By Keith Paradise
CSI Staff Writer
In professional golf tournaments, Saturday’s third round is commonly referred to as “moving day,” as competitors attempt to post a low round to move up the leaderboard and into contention for the final round’s play.
Wednesday at the Predator World 10-Ball Championship could be referred to as the same, with players on the one-loss side of the bracket attempting to continue moving their names across the flowchart horizontally in the hopes of reaching the final stages. In all, 26 matches would be played on the loser’s side of the bracket on this day as competitors jockeyed for eight available slots in Thursday’s round.
As for the players on the winner’s side, well, they’re simply trying to avoid the one-loss side completely.
By the end of the day, the 64 competitors who has started the event Monday morning at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino had been whittled down to 16, with a few big names out, a couple of unknowns in and a player or two turning back the clock for a day. The tournament now moves into the single-elimination knockout phase with a re-drawing of the brackets, as competitors from the winner’s section are matched up against players who have battled to remain in the event on the one-loss side. Additionally, races will be lengthened from a race-to-8 to a race-to10.
Three of the final 16 competitors hail from the United States, with Billy Thorpe and Oscar Dominguez remaining undefeated as they head to the knockout stage, while Shane Van Boening battled into second phase from the one-loss side.
Thorpe, who opened the event with a victorious hill-hill thriller against Chang Jung-Lin, qualified for the final 16 with matching 8-4 victories against Ariel Casto of Argentina and Poland’s Oliver Szolnoki. Thorpe’s former Mosconi Cup teammate Dominguez defeated reigning World Pool Championship champion Albin Ouschan in his first match then survived Diamond Las Vegas Open winner Wu Kun-Lin in a hill-hill battle and took down Sullivan Clark, 8-5.
Another player who remains undefeated is Scotland’s Jayson Shaw, who capitalized on a handful unforced errors to come from behind and defeat Albania’s Eklent Kaci 8-4. Kaci used two breaks and runs to build an early 3-1 and had a chance to increase the lead in the fifth game but missed a routine 9 ball in the corner pocket. Shaw took advantage, winning seven of the next eight games thanks in large part to his opponent’s continued unforced errors – including a missed 7 ball in the seventh game and a scratch in the 11th rack.
Kaci moved to the one-loss side of the bracket where he met Maxmilian Lechner, who led the match the entire way until Kaci caught him in the 14th rack. Standing at the table with the break in the deciding game, Lechner spread the balls perfectly but also deposited the cue ball in the far corner pocket, handing Kaci ball-in-hand and the match.
Also advancing from the winner’s side were Al Awadi and Omar Al Shaheen of Kuwait, Konrad Juszczyszyn of Poland, Filipino Carlo Biado and Billiard Congress of America Hall of Famer Alex Pagulayan.
On the one-loss side, Van Boening took more of a scenic route into Thursday’s competition, having suffered a second-round loss to Kuwait’s Bader Al Awadi. He faced fellow American and former Mosconi Cup teammate Chris Reinhold Wednesday morning, playing in a nip-and-tuck match throughout with neither player holding more than a one-game lead. With the match all-square at 6-6, Reinhold had an opportunity to gain an advantage after his opponent failed to pocket a ball on the break. However, Reinhold’s attempt at a one-rail kick shot on a 1 ball near the side pocket failed, allowing Van Boening to take a 7-6.
Reinhold, who played on last year’s Mosconi Cup squad, had an opportunity to tie the score again but failed to land a ball on the break, allowing Van Boening back to the table where he closed out the match, 8-6.
After breezing Past Roland Garcia 8-4, five-time U.S. Open champion capped off his day with a tussle with Mario He, who took advantage of a couple of uncharacteristic misses by the American and grabbed an early 3-1 advantage. The South Dakotan then used a pair of breaks and runs, a dry break from his opponent and a victorious safety battle to win four consecutive games and take a 5-3 lead. He continued to threaten, taking advantage of a Van Boening scratch on the break and another positional error to win two of three racks and stay within a game of the lead.
The Austrian had a chance to tie the match in the 12th rack but failed to convert a combination shot on the 2 and 5 balls. Van Boening ran out the rack then used a one-rail kick in of the 1 ball in the following game to close out the match.
Joining Van Boening and Kaci in the top 16 from the one-loss side of the bracket are Filipino Johann Chua, Cristopher Tevez Ocampo, Singapore’s Aloysius Yapp, Naoyuki Oi of Japan, Gerson Martinez Boza of Peru and Marco Teutscher of the Netherlands.
Play will resume Thursday with the match schedule to be determined. Admission is free for spectators at the venue and live streaming of the tournament is available on YouTube and Billiard TV.
The World 10-Ball Championship is a proud part of the CueSports International Expo in Las Vegas. The CueSports International Expo is also home to the BCA Pool League World Championships, USA Pool League National Championships and numerous industry exhibitors. The 11-day billiard extravaganza attracts more than 6,000 pool players from around the world, consumes 150,000 square feet, and uses over 300 Diamond pool tables with the goal of always providing the greatest pool experience in the world.
This competition is played on Diamond Pro-Am pool tables covered with Predator Arcadia Performance Cloth, with Predator Arcos II balls, and under the Predator Arena billiard lights. Kamui and Omega Billiard Supplies are also partners of the event.
For the latest information on the Predator Pro Billiard Series action, follow @ProBilliardSeries on Facebook and Instagram. For Live broadcasting watch Billiard TV or follow WorldBilliardTV on YouTube for replays.