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International 9-Ball Open changes. WHY?
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International 9-Ball Open changes. WHY? - 11-20-2019, 07:52 PM

I’ve read every post in the original thread. And for those who were unhappy with my 2020 decisions, you made excellent points of which I cannot disagree.
Yet, none of my decisions were snap judgements. As I handed out prize money this year to the players, I asked them what could make 2020 better than 2019 and would encourage their return. The entry fee and the single-elimination idea were brought up the most, and before I made any decisions.

Jay Helfert knows as well as anyone what it takes to run a successful major tournament, and how everyone has their well intentioned opinions and I respect his.

The International 9-Ball Open with a staff of 40, had to raise over $100,000 to survive. I failed in crucial areas:
Sadly, we only got 96 players, needed 128.
Sadly, we were short on spectators.
Sadly, the vendors deserved more traffic.
Sadly, we needed more hotel room reservations.

Soooo, changes had to be made or nothing would change.
I decided to lower the entry fee to $500, increase the field, and announce alternate breaks. The purpose is to draw more players, which will draw more spectators, reserve more hotel rooms, and bring more traffic to our vendors.

The most heat came from eliminating winner breaks and it’s obvious why. At the same time, there will be more hill-hill matches with alternate breaks that may be just as memorable. Each player will know he'll have at least five turns at the table and we'll still have our share of come-back matches. Only time will tell if this fails or succeeds. I do know that all of us want it to succeed and continue!

And I'm not done with major announcements. Before long, I will announce why 2020 will be bigger and better than 2019.

Yes, please comment!


Pat Fleming
  
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More pluses than minuses
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Talking More pluses than minuses - 11-20-2019, 08:16 PM

Good changes overall.
Entry fees in most major events less than $1000 few hundreds so drop to $500 is move in right direction.
I like Alternate break more. I think coming from far behind to win in winners break is overrated and not common . On other hand, alt break will have closer matches and more suspense cos you have to hold “serve “ every time. Also there have been great matches of comebacks after big lead.
Neutral rackers I like a lot
Looking forward to next year.
  
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11-20-2019, 08:25 PM

Pat...I was there last year for the entire tournament, and loved every minute of it. This year I was unable to attend, but still believe in you. You are one of VERY FEW pro tournament promoters, and maybe the only one who has no dirty hands in their history of running events. Without you the US Open 9ball event would have gone down the tubes. Now, with Barry Hearn and Matchroom running things, that tournament has been resurrected, in a very big way! You were treated very shabbily by the Behrmann kids...but you don't have to look far to see why. Barry had his own skeletons, and usually the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Nonetheless, this is your event, and you should run it however it works best for you (it's a nice sideline to query the players; let alone make concessions for them). Personally I loved the referee racking...no BS. I wish you the best, and I know your event will prosper in the future! Thanks for all you've done for pool over the last 40+ years.

Scott Lee
Director, SPF National Pool School Tour


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11-20-2019, 08:46 PM

I respect your decisions and reasons.

One thing I would suggest, if you have not already done so, is ask the paying spectators the same question you asked the playing participants.

The other thing I would suggest (and you probably already do this), is treat the tournament event itself like an accu-stats match. Rate the gate, the vibe, the play, the player number, the player quality, the venue, the online viewers, the buzz before and after, etc, etc, etc. Maybe with a statistician mind, you can find the magic formula of success
  
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11-20-2019, 08:55 PM

The biggest drawback for spectators and players would be the dates.

Being on Halloween makes a big impact for more people than you might think.
  
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11-20-2019, 10:47 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by patscue View Post
I’ve read every post in the original thread. And for those who were unhappy with my 2020 decisions, you made excellent points of which I cannot disagree.
Yet, none of my decisions were snap judgements. As I handed out prize money this year to the players, I asked them what could make 2020 better than 2019 and would encourage their return. The entry fee and the single-elimination idea were brought up the most, and before I made any decisions.

Jay Helfert knows as well as anyone what it takes to run a successful major tournament, and how everyone has their well intentioned opinions and I respect his.

The International 9-Ball Open with a staff of 40, had to raise over $100,000 to survive. I failed in crucial areas:
Sadly, we only got 96 players, needed 128.
Sadly, we were short on spectators.
Sadly, the vendors deserved more traffic.
Sadly, we needed more hotel room reservations.

Soooo, changes had to be made or nothing would change.
I decided to lower the entry fee to $500, increase the field, and announce alternate breaks. The purpose is to draw more players, which will draw more spectators, reserve more hotel rooms, and bring more traffic to our vendors.

The most heat came from eliminating winner breaks and it’s obvious why. At the same time, there will be more hill-hill matches with alternate breaks that may be just as memorable. Each player will know he'll have at least five turns at the table and we'll still have our share of come-back matches. Only time will tell if this fails or succeeds. I do know that all of us want it to succeed and continue!

