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SJM at the 2020 Derby City Classic - 02-02-2020, 12:19 AM

I just returned from nine glorious days at the Derby and it’s time to reflect

Day 1, Friday January 24, 2020
I missed the SVB vs Roberto Gomez match in the Bigfoot, but SVB won with relative ease.

I watched some bank pool and form was holding, with just two upsets on my radar: a) Tom Harris beat Shannon Daulton and b) Mark Osman topped Troy Jones.

I saw little of Pagulayan’s easy win over Thorpe in the Bigfoot, but saw all of Van Corteza vs Aranas. Lee was the better tactician and position player. Aranas got out of some tough racks to stay in it, but he was outclassed by a more experienced player. As a tactician, Aranas remains below his fellow Filipinos and needs to add the missing pieces.

Josh Filler and Konrad Juszczyszyn drew each other in the bank pool, just as they did in the Bigfoot. Filler was the winner at banks. I missed their Bigfoot match, retiring to my room at about 9:15.

Day 2, Saturday, January 25, 2020
I checked AZB to find out who won the last Bigfoot match. Turns out it was Filler.

For me, the day was all about the Bigfoot, though I caught bank pool matches when I had the chance.

I saw the last few racks of Melling vs Morra in the Bigfoot. Melling was two balls from double hill when he had a shocking miss on the nine that ended his chances. I sweated some great pool by Shaw, who crushed Woodward 11-3. Bustamante beat a way off form Immonen and Deuel had a solid win over Orcullo, who didn’t have the better rolls but made more mistakes than usual.

Bank pool saw 2018 Bank Pool champion Deuel take his first loss to Josh Lewis in Round 2. In Round 3, Filler drew poorly, but was up to the challenge of beating Woodward. Most of the favorites were undefeated at day’s end, including Brumback, Murphy, Thorpe, Shaw, SVB and Orcullo. In evening play, Filler topped and eliminated Troy Jones, Lunda topped Morra and young dynamo Chris Robinson beat Chohan for his fourth straight victory.

Day 3, Sunday, January 26, 2020
A funny thing happened on the way to the SVB vs Filler matchup everyone expected in the semis of the Bigfoot. Neither got there!

The Bigfoot quarterfinals kicked off with SVB vs Pagulayan, a well-played affair that was close all the way, but Alex outplayed Shane in the late stages of the match and that was the difference, with Pagulayan advancing.

The quarterfinals continued with Filler vs Corteza. It was a hotly contested match up to 7-6 favor of Filler, but then the match moved into the Twilight Zone as a missed eight ball by Corteza resulted in a fluke ten ball. Two racks later, on a kick, Corteza fluked another ten ball, and luck surely played a big part in his win. That said, though, Corteza played well and roughly as well as Filler in this one, so let’s give credit where credit is due.

Next up was Shaw v Morra. It started out pretty poorly for Shaw as Morra jumped out to 6-2, and then led 7-3, but Shaw found a higher gear and managed to win seven of the next eight racks in what proved a solid win.

Last up was Bustamante vs Deuel. Bustamante played quite well, but Corey kept grinding and stayed in it most of the way. His chances disappeared when he missed a ten ball to pull within 8-6, and it was Bustamante who advanced.

The bank pool day began with Immonen’s upset of SVB. Frost then gave Shaw his first loss. Shaw bounced back with a win that eliminated Woodward. The event continued into its more meaningful rounds and, for the first time, I got a sense of who would likely contend for the title.

At day’s end, among the undefeated players were Bustamante, Orcullo, Lunda, Thorpe, Pagulayan and Brumback. Josh Filler, unexpectedly to me, also finished the day undefeated. Larry Nevel, playing in a wheelchair, warmed more than a few hearts when he won his first seven matches, including a great win over Bergman in Round 7. Larry was still in with one loss entering Monday’s play. SVB, Shaw, Deuel and Omar Al Shaheen were still in with a loss. Both Reyes and Murphy were eliminated in Round 8. Round 9 on Monday will bring two matchups of undefeated players as Josh Filler drew Lunda and Brumback drew Pagulayan.

