Sunday, 21 January 2018

2017 Year in Review and BIG RED'S Picks for Players of the year!



By: Erik Hjorleifson 

Belated Happy New Year from Markus Noé and I at Cue Sport Nation, 2017 was an eventful year as always in the pool world lets take a look back at some of the highlights.

North American Pool scene

The pool scene in North America remains a bit of an enigma. There are fewer and fewer players playing full time, the game seems to have shifted to bar table events rather than 9 foot events. Major 9 foot tournaments continue to be The Turning Stone classic (twice a year), The Derby City Classic, U.S. Open 9 ball, Super Billiards Expo and this year saw the return of the U.S. Open 8 ball and 10 ball on the 9 foots held at Griffs in Las Vegas. 

2017 also marked the first year of the World Pool Series, the 4 event tour was held at Steinway Billiards in New York City. Promoted and extremely well run by professional player Darren Appleton this tour failed to fill the 128 board they were expecting in any of the 4 events. By any means no fault of Appleton's as he vigorously promoted and provided an excellent tournament venue and structure. 

The main set back to these events was the lack of American representation and the lack of American rooms willing to jump on board to run qualifiers. In other words I'm sure there were many players that would like to have gone but could not afford it and have minimal sponsorship to off set costs. I believe this tour really showed what a desperate state American pool is currently in, even at the U.S. open there were only about 50 American players in the field . If you added up the first place prize money from all of these tournaments you barely get over the six figure mark, a glaring problem indeed! 

However the one player that seems to continually rise above all the turmoil continues to be Shane Van Boening winning 3 of the 11 U.S majors and finishing second in two others of the 6 that he attended. He is without a doubt The U.S #1 and always in the conversation for player of the year. Bar table events have been abundant, particularly bar table events with huge player auctions. Skyler Woodward was the most consistent winner of these events, Dennis Orcollo and Roberto Gomez also won a few.

International scene/WPA events

The WPA (World Pool Association)  continued its embarrassing slide to mediocrity and frankly non relevance in the world pool scene. In 2017 there was once again no world 10 ball championship, no world 8 ball championship and the world 9 ball championship was held holding the same prize money as it has for the last 8 years. Prize money so bad that only 8 players were able to turn a decent profit. Of the few tournaments they did hold allegations of players waiting multiple months for payment were made and it came to a point where it seems that some have indefinitely boycotted the events. I could go on for a few paragraphs about the recent failures of the WPA but at this point it is fairly clear that they need to do more.
Winners of the WPA events that were held:

World 9 ball Carlo Biado
China open Joshua Filler 
                     Siming Chen

There were also many other tournaments that the WPA had no promotional involvement with but imposed a sanctioning fee in order for the events to be recognized and sanctioned by the WPA. So not only are they doing practically nothing promotion wise, they are taking money out of the prize funds of other major tournaments they have nothing to do with.

Matchroom sport events

Matchroom continues to be the one bright spot on the world pool scene. 2017 saw them run their three major tournaments the Mosconi Cup, World Pool Masters and the World Cup of Pool. These events are televised around the world and presented with class and professionalism. If there is any hope for pool in the near future it seems to lie with Matchroom. The first prize in these events can still be improved a little I believe but is better than most other events. All players that participate in Matchroom tournaments are guaranteed decent prize money which is a nice perk.

Mosconi cup Team Europe
World Pool Masters David Alcaide
World Cup of Pool Team Austria

Chinese 8 ball

Joy tables continued to make a strong push for Chinese 8 ball in 2017 holding two huge payout events. One with $87 000 first prize and one with $151 000, the full prize fund in these events wasn't quite up to par but it seems like that will come with time. Joy offers free hotel and free food to all players competing in the qualifying and main stages of these tournaments which is an unprecedented gesture that makes attending these tournaments possible for many players. It continues to be a theme that players with English 8 ball, Snooker or strictly Chinese 8 ball experience have been the most successful at these events but for the players with pool background the answer is to get out and practice the game.  Shane Van Boening gave the pool players a little hope as he finished ninth this past week in a field of all the best players.

