First of all CONGRATULATIONS to Dennis on a well deserved victory! He has established himself as one of the premier players in the world, currently ranked #1 I believe. This was a strong (and full) field of players, world class imo. Probably the strongest field yet assembled for the U.S. Open Ten Ball. Hats off to Mark Griffin and his staff at CSI for pulling it off. And kudos to Ken Shuman, Bill Stock and John Leyman for running the event (and the U.S. Open One Pocket) so flawlessly. In a well directed tournament you hardly notice the officials, because things are flowing so smoothly. And that was the case the last two weeks in Vegas.
Contrary to popular opinion professional pool is not in such bad shape. True the prize money is woeful compared to golf or tennis, but it is what it is. There are new tournaments and new sponsors emerging worldwide for the top players to compete in. And in this era of broken economies around the globe it's a testament to the popularity of the game that there are so many good events for the top pros to play in. Even in this day of big money sports, a fifteen to forty thousand dollar pay day is nothing to sneeze at. I wish I'd made 15K this week, that's for sure. Dennis has earned over 20K on this trip not counting side games worth substantial $$$.
There is no one dominant player in pool today, mainly because there are so many great players out there. It used to be all American players on top but now we have a multitude of great European champions, as well as all the top players from the Philippines, Taiwan, China and Japan. Professional pool is more competitive today than ever and it takes some great (and consistent) play to win an event like this.
As much as I like Dennis, he will always be pushed by his countrymen like Alex, Francisco, Lee Vann and the others. Shane, Ralf, Mika and a gang of Chinese players are all primed and ready to win at any time. This is a great time to be a pool fan with so many great players to watch and enjoy. I see match after match where the level of play borders on spectacular. Some day the rest of the world will realize the amount of skill it takes to play this game at the highest level. There is NO other sport this tough! My hat is off to all these great champions and I thank them for dedicating themselves to pool.
I wouldn't worry too much about who's the best between Dennis and Shane and Alex and Bustie. What I like about these guys is that they carry over their love for the game and the competition to venues like TAR, just to see who's best. They are true competitors in every sense of the word. They all get my vote - BIG TIME!