By Keith Paradise
CSI Media Staff Writer
At many professional pocket billiards tournaments, the opening rounds sometimes have a bit of a perfunctory feel to them.
As the pros jockey early to either stay in stroke or get in stroke to avoid an early trip over to the one-loss side of the bracket, crowds are many times sparse until an event reaches the later stages.
This wasn’t the case when fellow Americans Billy Thorpe and Shane Van Boening squared off in the opening round of the Predator World 10-ball Championship Monday night. With the event being played right in the heart of the Billiard Congress of America Pool League championships, amateur players and fans began filling the arena more than an hour the match was scheduled to begin.
“I like a crowd myself,” said Thorpe. “It sparks a bit of a fire in me.”
The two competitors didn’t disappoint, combining for eight breaks and runs as Thorpe defeated his friend and roommate for the week, 8-4, at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The match was one of many tightly-contested pairings during the first act of this five-day, $100,000 added competition – with eight of the 32 first round matchups needing a deciding 15th game.
With two of the most decorated players in the United States squaring off, the matchup felt more like a quarterfinal or a semifinal match rather the beginning of the tournament. Van Boening and Thorpe split the first six games of the set, with each using two breaks-and-runs each along with effective safety play to maintain serve. The young man from Ohio edged ahead 4-3 when Van Boening left a 1-ball in the corner pocket’s jaws, then increased his lead to two games when he used a jump shot to run out in the eighth rack. The two competitors again traded breaks and runs for the next three games, with Thorpe maintaining a 6-5 lead.
“We broke well. I thought it might be different with the referees racking the balls with the template,” Thorpe said. “For a while I thought that it was going to be break and run the whole match.”
And it essentially was until the 12th game when Thorpe missed a 3-ball in the corner pocket.
“I really thought that I hit it good but the ball hopped on me,” Thorpe said.
Although Thorpe had left the window open for his friend, establishing position on the 4-ball would be a challenge thanks to two object balls providing cover. Van Boening pocketed the 3-ball then failed to land the 4-ball. Using a clutch jump shot, Thorpe pocketed the ball, cleared the table then added in one final break-and-run to clinch the victory.
Thorpe now heads to the second round where he will face Canadian John Morra Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. local time. Van Boening moves to the one-loss side where he will face Hunter Lombardo Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
Also advancing to the winner’s side second round is current World Pool and Billiards Association 9-ball champion Joshua Filler of Germany, who survived a scare from Fan Yang, 8-5.
Playing in one of the opening matches of the tournament, Filler opened competition with a break-and-run then failed to capitalize on a Yang dry break the following game. Yang took the lead in the race-to-eight set after Filler fouled on the break. The young German used a break-and-run and a missed 2-ball to take a 3-2 lead but gave his opponent an opportunity when he missed an 8-ball in the following game. The two split the next four games before Filler used two breaks-and-runs and a Yang foul to pull away and close out the match.
With the competition now equally divided into 32 winners and losers, Tuesday’s schedule begins at noon local time with eight matches on the winner’s side of the bracket – including Chris Melling meeting Toru Kuribayashi on the live broadcast table. A second round of winner’s side matches will begin at 2:30 p.m. in a matchup of BCA Hall of Famers as Earl Strickland takes on Ralf Souquet. Other matches of note in this timeslot include Alex Kazakis meeting Skylar Woodward and Pin-Yi Ko matching up with Alex Pagulayan. The evening session broadcast schedule includes Fan Yang matching up against Raymund Faraon at 5 p.m. and Fedor Gorst going up against Matt Edwards at 7:30 p.m.
The Predator World 10-ball Championship is a presentation of CueSports International and sponsored by Predator Group, one of the world’s premier cue makers and billiards accessory manufacturers. The event is being hosted by the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino and broadcast live on YouTube by CSI Media, a subsidiary of Cue Sports International. The event is also sponsored by Diamond Billiards Products, Omega Billiards and Kamui Brand. For more information, visit www.world10ball.com
CueSports International (CSI) is an international billiards organization which produces the United States Open 8-ball, 10-ball, one pocket, bank pool and straight pool championships. CSI, which also operates national amateur pool leagues, has three divisions: CSI leagues, CSI events and CSI media. CSI leagues manages the BCA Pool League and USA Pool League, the events division produces numerous amateur and professional events and the media department creates live video billiards content. For more information about CSI, visit www.playcsipool.com or find CueSports International on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter.