By Keith Paradise
CSI Staff Writer
Last weekend, American Tyler Styer was battling Albania’s Eklent Kaci in the championship match of the inaugural Predator Austria Open, falling reigning World 10-Ball champion in straight sets.
Wednesday afternoon at the FargoRate Ohio Open, Styer had to fight and scrap to avoid an early upset, winning an overtime shootout to defeat junior upstart Payne McBride in the opening round of the four-day event being held at the Roberts Centre in Wilmington.
To say that the matchup appeared lopsided on paper would be an understatement. Styer, who has a Kremlin Cup championship along with two appearances on the United States’ Mosconi Cup team on his resume, carried a 761 FargoRate into the tournament compared to McBride’s 562. The gap appeared evident in the opening set, as Styer used a break-and-run paired with missed shots and a dry break from his opponent to paint a 4-0 whitewashing.
The 15-year-old McBride, who competed on the U.S. team in last week’s World Junior 9-Ball Championships, wasn’t deterred. He opened the second set by winning a safety exchange on the 1 ball and clearing the opening rack then added another game when his opponent scratched after pocketing the 8 ball. After Styer stole a game to cut the lead to 2-1, the young boy from Indiana used a combination shot on the 10 ball and a pair of misses by his opponent in the fifth rack to close out the set, 4-1, and force deciding spot shots.
Both players missed in their first attempts but pocketed the spotted 10 ball on their second try. Styer made the third frame shot while his opponent pushed the ball wide of the pocket and Styer secured victory when McBride missed for the third time in four tries.
Later in the day, Roberto Gomez Jr. found himself in a similar battle with American Jeremy Seaman, who rallied in the second set before falling to the Filipino in a shootout.
Gomez jumped out to an early 3-0 advantage in the first set thanks to a successful combination shot on the 10 ball in the opening rack and a break-and-run in the third game. Seaman cut the lead to 3-1 after winning a lengthy safety exchange on the 1 ball, but failed to pocket a ball on the break in the following game, allowing his opponent to close out the rack and the set, 4-1.
Gomez’s fortunes turned almost immediately in the second set when he scratched on the break of the opening game. His opponent cleared the table and appeared positioned to take a 2-0 advantage before missing the 10 ball. Gomez attempted a table-length bank of the ball but inadvertently pocketed the ball into a pocket he did not call, allowed Seaman to come back to the table and punch in the spotted ball to increase his lead to 2-0. After Seaman used a combination shot to pocket the 10 ball and build a 3-0 advantage, Gomez was able to claw out a win and cut the deficit to 3-1. The Filipino appeared positioned to cut the lead further in the fifth rack but missed the 4 ball in the corner pocket, allowing Seaman to clear the table and send the match to an extra frame.
The extra session mirrored that of Styer and McBride early on, with both competitors missing their shots in the first inning but pocketing the balls in the following frame. When each player again missed in the third inning the spot shot competition reached sudden-death, which Gomez won by pocketing the ball in the fourth inning.
In other matches from the day, Poland’s Mieszko Fortunski defeated Russia’s Ruslan Chinahov in straight sets, 4-0, 4-2, and reigning World Pool Masters champion Alex Kazakis of Greece got by Japan’s Naoyuki Oi.
Competition resumes Thursday morning at 10:30 a.m. local time, with notable matches including Styer meeting Filipino Warren Kiamco and Poland’s Wiktor Zielinski taking on Mohammad Ali Berjaoui of Lebanon. Tournament coverage begins at noon on Billiard TV and also will be broadcast on the WorldBilliardTV YouTube channel.
The FargoRate Ohio Open is the fourth and final stop of the U.S. Pro Billiard Series, which features four open professional events between July and the end of the year. Created by Predator Group and amateur league operator CueSports International, these tournaments will run in tandem alongside of CSI league amateur events being held throughout the country. The winner of each competition receives a guaranteed spot in the $130,000-added 2022 Predator World 10-Ball Championship, which will be held March 28 through April 1 in Las Vegas at the Rio Hotel and Casino. This competition was played on Predator Pro pool tables covered with Predator Arcadia performance cloth, with Predator Arcos II precision balls, and under the Predator Arena billiard lights.
For more information on the U.S. Pro Billiard Series or amateur leagues, visit www.playcsipool.com. For the latest information on the Predator Pro Billiard Series action, follow @ProBilliardSeries on Facebook and Instagram. Watch replays on Billiard TV or on the WorldBilliardTV YouTube channel. Photo credits: Matt Porinsky