Zheng Yubo and Yang Fan major tournament winners

Female playing of the year Siming Chen
Female Player of the year

Siming Chen from China was the most consistent winner on the women's world tour this year winning the Amway Cup and China Open, she also had a semi final finish at the Women's World Championships. The prodigious 24 year old has long been touted as the next dominant female player. After many top five finishes in the previous few years she followed up her first world championship in 2016 with a fantastic year in 2017. Her two first places and third place finish in the three most prestigious events are particularly impressive considering most of the women's events are short race formats. 

Jayson Shaw after securing the 2017 U.S Open Title 
Male player of the year

On the male scene there were four players that stood above the rest Jayson Shaw, Shane van Boening, Klenti Kaci and Josh Filler. The two breakout years were provided by Kaci and Filler, both under the age of twenty one these two turned a lot of heads in 2017. Filler displayed offense and speed of play that no one has seen since Jayson Shaw. He won the China Open and was the Mosconi Cup MVP, he also had deep finishes at the U.S. Open and World 9 ball Championshps, he has put the world on notice as someone to watch out for in the coming years. 

Rising star Klenti Kaci 

Klenti Kaci from Albania seemed to come out of nowhere to win two World Pool series events this year and finish second at the U.S. Open. Playing a more conservative style he showed poise and determination way beyond his years. Both products of the Euro Tour these two players showcased the young up and coming talent from Europe and a system of tournaments in Europe that is developing real professionals as was again evident in this years Mosconi Cup.

In my opinion the honour of player of the year was a dead heat between Shane Van Boening and Jason Shaw both had numerous wins in world class fields. Both did not compete in the World 9 ball Championships which again I believe speaks to the irrelevance of WPA events.
Here are their 2017 resumes 

Shane Van Boening
Champion
Super Billiards expo, Turning Stone Classic, U.S Open 10 ball, Chinook winds Ten Ball, Accu stats one pocket
Runner up
World Cup of Pool, U.S. Open 8 ball, Derby City 9 ball

Jayson Shaw
Champion
U.S. Open 9 ball, Derby city 10 ball, Accu Stats 8 ball and Straight Pool, Turning Stone Classic
Runner Up
Turning Stone Classic, World Pool Masters
3rd place 
World Chinese 8 ball

And by the absolute slimmest of margins Cue Sport Nation is going to give the nod to Jayson Shaw, congratulations!!! Stay tuned to Cue Sport Nation for everything to do with billiards in 2018.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Turning Stone Classic: Thorpe Wins, Canadians Make Presence Felt Once Again



Billy Thorpe, photo courtesy of  Taylor Workman

By: Markus Noé

The Joss Northeast 9 Ball Tour once again kicked off its season on the first weekend of January hosting its $25,000 added Turning Stone Classic. This is held twice a year once in early January and again at the end of August. This tournament routinely features a significant amount of current and former World Champions, U.S Open Champions and other major event winners as well as up and coming players.

For various reason and weather was one of them, this field among casual fans looked like one of the "weakest" fields in recent memory. Big names that jumped off the page as favourites to win were; Jayson Shaw, John Morra, Mika Immonen, Billy Thorpe, Dennis Hatch and Johnny Archer. Outside of this the field was fairly wide open.

Being that this tournament is just a few hours south of the Canadian border, many canucks most from the Montreal, Quebec City, and Greater Toronto Area make their way to participate. As is the case with everything because of how the U.S population of 300 million dwarfs the Canadians at 36 million there are many more travelling American pro's who rely solely on playing pool as a living compared to Canadians. What has always filled me with a certain amount of pride is the amount of high level players we have that sponsor themselves with full time jobs, and few times a year they are able to show up to these major events and hold their own. This past edition of the Turning Stone Classic was no exception to this.

