Winner Mika Immonen & runner-up Ralf Souquet with Barry Behrman & Shannon Behrman-Paschall By NYC Grind Contributor Geoff Conway “Pool Junkie”
On Saturday midday at the Masters 10-Ball Championships, the Accu-Stats crew were making their final adjustments to the cameras. The Diamond table guys cleaned the arena table, and everything is almost ready for the 1pm matches that would begin to decide who would be the Masters Champion in this its first year in the calendar in a decade.
The Accu-Stats Arena was where the hot seat match was set to be played, and we had an on-form Mika Immonen up against Mike Davis, who had not won a big event for some while, yet is playing some fantastic pool this week, as is evident in his having reached this far in the event.
Mika, who has two first place finishes and a third in his the last three US Opens, looks to be the favorite to take down this event, judging by some of the clinics he has given this week. However, we also had the much-improved Mike Dechaine and the veteran Ralf Souquet who will be trying their best to knock Mika off his perch. 1pm HOT SEAT MATCH
Mike Davis won the lag for this much-awaited match, which would decide who would have a place secured in the final at 7 pm this evening, and who gets the consolation prize to play the against the winner of the Dechaine/Souquet loser’s side match.
Well, winning the lag does you no good if you come up dry, which is exactly what happened to Davis. However, Mike ended up winning the game after Mika scratched on his first shot, leaving an easy 2/10 combo for Davis. However, from this point on, Mika took no prisoners, and soon had the score to 7-1 in his favor in no time at all. This was accomplished by a combination of perfect pool and the fact that Mike Davis could not make any balls on the break.
In the ninth rack, Mike managed to win a rack to the sympathetic cheers of the crowd to put the score at 7-2. This unfortunately was “all she wrote” for Mr. Davis, as Mika literally went out with a bang, making three balls on the break, which left him an easy run out. Mika was then guaranteed second place, and now had around four hours to try and relax and stay sharp before the 7pm final.* Mike Davis, on the other hand, would play again at 3pm against the winner of the loser’s side final pairing. 1pm QUARTER FINAL
We then had Mike Dechaine and Ralf Souquet set to fight for the privilege of playing Mike Davis at 3pm.* Mike Dechaine had been playing some impressive pool throughout the tournament, and one must also never count out “The Kaiser”. Ralf is a seasoned campaigner and he just does not know the meaning of giving up.
Well, Ralf soon had the score to 3-1 in his favor, and while Mike did put another game on the wire to put it at 3-2, that was it for Mr. Dechaine, who never managed to put up another bead.* Ralf absolutely gave a clinic as can be seen by the score line of 8-2. Ralf Souquet was a man on a mission, and looked like he could be able to get past Mike Davis en route to the final against Mika Immonen.* Mike Dechaine had to settle for 4th place and $4,000 3pm SEMI FINAL
Talk about swings and roundabouts in the Mike Davis and Ralf Souquet semifinal match, with Mike taking the score to 4-1, then 5-2, and at this point I thought that Ralf would have a problem getting back into the match, especially due to the short race to 8 and the alternate-break format. Well guess what, Ralf managed to take the next 4 racks putting the score to 6-5 in his favor.
Mike dug down and managed to get back to 6-6, then 7-6 to Ralf and then 7-7, with Mike breaking. Well it was “good night nurse” for Mike who broke and scratched. Ralf duly ran out and found himself in the final against an on form Mika Immonen.* Mike Davis had a great tournament to finish in third place and and take home $5,000 7pm FINAL MATCH
In this final match between Mika Immonen and Ralf Souquet, which was race to 10 games, where the winning player had to win by two games.* Here we saw Mika carry on his stellar play, and he dominated the proceedings with his great breaking and superb shot making. Ralf just could not get his break going, and that was key in his not being able to add beads to the wire.
The call-pocket rule also hurt Ralf on three occasions when he was executing a safe and accidentally made a ball that he did not call: this resulted in three games going Mika’s way. The writing was on the wall for Ralf when the closest he got the score was 4-2 to Mika. Mika just kept pilling on the racks and got the score to 8-3. Ralf managed to put one more game on the wire at 8-4, but Mika gets the next game and puts it at 9-4.
Ralf was to break in Rack 14, but he scratched, leaving Mika an easy run out to make it 10-4. In fact, Ralf called a halt to the proceedings as Mika potted the 9 ball. To summarize this match, I would have to say that Mika Immonen is in a zone right now that most of the other top echelon pool players will never reach. He absolutely overpowered his opponents and dominated the proceedings, as was witnessed by the score lines.
Winner Mika Immonen & runner-up Ralf Souquet with Barry Behrman & Shannon Behrman-Paschall
I really hope that this new event will be with us next year. For a first go round, they did pretty well to get 58 players, and I think once the word gets round that the event went off without a hitch, then I think that the Masters can become a fixture in the tournament calendar and can only grow into a great event that is looked forward to every year by the players and the spectators. I wish them well.
As for the format of the event, I think there may be room for some improvement. If they insist on keeping the alternate break rule, then they must increase the games to at least ten games. My reasoning here is that if you find yourself down 5-2, it is very difficult to claw your way back to win the match. I love the call the pocket rule, which caught even the best players out when they were playing a safe and accidentally made a ball in the process. This rule really does stop the slop shots.
This week, the fans were lucky to see fan favorite Earl Strickland cruise through the field, but unfortunately Earl’s run ended when he got run over by Mike Dechaine*8-3 after making the final eight.* We also saw Dennis Hatch playing in Chesapeake which hasn’t happened in ten years. He has promised that he will be back for the US Open and the Masters next year. Dennis never really recovered from his loss to Shane Winters early in the weeks proceedings, which put him in the loser’s bracket on the second day. Earl “The Pearl” ended Dennis’s run on day three on the TV Table in a close match which ended at 8-6 in Earl’s favor.
Other notable points of the event include Warren Kiamco ending Shane Van Boening’s run for the title when he slaughtered him with a score of 8-1, while young gun Jesse Engel, who made a name for himself at the ‘10 US Open, put up a fine showing and got deep into the tournament. New York area player Eddie Abraham is probably still kicking himself for not finishing off Ralf Souquet when he had him hanging in the wind 6-2, but could just not close the deal. Of course the truth of the matter is that Eddie went on to Brooklyn and Ralf went on to second place!
Hopefully I will see you all next year… thanks for following our coverage of the 10-Ball Masters here in Chesapeake. - Geoff Conway “Pool Junkie” More from NYCGrind...