Day 4, Monday, January 27, 2020
The Bigfoot semis were nailbiters. In the first semi, Corteza rallied from behind, in large part due to two different fouls committed by Pagulayan at key moments, and the match reached double hill. A fine runout at double hill secured the match for Lee, who advanced. Next up was Shaw vs Bustamante, a match which Shaw had control of up to 10-6, but his game slipped and Bustmaante rallied to reach double hill. The final rack had a bit of everything, but Bustamante eventually gained control of the rack. A bad miss on the nine cost him the match, with Shaw advancing. In the final, Shaw was superb, building a 3-0 lead which he’d never surrender on the way to a convincing 11-5 victory over Corteza..

Banks featured many good matches, but the most memorable for me were Brumback over Pagulayan, SVB over Pinegar, Thorpe over Brumback, and Lunda over Brumback. Lastly, Larry Nevel came within a ball of beating Billy Thorpe, having the first good look at 4-4 in the case game but he missed a good chance and Billy closed it out. Only three players remained at the end of the day, with Orcullo undefeated and Lunda and Thorpe still in with a loss.

One pocket plodded along and I didn’t see much of it.

Day 5, Tuesday, January 28, 2020
The day began with the news that the draw for the final rounds of banks was done. Evan Lunda drew the bye. Orcullo drew Thorpe.

One pocket Round 4 delivered four great matchups. Deuel blanked Orcullo, Joey Gray outplayed James Aranas, Danny Smith was too much for Reyes, and Tony Chohan and Alex Pagulayan had a thriller that came down to the final ball of the final rack, when Pagulayan made a three rail bank to secure the victory.

Next was the bank pool final rounds. Thorpe played well, but Orcullo was sensational in advancing to the final, in which Lunda would have to beat him twice for the title. Orcullo was again sharp and dismissed Lunda in one set to win the title.

One pocket Round 5 was a good one. In the matchups that caught my fancy, SVB had a nice win over Deuel and Joey Gray was superb in topping Danny Smith.

Day 6, Wednesday, January 29, 2020
One pocket Round 6 got underway and Justin Bergman gave Reyes his second loss. Round 7 included Chip Compton eliminating SVB, Skyler with a solid win over Joey Gray, and Filler scoring a fine win over Josh Roberts. Orcullo then gave Bergman his first loss in a match that took just twenty minutes.

One pocket Round 8 certainly had its surprises, as Omar Al Shaheen beat and eliminated Deuel and Roberto Gomez beat and eliminated Orcullo, whose chances for Master of the Table took a hit. Round 9 was even crazier, as Bustamante, Pagulayan, Chohan and Woodward were all eliminated.

Finally, nine ball got underway but I barely saw any of it. Round 1 is still in progress at the end of the day.

Day 7, Thursday, January 30, 2020
Most of the matches were nine ball, but Thursday at the Derby is always about one pocket and by day’s end, the champion would be crowned.

One pocket Round 10 saw the elimination of Filler, Shaw, Atencio and Bergman, so five remained. Melling drew the bye in Round 11, Thorpe topped Hall and Gomez beat Robert Frost, to bring the field down to four players. Gomez was too much for Melling in Round 12. In Round 13, Thorpe drew the bye and Hall was brilliant in dismissing Gomez.

The one pocket final featured Hall and Thorpe and was a one set affair as each carried a loss. The final was breathtaking, with the level of play remarkable by both. At 1-1, Hall had a miscue that likely cost him the rack, but he got to double hill. Thorpe would run out in rack 5 for the match, in which the breaker lost all five racks!

Thorpe had a huge lead in Master of the Table after a third place finish in bank pool and a first place finish in one pocket. Orcullo seemed the only one with a realistic chance to catch him.

I watched a little nine ball but cannot say I saw anything too memorable. It was still Round 3 and there had been few great matchups to that point.

Day 8, Friday, January 31, 2020
Slept until 1:00 PM and arrived in the tournament room just on time for Jennifer Barretta’s win over Chohan.