Martin Daigle Photo courtesy Erin Bechner 

Martin Daigle who could be mentioned as one for the most improved Canadian players of 2017 made a little noise. Him and fellow Québecois Nicholas Charette finished tied for 17th. Daigle owner of a successful roofing company in Québec City called  TOITURE ROYALE had a big upset win against John Morra eliminating him from the tournament 9-4. He had successful 2017 making the final of several Falcon Cue's Quebec Tour as well as beating Earl Strickland and Tom Kennedy at the U.S Open. Daigle followed this up by beating 2015 U.S Open Champion Cheng Yu Hsuan at the World Championships.

Jesse Piercey with Johnny Archer 
Jesse Piercey based out of London, Ontario also had an impressive event. On route to a 9-12 finish Piercey had two huge 9-8 wins. First against "Kid Delicious" Danny Basavich then in a classic case of when your idols become your rivals he defeated Johnny Archer. 2017 Canadian 8 Ball Champion Adam Monture who somehow always flies under everyone's radar but consistently places in the top of big events also finished 9/12.  It took two world class players to knock Monture out of this event as it was Thorpe and Immonen who handed him his only loses. The current number 1 ranked player in Québec also had a successful showing as Danny Hewitt finished tied for 7/8th.

Now lets get to the meat and potatoes of this event. There are lots of other story lines to discuss however at risk of writing a 10,000 word report I will discuss the one that had everyone talking. Which of course was the break through performance for the 26 year old Joey Cicero. Cicero holds all the records in the Québec Federation for a player who went from a C ranked player to Professional in only 6 years. The Federation is well known for being one of the main breeding grounds for talent in Canada and not an easy place to obtain a Pro ranking by any means.

Joey Cicero Photo courtesy of Taylor Workman
Cicero quickly made a name for himself in Québec as a fearless head hunter, always looking for and challenging the top players around. It is is no mistake that he goes by Joey "The Hunter" Cicero. Personally I compare his character to that of UFC lightweight Champion Conor McGregor. Like the Irishman, Cicero is brash, confident and gets under peoples skin with his trash talk. But this is of course all apart of what has made him successful.

I believe since he began coming to Turning Stone he has not gone one event without cashing, usually in the 9-12 position. He has had several impressive wins to in this event over players such as Shaun Wilkie, Hunter Lombardo, Ko Ping Chung to name a few as well as 9-8 loss to Jayson Shaw. In this tournament he broke through and finished in the 3rd place. On route to this 3rd place finish he was able to finally get that win against his favourite player Jayson Shaw 9-5. In this match it looked like it was not to be for Cicero as he trailed 1-5. However he only needed one chance at the table to turn the tide as Shaw only had a few chances after this point to even come to the table, as Cicero was soft cutting the breaking and basically just running rack after rack.

Once this match was complete he then went on to beat Zion Zvi 9-6 which earned him a showdown with Billy Thorpe in the winners side final. Cicero looking to make his first appearance in a final of a world class field showed little to no nerve quickly taking a 3-1 lead. Thorpe never lead until 5-5 he broke through to 7-5 and it felt like the younger but more experienced  American Mosconi Cup team member was going to take control. However Cicero who time after time showed his heart came back to 7-7, it was this rack the 15th of the match that changed the tide of the whole tournament.

It looked as if Cicero was going to run-out a routine rack to get to the hill game first. With how he was breaking it could of very well meant the end of the match for Thorpe. Cicero had a fairly easy shot on the 8 ball, however he is a player not blessed with great height and this shot was just out of reach for him. Thus he reverted to his extension and he missed the shot badly, leaving Thorpe almost at the center of the top rail with no real shot. Somehow Thorpe with over half his body on the table comes with a miracle cut in the the corner, but he had to leave the cue ball lose to do so. With the 9 ball hanging he was most likely thinking that as long as he pots the 8 he wins the game. Unfortunately for Thorpe the cue ball rips around 3 rails and goes right into the heart of the side pocket.

