PoolRoom

Van Boening Tops at Super Billiards Expo

Van Boening repeats as champion with an 8-4 win over Thorstan Hohmann in the final's third set.

Van Boening repeats as champion with an 8-4 win over Thorstan Hohmann in the final’s third set.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Allen Hopkins moved the 2013 Super Billiards Expo from the Philadelphia area to Edison, N.J., just outside of New York City. The April 4-7 consumer trade show that boasts a host of amateur and professional events also saw the Pro Players 10-Ball Championship switch formats — from the usual single-set, double-elimination chart to a single-elimination event that matched players in best-of-three races-to-8.

But with a new venue and new format, the champion remained Shane Van Boening. The reigning Player of the Year took his fourth Pro Players title, and second in a row, with an impressive run through a field of 61.

Starting with wins over Donnie Mills and Robb Saez, Van Beoning then ran into 2011 champ Ralf Souquet. The American dropped the second set, 8-6, but bounced back with a clinching 8-2 set to advance to the quarterfinals.

Souquet was hardly the only big name to be sidelined early. Efren Reyes drew German superstar Thorsten Hohmann in the first round — and the Filipino legend dropped consecutive sets to end an uncharacteristically quick event. Johnny Archer, Francisco Bustamante and Mika Immonen also crashed out before winning two sets.

In the quarterfinals, Van Boening took two close sets against Darren Appleton; Warren Kiamco edged Corey Deuel; Alex Pagulayan thumped Jeremy Sossei, and Hohmann outlasted Scotland’s Jayson Shaw.

In a rematch from the 2003 World Pool Championship, Hohmann took his spot in the final by edging Pagulayan. Van Boening then topped Kiamco in straight sets, 8-6 and 8-5, to take the other seat in the championship match.

Van Boening struck first in the final, taking the opening set, 8-6. He then worked his way to within a 10-ball of the title in the second when he got on the hill, 7-6. But Hohmann responded with a pair of racks to force a decisive third set.

In the final race-to-8, Van Boening turned a 3-2 lead into an insurmountable 7-2 advantage. Hohmann took a pair of racks to edge within shouting distance at 7-4, but Van Boening then broke and ran the 12th table for the 8-4 win.

His second consecutive Pro Players title netted Van Boening $10,000 while Hohmann pocketed $5,000 for his runner-up finish.

Turning Stone Day One: Shut-outs Abound

In the first day of the Turning Stone Classic, going on now in Verona, N.Y., many top players made their presence be known. Ralf Souquet, Marlon Manalo, Johnny Archer, and Keith McCready all advanced with 9-0 victories.

The Women’s Professional Billiard Association was also well represented, with Karen Corr beating Brian Groce, 9-6, Jennifer Barretta beating Mike Hurley, 9-5, and Jeanette Lee beating Peter Bowman, 9-3.

Other players who advanced through the first round included Shawn Putnam, Mike Zuglan, George Breedlove, Santos Sambajon and Dennis Hatch, who bested Mike Davis, 9-6.

A few other top seeds joined Davis in an early departure to the one-loss side on Thursday: Allen Hopkins, Howard Vickery, and Dee Adkins.

Round two gets under way today, with big matches lined up between Jeanette Lee and Shaun Wilkie, George Breedlove and Tony Crosby, and Keith McCready vs. Dave Fernandez.

Hatch and Davis: Star-crossed Players in Fair Verona

The second Joss Turning Stone Classic of the year is under way at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, N.Y., with 128 players fighting for a piece of the $25,000-added prize fund.

The star-studded field includes Marlon Manalo, Ralf Souquet, Johnny Archer, Dennis Hatch, Mike Davis, Shawn Putnam, Karen Corr, Ryan McCreesh, Keith McCready, Jeanette Lee, Allen Hopkins, George Breedlove and Santos Sambajon.

One of the field’s two top players will be banished to the one-loss side today, Aug. 17, as Mike Davis and Dennis Hatch will duel in the first round.

By Day’s End, One Champion Will Remain at the International Challenge

Day one of the 2006 International Challenge of Champions is complete and the field of eight players has been sliced in half.

Among the elite, international players, every game in the best-of-three matches carried great importance. In the first match of the day, Johnny Archer defeated Alex Lely in a one-game tie breaker to advance.

The second match saw IPT North American 8-Ball Champion Thorsten Hohmann defeat Santos Sambajon, 5-2 and 5-3, to earn his spot in the next round.