I then went out to dinner with a group of great people from Chicago in New Albany, about eight miles from the hotel. I ended up missing more than half of the banks ring game, which had the same last two as a year ago, Thorpe and Woodward. These superb bank pool players went ice cold but the one who woke up first was Thorpe, who secured the title.

Thorpe was certainly the story of the Derby to that point, and between the bank pool, the one pocket, and the banks ring game had probably made about $30,000 already. He looked good for Master of the Table. Orcullo had already taken a loss in the nine ball and Thorpe was eliminated in Round 6.

The best match of the evening session in nine ball was Filler vs Fortunski. It was well played and close all the way, and they reached double hill. Safety play decided it, and Filler had a tricky kick at the one ball. He hit it well and separated the cue ball well from the one, managing to snooker Fortunski in the process. Fortunski made a good hit, but sold out the match.

Day 9, Saturday, February 1, 2020
Anticipating a late night, I slept late, missing the entire 10:00AM round but catching the rest of the day’s play.

In the morning session, which I missed, Konrad Juszczyszyn gave Shaw his first loss. Filler and SVB both extended their records to 8-0, and appeared to be on a collision course, but there was much pool left to be played. Corteza continued his fine play, and stood at 8-0, too, as did James Aranas. In an all Team USA matchup, Styer topped Bergman. In Round 11, Can Salim, a superb player who had eliminated Jayson Shaw in Round 9, seemed to have Orcullo beat, once four balls away from winning the match, but made some mistakes in the closing racks and Orcullo escaped with a double hill win to keep his Master of the Table hopes alive. Round 11 saw SVB and Justin Bergman eliminated.

Four remained, and Corteza and Filler both had buybacks remaining. They dismissed Orcullo and Aranas in Round 12, but by tying for third, Orcullo just barely passed Thorpe for Master of the Table.

Derby rules called for a one race to 11 final and the play of Corteza was superhuman. His TPA of .978 is the highest I have ever seen in a final of any event, and Josh spent a lot of time in the chair watching Lee run rack after rack. The few tactical exchanges also went Lee’s way despite some fine safety play by Filler. When the smoke cleared, Lee had a well-deserved 11-4 victory and the title, and Filler applauded as loudly as anybody. Well played!

The curtain had fallen on the 2020 Derby City Classic.

The Horseshoe Hotel
As discussed on the forum, the casino was moved off the boat and into the hotel, disqualifying players under 21 from entering the premises, including Gorst and Kaci.

The casino is nicer than it used to be. Getting quality food was always difficult at the Horseshoe, and still is. The air quality was pretty poor, too.

Socially
I had two reserved seats and this allowed me to invite friends to sweat matches with me. Among those joining me for a match or more were Max Eberle, Tony (a regular AZB reader but not poster who really knows his pool), Billy Incardona, Demetrius Jelatis (Tin Man in these AZB parts), Kathy, a friend I made at Turning Stone a few weeks ago who has caught the pool bug, my good friend Mike from North Carolina, AZB’s own Cornerman and also Jennifer Barretta and her husband Gregg.

I had a memorable chat over lunch lasting about an hour with AZB’s own Tin Man and it was a treat to kick around many pool subjects with somebody so knowledgeable about and committed to his craft. He and I don’t see everything the same way, but our discussion was amicable and I think we came to a deeper understanding of each other’s views.

To all with whom I caught up, it was great seeing you.

Conclusion
I’ll remember this Derby for three things a) Thorpe’s sustained excellence, b) the Orcullo comeback to capture Master of the Table, and c) Lee Vann Corteza topping Filler in both the Bigfoot and again in the 9-ball final, the crowning moments of his wonderful week at the Derby.

My, oh my, is the Derby really over? Say it isn’t so. To the dozens of people with whom I spent time and to Diamond Billiards, thanks for making the 2020 Derby so enjoyable. Let’s plan on doing it again in 2021.

If you made it to the end of this post, take a deep bow.
  
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Next best thing to being there! - 02-02-2020, 12:47 AM

Stu, your honest and straightforward trip reports are always a treat! I carefully read every word, no skimming, these posts are to be savored and enjoyed. Your pool knowledge added to the bare facts makes your reports great.

