Excellence is not measured in titles alone. If so then Bustamante is a hack compared to some others.
The problem comes when people want to use a lack of titles to run a player down. That's just not a fair comparison.
Winning titles is a combination of skill AND luck. Many factors contribute to winning ANY tournament and in any tournament there are generally many times where the ultimate winner could have been eliminated but for a few fortunate rolls here and there.
What does "gambling" have to do with it? Well for one thing the race to 100 format isn't gambling in the "hustling" sense. it's more like a boxing match. In the old old days World Titles were won this way and at one point iirc if any world champion refused a head's up match for the world title then they would automatically lose it. Most of Mosconi's titles were won in head to head matches.
The great Willie Hoppe traveled to France to play a long billiards match with Andre "the Lion" Gaganeux. A match which was front page page news for three days with furious betting on both sides. It was this match which propelled Willie Hoppe to worldwide fame after he won it.
I personally think that the heads up match is the ultimate test between two individuals. As Tracy Joe Salazar said to me, in the old days you went after a player and if he beat you then you regrouped and tried again and you kept trying until you could beat him, no one and done and run. To me a race to 100 pretty much settles the question between two players as to who is better and if they complete one and still aren't sure then they should go again.
Being willing to step into the box one-on-one against any other living human is something to be admired. Titles are great and I agree that every player wants them. Anyone willing to go head to head against title holders though is someone to be respected not only for their skill but also for their guts.
Sorry but it simply only tells who's better those 3 days ,, I don't think anyone walked away thinking Earl was a better player after he thumped Shane into Submission ,,Shane was clearly rattled and never caught a gear ,, it happens , why did it happen that time , because he was out of his element ,, all the other 100 races have been on his home table sorta speak .. Let's see him in a pit a Black Pool , or in Tiwann loaded with gamblers ..