SJM Sizes Up the Matchroom 2021 US Open

sjm

Sweating it at Derby City
Silver Member
If you are not in the mood for a long post, turn back now for it is not too late!

I just experienced six glorious days at the US Open, and I will now size it up from the vantage point of an American fan in attendance. My comments on the play itself and the surrounding social side of my week will appear in a different thread.

Harrah’s Atlantic City
The Harrah’s hotel itself was quite nice, although I was told that many queued up for hours to check in. Due to my rating as a gambler at Caesar’s properties, I was lucky to be spared this headache, permitted to stand on a much shorter line despite not having been to Harrah’s Atlantic City in over thirty-five years.

The restaurants were numerous and nice and the rooms were fine, but there was no housekeeping service (presumably a COVID safety measure), so the service level was regrettable. I didn’t get clean towels until day four! I suspect this issue will resolve itself soon.

The US Open Arena
The playing arena was in the hotel conference center. The setup over the first few days had its pluses and minuses.

On the negative side, the arena was difficult to navigate, and finding the table on which the match of interest was being contested was more difficult than it should have been. However, this was more than offset by the fact that there were some good seats available to watch any match of interest, and I often availed myself of this great opportunity. Let’s also add that the arena was clean and was always tidied up between sessions.

The biggest problem with the arena was that the air was unusually cold, and this was a problem which upset fans and players alike.

Still, despite a few problems, the experience in the tournament room was generally positive for the fans and while I’d say there are a few kinks to work out for next year, Matchroom did a creditable job in setting up and managing the arena in a fan friendly way.

The Equipment
I felt the equipment was excellent and the table specs definitely befit such a prestigious event. A US Open must be contested on tough equipment, and this one was. The equipment played quite a bit tougher than what we got at the World Pool Championships, although perhaps not quite as difficult as what we got at the World Pool Masters. Balls were neither rolling off nor skidding, so all aspects of equipment management were handled skillfully.

Watching Unstreamed Matches on Outer Tables
Let’s start with a positive. There were many volunteers present and most (perhaps even all, I just can’t say) matches had both referees and shot clock operators. I thought that this was wonderful and applaud Matchroom for providing it. This gave the event a very professional look and ensured adherence to the match schedule, no small feat when the field of participants is so huge.

Match scores were displayed on an IPAD at each table, but the player names as displayed were so small I could not read them, and that was a negative. In addition, the IPAD could only be seen by fans watching on one side of the table and not the other, and scores were rarely announced by most of the referees.

The feed of the match scores into the cuescore.com website was instantaneous and this was a big positive, making it quite easy, in theory, to remain abreast of match scores, both completed and in progress. In practice, however, most were getting just two bars on their electronic devices inside the arena and, consequently, had trouble loading the site at times, which was a source of frustration in the absence of a manual bracket in the arena.

A small negative merits mention with respect to upcoming matches listed on the cuescore.com website and that is late indication of table assignments. I recall that one evening, the table assignments for the 6:30 PM sessions remained unlisted even at 6:23 PM, I cannot say whether this was because the table assignment decisions had yet to be made or that updating of the website was delayed, but it was a bit discouraging for those hoping to grab the right seat for an upcoming match of interest.

Watching the TV Table Matches on Days 1-5
The setup of the TV arena was superb, befitting a first-rate championship event. Unfortunately, the attending fans could not get very close to the action, as the round tables with barstools were not very close to the TV arena’s perimeter. I thought that, perhaps, the fans could have been allowed to get a bit closer. That said, however, there were numerous overhead TV monitors that made viewing much more fan friendly than it otherwise would have been. Certainly, the good greatly outweighed the bad for TV table matches on Days 1-5.

I thought that the match introductions were handled skillfully and the energy level was high during player introductions.

Watching the TV Table on Day 6
Bleachers were brought in for Day 6, on which action was restricted to the two semifinals and the final. I loved the way things were set up on Day 6, and there wasn’t a bad seat in the arena. Day 6, in a word, was magnificent from a fan’s vantage point.