The third match of the day featured another single game tie-breaker, as Marlon Manalo came back from a 5-2 loss in the first set and won the second set, 5-2, and then won the tie breaker to eliminate Niels Feijen.

The final match of the day saw defending champion Fong Pang Chao defeat German Ralf Souquet, 5-1 and 5-4, to advance to today’s play.

The match-ups for today should make for an intense climate in the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn. The first match will feature Archer vs. Manalo at 5 p.m. EST and Hohmann vs. Chao at 6:30 p.m. EST. The winners of those two matches will face each other in the finals at 8 p.m. EST where the winner will pocket $50,000 in this winner-take-all event.

International Challenge of Champions: Bracket’s Up, Rack It Up!

The bracket is drawn for the 2006 International Challenge of Champions and the eight competitors are assessing their chances for the $50,000 first prize.

First round matches begin today, Aug. 9, at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn. The first match of the day will take place at 4 p.m. EST as Johnny Archer faces Alex Lely of the Netherlands.

At 5 p.m., IPT North American 8-Ball Champion Thorsten Hohmann will battle 2005 Skins Champion Santos Sambajon.

In the third match of the day at 7 p.m., North American 8-Ball Championship runner-up Marlon Manalo will face ‘The Terminator’ Neils Feijen. Today’s matches will conclude with reigning champion Fong Pang Chao taking on German superstar Ralf Souquet.

It’s Hohmann vs Manalo for biggest prize in pool history.

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – German precision will meet Filipino steel in the final of the $2 million IPT North American 8-Ball Open on Sunday, as Thorsten Hohmann and Marlon Manalo battle for the history-making tournament’s $350,000 top prize.

Germany’s Hohmann and Manalo of the Philippines rose to the top of the final round-robin stage of the tournament on Saturday night in the Venetian Hotel and Casino. Both posted records of 4-1 in the six-player bracket, besting foes Ralf Souquet, Efren Reyes, Dennis Orcollo and Evgeny Stalev.

“It’s not over yet,” said Manalo after coming back from a 6-2 deficit against Souquet in his fourth match, winning 8-6 and securing his spot in the final with a then-perfect 4-0 record.

Manalo then faced Hohmann in their fifth set of matches for the night. Hohmann needed to win in order to tally four victories and cement his spot in the final. In what was to be a preview of the championship match-up, Hohmann blistered Manalo, 8-1.

The winner of Sunday’s race-to-8 final will skyrocket to the top of the IPT’s rankings, this being the first event of the fledgling’s tour’s 2006 season. The winner will pocket $350,000, and the runner-up must settle for $99,000.

Hohmann, certainly the most fit of the final six, seemed to get stronger as the day wore on. The rest were visibly flagging, and missed balls and mental miscues were common.

“For next time, I will need to exercise more,” said Orcollo of the Philippines, who finished third with three match wins, collecting a none-too-shabby $80,000.

Reyes and Souquet both had one win apiece by the last match of the night, putting them in the position of fighting for fourth and fifth place. In a painfully slow and often sloppy battle, Reyes squeaked out a hill-hill victory, 8-7, to take fourth and $65,000. Souquet settled for fifth and $50,000.

Stalev of Russia, the biggest surprise of the final six contenders, had trouble shaking off the debilitating effects of the previous five days of morning-to-night play. He finished sixth with a 1-4 record but happily accepted a $40,000 check, roughly $33,000 greater than his previous high-watermark for prize money.

The final will pit perfectionist Hohmann, a former world 9-ball champion and current world straight-pool champion, against rising star Manalo, whom many believe could be the heir to Reyes’ throne as dominant Filipino in a country of pool giants.

As far as experience in big events and technical mastery of pool mechanics, 27-year-old Hohmann seems to have the edge. But 30-year-old Manalo had the best record in the Open, finishing the round-robin stages at 23-5 and winning 61 percent of the games played. Hohmann often found himself on the brink of elimination, only to pull through with gutty wins. His overall record was 21-7, with a games-won percentage of 57.3 percent.

And Then There Were Six: Heavy Favorites Make Beeline for Final IPT Round-Robin

The cream has risen to the top of the field at the IPT North American 8-Ball Open, and six well-known players look to get significantly richer in the next round.

