored balls that must be shot in sequence; with the black ball spotting up in the center of the table after each make (another snooker element). Players have to then play shape to make balls in only 3 specific pockets (2 corners on a long-rail and the side pocket opposite that rail).  The mandatory sequence is the purple ball first (for 1 point), then they can shoot an orange ball for 2 points, then (and only then) can they make an attempt on the black ball (for 3 points).  The players MUST complete this sequence, even if it's across innings. If a player misses an orange, when they return to the table, they must continue with an orange in their next inning.  This adds a layer of defensive strategy to the game for the outgoing player (if you know what ball your opponent has to shoot next, playing safe just became a little bit easier.

It seems like a lot to take in right now, but it really does transition into automatic thinking fairly quickly.  More information and a full HD match is to be released later this week.  I, for one, am pretty excited about this and I hope this project does well.

Pool purists wont like it, but as anyone that's been around a while can tell you, pool is not doing that well (in a professional sense) and needs something it can market to sponsors in order to survive in this digital age.  I think bonus ball can do it.  If bowling and darts can make money (which they do - and more than pool players), so can pool.

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Filed Under: General

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