No dispute that Efren is the GOAT, but who is the 9 ball GOAT?

Stevexjfe

Active member
No way.

But the matter of the 9-ball GOAT is no bargain.

Certainly, deeply embedded in the discussion are names like Lassiter, Sigel, Strickland, Varner, Archer, Hall, SVB and Pagulayan. Filler is probably in the discussion already because of all his major titles, but it's too early in his career to pass judgement.

If we're looking for who had the highest gear ever seen, it's easy. Earl Strickland routinely beat champion after champion 11-2 when he was on. I've never seen anyone who's "A" game was higher than that of Earl.

If we're looking for the guy who had the longest streak of sustained excellence, I'd go with Sigel.

If we're looking for the player that ran the table with the most grace, it's Buddy Hall.

If we're looking for the player who best combined offensive excellence with tactical excellence, it's Pagulayan, or possibly Varner.

I've discussed this with Nick Varner. He thinks it's Luther Lassiter, whose domination at Johnston City at a time when every Johnston City field had 25 future BCA hall of famers is almost unfathomable.

For this fan, however, I think sustained excellence should be the measure and Sigel mass-produced major titles for the length of his career. Sigel is the nine ball GOAT.
If it's sustained excellence and mass-produced major titles over a length of a career, surely it would be SVB.
Like Sigel, Shane has won over 100 professional titles but Shane's only 39 and Sigel achieved this when he was 41 and Shane probably won't retire in the next couple of years and will go on to play and win titles against the toughest fields we've even seen. As well as the fact that the fields that Shane has faced may not have been tougher but it's definitely arguable (no offence to the generation of players before) with far more Internationally competition to face, coupled with the fact that about 60% of Sigel's 100 tournament wins were smaller $500 tournaments with many of the top players not In them, this is true I looked through the National Billiards News Archives extensively, to see If Sigel's record really was as impressive as people say. Even Souquet who has sustained excellence for 30 years who has won many "Majors" and about twice as many titles as Sigel if not more. Thanks again Stu.
 

arnaldo

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
There’s something fishy about the entire event.
Want proof? Buddy deserves a supporting actor Oscar for his fishy "miss" and reaction to the "miss" in the final COC rack:

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=buddy+hall+mike+lebron+champions&docid=603508789909929410&mid=A4522E95FF7E55765D2AA4522E95FF7E55765D2A&view=detail&FORM=VIRE

Arnaldo
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sjm

Older and Wiser
Silver Member
If it's sustained excellence and mass-produced major titles over a length of a career, surely it would be SVB.
Like Sigel, Shane has won over 100 professional titles but Shane's only 39 and Sigel achieved this when he was 41 and Shane probably won't retire in the next couple of years and will go on to play and win titles against the toughest fields we've even seen. As well as the fact that the fields that Shane has faced may not have been tougher but it's definitely arguable (no offence to the generation of players before) with far more Internationally competition to face, coupled with the fact that about 60% of Sigel's 100 tournament wins were smaller $500 tournaments with many of the top players not In them, this is true I looked through the National Billiards News Archives extensively, to see If Sigel's record really was as impressive as people say. Even Souquet who has sustained excellence for 30 years who has won many "Majors" and about twice as many titles as Sigel if not more. Thanks again Stu.
Unlike Sigel, SVB did not spend almost half of his career during the straight pool era. Sigel is the only player in history that is top five of all time in both straight pool and nine ball. Not a fair comparison. Sigel had far fewer tournaments in which to play at 9ball than Shane and was far more efficient in the late stages of events than Shane, winning 63 of his first 68 finals entered.
 

Island Drive

Otto/Dads College Roommate/Cleveland Browns
Silver Member
Sigels win streak during that period of time, was ''the talk'' amongst all the greats.
 

stevelomako

America the Beautiful
Silver Member
I know they made lines on it until the contract with Billiards International ran out in what I believe was 1994, but after that, they neither renewed nor ever made book on pool again despite the fact that pool had a significant presence in Vegas.