At this moment Thorpe committed a foul by swiping the 9 Ball so hard it flew off the table. In this tournament no games are permitted to be conceded. It comes at the cost of losing the game you conceded plus an extra game penalty. According to these rules Cicero just booked himself into the finals of the tournament. "The Hunter" never said a word about it, he wanted the balls racked and was preparing to break. Tournament officials even had to quiet the crowd down because some of them were literally yelling across the room for Cicero to call the penalty.

I have known Cicero for a few years now, and call him a friend. Personally I feel I know him well enough to say that money is not the issue here for him, as he basically threw away a guaranteed extra $1400. He is not the kind of player who wants to win on a ruling or a technicality nor is he a road player constantly grinding to eat. Cicero just wants to beat all the best players and be known as the best. This is what fuels him and this is what has made him the player he is.

Now unfortunately pool his a heartless game and even though he did an honorable thing this does not always draw favour from the "pool gods." Thorpe went on to win the next rack and then after a break that resulted in a safety exchange that Cicero won it looked as if he was going to run out for the win. However on a routine clearance a hint of nerve perhaps caught up with Cicero and he over hit the cue ball and hooked himself on the 8 ball while playing position to the 7. Thorpe than ran out to win the set and went on to beat fellow Mosconi Cup Teammate Dennis Hatch 13-11 in the final. This was a great match as Thorpe built a sizable early lead and Hatch came storming back to just fall short.

Getting back to the penalty issue, Cicero gained the respect of many as what he did showed incredible sportsmanship. When discussing the uncalled penalty this is what Cicero had to say,

" Billy and I were in a tight battle, it was 7-7 in a race to 9 and we both wanted to get to the finals. I had the rack to get on the hill first, when i got to the 8 ball, I screwed in my extension on my cue to play the 8 ball since it was far up table. I accidentally screwed in my extension crooked which made me miss my 8 ball. I left Billy a hard shot on the 8 ball, he made a great shot on it and scratched. I understood his frustration, it wasn't the way he should of acted, but it was obviously frustrating. I knew the rules, I knew I had the match to go in the finals, but I have respect for Billy and didn't want to earn the win like that. It was obviously a heart breaking loss for me, but I am happy for him. I did not win the tournament, but I won a lot of respect and that's enough for me" 

Runner-up Dennis Hatch, photo courtesy of Taylor Workman
There are arguments to be made on both sides of this point. Because while in this moment Cicero showed incredible sportsmanship, Thorpe technically did not even though what happened to him was awful in that moment. But for a world class professional and U.S representative to take his cue and hit the 9 ball so hard it flies off the table is a punishable offence. The other point is mentally it is an enormous obstacle at least it would be for me to overcome the fact that intelligently you know you have already won. Now that could be an example of how mentally weak I am but that would weigh heavy on me the rest of the match. Either way it was one exciting tournament and Thorpe played amazing the whole event and deserved the big win!

Here is a video of the epic match. If this video does not work on your phone or table here is the direct link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjjg7JQGr0g



For full results and pay outs go to http://www.azbilliards.com/tours_and_events/1-joss-northeast-9-ball-tour/7953-turning-stone-classic-xxix-9-ball-open/results/

1 USATHORPE Billy8,000
2 USAHATCH Dennis5,000
3 CANCICERO Joey3,600
4 USASPAHIU Besar2,600
5 ISRZVI Zion2,000
5 SCOSHAW Jayson2,000
7 CANHEWITT Danny1,600
7 FINIMMONEN Mika1,600
9 CANPIERCEY Jessie1,200
9 CANMONTURE Adam1,200
9 USAWILKIE Shaun1,200
9 USASHUFF Brandon1,200
13 USAOLIVEIRA Nelson850
13 USATETREAULT Matt850
13 USAARCHER Johnny850
13 USAHERNANDEZ Frankie850
17 CANCHARETTE Nicolas550
17 CANDAIGLE Martin550
17 USASOUVANTHONG Bucky550
17 USAMORGAN Sean550
17 USALOMBARDO Hunter550
17 USAPETROV Ivaylo550
17 USADABREO Raphael550
17 USALABONTE Randy550
25 USAANTONAKOS Greg300