And I'm not done with major announcements. Before long, I will announce why 2020 will be bigger and better than 2019.

Yes, please comment!
You have the hardest job of all as far as I'm concerned. Finding a way to make money running a pool tournament was the most difficult thing I ever had to do in my pool career. When I was finally successful (after several failed attempts), some players were mad at me for making money. Go figure!

To respond to your post above, I would suggest the following;
I know you had more players the precious year, close to 128 I believe (or was it full). You could try adding qualifiers at any poolroom that would like to participate. A sixteen man (single elimination) qualifier at $75 each would yield $1,200. The winner would receive the free entry and the participating location gets the other $200 for running the event, and sending the entry fee money to you. Raise the entry to $100 and now you can give the runner-up (finalist) $400 as well. You could also schedule a series of four qualifiers at Q Masters in the four days prior to the International with a $100 entry fee each day and open it to 32 players. This way three players per day could get into the main event and the house would get $200 a day to host it. Also single elimination, with a play off match for the two losers in the semis for the third spot. By doing this you hold the entry at $1,000 and get a larger (full) field of 128. Of course I know that you may already be committed to lowering the entry fee next year, but now you need many more players to make up the difference in prize money, which will still be less than with 100 players at $1,000 each. Sorry that this is so long.

Perhaps lowering the ticket price will help to attract more spectators. I often gave better pricing on the first two days to attract more people, even going so far as handing out half price discount coupons at local poolrooms (Q Master again), good for days one and two. Discounts for Seniors and Veterans (your in Norfolk!) will also help bring more people. Of course the more you can promote and advertise locally the better. Local media is your friend! A few Ads in the local newspaper (even small ones) and announcements in any and every publication (someone has to be your PR man!) will pay dividends. Been there, done that. You are in a large metropolitan area and it behooves you to let people know that a major pool championship is being held in their area. The best time to do this is in the days immediately prior to the event. Getting mention on local TV stations (sports news about upcoming events - send them a short video! You are Accu-Stats after all) can do wonders. Personal appearances by players is even better. If you can book a segment on a sports show that's a win.

More spectators means more traffic for the vendors!

More players (big difference between 96 and 128) means more hotel rooms as well. Local qualifiers will mean more players also. There is no reason that Q Master couldn't hold a Second Chance tournament for players eliminated on days 1-3, plus any players who didn't play the main event. A $100 entry fee with maybe $1,000 Added would work (open to 64 players). Done that too (at the Sands). Take advantage of your proximity to Q Master, one of the biggest pool halls in America.

Just a few ideas that might be helpful. I'd like to see you be successful and continue this event. Good luck!


http://www.jayhelfert.com/ to order More Pool Wars

Last edited by jay helfert; 11-20-2019 at 10:51 PM.
  
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11-21-2019, 12:08 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by patscue View Post
Iíve read every post in the original thread. And for those who were unhappy with my 2020 decisions, you made excellent points of which I cannot disagree.
Yet, none of my decisions were snap judgements. As I handed out prize money this year to the players, I asked them what could make 2020 better than 2019 and would encourage their return. The entry fee and the single-elimination idea were brought up the most, and before I made any decisions.

Jay Helfert knows as well as anyone what it takes to run a successful major tournament, and how everyone has their well intentioned opinions and I respect his.

The International 9-Ball Open with a staff of 40, had to raise over $100,000 to survive. I failed in crucial areas:
Sadly, we only got 96 players, needed 128.
Sadly, we were short on spectators.
Sadly, the vendors deserved more traffic.
Sadly, we needed more hotel room reservations.

Soooo, changes had to be made or nothing would change.
I decided to lower the entry fee to $500, increase the field, and announce alternate breaks. The purpose is to draw more players, which will draw more spectators, reserve more hotel rooms, and bring more traffic to our vendors.

The most heat came from eliminating winner breaks and itís obvious why. At the same time, there will be more hill-hill matches with alternate breaks that may be just as memorable. Each player will know he'll have at least five turns at the table and we'll still have our share of come-back matches. Only time will tell if this fails or succeeds. I do know that all of us want it to succeed and continue!

And I'm not done with major announcements. Before long, I will announce why 2020 will be bigger and better than 2019.

Yes, please comment!
Single elimination with longer races, and match time limits doubles the prize money, but don't double the length of the event. 256 players single elimination takes the same time as a 128 player, double elimination event, but at $500 entry its $128,000 vs $64,000.
  
