Playing in last year’s inaugural Arcadia Arizona Open in July, no one probably got a more scenic route of event’s unique format than Fedor Gorst.
In a tournament that foregoes longer races for two shorter sets and settles tied matches with spot shot shootouts, the young man from Moscow pretty much did it all. He opened competition by surviving a sudden-death shootout against American Michael Yednak, then followed up a second-set comeback in the championship match against Filipino Carlo Biado by executing perfect precision in the shootout, pocketing four straight balls to secure the title. This earned Gorst $12,000 for four days work and, equally important, automatic entry into this year’s Predator World 10-Ball Championships in Las Vegas.
“That made my life easier,” said Gorst with a laugh. “I don’t have to worry about being invited to the event, which is great.”
This weekend, the Russian is back in Tucson to defend his title at the second annual Open, which begins today at Casino Del Sol Resort and runs through Saturday evening. This 64-competitor, double-elimination event offers a roster of players which bring a smorgasbord of titles and experience – from rising young stars like the former world champion Gorst, World Pool Masters winner Alex Kazakis and reigning Kremlin Cup champion Tyler Styer to BCA Hall of Famers Ralf Souquet, Thorsten Hohmann and Mika Immonen, who has been experiencing a bit of a resurgence of late. The former U.S. Open 9-Ball champion capped off the 2021 season with a runner-up finish at the International Open’s bigfoot challenge and a top-five performance in the 9-ball event. He opened this season with a fourth-place finish at the Turning Stone Classic in New York.
“I pretty much proved to the pool world that I’m not some washed up ex-professional,” said Immonen at the International after being eliminated by Albin Ouschan. “I’m here and I still have a lot of motivation and a lot that I want to prove. I want to have another era of stuff like this.”
Ouschan will also be competing in Arizona this week, after the Austrian turned in one of the most decorated and lucrative seasons of his career last year. The 31-year-old started off 2021 battling bad rolls and even worse emotions to earn top honors at the inaugural Championship League Pool event in England, then returned to the island two months later to win his second World Pool Championship, coming from behind to defeat Kuwait’s Omar Al Shaheen in the finals. The Austrian finished off the year by turning in his best performance ever on American soil, winning the International Open over Dennis Orcollo.
Fellow countryman Mario He also finished 2021 strong, winning the inaugural FargoRate Ohio Open in October. After opening his fall with a top-10 finish at the U.S. Open Pool Championship in Atlantic City in September, He hopped in a car with fellow competitors Denis Grabe and Alex Kazakis and barnstormed the country, playing in tournaments and matches throughout the east coast. He turned in a top-three finish at the CSI Michigan Open and then landed in the final four of the Diamond Open in South Carolina before earning the Ohio title.
Also competing in this weekend’s Open is Naoyuki Oi, who for years has built a reputation for giving eccentric interviews but in recent months has been letting his cue stick do most of the talking. Oi finished second in the World 10-Ball Championships last fall and third at the U.S. Open Pool Championships the following week. The young man from Japan, who also notched top-10 finishes at the World Pool Masters and World Pool Championships, earned a career-high $59,890 in prize money last season.
With the event taking place on U.S. soil, there will not be a shortage of American talent competing in Tucson, with Mosconi Cup teammates Styer and Chris Reinhold scheduled to play as well as former U.S. Open 9-Ball champion Corey Deuel. Additionally, a strong contingent of Filipino players will be making the trip, including reigning U.S. Open Pool champion Carlo Biado, BCA Hall of Fame member Alex Pagulayan and Roberto Gomez Jr, who placed in the top three in four U.S. Pro Billiard Series events last year.
Live coverage of the Arcadia Arizona Open will be streamed for free on any device with Billiard TV or the World Billiard TV YouTube channel throughout the week. Follow @probilliardseries on social media for up-to-date information, or visit probilliardseries.com for the latest results and live brackets.
About the Predator US Pro Billiard Series, presented by CSI
This year’s field of players will be playing for a larger prize fund, as Pro Billiard Series co-creators Predator Group and CueSports International announced last month that the total added money for this year’s six events has grown to nearly a half-million dollars – including $52,500 for this year’s Arizona Open, more than double last year’s total. Each of this year’s events will have more than $52,000 added which will upgrade these tournaments all to World Pool-Billiard Association (WPA) Category 3 sanctioned events, securing the exclusive dates on the WPA calendar and allowing players to earn more WPA ranking points from each event.
The winner of each 2022 event will receive a guaranteed spot in the 2023 Predator World 10-Ball Championship, which will be held February 27 through March 3 in Las Vegas. Additionally, a minimum of the top 12 players in the Predator US Pro Billiard Series rankings who are not otherwise invited by the WPA, a WPA continental federation or a promoter wild card, will also earn spots in the 2023 Predator World 10-Ball Championship.
The Predator Pro Billiard Series is a series of open, professional events held around the world to provide more opportunities for professional and aspiring pool players to compete in high-quality events, earn more income, sharpen their skills, and earn their way into the Predator World 10-Ball Championship held in Las Vegas each year as part of the CueSports International Expo.
The Predator U.S. Pro Billiard Series by CSI feature six open professional events during the calendar year. Created by league operator CueSports International together with the Predator Group, these tournaments will run in tandem alongside of CSI league events being held throughout the country. The winner of each competition receives a guaranteed spot in the following year Predator World 10-Ball Championship, which will be held during the annual CueSports International Expo in Las Vegas at the Rio Hotel and Casino.
These events are played on Predator Apex professionnal tables covered with Predator Arcadia Reserve Performance Cloth, with Predator Arcos II balls, and under the Predator Arena billiard lights.
CueSports International (CSI) is an international pool league and event leader and is currently comprised of three divisions: CSI Leagues, CSI Events and CSI Media. CSI Leagues manages the BCA Pool League and USA Pool League, CSI Events produces numerous amateur and professional events around the globe and CSI Media creates live streaming and digital content. Through its vision and strategic alliances, CSI is “shaping the future of pool.” For more information about CSI or any of its divisions, visit www.playcsipool.com.
Predator’s mission is to inspire billiard fans by providing innovative experiences and products that deliver high-performance, with unsurpassed class and style. Predator, Poison and Uni-Loc are Predator Group brands that focus on performance pool tables, cues, billiard accessories, and precision components. For more information regarding Predator Group’s products, visit www.predatorcues.com, www.poisoncues.com and www.uni-loc.com.
FargoRate computes pocket-billiard player ratings that rate pool players worldwide. FargoRate currently has over 19.1 million games played by nearly a quarter million players from 130 countries in its massive data set. Coupling game win/loss data across local leagues, regions, countries, and continents ensures players everywhere are rated on the same scale. Its mission is to usher in a new era for pocket billiards in which all players everywhere are interconnected and rated by objective performance. For more information about FargoRate, visit www.fargorate.com.