After 12 hours of round-robin play on Friday, a half dozen players separated themselves from the pack of 18 remaining shooters, in some cases by mere inches on the table, or percentages point on the official stat sheet. Those deserving six stand to make a minimum of $40,000 in the next round, and a maximum of $350,000 for winning the title at Sunday’s final.

The players are: Efren Reyes, Marlon Manalo, and Dennis Orcollo of the Philippines; Thorsten Hohmann and Ralf Souquet of Germany; and Evgeny Stalev of Russia;

Stalev was probably the biggest surprise of the bunch. The 26-year-old from Litkarino, 20 miles outside of Moscow, rarely ventures outside his home country for pool events, beyond the U.S. Open 9-Ball Championships and Derby City Classic. But he’s a legend in Russia, having won nearly 100 titles in the cue sport of pyramid.

The reedy Stalev found himself in a must-win situation in the fifth and final match of the day, against plucky Englishman Darren Appleton. He took control of the match from the start, using his powerful break (with full-body extension) to gain control of the table, and his surgical-quality touch to pilot the cue ball.

With Stalev up 7-4, his close friend Fabrio Petroni of Italy began nudging fellow spectators in the stands, saying in a dramatic stage whisper, “That is my friend. I know him. He is a very good player!” Stalev closed the match at 8-4, leaving Appleton slumped in his chair for several minutes with his head in his hands.

“It was tough,” Stalev said. “Every opponent right now is tough. … I feel terrible. My back, my legs. The whole week, you wake up and play 10 hours a day.”

He quickly grabbed his cell phone and called his father back in Russia, and then his manager.

Meanwhile, Hohmann and Sweden’s Marcus Chamat were fighting on an adjoining table for the final spot in their bracket. Chamat led 7-5 and had three solids left on the table when he ended up straight-in on the 2. His only choice was to draw straight back on the shot, hooking himself on the 6. After a missed multi-rail Hail Mary, Hohmann took over the table and didn’t let go until he had the 8-7 victory.

The final set of matches for the night were anticlimactic for three players: Reyes was undefeated at 4-0 and a sure thing to advance; and Souquet and Manalo could afford to lose their matches, knowing that at worst they would tie with their respective bracketmates and still advance on the basis of their superior games-won percentage.

Hallelujah: Winners Sing Out as IPT Field Narrows, Grows Richer

Jubilant shouts and the deep thud of cue butts slamming the floor echoed through the Venetian Hotel and Casino on Thursday night as 18 pool players took another step closer to the $350,000 top prize at the $2 million IPT North American 8-Ball Open – and another 18 saw their dreams cut short.

“Haalllloooooooo!” cried Efren Reyes, as he sank the winning 8 in a must-win hill-hill match against Mick Hill of the U.K., and pumped his fists to the ceiling. He punctuated his triumphant shout with a relieved chuckle, as he watched the cue ball come an inch from scratching in the corner.

“YES!” shouted Englishman Darren Appleton, upon hearing that bracket imate Cory Deuel had lost his last match of the day, leaving the door open for his own ascension into the next round.

“Thank you! Thank you! See you tomorrow, everybody! Yiiiii yiiiiiii!” shrieked Ronato Alcano of the Philippines, after his stats were posted on the official scoreboard and he saw that he beat America Dee Adkins for the third sport in his bracket by a percentage point.

After a 12-hour day of round-robin play, the field of 36 players in round four winnowed to 18, who were guaranteed $30,000 each by virtue of advancing to the fifth round of play. Their 18 eliminated compatriots pocketed a none-too-shabby $17,000.

The Filipino contingent continued its dominance and bettered it chances for claiming the championship, placing seven players in the last 18: Reyes, Alcano, Francisco Bustamante, Marlon Manalo, Dennis Orcollo, Alex Pagulayan and Rodolpho Luat.

The U.S. placed three players in the fifth round with Gabe Owen, Larry Nevel and David Matlock. The U.K. is two strong with Appleton and Daryl Peach. Germany’s last two hopes were Thorsten Hohmann and Ralf Souquet. The remaining four players were Evgeny Stalev of Russia, Australia’s Quentin Hann, and Sweden’s Marcus Chamat, and Rico Diks, representing the Netherlands

As the clock rounded 8 p.m., it was gut-check time for several players who had recorded records of 2-2 and needed a win in their final match for a shot at advancing. Players took their turns in front of the tournament’s billboard-sized scoreboard, nervously drawing numbers in the air as they tried to figure out the calculus of the bracket and how they would fare in different scenarios.