Sunday, 7 January 2018

"POV Pool launches a 'Premium' Content Subscription Channel"




January 5th, 2018 POV Pool Headquarters - Los Angeles, CA
By: Daniel Busch
Contact: daniel@povpool.com

-------------------------------------

POV Pool’s new, ‘Premium' Content Channel; powered by VHX

As of January 5th 2018, fans and viewers of POV Pool can now access a growing library of premium, commercial free content and historic matches in Hi-Definition video, where available. Updated monthly with additional content, the service which, operates on the ‘OTT’ principle similar to Netflix or Hulu, monthly and annual subscribers will access unlimited streaming of the very best of what POV Pool has to offer for less than 25 cents a day. Released episodically, the very best that you’ve been waiting for from us is already being posted to the new channel; Tony Chohan vs. Dennis Orcollo, Francisco Bustamante vs. Tony Chohan, West Coast Swing 'Finals' and more POV Pool greats, all re-mastered and post-produced specifically for this service.
Free, 'live' streaming, still available on YouTube!
POV Pool will still live stream 90% of our content for FREE on YouTube with, matches and events still being posted to our YouTube Channel that, has grown to over 25,000 subscribers since 2011. The only exception now is, with a new 'premium subscription' channel, we are now able to provide a selection of our best content to viewers on demand at at a low cost of just $6.99 per month or at the discounted rate of $75.99 annually. Content will be commercial free and in Hi-Definition, where available and anyone with the ability to access the 'VHX' streaming service on their smart tv's can also access POV Pool's content

A note from, Daniel Busch and Geraldine Thibodeau of Point of View Pool Media:

In order to grow and offset costs to the rooms/organizations and to be able to produce more events, it is necessary for Geraldine and I to alter the POV Pool business model. Since 2007, with the introduction of live streaming to the billiard community both, the industry and technology have been evolving exponentially. Geraldine and I have decided to shift our model slightly, with a vision to gain the much needed leverage to provide the highest quality content for promoting cue-sports. With the ongoing challenge to provide viewers with awesome content, it makes it very easy for us to imagine an environment with venues and promotors, where POV Pool can not only provide low cost services but, also be able to sponsor players and events independently and with our own added prize funds and incentives. We expect that there will be push back and opposition, but we feel we have made the best decision for our company and although, we don’t need to provide a justification, we feel like you will probably want to know.
We’re looking forward to a great 2018 and the move into the right direction!
Never Miss A Shot!
Daniel & Geraldine

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Bidding Process to Host Canadian Championships Underway!



By: Markus Noé

With the ringing in of the New Year now behind us it is time to plan out the year of pool ahead of us. The Canadian Snooker & Billiards Association  (CBSA) is now accepting bids to host both the amateur and open events for the 2018 Canadian Championships. There are currently two bids, here is a rundown of who and what they are.

Bids:

Marco Sanschagrin "EvenTime Productions": Sanschagrin and his EventTime Productions team have already hosted the Canadian Championships and several successful $10,000 added Archer Cups along with the Classique Billard de Appalaches. The location is yet to be determined in this bid.

John White & Jim Wych "The Corner Bank": These two Canadian legends who run what can arguably called the premier pool room in the country, The Corner Bank in Scarborough, Ontario are also in the mix. If played here the Canadians will be played on Diamond Pro Cut 9ft tables the best tables on the market today.


If you are interested in hosting the 2018 Canadian Championships the CBSA is still accepting bids. It can be hosted anywhere in Canada all you have to do is place the winning bid! To place your bid contact any of the board members here http://proimpact.ca/cbsa/about-us/#board and they will help you with the process. Lets make pool great again!


Monday, 18 December 2017

BRILLIANT BIADO IS THE NEW 9-BALL WORLD CHAMPION

2017 World 9 Ball Champion Carlo Biado 

Carlo Biado defeated Roland Garcia 13-5 in an all-Philippines final to claim the 2017 WPA World 9-Ball Pool Championship. It is the first time he has won this event and he follows in the footsteps of fellow countrymen Efren Reyes (1999), Ronato Alcano (2006) and Francisco Bustamante (2010).



