SJM at the 2024 Derby City Classic

jay helfert

Shoot Pool, not people
Gold Member
Silver Member
I have just experienced nine memorable days at the Derby City Classic and I will share what it was like to be there.

Before doing so, however, I’ll take note that Diamond butchered the event for a second straight year, and few were on hand when the Master of the Table was decided and even fewer saw the 9ball final, which began at about 8:15 AM on Sunday.

Day 1, Friday January 19, 2024
Arrived at the hotel at 5:00 PM. I saw Shaw vs Gorst in the Big Foot, a good tussle up to 6-6 but Fedor was brilliant in the closing racks for the win. I then made an early night of it.

Day 2, Saturday, January 20, 2024
Saw a few early banks matches, but nothing special. I watched banks in the afternoon and there was one good match, in which Mickey Krause and Trae Joyce came down to the last ball of the last rack, with Krause prevailing. Later, Tin Man and I watched Corteza’s master class win over SVB in the Big Foot. The match of the day was Gorst vs Lunda in banks. Lunda won the first rack and Gorst the next two. Lunda tied it up, but Gorst had the first good look in the case rack. His cross-side miss proved costly when Lunda ran five and out for the win.

Day 3, Sunday, January 21, 2024
It was moving day in the Big Foot, as winning quarterfinalists would be guaranteed $4,000+. The morning banks matches were nothing special, but Filler put on quite a show in his Big Foot match against Morra. Gorst did not find his “A” game until the late stages of his Big Foot match with Zielinski, who had a brutal skid when he was about to pull within 7-6. This set up the match everyone wanted to see for Monday in the Big Foot semis. I did not see much of the evening matches, but Konrad J and Corteza won and were to face off in the other semi. At banks, the favorites had an easy time of it, but Shaw suffered his first loss. Scott Frost had a nice win over Tony Chohan. The match of the day was Naoyuki Oi vs banks specialist Troy Jones. With fine play, Oi jumped out to 2-0, but Jones found a gear that was awe-inspiring and the runouts he made in the last two racks were remarkable, as he came back for the win. Finally, one pocket began, but I saw almost none f it.

Day 4, Monday, January 22, 2024
I rarely get up for the 9:30 AM round in bank pool, but when I saw Filler would play Lunda, I knew I had to be there. The defining moments came in Rack 3, with the match tied at 1-1 and Lunda ahead four balls to none. Josh made one and then three to bring the rack down to the last ball and won the ensuing safety battle to take a 2-1 lead. Josh won the next rack for a 3-1 victory and his first ever win over Lunda at banks.

Next up was the match all had waited for as Filler and Gorst hooked up in the Big Foot semis. The match lived up to its billing, as Gorst rallied from 6-2 down to take a 9-8 lead. Filler’s break and run made it double hill. Fedor broke wet but had no choice but to push, and Filler was first to gain control of the table, then running out for the victory. I would call it the most electrifying match ever seen in the Big Foot, with the world’s two best players offering an Ali vs Frazier kind of show. Finally, I have said it before and I will say it again. Played Texas Express, 10ball is a great game.

Corteza easily dismissed Konrad J in the second semi and it was Filler topping Corteza for the Big Foot title in a match that was closer than the 10-5 final score suggested. The Big Foot had delivered.

At days end, nineteen players remained in banks, including undefeated players Pinegar, Garcia, Fracasso-Verner, SVB, Salim, Chohan and Filler.

Finally, one pocket continued, but I saw almost none of it.

Day 5, Tuesday, January 23, 2024
At long last, banks sat center stage and a champion was to be crowned. The play was electrifying all day, as some of the favorites continued to cruise. SVB, Can Salim, Joah Filler and Tony Chohan remained undefeated through Round 9, but Justin Hall beat Josh Filler easily in Round 10. In Round 11, Filler met Gorst and it was clear that the match would figure prominently in the race for Master of the table. Filler prevailed in a well-played match. With Chohan and Salim tying for fourth, the last three standing were Filler, SVB and Hall, each carrying a loss. Hall drew the bye into the final, and Filler topped Shane to advance to the final.

