PoolRoom

Teams Set For Mosconi Cup

With the announcement of the final “wildcard” selections by the opposing captains, the final rosters for Team USA and Team Europe are set with four weeks to go before the 23rd Mosconi Cup commences at the Alexandra Palace in London, Dec. 6-9.

Team USA captain Mark Wilson used his wildcard picks to add Mosconi Cup veteran and recent Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame inductee “Rocket” Rodney Morris and 29-year-old Justin Bergman to the roster. It will mark the tenth Mosconi appearance for Morris and the third consecutive appearance by Bergman. The duo will join Shane Van Boening, Skyler Woodward and Mike Dechaine, who earned automatic spots on the team by finishing in the top three in points over 28 tournaments throughout the year. Only Morris did not play on the 2015 team that fell to Team Europe, 11-8, in Las Vegas. (Corey Deuel was the fifth member of Team USA in 2015.)

Team Europe captain Marcus Chamat handpicked reigning World 9-Ball Champion Albin Ouschan of Austria and England’s Darren Appleton, who will be making his eighth consecutive appearance, to join Holland’s Niels Feijen, Scotland’s Jayson Shaw and England’s Mark Gray. The three automatic berths on Team Europe were awarded to the points champion of the EuroTour (Feijen), the top European points earner on a World Events Rankings (Shaw), and the highest-ranked player on the Combined (Gray, who placed third behind already-qualified Shaw and Feijen). Feijen, Appleton and Ouschan also appeared for Team Europe in 2015.

As is customary, the wildcard announcements were greeted by second-guessing in social media. American fans questioned Wilson’s selection of Bergman, ranked sixth on the U.S. points list, over fifth-place finisher Oscar Dominguez. (Morris finished fourth in points.) Given the fact that the 2015 squad was made up of the top five point-earners, and the fact that Bergman lives in southern Illinois, not far from Wilson’s St. Louis home, charges of favoritism and “politics” were bandied about as fans weighed in. “I don’t have a bias and I don’t give those claims any credence,” said Wilson. “I simply picked the team that I thought gave us the best chance of winning this year. I analyze things like late-season performance, strengths and weaknesses and how they fit in with the strengths and weaknesses of the rest of the team.

“In the case of Rodney,” Wilson continued, “He went to the last six events. The effort and results were there. He gives us the best chance of winning.Last year it just happened that the team I chose finished one through five in points. That doesn’t mean that is the way it was meant to be. People seem to have a hard time with the concept of what the wildcard pick means.”

The concept of a “wildcard” selection was even more pronounced in Chamat’s selection of Appleton for Team Europe. While the former World 9-Ball Champion has been a member of six Mosconi Cup-winning squads, Appleton suffered through a subpar 2016, failing to crack the top 10 in the European Combined points list.

“No player really stood out for me for the last spot,” said Chamat. “There are so many good players in Europe, but I had to weigh the ups and downs. Darren is a big-match player with huge experience. And he is an awesome team player. I could have picked other players, but I believe in Darren. This is the biggest event for all of us and the pressure will be amazing. I think Darren will be amazing, too.”

Orcollo Undefeated at Carom Room Fall Classic

dennisorcolloEarly on, it looked as though one way or another, it was going to be over quickly.

Dennis Orcollo and Johnny Archer met up in the finals of the $10,000-added Carom Room Fall Classic up in Benoit, WI, a 10-ball, bar table event held on the weekend of August 28-30. They broke and ran their way through the first five games of that final matchup, until, ahead by one, Orcollo jumped on Archer’s first dry break of the match to take a lead he’d never relinquish. The event, streamed live, by Ray “Big Truck” Hansen and his crew at PoolActionTV, drew 96 entrants to The Carom Room in Beloit, WI.

They’d met first in the hot seat match. Archer had just sent Josh Roberts to the loss side. Orcollo sent Jason Klatt over. Archer broke dry five times in the hot seat match that sent him to the semifinals 9-5.

Still playing on the loss side when the first money rounds came around were (among others) Shane Van Boening, Skyler Woodward, John Morra, and Tony Chohan. Billy Thorpe was still playing, too. He’d sent Van Boening to the loss side, and they were both working their way to a potential head-to-head rematch in the quarterfinals. Working on that loss side, Thorpe got by Chohan and Morra to pick up Klatt. Van Boening had defeated Jesse Bowman and Skyler Woodward to draw Roberts.

Roberts spoiled the Thorpe/Van Boening re-match by eliminating Van Boening, while Thorpe took Klatt out. Roberts then defeated Thorpe in the quarterfinals 9-6.