Thursday's Finals Day in Doha, Qatar brought an end to 10 days of qualifying and main draw action. After the initial qualifying opportunities were taken, the 128 player main draw was split into 16 groups of 8. From there it was Double Elimination with competitors needing to win 2 out of 3 matches to progress into the Last 64 Knock-Out section.



Biado advanced to those KOs undefeated after victories over Xu Xiao Cong (China) 9-6 and Richard Halliday (South Africa) 9-4.



The 34 year old former World Number 1 then eliminated Daniel Tangudd (Sweden) 11-6, Tomasz Kaplan (Poland) 11-8 and Jeffrey Ignacio (Philippines) 11-7 in the Last 64, 32 and 16 respectively.



There was then a very rare occurrance and outcome in his Quarter-Final match with China's Liu Haitao. Played on the same day after the Last 16 matches, Liu went back to his hotel to get some rest. However, he apparently overslept, and by the time he arrived at the venue he was 25 minutes late for his match. As per the tournament rules, players who are not present within 15 minutes will forfeit the match - in this case 11-0.



​The Semis and Final were both played on Thursday. Biado ended the hopes of Chinese Taipei's Lin Wu Kun 11-6 to set up a decider with Garcia - both players making their first ever World 9-Ball Championship final appearance.



​Garcia booked his berth courtesy of an 11-6 success over 18 year old Albanian sensation Eklent KaÇi in the Last 4. KaÇi won twice on the World Pool Series this year and finished top of the rankings.



Elsewhere on route, Garcia came through the One-Loss side of the Double Elimination and then denied 2014 champion Niels Feijen (Netherlands) 11-7 in the Last 32 and 2015 champion Ko Pin Yi (Chinese Taipei) 11-8 in the Last 16.



Biado began the final flawlessly producing virtually faultless pool in racing to a commanding 7-0 lead. Garcia managed to get a slight foothold into the match, but the damage was probably already done (especially in the alternate break format) and Biado finished the job to bank the $40,000 winner's cheque.



Garcia pockets $20,000 from the $200,000 total prize purse.



It has been a golden year for Biado who also claimed Gold Medals at the World Games in Poland and the SEA Games in Malaysia. He too reached the final of the Aramith Masters in New York (part of the World Pool Series).



Albin Ouschan (Austria) went to Doha as the defending champion but was dethroned in the Last 16 by Lin, 11-3.

​Recent Mosconi Cup MVP Joshua Filler (Germany) looked as if he could create an incredible double, but his hopes were gone in the Last 16 after losing to Maung Maung (Myanmar) 11-6 in the Last 16 too.



It was annouced before the final that the WPA have agreed a new 4 year contract with Qatar to continue hosting the Championship. Table and equipment manufacturer Wiraka will again be the official and exclusive table supplier for the event.


Article written by Michael day original version can be found at http://www.thecueview.com/brilliant-biado---2017-world-9-ball-pool-champion.html
Image above is from Dariusz Goral's YouTube live stream

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

The Era of Shaw: Big Red Breaks Down the 42nd Annual U.S Open Championships



By: Erik Hjorleifson 

This past week 139 of the best players in the world took their shot at the U.S. Open 9 ball Championships. This is one of the most prestigious  titles in pool along with the World Championships and the China Open. 

One thing that has always intrigued me about the Open is that there are no politics involved, you do not have to have an invite from your national association, you do not have to have a world ranking. All you need is the self belief and skill to beat the best in the world. 

It must be noted that after the passing of U.S. Open founder Barry Behrman the future of the tournament could have definitely been in Jeopardy. Luckily a rightful successor in Accu-Stats Productions headed up by Accu-stats founder Pat Fleming has emerged and it seems like the future of longest running tournament in the U.S. is in safe hands. 