The banks final was among the finest at Derby City, as Justin Hall fired on all cylinders to take a 2-0 lead. Filler clawed his way back and somehow beat Hall, whose level never really dropped. Filler won $16,000 on Monday night at 10ball and $16,000 Tuesday night in banks. He became the man to beat for Master of the Table.

I did not watch much one pocket, but I knew that would change on Wednesday. What an unforgettable day of pool!

Day 6, Wednesday, January 24, 2024
One pocket was front and center and the top guys were starting to draw each other, but my focus was on the matches of Filler and Shaw, both of whom finished the day having won their first seven matches. An especially interesting match was Filler vs Lukas Fracasso-Verner. Filler scratched on two of his three breaks and had to fight hard for the double win against a fast-improving young player who’d already come tied for seventh in banks. AZB’s Tin Man had qualified for Round 8 in the one pocket by day’s end. The 9ball began, but I saw just one match, with Pia Filler prevailing. The evening session lasted until 1:30 AM, and I was there when the last ball dropped.

Day 7, Thursday, January 25, 2024
One pocket and 9ball shared the stage, but my focus was on the one pocket. The day was littered with the unpredictable, but ultimately ended with a killer final three. Lunda and DeMarco played well and tied for fourth, but the ease with which SVB, Gorst and Filler continued to advance was shocking, with the lone exception being Gorst’s escape against Brandon Shuff in which it was 2-2 and Shuff led 7-6 in ball count.

It set up unprecedented circumstances for Friday, as each of the three remaining still had buybacks at day’s end. The final rounds of one pocket were to have huge Master of the Table implications.

The 9ball was still in Round 2 at day’s end and, just like last year, things looked to be way behind schedule.

Day 8, Friday, January 26, 2024
Slept late. I saw Josh Filler top Shannon Murphy easily. It was on to the one pocket and SVB topped Filler double hill to give Josh his first loss. Gorst then topped SVB, giving Shane his first loss. In the semis, SVB topped Filler to eliminate him. SVB needed to double dip Gorst for the title, but he won just the first set, so Gorst won the one pocket title. The Master of the table race was tight, with Filler having a narrow lead at 200 points, with SVB at 180 and Gorst at 170.

9ball plodded along and was still in Round 5 when the session ended after 1:00 AM. The 9ball tournament appeared to be backed up even more than last year. I was already worried about missing my second consecutive DCC 9ball final.

Finally, Mike Delawder was exceptional in the banks ring game, outlasting a very game Billy Thorpe for first prize.


Putting the 2024 in Historical Context
Certainly, Filler’s effort at the Derby was among the finest in pool history. Bigfoot champion, banks champion, one pocket bronze, 9ball champion and Master of the Table.

Gorst’s play was also of the highest caliber during the Derby, and I feel that the Filler vs Gorst rivalry has reached the level that most pool fans saw coming. There’s a lot of mutual respect between them, and theirs is a rivalry that will bring years of entertainment.

What’s Wrong with the Derby?
As a paying fan, I am disgusted by Diamond’s repeated mismanagement of the event. I felt as bad for the players, who were yawning during warmups and the play. Once again, it was the 9ball event that ruined the Derby, with the field being so big that after the second day of play, the event was still in Round 2. The event producers showed little regard for the fans or the players in the administration of the event and it is a crying shame.

Another thing that rubbed me the wrong way was that the completed matches section of the website was not being updated, sometimes as much as two days behind. That meant that one couldn’t keep track of the results, which definitely cheapens the experience.

Until the 9ball field is capped at a reasonable number, this fiasco is going to be an annual ritual.

An event that once built to a crescendo now ends with a thud and it's a shame.
Thanks Stu for your very accurate assessment of DCC. I agree with you about the rules for Ten Ball. I've always seen it that way, just an extension of 9-Ball. The only failing is that the ten ball should count on the break. Much harder than making the nine on the break in 9-Ball. I would bet that it didn't happen more than once or twice (if at all!) in the Bigfoot tourney.