Roberts then ran into the buzz saw of Johnny Archer smelling the finish line. Mindful of his break problems in the hot seat match, Archer had spent much of the intervening time between the hot seat match and semifinal (during the quarterfinal match) practicing that break and it paid off. Roberts broke to get things underway, but Johnny took the first game and then, sunk three on his subsequent break to jump start his way to taking the second. On the third rack, Roberts broke dry, but left Archer a long, rail-first shot at the 1-ball, nestled against the 10-ball, pointed right at a 6-ball, sitting just off-center of the side pocket. Acting as though he did this sort of thing every day, Archer stroked the ball and sure enough – rail first, cue hit the 1-ball, 10 slid over, nudged the 6-ball out of the way and dropped into the side pocket.
3-0, Archer. He won six more to shut Roberts out and the re-match versus Orcullo was on.

Though Orcollo would win by four racks, he and Archer both were handed and squandered numerous opportunities. Immediately after Archer broke dry to give Orcullo the 4-2 lead, Orcollo broke dry to hand Archer his third rack. Archer then broke dry a second time, and for the second time, Orcollo made him pay. It was 5-3.

The 9th rack created a problem that was, much to Archer’s chagrine, solved by allowing Orcollo to break rack # 9 a second time. Within a shot or two of Orcollo’s initial break that saw three balls go down, the 1-ball was locked up in a tight pack of balls and could not, without foul, be touched. Archer and Orcollo took turns giving each other ball in hand, by shooting at a ball that either tied up the 1-ball even further or just moved a different ball, away from the pack, in some random direction. The game and match came to a halt, before it was determined, by TD David Coles, that the game was a stalemate, and that, by rule, Orcollo (the original breaker) would be allowed to break again.

Orcollo did so, made two balls and was looking at a decent table for a run when he put himself out of position, shooting at the 5-ball and gave the table to Archer. Archer, in much the same way, gave it right back and Orcollo finished it – 6-3.

Archer broke dry for the third straight time, but Orcollo chalked up another unforced error, missing a ball completely to give Archer ball-in-hand, and eventually, the game. It was 6-4 and still looking interesting.

A quick break-and-run for Orcollo moved him back out in front by three (7-4), before Archer broke dry for the fourth straight time. Again, Orcollo failed to capitalize, and when he turned the table over to Archer, Archer jumped on it to complete what proved to be his final winning rack.

Orcollo broke rack # 13, sinking two balls, and though he’d make a tricky 1-8 combination, the position result was not what he’d hoped for. He played a safety that left Archer snookered, and went on to reach the hill first at 8-5.

Archer broke the final game, and though he did sink a ball, he was left with a difficult shot on the 1-ball that he missed. Orcollo stepped to the table and completed his undefeated run to claim the Carom Room’s Fall Classic title.

Bustamante Snags DCC Banks

Bustamante took his first DCC division title in banks. (Photo by Ashi Fachler)

Bustamante took his first DCC division title in banks. (Photo by Ashi Fachler)

Despite winning the 2008 Master of the Table — the Derby City Classic’s all-around title for the player who accumulates the most points in the tournament divisions of 9-ball banks, one-pocket and 9-ball — Francisco Bustamante entered 2013 without a single division title. After the opening banks tournament at this year’s nine-day jamboree, though, the Hall of Famer can check that box off his to-do list.

The banks division kicked off Friday, Jan. 25, with a total of 353 players, down from 2012’s total of 404. Bustamante had no difficulties through the opening rounds, until he ran into Justin Hall in the ninth round. Hall, who won Master of the Table at last year’s Derby clone Southern Classic, topped the Filipino, forcing him to exercise his buy-back option in the modified double-elimination format.

Bustamante, though, bounced back by eliminating fellow Filipino Carlo Biado before drawing a bye in the 11th round when just five players remained. Hall eliminated Warren Kiamco and Shannon Murphy ousted Skyler Woodward, leaving just three players alive. Hall then drew the bye, leaving Bustamante facing Murphy, who was still unbeaten and held his buy-back option. Murphy then won the first two racks, putting Bustamante within a game of elimination. But the Filipino fought back with three consecutive games to force Murphy to use his buy-back.

Bustamante then caught a break by earning the bye into the final, with Hall and Murphy and Hall playing a de facto semifinal. Hall ran five-and-out in the first game and never ceded control of the match en route to a 3-1 victory.

The final, though, saw Bustamante jump out to a 2-0 lead in games putting him on the hill. Hall took Game 3, but Bustamante clinched the 2013 9-ball banks title by taking the next rack 5-3.