Steve, I know you know your stuff, and just like you, I was around pro pool back then. Even though I know what I saw, there will never be proof of the dump and everyone's allowed their opinion.

Hope you're well, Steve.
Doing good Stu.

Hope to see you somewhere sometime soon.
 

chandler1968

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I played regularly in the Golden 8ball in Phoenix in the late 80's and early 90's. Lebron played in the regular Monday night 9ball a couple times. He was handicapped a 14 and Roger Griifis was a 13. Deliberto was the house pro but never played in the tournaments.
 

Positively Ralf

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
@azhousepro
Maybe there’s Accu-Stats footage of the ‘88 US Open 9B Championship to upload? Or anything Accu-Stats related with ‘Spanish Mike’ Lebrón?

In the meantime there’s this:


Davenport had a hell of a mullet. Also, I sometimes forget how good of a commentator Bill Staton was.
 

Stevexjfe

Active member
Unlike Sigel, SVB did not spend almost half of his career during the straight pool era. Sigel is the only player in history that is top five of all time in both straight pool and nine ball. Not a fair comparison. Sigel had far fewer tournaments in which to play at 9ball than Shane and was far more efficient in the late stages of events than Shane, winning 63 of his first 68 finals entered.
Yep "winning 63 of his first 68 finals entered" I added this to Sigel's wiki, when I found it in an article of the National Billiard News, it does sound good but once again like I said before, 50-60% of those tournament were $500 tournament with lots of the top players not in them, I also wrote up his titles if you'd like to take a look:- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Sigel#Titles_and_achievements
Here's Shane's titles in comparison https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shane_Van_Boening#Career_titles_and_achievements
I think If Shane continues, in 5 years for me their will be no doubt In my mind that he will have surpassed Sigel indefinitely. We'll agree to disagree, but In my mind if the players aren't getting better, the sport is growing, I think Sigel set the bar no doubt for high level 9-Ball, but it's been surpassed or will be soon. Thanks again Stu!
 

sjm

Older and Wiser
Silver Member
Yep "winning 63 of his first 68 finals entered" I added this to Sigel's wiki, when I found it in an article of the National Billiard News, it does sound good but once again like I said before, 50-60% of those tournament were $500 tournament with lots of the top players not in them, I also wrote up his titles if you'd like to take a look:- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Sigel#Titles_and_achievements
Here's Shane's titles in comparison https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shane_Van_Boening#Career_titles_and_achievements
I think If Shane continues, in 5 years for me their will be no doubt In my mind that he will have surpassed Sigel indefinitely. We'll agree to disagree, but In my mind if the players aren't getting better, the sport is growing, I think Sigel set the bar no doubt for high level 9-Ball, but it's been surpassed or will be soon. Thanks again Stu!
Yup, agree to disagree. I've been around since the beginning of Sigel's career in the mid-1970's, so I've seen Sigel's entire career and Shane's entire career. See post 164, in which Island Drive (who has been around even longer than I) recalls the buzz surrounding Sigel back in the day. He pretty much never came up for air in his career. In addition, when Shane won the 2022 World championship, it was his first major in six years. I assure you that Sigel never had such a stretch. In fact, many feel that Sigel was still the best player in the world when he retired from competition in 1993.

Then again, Shane may have as good a claim as anyone to being the 10-ball goat.
 

FunChamp

Well-known member
Yup, agree to disagree. I've been around since the beginning of Sigel's career in the mid-1970's, so I've seen Sigel's entire career and Shane's entire career. See post 164, in which Island Drive (who has been around even longer than I) recalls the buzz surrounding Sigel back in the day. He pretty much never came up for air in his career. In addition, when Shane won the 2022 World championship, it was his first major in six years. I assure you that Sigel never had such a stretch. In fact, many feel that Sigel was still the best player in the world when he retired from competition in 1993.

