By Keith Paradise
CSI Staff Writer
Usually when a pair of pool’s most decorated young stars meet up in a major competition, the match occurs in the later stages, like during the quarter or semifinals.
Today, spectators at the Predator World 10-Ball Championship were treated to such a match in the opening round, with Joshua Filler and Skyler Woodward squaring off in the first batch of play this morning. Both have won their share of medals during the last five years, with Filler earning a World 9-Ball and U.S. Open championship, Woodward winning the 2019 Derby City Classic Master of the Table honors and two of them having three Mosconi Cup Most Valuable Player awards among them.
The match would be everything pool aficionados would expect from two top quality players, as Woodward jumped out to a big lead early, then fought off a late charge to win, 8-5, Monday at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino. The victory was part of a rather successful day for the Americans, with Billy Thorpe, Shane Van Boening and Oscar Dominguez all winning their opening round matches to remain on the winner’s side of the double-elimination bracket.
The young man from Paducah, Kentucky was in stroke early, using a pair of breaks and runs as well as two missed shots by his opponent to build a 4-0 advantage. Woodward had the opportunity to add to his lead in the fifth rack but scratched on the break, which Filler used along with a break-and-run to cut the lead in half. After Woodward won back-to-back games to push his lead to 6-2, the young German used two missed shots from his opponent coupled with another break-and-run to slice the deficit to 6-5.
Standing at the table with the break in the 12th game, Filler had the chance to tie the score but scratched. Woodward cleared the table then tacked on a break-and-run to close out the match and advance to the round-of-32.
A few hours later, Woodward’s close friend and partner in hair styles, Billy Thorpe, was at the table taking on Chinese Taipei’s Chang Jung-Lin, winner of the 2018 International Open. Thorpe’s match would be the polar opposite his friend’s. There wouldn’t be a big lead early. In fact, he had to overcome some early missed shots with some nifty one-rail kick-in shots to remain even through the first eight games. The Ohio native would gain a two-rack lead in the late stages thanks to a break-and-run in the ninth game and a run out that was propelled by yet another kick shot in the subsequent game. Chang claimed the 11th game to slice the lead down to a single game but failed to pocket a ball on the break in the next rack, allowing Thorpe to climb onto the hill at 7-5.
Chang was down but far from out, using a table length bank shot on the 1 ball after a safety battle to clear the table and cut the lead to 7-6. He then cleared the table and tied the score in the next game after his opponent missed a kick attempt on the 2 ball. After breaking in the match-deciding 15th rack, Thorpe was faced with the 1 ball in the center of the table and the cue ball on the end rail. He calmly rolled the 1 down table into the opposite corner pocket and proceeded to run out the rack, with Chang conceding before the game-winning ball could be pocketed.
In other matches, Mika Immonen took advantage of a pair of late unforced errors to defeat Dennis Orcollo, 8-5 in a back-and-forth match which saw six lead changes through 13 games.
After Orcollo won the opening rack, Immonen took advantage of a missed shot and a dry break by his opponent to win back-to-back games. After Orcollo tacked on two games of his own to regain the lead, the Billiard Congress of America Hall of Famer won three straight thanks to a break-and-run and another dry break from his opponent. Orcollo again battled back to tie the score at five racks each but scratched in following game. Immonen cleared the table, broke and ran and capitalized on a missed jump shot by his opponent which left an open shot at the 1 ball to close out the match.
The day was not without its share of first-round upsets either, with Dominguez defeating reigning World 9-Ball champion Albin Ouschan, 8-6, and Thorsten Hohmann taking down reigning World Pool Masters champion Alex Kazakis, 8-5.
Competition resumes Tuesday morning at 9 a.m. local time, with notable matches including Carlo Biado facing Jeffrey DeLuna and David Alcaide meeting Omar Al Shaheen on the winner’s side as well as Tyler Styer facing James Aranas and Orcollo taking on Kazakis on the one-loss side. Admission to the event is free at the casino and live streaming of the tournament is available through 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.