Some surprises from names I recognized, some names I don't know. A surprising number of names I didn't know. Either I'm getting behind on my reading or there is a changing of the guard taking place.

Thank You for another great trip report!

Hu
  
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02-02-2020, 12:59 AM

I always make it to the end of your posts, Stu

...I feel sad that Leron Neville has had this happen to him...
Never thought I’d see this physical marvel playing from a wheel chair.
...but I applaud the human spirit.
He went a long way in the banks.


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02-02-2020, 02:40 AM

Great trip report. So DO got Master of the Table over Thorpe. I was trying to find this info somewhere. Thanks for that.

Sounds like you had a glorious time. Pool heaven!


.
  
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02-02-2020, 05:30 AM

The amazing thing about this post is that you got home in your apt in NY within 4 hrs and 10 minutes of the finish?!?
  
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Action - 02-02-2020, 09:03 AM

Stu, What did you hear or see concerning any action matches? There seemed to be very little reporting this year??? Has the DCC's character changed?
  
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02-02-2020, 10:48 AM

Warning to all. I’m going to go on a bit of a Filler Bro-phile here. Joshua at times looked like the best player of any of the disciplines, and I think he has the skills to win all three tournaments.

Banks: I was stunned to see how well he played. His dismissal of Bustamante was shocking. He looks like a “technical banker” instead of a feel banker. Whatever the case, his banks game looks a mile better than last year.

One Pocket: his game is very reminiscent of the professional 9-ball players who had just started to play One Pocket 20 years ago... a little raw in the moves, but his firepower from anywhere is downright scar. If he continues to spar with his Roy’s Basement pals, be afraid.

9-ball: with today’s fast cloth and template rack, Joshua is an odds on favorite to win any event, even with 9-ball on the spot and the 3-pt rule. His 0.984 against Shane might have been the most dominating performance I’ve seen at the Derby. I believe that Shane had 4 strokes the entire match. Yet he actually won 2 games on a kick-and-fluked 9-ball and an ensuing 9OTB. Those accounted for two of his four strokes. He dogged his first look, down 5-0, and he broke dry after his 9-snap. That’s it.

This Filler is uncanny.


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02-02-2020, 10:59 AM

Once again a nice summary by Stu. Rather than being to long, I wish he would go even deeper into the matches, particularly the ones he found most interesting. I enjoy his analysis of how each player goes about his craft. Always very insightful. Thanks Stu!


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02-02-2020, 10:59 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cornerman View Post
Warning to all. I’m going to go on a bit of a Filler Bro-phile here. Joshua at times looked like the best player of any of the disciplines, and I think he has the skills to win all three tournaments.

Banks: I was stunned to see how well he played. His dismissal of Bustamante was shocking. He looks like a “technical banker” instead of a feel banker. Whatever the case, his banks game looks a mile better than last year.

One Pocket: his game is very reminiscent of the professional 9-ball players who had just started to play One Pocket 20 years ago... a little raw in the moves, but his firepower from anywhere is downright scar. If he continues to spar with his Roy’s Basement pals, be afraid.

9-ball: with today’s fast cloth and template rack, Joshua is an odds on favorite to win any event, even with 9-ball on the spot and the 3-pt rule. His 0.984 against Shane might have been the most dominating performance I’ve seen at the Derby. I believe that Shane had 4 strokes the entire match. Yet he actually won 2 games on a kick-and-fluked 9-ball and an ensuing 9OTB. Those accounted for two of his four strokes. He dogged his first look, down 5-0, and he broke dry after his 9-snap. That’s it.

This Filler is uncanny.
I find it hard to root for him and even harder to bet against him. I saw him banking amazing shots one after another and there's no doubt that as long as he attends, he has to be a favorite to win a banks division and 9 ball, too.

"Uncanny", indeed...


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02-02-2020, 11:07 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cornerman View Post
Warning to all. I’m going to go on a bit of a Filler Bro-phile here. Joshua at times looked like the best player of any of the disciplines, and I think he has the skills to win all three tournaments.

