By Keith Paradise
CSI Staff Writer
The only real problem with Thursday afternoon’s match between Russia’s Fedor Gorst and Albania’s Eklent Kaçi is that someone had no choice but to lose.
Both competed in that way you’d expect two players who have won recent major championships to challenge each other, with Kaçi using a powerful break and smooth shot making while was Gorst sinking jump shots like he was on the basketball court. Just when it appeared one player had the lead, the other would battle back to either narrow the gap or take the lead themselves.
In the end, it would be Gorst who finally blinked, missing a spot shot in sudden death, as Kaçi remained on the winner’s side of the bracket with the sudden death victory in the third round of the Michigan Open Thursday afternoon at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek, Mich. With the victory, the reigning World 10-Ball champion qualified for the final 16 single-elimination portion of the tournament and is one of eight players who remain undefeated in this weekend’s event.
Playing in the race-to-four first set, the Albanian used a combination shot on the 10 ball, a break-and-run and a missed shot by his opponent to build a 3-1 lead. Gorst, who won the World 9-Ball Championship in 2019, used a combination shot on the 10 ball in the fifth rack and a missed 4 ball by his opponent to tie the match, but then failed to pocket a ball on the break in the seventh game. Kaci had the opportunity to claim the game but committed a foul on the 3 ball, but he would ultimately win the rack anyways when Gorst overran position on the 6 ball and missed the ball in the corner pocket.
The young Russian regrouped in the second set, claiming the first two games then returning to the table in the fifth game after Kaçi missed position on the 5 ball and played safe. Gorst banked the ball in and ran out the remaining balls to climb onto the hill, 3-2. The next rack was textbook Gorst, as he jumped in the 3 and 4 balls then banked in the 5 ball again to claim the set, 4-2, and force sudden death shots. Both competitors were perfect through the extra session until the fourth inning, where Kaci made his spot shot while Gorst missed.
The match was one of two that went to an extra frame during the afternoon session, with Tony Robles making a second half comeback in his match against Edgie Geronimo to stay alive in the tournament.
Geronimo jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the race-to-four first set, but Robles used a dry break from his competitor to return to the table, claim the next two racks and tie the score. Robles lost control of the table in the fifth rack when he failed to pocket a ball on the break, and the Filipino Geronimo cleared the table to regain the lead. Geronimo, who finished third at the Arizona Open, again failed to pocket a ball on his break in the sixth game but would return to the table when his opponent missed position on the 2 ball, then missed a kick shot on the ball.
Using a break-and-run and a couple of unforced errors by his opponent, Robles rallied in the second set to shut out Geronimo, 4-0, and force a match-deciding extra inning. He then pocketed the first and third shots in the extra period, which was more than enough to defeat Geronimo, who did not make a ball in three attempts.
Robles now moves on to face Abdullah Alshammari Friday afternoon at noon local time, with the winner scheduled to face Aloysius Yapp, who struggled at times in his match against Roberto Gomez Jr. and was defeated in straight sets, 4-2, 4-3. After losing the opening set, Yapp used a break-and-run and a pair of missed shots from his opponent to build a 3-2 lead in the second, but failed to pocket a ball on the break in the sixth rack. Gomez ran out the rack and then tacked on a break-and-run to claim the set and avoid a shootout.
Also remaining undefeated was Austria’s Mario He, who needed a shootout of his own to defeat American Tyler Styer, who overcame a handful of early unforced errors in the first set to clinch the second.
He jumped out to an early 2-0 lead then took advantage of a Styer scratch in the third game and a missed 10 ball in the next rack to pitch a shutout a 4-0 in the first set. After He won the first rack of the second set, Styer managed to swipe a game back then use back-to-back break and runs and a missed kick shot by his opponent to win the set and force sudden death. He was perfect in the extra-inning frame, making all four spot shots while Styer only pocketed two.
The tournament will resume play Friday, with live matches being broadcast on WorldBilliardTV’s YouTube page as well as Billiard TV beginning at noon eastern time. Notable matches include Poland’s Mieszko Fortunski meeting Russia’s Ruslan Chinahov in a win-or-go-home match on the one-loss side, with the winner facing Gorst. Also playing is Estonia’s Denis Grabe, who will face Kuwait’s Bader Al Awadhi, with the winner scheduled to face Spain’s Francisco Sanchez Ruiz. When eight competitors are remaining on both the winner and one-loss side, the brackets will be re-seeded as the format transitions to the single-elimination knockout phase.
This event also is the third stop of the U.S. Pro Billiard Series, which features five 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 $125,000-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 is 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. For Live broadcasting watch Billiard TV or follow WorldBilliardTV on YouTube for replays.