Players on the bubble with 2-2 records included Reyes, matched against Hill (1-3); Alex Pagulayan, playing against fellow Filipino Dennis Orcollo (3-1); and Deuel, set against Filipino Marlon Manalo (3-1). Matches that paired players with identical 2-2 records included Frenchman Yannick Beaufils vs. Niels Feijen of the Netherlands; American Earl Strickland vs. Alcano; and Francisco Bustamante vs. Santos Sambajon, both of the Philippines.

American Gabe Owen was stuck in a must-win position from the third match of the day. He faced fearsome Filipinos Bustamante and Sambajon in his first two matches and lost both of them. He needed to win the next three matches to have a hope of advancing.

“I just thought, screw it – just let it go. You only live once, just do it,” Owen said.

He proceeded to beat Reyes, 8-6; then Hill, 8-6; and in the longest match of the fifth set, Ivica Putnik of Croatia, 8-5. Sinking the last 8, he yelled and pumped his fist at jackhammer speed.

“My feet are killing me,” he said afterwards.

One of three Americans left in the field, Owen felt he had a shot at the title. “I feel like 8-ball is my best game, and I’m getting underrated here,” he said. “I’ve been practicing nothing but my 8-ball break for the last six months. Even in 9-ball tournaments, I’ve been breaking from the box. Screw $5,000 for winning a 9-ball tournament when you can win on the IPT.”

Stalev of Russia already knew what he would do with the $350,000. “I promised my friend [IPT member] Fabio Petroni that we would go on a vacation to Hawaii with five girls,” he said.

Stalev was one of the few players whose record was strong enough by early evening to count on advancing. Others were not as lucky.

“The pressure … the pressure … the hunger … I’m so tired,” said the rail-thin Alcano after squeaking by Strickland, 8-7, in their 8 p.m. match. He tossed his cue in the air, caught it and then did a stiff jig as Strickland packed up his cue case and ignored repeated requests for an on-camera interview by IPT staff.

Even countryman Reyes, perhaps the best big-money player in history, felt the pressure and dogged several shots in his 8-7 win against Hill. He often appeared listless and confused, and several observers opined that the rugged, five-match-a-day schedule was getting to the 51-year-old Hall of Famer.

“I don’t feel tired, … I feel the pressure because I’m in danger,” he said. “My opponent played good. Every time he got a shot, he ran out. In the last game, it was too much pressure for me. I didn’t know what to do in the last game. That’s why I was just shoot, shoot, shoot.”

Groups for Round Five: The Final 18

Here they are, folks: the final 18 players at the $2 million IPT North American 8-Ball Open. Play in round six will start at 10 a.m. on the West Coast. The top two players in each bracket will advance to the next round, where the prize money will start at $40,000. The winner of the event will collect $350,000.

Group 1
Quentin Hann, Australia
Evgeny Stalev, Russia
Efren Reyes, Philippines
Larry Nevel, USA
Darren Appleton, U.K.
Rodolpho Luat, Philippines

Group 2
Francisco Bustamante, Philippines
David Matlock, USA
Daryl Peach, U.K.
Dennis Orcollo, Philippines
Ronato Alcano, Philippines
Ralf Souquet, Germany

Group 3
Marlon Manalo, Philippines
Alex Pagulayan, Philippines
Thorsten Hohmann, Germany
Marcus Chamat, Sweden
Gabe Owen, USA
Rico Diks, U.K.

IPT Round Three Complete

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Despite some strong opposition from European players, including the surprising contingent of English 8-ballers, the always tough Filipinos are dominating the history-making IPT North American 8-Ball Open.

Virtually every Filipino competitor who started in the 200-player field has made it through to the 36-man fourth round of play – nine altogether, including three Pinoy hopefuls who needed to win qualifiers to gain entry to the $2 million tournament.

Leading the pack, as usual, was legendary Efren “Bata” Reyes, whose overall record stood at 12-1 after three days of round-robin play. No less impressive was the ball-control mastery of Filipino Marlon Manalo, who held an identical 12-1 record, along with Germany’s Ralf Souquet and Rafael Martinez of Mexico.

Third-round play began on Wednesday at the Venetian Hotel and Casino with the remaining 60 players divied into 12 groups of five. The top three in each group would advance to the fourth round on Thursday with a guarantee of at least $17,000 in prize money; the eliminated players would collect a still-impressive $10,000 each.