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11-21-2019, 05:16 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Lee View Post
Pat...I was there last year for the entire tournament, and loved every minute of it. This year I was unable to attend, but still believe in you. You are one of VERY FEW pro tournament promoters, and maybe the only one who has no dirty hands in their history of running events. Without you the US Open 9ball event would have gone down the tubes. Now, with Barry Hearn and Matchroom running things, that tournament has been resurrected, in a very big way! You were treated very shabbily by the Behrmann kids...but you don't have to look far to see why. Barry had his own skeletons, and usually the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Nonetheless, this is your event, and you should run it however it works best for you (it's a nice sideline to query the players; let alone make concessions for them). Personally I loved the referee racking...no BS. I wish you the best, and I know your event will prosper in the future! Thanks for all you've done for pool over the last 40+ years.

Scott Lee
Director, SPF National Pool School Tour
Well stated, Scott.

Pat, I'll be there whatever the format is.

Keith
  
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11-21-2019, 07:06 AM

You rock Pat. Always have. Look, this is your baby so run it as you see fit. REAL players will support it. NO ONE will miss the few whiny butt-hurt ones.
  
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11-21-2019, 07:50 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by jay helfert View Post
You have the hardest job of all as far as I'm concerned. Finding a way to make money running a pool tournament was the most difficult thing I ever had to do in my pool career. When I was finally successful (after several failed attempts), some players were mad at me for making money. Go figure!

To respond to your post above, I would suggest the following;
I know you had more players the precious year, close to 128 I believe (or was it full). You could try adding qualifiers at any poolroom that would like to participate. A sixteen man (single elimination) qualifier at $75 each would yield $1,200. The winner would receive the free entry and the participating location gets the other $200 for running the event, and sending the entry fee money to you. Raise the entry to $100 and now you can give the runner-up (finalist) $400 as well. You could also schedule a series of four qualifiers at Q Masters in the four days prior to the International with a $100 entry fee each day and open it to 32 players. This way three players per day could get into the main event and the house would get $200 a day to host it. Also single elimination, with a play off match for the two losers in the semis for the third spot. By doing this you hold the entry at $1,000 and get a larger (full) field of 128. Of course I know that you may already be committed to lowering the entry fee next year, but now you need many more players to make up the difference in prize money, which will still be less than with 100 players at $1,000 each. Sorry that this is so long.

Perhaps lowering the ticket price will help to attract more spectators. I often gave better pricing on the first two days to attract more people, even going so far as handing out half price discount coupons at local poolrooms (Q Master again), good for days one and two. Discounts for Seniors and Veterans (your in Norfolk!) will also help bring more people. Of course the more you can promote and advertise locally the better. Local media is your friend! A few Ads in the local newspaper (even small ones) and announcements in any and every publication (someone has to be your PR man!) will pay dividends. Been there, done that. You are in a large metropolitan area and it behooves you to let people know that a major pool championship is being held in their area. The best time to do this is in the days immediately prior to the event. Getting mention on local TV stations (sports news about upcoming events - send them a short video! You are Accu-Stats after all) can do wonders. Personal appearances by players is even better. If you can book a segment on a sports show that's a win.

More spectators means more traffic for the vendors!

More players (big difference between 96 and 128) means more hotel rooms as well. Local qualifiers will mean more players also. There is no reason that Q Master couldn't hold a Second Chance tournament for players eliminated on days 1-3, plus any players who didn't play the main event. A $100 entry fee with maybe $1,000 Added would work (open to 64 players). Done that too (at the Sands). Take advantage of your proximity to Q Master, one of the biggest pool halls in America.

Just a few ideas that might be helpful. I'd like to see you be successful and continue this event. Good luck!
Jay, thanks for your thoughts. In 2018 we had 113 players. In 2019 we had 96, therefore 2020 forced some changes.
2020 plans do include adding qualifiers and since the entry fee will only be $500, it should be easier for pool rooms to fill a field. We'll put a lot of effort into that. Q-Master has been great, and they will make every effort to run qualifiers this year at the $500 entry fee. They couldn’t draw a field last year with the $1000 entry fee. Last year, we advertised free admission to those in the military and for city employees, but it didn’t do well. I agree that TV and Radio Station exposure would help if we can convince them to come. The Juniors was a great addition to the show and we’ll invite more juniors in 2020. Of course, 160 players at $500 is still worrisome, but Matchroom got 256 at $1000 in no time at all.
So, expect some new announcements soon, but not about the rules and format.


Pat Fleming
  
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11-21-2019, 08:05 AM

I have no idea the answer to these questions, but I'm curious:

Do pro players prefer winner break or alternate break?

Do pro players prefer single elimination or double elimination?
  
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11-21-2019, 08:14 AM

Pat,

I attended 22 US Opens and your first 2 International 9-Ball Opens as a spectator. Barry made a lot of mistakes, but the tournaments were always fun. Your 2 Internationals were more than first-class events. I fully support whatever changes you feel you need to make to insure they are financially successful in the future.
  
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11-21-2019, 08:50 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by iusedtoberich View Post
One thing I would suggest, if you have not already done so, is ask the paying spectators the same question you asked the playing participants.
Nice idea. For many years now, American event producers have been far too concerned with what the players want and not nearly concerned enough about what the fans want. Yes, filling the field is critical, and the players' input is needed when expectations in participation are not met, but when spectator attendance is as poor as it was at this year's International, fan input should be sought and weighed in evidence.