Then again, Shane may have as good a claim as anyone to being the 10-ball goat.
Hi Stu. How would you compare Sigel's level of competition as well as the number of viable competitors to that of Shane's? I sometimes thought, very possibly wrong, that one of the reasons Sigel ducked out was that he saw the writing on the wall. Earl, Efren, CJ, and up and coming Archer etc were going to be taking more and more of his limelight and he didn't want to deal with that. Thoughts on that? Thank you
 

nicksaint26

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Hi Stu. How would you compare Sigel's level of competition as well as the number of viable competitors to that of Shane's? I sometimes thought, very possibly wrong, that one of the reasons Sigel ducked out was that he saw the writing on the wall. Earl, Efren, CJ, and up and coming Archer etc were going to be taking more and more of his limelight and he didn't want to deal with that. Thoughts on that? Thank you

No way the fields were as tough as what SVB has persevered through!
 

sjm

Older and Wiser
Silver Member
Hi Stu. How would you compare Sigel's level of competition as well as the number of viable competitors to that of Shane's?
We're only talking nine ball here .....

To keep this manageable, let's talk about the middle of Shane's career. The level has skyrocketed in the last few years.
In his best years, 2012-2016 by my reckoning, Shane's primary rivals were Pagulayan, Hohmann, Immonen, Orcullo, Souquet, Feijen, Appleton, Bustamante, Strickland and Ouschan. That's eight BCA Hall of Famers and two on the doorstep, so Shane found ten legends in the field of every big event in which he participated.

Sigel's greatest rivals in 1992, his last full year of competition, were Varner, Hall, Strickland, Rempe, Archer, Mizerak, Parica, Reyes, Hopkins, and Davenport. Yup, those ten future BCA Hall of Famers were found in virtually every big event in which Miike participated. Knowledgeable fans well know that those were some of the toughest fields in pool history.

Sigel's prime and Shane's prime offered similarly brutal fields and winning the big ones was crazy difficult for both.

The new generation of players brings fields that look a lot tougher to me than those faced by either Sigel at his best or Shane at his best. Last week's Las Vegas Open had as elite a field as you could ever want, but it was the 22-year-old Zielinski and the 21-year-old Pehlivanoic that hooked up in the final. The rate at which young, capable players is emerging is mind-blowing right now. Filler, Gorst, FSR, and a few others are raising the bar to a level never seen before, and it's a good time to be a fan if you like great pool.

I sometimes thought, very possibly wrong, that one of the reasons Sigel ducked out was that he saw the writing on the wall. Earl, Efren, CJ, and up and coming Archer etc were going to be taking more and more of his limelight and he didn't want to deal with that. Thoughts on that? Thank you
Yes, you are wrong.

Sigel was still the best player in the world when he retired from full-time tournament play at the end of 1992. He always wore out Reyes in tournament play and Varner and Strickland were, perhaps, his greatest rivals. He had the head-to-head advantage over both, but not by much. FYI, CJ had a short pro career and his best years were 1995 and 1996, but he was focusing on the production side of pool by 1998.
 
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thoffen

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
This reminds me of an interview chess champion Bobby Fisher did where he was asked who the greatest off all-time was... he said if Morphy (unquestionably one of the most talented of all-time) came back today 150 years later, he would have a hard time against masters players, let alone grandmasters, because of the advancements in game theory and knowledge learned from those that came before them. It's not a perfect analogy because of all the memorization in chess but I think it very much still applies and should be considered when we try to determine who is the "greatest." Do we mean the most talented?... or do we want to know who would win if we had a time machine and got all the greats in their prime together to play? This is just me, but I wouldn't necessarily consider the winner of the latter the greatest. Domination of the competition (quality of competition considered) and taking the game to a new level would probably be my top factors. It's funny how despite being a somewhat obnoxious and sometimes impossible question, I think we all like to talk and think about it nonetheless.

I think the Morphy - Fisher comparison is apt, although I guess not very useful for those who don't follow chess. :)

It's hard to judge players who dominated their competition before the advent of Efren, Parica, etc. bringing over new ideas. And who's to say what Lassiter would have been like if he were a contemporary of those guys.