The landscape of the U.S. Open has changed a lot in the last five years and has become a testament to the popularity and high level that the game is being played at worldwide. This year over twenty countries were represented and to my knowledge this could be the first year in history that international entries outnumbered entries from the U.S.

One thing that hasn't changed at the Open is the general format. For as long as I can remember the format has been winner breaks race to 11 on the winners and losers side. The double knockout long race format  is another unique feature of the Open as most WPA international events are race to 9 preliminary stages that lead into a single knockout stage.

Play began on Sunday and ran through all the way to the following Saturday. As has been said every year for the past several years the field assembled this year was arguably once again the strongest field in the history of the 42 year event. At the risk of the article becoming to lengthy I will list some of the notable matches that brought about the final few players in this star studded field 
All hill hill matches:

Babica over Immonen
Ko Pin Chung over Jones
Jiaqing Wu over Alcaide
Strickland over Owen
Ouschan over Filler
Shaw over Ko Pin Yi
Strickland over Kevin Cheng
Oi over Pagulayan
Thorpe over Biado
Chang Jun Lin over Immonen
Bergman over Morra
Kaci over Deuel
Chang Jun Lin over De Luna

Kaci
Notable Performances of the week go out to first time competitors Josh filler and Jeffrey de Luna who finished 9th and 7th respectively. Corey Deuel also had a resurgent performance defeating most notably Albin Ouschan and Josh FIller among many strong victories over the week. Upstart Francisco Sanchez Ruiz had his highest finish in an international event ending up in third. Somewhat surprising was the absence of Taiwanese and Chinese players from the top ten although Chang Jun Lin and Ko Pin Chung both cracked the top six.

Nothing but praise can be given to the two finalists. I had the opportunity to watch a lot of the stream last week and the play of 19 year old Klenti Kaci was frankly astonishing. To my knowledge the only player ever of note from Albania, Kaci showed the poise of a player with twenty years of high level experience. Kaci's run out style was conservative and he seemed to hold his nerve with veins of ice,  a very bright future is definitely in store for him. 

For the champion Jason Shaw this is his first huge crowning achievement on american soil. The former Kuwait open champion has won an astonishing number of events hes played in the last three years, perhaps a close to unprecedented amount. Considering there are only three or four majors a year it is nice to see someone that is clearly above the field on any given day be able to perform at his best on the highest stage. Huge congrats from myself personally and Cue Sport Nation as he is a friend of the site and one of the good guys in the game.

In conclusion it was a great show last week for me the only thing lacking was tv coverage and support from the billiard industry. The fact that cannot be ignored is that most players are not fully sponsored and when after expenses only 8 players turn a decent profit the financial side of the game remains a bit of a let down. Not for Shaw though as he pocketed $40 000 for the win. The level of play is growing by the day, the game is growing internationally, I really believe in my heart things are on the upswing, only time will tell.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

St.Jean: Alex Pagulayan Repeats as Archer Cup Champion!

Champion Alex Pagulayan, Photo by Anick Cadorette 

This past weekend September 30- October 1 the 3rd edition of the Archer Cup was played. This event is the brainchild of Marco Sanschagrin and the entire EvenTime Production team. For Sanschagrin Johnny Archer is a close friend but also his favourite player. Recognizing that Archer is a true legend of the sport winning everything at one time or another including World Championships multiple times, he wanted to honour him by hosting a world class event in his name.

Over the years stars such as Jayson Shaw, Alex Pagulayan, Mike Dechaine, John Morra, Mika Immonen have all made appearances. This year was no different as the field boasted two World Champions Johnny Archer and Alex Pagulayan. To go along with them was world class players Mike Dechaine, John Morra, Alain Martel and Danny Hewitt. Overall 56 players came from all over Québec, Ontario and the U.S.

With staggered entry fee's it was the amateurs who showed up in large numbers that really brought this tournament over the top. The Archer Cup was a seeded event with a group stage. Most groups had 4 players in each group with the top 3 qualifying. However some groups had only 3 players with all of them automatically qualifying.