DCC needs to add a day and make it a ten day tournament or cut off the field in 9-Ball. We all should know by now why they haven't done that yet. All those rebuys mean $$$! You add up all the rebuys from the three events and they could pay the MOT money three or four times over! They are also taking a registration fee out of every entry. Unsure if it is still only $10. Even so, $10 times a thousand is ching-ching Ten Grand! Like I said before, DCC is a business for Diamond and most certainly the most prosperous event held in the USA each year for the promoters.
 

sjm

Older and Wiser
Silver Member
Big conventions are big business. I have to believe that there are third parties who can either a) run or coordinate conventions and/or b) troubleshoot and suggest remedies for conventions with issues, or both. I also believe that DCC is in dire need of some type of professional analysis. Sometimes the most difficult, and necessary, decision is the one to step back and let someone else step in. Just because you can do one thing very well does not mean you can do everything very well -- ask some physicians who have tried to branch out beyond medicine, This is no criticism of Diamond but rather a recognition of success of the underlying concept.

Some things can be said of DCC without fear of contradiction: it is the greatest show in pool, we all love it and want it to be around for a long time, and like anything we love, we want it to be the best it can be,

Pool has entered a very challenging era, We need the DCC just like we need our pool halls. We cannot afford to lose anything more.
Great post. Well said!
 

sjm

Older and Wiser
Silver Member
nice write up. i'm pretty sure it was fedor that knocked out filler in one pocket. did you watch the svb vs filler in the earlier round? it looked crowded around that table, ppl standing on each other almost. wasn't streamed, accustat dropped the ball there.

bank final probably was the best match streamed. both played lights out. fedor played almost impeccable in the 1pkt but shane didn't play as well as justin did in banks or labutis in 9-ball
Yes, it was Fedor. I dogged that one.
 

sjm

Older and Wiser
Silver Member
Thanks for another great recap. I attended for my first time this year and really enjoyed it. I was waiting for a time to find you alone and introduce myself but never found one. I guess the guy who has more tv time than any player always has someone talking with him.
That's a shame. Would have loved to meet you. Yes, I'm spread a little thin at the Derby, but I'd have found time for you.
 

Baby Huey

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
The management of the DCC event has to change its automated system for scheduling and posting matches. They are down or slowed down too much. The nine ball has to finish on Saturday not Sunday morning. They have to start matches later at night and earlier in the morning and take into account at least in the early rounds when folks played so that they are not back in 5 hours. This can be done and a minimum of two extra rounds can be played each day. That's ninety players or so playing who now wouldn't. Over the course of eight days that's 16 extra rounds or 400 plus matches. We're pool players and used to playing at odd hours so just think it through and fix it. The program is seriously broken right now.
 

sjm

Older and Wiser
Silver Member
The management of the DCC event has to change its automated system for scheduling and posting matches. They are down or slowed down too much. The nine ball has to finish on Saturday not Sunday morning. They have to start matches later at night and earlier in the morning and take into account at least in the early rounds when folks played so that they are not back in 5 hours. This can be done and a minimum of two extra rounds can be played each day. That's ninety players or so playing who now wouldn't. Over the course of eight days that's 16 extra rounds or 400 plus matches. We're pool players and used to playing at odd hours so just think it through and fix it. The program is seriously broken right now.
I agree 100%. With better technology and event administration, these huge fields could be accommodated in a timely fashion. A simple rule in 9ball might be "at the three-hour mark of a match, the player who is ahead wins." Yes, it's a shame that either player must win in such a match, but there are a few too many marathons between weak players.
 

kling&allen

AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
Thanks Stu for your very accurate assessment of DCC. I agree with you about the rules for Ten Ball. I've always seen it that way, just an extension of 9-Ball. The only failing is that the ten ball should count on the break. Much harder than making the nine on the break in 9-Ball. I would bet that it didn't happen more than once or twice (if at all!) in the Bigfoot tourney.