By 9:45 p.m., the lucky 36 were known. Their names follow, grouped by country, with their third-round records:

USA: Dee Adkins, 4-0; Jason Kirkwood, 3-1; Earl Strickland, 3-1; Cory Deuel, 4-0; Shawn Putnam, 3-1; Rodney Morris, 3-1; Larry Nevel, 3-1; Gabe Owen, 2-2; and David Matlock, 2-2.

Philippines: Efren Reyes, 4-0; Marlon Manalo, 4-0; Francisco Bustamante, 2-2; Dennis Orcollo, 3-1; Antonio Lining, 4-0; Rodolfo Luat, 2-2; Alex Pagulayan, 3-1; Santos Sambajon, 2-2; and Ronato Alcano, 2-2.

United Kingdom: Rico Diks, 2-2; Raj Hundal, 1-3; Daryl Peach, 2-2; Darren Appleton, 2-2; Mick Hill, 3-1.

Netherlands: Niels Feijen, 3-1; Alex Lely, 3-1; and Nick Van den Berg, 3-1.

Germany: Ralf Souquet, 4-0; and Thorsten Hohmann, 3-1.

Other countries: Quinten Hann (Australia), 2-2; Ivica Putnik (Croatia), 2-2; Mika Immonen (Finland), 3-1; Sandor Tot (Italy), 2-2; Yannick Beaufils (France), 2-2; Rafael Martinez (Mexico), 4-0; Evgeny Stalev (Russia), 2-2; and Marcus Chamat (Sweden), 3-1.

Here are some highlights from the round:

* The biggest eye-opener for many established players at the Open has been the success of the top competitors on the English 8-ball circuit, including perennial champions Mick Hill and Darren Appleton. Both will compete in the round-of-36.

“Us lads have come to play the top players from around the world, and I feel that we haven’t been given a chance,” said 26-year-old Hill. “The point that us English lads want to get across to everyone, including our own back home, is that we’re playing 8-ball, not 9-ball or straight-pool. … A lot of people don’t realize that the English players play 8-ball.”

Among their strengths are excellent cue ball control and solid stroke mechanics, said observers.

“Those guys shoot very straight, and I can respect that,” said IPT member Ike Runnels.

* Fifteen women started the competition on Sunday, and only former snooker stars Allison Fisher and Karen Corr were given much of a chance to advance. One woman was able to infiltrate the third round, and she was a U.K. native, but no one you might expect.

“I sort of in a way proved a point,” said Sarah Ellerby, who collected dozens of 8-ball titles in England before coming to the U.S. to compete on the WPBA Classic Tour. “…There wasn’t as much attention on me as on the other girls, and that’s fine.

“I’m sure that some of the guys were like, ‘The women won’t do well here,’” Ellerby said. “If I could break better, I feel like I could really make more of a dent. I think the women are capable enough to come here and do well.”

Unfortunately, Ellerby fell into a tough bracket in the third round and finished with a 1-3 record. Knowing she wouldn’t advance, Ellerby immediately left for the Las Vegas airport to catch an 11:30 p.m. United Airlines flight to Chicago. There, she would catch a limo for a two-hour drive to Peoria, the site of the WPBA Midwest Classic, which was starting play Thursday morning.

“I’m going to be very tired,” she said.

* Staying on the English for another moment, sharp observers might note that Raj Hundal advanced with a 1-3 record. It’s no misprint. Hundal was in a bracket with players who posted 4-0 and 3-1 records (Reyes and Strickland), leaving the other three players with 1-3 tallies. Of the three, Hundal had the highest games-won percentage (56.49 percent, just over American Gary Abood’s 55.09 percent), which pushed him into the next round. That 1.4 percent difference was worth at least $7,000.

“I’m in! I’m in!” the burly Hundal screamed upon hearing the results. “I’m freewheeling tomorrow! … I’m the luckiest [expletive] in the world!”

* Another surprise at the end of the day was how many players who were forced to qualify for the event ended up in the round-of-36. The 200-player field offered 50 qualifiers, and no fewer than nine made it into the fourth round. They included Filipinos Luat, Sambajon and Alcano.

* Most of the favorites remained in the running for the fourth round, with one major exception. American Johnny Archer faded in his bracket, finishing with a 1-3 record.