Banks: I was stunned to see how well he played. His dismissal of Bustamante was shocking. He looks like a “technical banker” instead of a feel banker. Whatever the case, his banks game looks a mile better than last year.

One Pocket: his game is very reminiscent of the professional 9-ball players who had just started to play One Pocket 20 years ago... a little raw in the moves, but his firepower from anywhere is downright scar. If he continues to spar with his Roy’s Basement pals, be afraid.

9-ball: with today’s fast cloth and template rack, Joshua is an odds on favorite to win any event, even with 9-ball on the spot and the 3-pt rule. His 0.984 against Shane might have been the most dominating performance I’ve seen at the Derby. I believe that Shane had 4 strokes the entire match. Yet he actually won 2 games on a kick-and-fluked 9-ball and an ensuing 9OTB. Those accounted for two of his four strokes. He dogged his first look, down 5-0, and he broke dry after his 9-snap. That’s it.

This Filler is uncanny.
Good stuff here, thanks! You forgot one thing though. He got a dose of Lee Van magic that even he couldn't overcome. I was late to the party in the Action room or I would have emptied out on Lee, especially getting games on the wire. I did manage one healthy side bet on FB getting two games to eleven in the 9-Ball finals. I've been following this guy forever and he plays his best pool against the best players. Over and over again I've seen him slay dragons.

Just want to give a little shout out to Lee Van, who is often overlooked for the great player he is. He's been Top Tier in the Philippines even longer than Dennis! I've seen the Taiwan champions turn down games with him and ask for Django or Alcano instead.


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02-02-2020, 11:09 AM

Stu;

It was actually fun for me watching on stream as you took your usual spot by the clock and brought in various guests to chat with and enjoy the play. Billy and you looked to be having a lot of laughs.

Thank you again for your report and keen insight on this year's dcc.

I was especially happy for Lee Van who showed an awful lot of heart and skill. He's def one of those quiet ones with a BIG stick!

I also enjoyed seeing Billy Thorpe and Sky as the last 2 standing in the banks ring game. They were obviously having a blast out there.

Did you happen to see any odd rolls from the Cyclop diamonds & dots cue balls? Some guys were indicating there were some...

Thanks!

brian kc


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02-02-2020, 11:12 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kickin' Chicken View Post
Stu;

It was actually fun for me watching on stream as you took your usual spot by the clock and brought in various guests to chat with and enjoy the play. Billy and you looked to be having a lot of laughs.

Thank you again for your report and keen insight on this year's dcc.

I was especially happy for Lee Van who showed an awful lot of heart and skill. He's def one of those quiet ones with a BIG stick!

I also enjoyed seeing Billy Thorpe and Sky as the last 2 standing in the banks ring game. They were obviously having a blast out there.

Did you happen to see any odd rolls from the Cyclop diamonds & dots cue balls? Some guys were indicating there were some...

Thanks!

brian kc
The TV table had a slight roll out towards center on both 1P pockets IMHO.
  
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02-02-2020, 11:48 AM

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Originally Posted by Cornerman View Post
... I believe that Shane had 4 strokes the entire match. Yet he actually won 2 games on a kick-and-fluked 9-ball and an ensuing 9OTB. Those accounted for two of his four strokes. He dogged his first look, down 5-0, and he broke dry after his 9-snap. That’s it. ...
Correct, SVB stroked the CB just 4 times in that match with Filler:
  • • missed the 1-ball in Game 6
    • slopped in the 9-ball in Game 8 on a kick 2/9 combo 2-rail bank
    • made 3 balls on the break in Game 9, including the 9-ball
    • made 1 ball on the break in Game 10, but flunked the 3-point test (illegal break)
  
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02-02-2020, 11:51 AM

Always good seeing you in your rightful seat ~ Until the next tournament

eDionisio
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jay helfert
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02-02-2020, 11:53 AM

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Originally Posted by eDionisio View Post
Always good seeing you in your rightful seat ~ Until the next tournament

eDionisio
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