DCC needs to add a day and make it a ten day tournament or cut off the field in 9-Ball. We all should know by now why they haven't done that yet. All those rebuys mean $$$! You add up all the rebuys from the three events and they could pay the MOT money three or four times over! They are also taking a registration fee out of every entry. Unsure if it is still only $10. Even so, $10 times a thousand is ching-ching Ten Grand! Like I said before, DCC is a business for Diamond and most certainly the most prosperous event held in the USA each year for the promoters.

Jay, but why would Diamond risk pissing off pros and customers over $20k in buyback fees? The money they make from DCC is nothing compared to their annual revenue from pool table sales. It’s a weird business strategy.
 

Badpenguin

Well-known member
I agree 100%. With better technology and event administration, these huge fields could be accommodated in a timely fashion. A simple rule in 9ball might be "at the three-hour mark of a match, the player who is ahead wins." Yes, it's a shame that either player must win in such a match, but there are a few too many marathons between weak players.
If it is tied at 3 hours, I'd like to see a B&R contest. Player 1 gets to break and run as many balls/racks as possible, then player 2. Keep doing that until someone makes more balls.
 

Biloxi Boy

Man With A Golden Arm
The concept of losing money or breaking even on one item (or promotion) in order to promote other items/business. For some companies, DCC would be treated as a promotion with no profit (only loss control) as the bottom line concern. Goodwill being the goal.
 

sjm

Older and Wiser
Silver Member
The concept of losing money or breaking even on one item (or promotion) in order to promote other items/business. For some companies, DCC would be treated as a promotion with no profit (only loss control) as the bottom line concern. Goodwill being the goal.
Thanks. I don't think that's how Diamond operates or ever will operate.
 

Bob Jewett

AZB Osmium Member
Staff member
Gold Member
Silver Member
Has any billiards enterprise ever engaged in a "loss leader" strategy?
I think lots of room tournaments that add money end up behind on the deal. Lots of World Tournaments have happened when there was no chance of making a profit. The first major tournament I played in -- The 1975 US Open (14.1) -- likely lost of thousands of dollars.
 

Biloxi Boy

Man With A Golden Arm
There is also the aspect of tax benefit from writing off losses,

Goodwill is an important aspect of all business, The idea of making money by losing money was a difficult one for me to grasp initially, but it does make perfect sense. (The same goes for many economic theories in my head.) Without people being interested in pool, Diamond has a hard time selling pool tables. DCC may not draw folks into the game, but it sure does amp up the interest of those already involved. I have not been to DCC in years, but I anticipate it being held every January, and I am always checking to see where it is going to be held.

If it is only about profit, I expect it will be only a short time before Diamond sells DCC to Matchroom.
 

Bob Jewett

AZB Osmium Member
Staff member
Gold Member
Silver Member
... If it is only about profit, I expect it will be only a short time before Diamond sells DCC to Matchroom.
That would conflict with MRs branding, so it's not going to happen. Or, it would lose banks, Bigfoot, and one pocket and not be the DCC.
 

Biloxi Boy

Man With A Golden Arm
I think lots of room tournaments that add money end up behind on the deal. Lots of World Tournaments have happened when there was no chance of making a profit. The first major tournament I played in -- The 1975 US Open (14.1) -- likely lost of thousands of dollars.
But was it planned so, or just a sad surprise? My perception is that Diamond profits from DCC year after year. How many tournaments continue without making profit? You must excuse my ignorance as I have never been really interested in "tournaments". On the other hand, DCC is so much more than a tournament -- thus the level of interest it generates. Ask my kids to choose between Macy's and Mardi Gras, and guess which they would pick every time.
 

Biloxi Boy

Man With A Golden Arm
That would conflict with MRs branding, so it's not going to happen. Or, it would lose banks, Bigfoot, and one pocket and not be the DCC.
MR would buy it just for the name, and strip it down, as you suggest. It would then run efficiently, and we would have something new to be upset about.
 
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