Throughout the group stage there was not too much out of the ordinary to happen, as all the favourites found their way into the final 32. Those who finished first in the group automatically qualified for the top 16. There was few things of note however that did happen before we got to the final 32. Local AA ranked player Dominic Byrne shocked the entire room when he defeated arguably the number one player in Québec and former 4th place finisher at the World Championships Alain Martel 8-5. Another notable performance was that of Waleed Hashem from Mississauga, Ontario.
Waleed Hashem
Hashem is only 19 years old but you would need him to tell you that because while talking to him you would think he is in his late 20's. He works as an apprentice mechanic and is also a student in the automotive program at Humber college. I have been hearing about this player for the past two years and it was my first time seeing him play. Whenever players like John Morra and Erik Hjorleifson are praising an up and coming player you know it is going to be something special. In the past two years Hashem went from a AA player to playing at a semi-pro level. As Erik Hjorleifson says he has "unlimited potential."

In Hashem's group a local legend who was Alain Martel idol at one time Gaston Leblanc made his first appearance on the scene in 16 years. Leblanc now older and maybe out of practice still showed his level. However Hashem beat him 8-1 in the group stage and 8-7 in the round of 32. This match was a little contentious as Leblanc was visibly bothered by Hashem's pace of play and Hashem was bothered as he found Leblanc being unsportsmanlike. In the end Martin Daigle ended his impressive run in the final 16 in a close match 9-6. Hashem split the $300 prize of top amateur in Guillaume Beaudet who lost out to Joey Cicero in the same round.

It was the top 8 where things really got interesting as it was only the cream of the crop left in the field. Joey Cicero eliminated Martin Daigle 9-3. Luc Salvas to the delight of the crowd eliminated Johnny Archer 9-8 in a thrilling match the final rack can be seen here.

Archer was really playing on top of his game and I picked him as a favourite to make the final. However he ran into a hot Luc Salvas and was the victim of a couple bad rolls that ended his bid.

On the other streamed table local up and coming pro Dany Nguyen continued his impressive showing after eliminating John Morra in the round of 16 9-6. This time he was up against former Mosconi Cup team member Mike Dechaine. This was another close affair as Nguyen edged him out 9-8, this video can also bee seen below.


In the last match of the top 8 Alex Pagulayan made quick work of Danny Hewitt. Pagulayan then went on to eliminate Nguyen to be the first to earn a spot in the final. Luc Salvas had to fight off the other up and coming pro in Québec Joey Cicero. This was a close match with Salvas getting the 9-7 win to face Pagulayan. 

Salvas who has been back in action over the last few years playing Turning Stone and the Falcon Tour, looked to be back in form making his first final in a major event in sometime. However Pagulayan is one of the all time greats who is still in his prime and playing consistently proved to be too much for Salvas as he went on to win the final easily 11-5. Congratulations to all the winners this weekend. It should be noted that in a field with Archer, Morra, Dechaine Pagulayan it was 3 players from Québec who made the final 4, which again goes to show you the overwhelming talent in La Belle Province. 



I would like to thank Marco Sanschagrin, Michel McCutcheon and the entire EvenTime Production team for hosting a world class event. There was a concern about attendance for this event however in the end most of the top local players came through. In the future I do not see it being a problem if there was a enough notice and fair entry fee's why an event like this could not see 96 to 128 players. 

Finally I would like to thank my sponsors for this event; Tailgators Pool Hall, Rack-M-Up Billiards, The Winning Stroke  Touhey Management, EvenTime Productions and www.chalkbegone.com. Without people like this behind me who not only value what we do here at www.cuesportnation.com but understand the importance of it, our travels and coverage would be impossible. To see our full coverage which includes more videos and picture please visit the Cue Sport Nation Facebook Page. 

Payouts:

1. Alex Pagulayan $3500

2. Luc Salvas $2500

3/4 Dany Nguyen & Joey Cicero $1500