In the eyes of this fan, who has been attending pro events since 1976, what the fans want are well designed stands, access to the best seats, good refreshments and food within the venue, and matches that stay on schedule.

1. Well-designed spectator stands and access to the best seats
The stands we get at the International belie the quality of the event. To me, they seem thrown together and the seating is much more fan-friendly at Turning Stone, Derby City and the US Open 9-ball.

Access to the best seats is also a problem at the International. This particular fan has always been happy to pay a premium price for the best seats, no matter how much of a premium must be paid. In 2018, I couldn't get the best seats, so I chose not to attend the International. Instead, I tuned in to the stream, and noticed that the seats I had tried to purchase were empty almost every night. This put a bad taste in my mouth, but I tried again in 2019. Unsuccessful again, I was tempted to skip the event again this year. In the end, I opted to buy lesser quality seats for the last three days of the event and attended. Turns out I'd hit the jackpot as my good friend Jerry Briesath had purchased an extra ringside seat and had me as his guest during the last stages of the event. Nonetheless, once again, the seats I was unable to purchase were empty almost every single day, and that bad taste in my mouth came back.

2. Good refreshments and food within the venue
The food counter at the International is pretty terrible, far inferior to what we get at both Turning Stone and Derby City, and neither of those is anything to write home about. The Sheraton Norfolk has no gift shop, so sundry consumables are particularly hard to come by during the International.

3. Matches that stay on schedule
While allowing for the fact that match lengths are, at least to a point, of indeterminate length, in American pool, it seems like Mike Zuglan is the only event producer that has figured out how to adhere rigorously to a posted match schedule. Failure to stick to the announced schedule disheartens fans in attendance and also disenfranchises those who buy the stream, as the match times are so undependable.

Bergman beat Shane at the last International event, but awfully few saw it. The match didn't begin until nearly 11:00 PM. This fan, realizing that the next day's play would begin at 10:30 AM, had to decide which matches to miss, always an unfortunate decision to have to make, but on this occasion, I went to bed. I wonder just how many fans who'd purchased the stream threw in the towel just like me. History repeated itself when the very next night, Bergman played Ko, with a spot in the final four riding on the result, and that one began closer to midnight, ending after 2:00 AM. Once again, this fan, and I'm sure some others, opted for bed.

In Conclusion
Pat Fleming is one of American pool's greatest treasures. I met him some forty years ago, and have seen his good work as a pro player, a tournament director and as an event producer. He is and always has been committed to excellence in everything he does in our sport. My comments here are offered in the spirit of constructive feedback and not as defiant complaint, but I have tried to be honest about the International and possible causes of inadequate fan attendance.

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11-21-2019, 02:41 PM

I think $500 entry fee combined with alternate break are good changes to fill the field with players. That will get entries by strong and low level pros, A players, & even some B players who want the experience. Whether that would fill the stands with spectators, I don't know.

As a B player who played in the US Open last year, I absolutely loved the experience. But $1000 was really excessive for someone like me, and the winner break format with me playing an 800+ player the first match led to the predictable conclusion that I had only about 3 real offensive chances at the table. So that was a 1-time bucket list thing for me.

That match between me and Albin was predictably lopsided (11-1), but look at how many matches between two 770+ players were also lopsided at 11-0 to 11-4! Winner break is a huge advantage to the player who gets control of the table first and then manages to keep control by making the 1 in the side every break thereafter.

If it were alternate break, you know that most of those matches would have been much closer and certainly both players would have had more equal table-time.

Hard to say what a spectator wants to see more. Winner break gives you the opportunity to see large packages and occasional comebacks from way behind. That is exciting. Alternate break lets you see more hill-hill matches and equal play from both opponents which is also exciting.


Quote:
Originally Posted by patscue View Post
I decided to lower the entry fee to $500, increase the field, and announce alternate breaks. The purpose is to draw more players, which will draw more spectators, reserve more hotel rooms, and bring more traffic to our vendors.

The most heat came from eliminating winner breaks and itís obvious why. At the same time, there will be more hill-hill matches with alternate breaks that may be just as memorable. Each player will know he'll have at least five turns at the table and we'll still have our share of come-back matches.


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11-22-2019, 08:17 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by beetle View Post
Hard to say what a spectator wants to see more. Winner break gives you the opportunity to see large packages and occasional comebacks from way behind. That is exciting. Alternate break lets you see more hill-hill matches and equal play from both opponents which is also exciting.
Yes, that's the tradeoff, but Maximilan Lechner's eight pack vs SVB this year may well be remembered as much as Shaw having won the title. The loss of that prospect is, at least a little, discouraging.
  
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