Chess is even more interesting along those routes because a prime Fisher would get crushed by today's top pros because they all have deep engine analysis, and even with the advent of Deep Blue beating Kasparov, chess computers of those days are absolute trash compared to what a smartphone app can produce in seconds. But how would Morphy or Fisher do if they had those tools themselves.

Despite better equipment and particularly advancement of jump cues and template racks, pool isn't going to go the way of chess. Plenty of pros have the tools and skills and knowledge that virtually no one had 40 years ago but only a handful will ever be at the top.
 

FunChamp

Well-known member
We're only talking nine ball here .....

To keep this manageable, let's talk about the middle of Shane's career. The level has skyrocketed in the last few years.
In his best years, 2012-2016 by my reckoning, Shane's primary rivals were Pagulayan, Hohmann, Immonen, Orcullo, Souquet, Feijen, Appleton, Bustamante, Strickland and Ouschan. That's nine BCA Hall of Famers and one that's on the doorstep, so Shane found ten legends in the field of every big event in which he participated.

Sigel's greatest rivals in 1992, his last full year of competition, were Varner, Hall, Strickland, Rempe, Archer, Mizerak, Parica, Reyes, Hopkins, and Davenport. Yup, those ten future BCA Hall of Famers were found in virtually every big event in which Miike participated. Knowledgeable fans well know that those were some of the toughest fields in pool history.

Sigel's prime and Shane's prime offered similarly brutal fields and winning the big ones was crazy difficult for both.

The new generation of players brings fields that look a lot tougher to me than those faced by either Sigel at his best or Shane at his best. Last week's Las Vegas Open had as elite a field as you could ever want, but it was the 22-year-old Zielinski and the 21-year-old Pehlivanoic that hooked up in the final. The rate at which young, capable players is emerging is mind-blowing right now. Filler, Gorst, FSR, and a few others are raising the bar to a level never seen before, and it's a good time to be a fan if you like great pool.


Yes, you are wrong.

Sigel was still the best player in the world when he retired from full-time tournament play at the end of 1992. He always wore out Reyes in tournament play and Varner and Strickland were, perhaps, his greatest rivals. He had the head-to-head advantage over both, but not by much. FYI, CJ had a short pro career and his best years were 1995 and 1996, but he was focusing on the production side of pool by 1998.
Thank you for the response. I appreciate your insight.
 

PoolBum

Ace in the side.
Silver Member
But how would Morphy or Fisher do if they had those tools themselves.
That's the only interesting question, IMO. The same is true of pool. Make the playing field completely level and let's see who is the best.
 

sly_shooter

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Has anyone asked Efren who he thought was the best? I think Buddy Hall left a big first impression on Cesar Morales. Efren always mentioned Buddy Hall and Nick Varner as the best at 9 ball. But to be fair, even within the last couple years Efren said he'd pick Nick Varner to be his pool partner if he wasn't allowed to pick another Filipino. Efren doesn't think about any of the young guys. Efren doesn't mention Earl very often either.
 

PoolBum

Ace in the side.
Silver Member
Has anyone asked Efren who he thought was the best? I think Buddy Hall left a big first impression on Cesar Morales. Efren always mentioned Buddy Hall and Nick Varner as the best at 9 ball. But to be fair, even within the last couple years Efren said he'd pick Nick Varner to be his pool partner if he wasn't allowed to pick another Filipino. Efren doesn't think about any of the young guys. Efren doesn't mention Earl very often either.
Efren has often said that Mike Sigel was his toughest opponent.
 

FunChamp

Well-known member
I watched clip of Efren saying Sigel was his toughest but that Varner was right behind Sigel and also that he thought Nick was smarter however.
 

sly_shooter

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I watched clip of Efren saying Sigel was his toughest but that Varner was right behind Sigel and also that he thought Nick was smarter however.
I think I've seen at least 3 or 4 videos of people asking Efren this. Yes he has mentioned Mike Sigel as well.
 
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