The Judd Trump Factor
I thought that the presence of Judd Trump added a lot to this US Open and I thank Matchroom for delivering this superstar of cue sports to our national open. Judd played about as well as most of us were expecting, behaved impeccably and was gracious in every respect. Judd is a credit to his sport, and now ours.

Did Fans Get Their Money’s Worth?
My six-day event pass, which included VIP seating for Day 6, cost less than $200 including Ticketmaster processing fees and I thought it was a great entertainment value. Matchroom gave us a great pro pool product at an inexpensive price.

The Final Trophy Presentation
It really rubs this fan the right way that Matchroom shows so much respect for and honors the legacy of Barry Behrman, whose herculean efforts of yesteryear explain the very existence of this event, which is now over forty years old. After Carlo Biado's memorable victory, both Emily Frazer and Shannon (daughter of the late Barry Behrman) participated in the trophy presentation, standing alongside our new champion. I well understand that Matchroom has hit the ground running and has brought the US Open to an unprecedented level of excellence and excitement, but their choice to pay tribute to the event's history is tasteful and very much appreciated.

In Conclusion
On most levels, the US Open event was a major triumph and Matchroom really rose to the occasion in producing the event. Matchroom Pool's chief executive Emily Frazer, the ubiquitous, tireless manager of the proceedings, is one of pro pool’s greatest ever assets, and her team members were well dressed, acted with professionalism, treated fans with courtesy, and seemed to carry out their responsibilities efficiently.

I took the trouble to thank Emily for everything she and Matchroom are doing for our sport. Emily and I have met briefly before on a few occasions. I asked for just a moment of her time, but got over ten minutes of it. She seemed very happy to chat, never stopped smiling as we conversed, and thanked me for my input. You always get that cushy feeling when you chat with Emily, for she is so very committed to the continued evolution and development of the pro pool product and is always looking for new and better ways to do things. Pro pool could hardly be in better hands!

Thank you to all at Matchroom for a wonderful week of great pool. Let’s do it again soon.
 
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Fatboy

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Thx Stu,

Great review and your judgment is always spot on.

I made a thread the other day-about being thankful for just having live pool back. I didn’t expect so many people to respond to it, was very humbling.

Having your review here is so nice too, pool can be a great group of people-when they want to be. People like you make great!

Thanks for everything.
see you Louisville

Fatboy
 

JAM

Professional Railbird
Silver Member
Great write-up, Stu, and I agree with your pluses that I was able to see virtually.

I too am a huge fan of Emily Frazer. She's so professional, and I'm not sure where she got her expertise on setting up events with logistics in tow, but she's the real deal. I really enjoy pool much more since she's been directing the Matchroom Multi Sport pool ship. You're so fortunate to have the opportunity to chat with her.

What you may not have heard that us virtual railbirds could hear was the expert commentary, especially when Nick Schulman and Jeremy Jones were in the booth together. They just seemed to complement each other with a strong knowledge base of the game and its players. Karl Boyes was also wonderful to listen to. You knew that Phil Yates did his homework because he provided a ton of background information about the players on the TV table. This year's commentary at the Open was sublime. I hope they bring all of them back again and again.

Though this is a personal preference of mine, I was disappointed to not see more people wearing masks. I hope I am not slammed with political replies on this stance in the thread, but the reason it is disconcerting to me is that in D.C., the COVID rates have risen again to last year's high. I saw you and Fred in the stands a few times, maskless, and I pray you both will be okay. In a closed-room environment like that conference room at Harrah's with so many people, it is a hotbed for infection. One year at the Derby City Classic at the Old Executive West, Keith and I both got really sick with they flu. In fact, a lot of people got sick that year. I think it was 2003 or 2004.

We were going to go to Atlantic City to sweat this event, but because of the rise in COVID spread, we did not go. I know we missed out on pool at its finest. Your on-site trip reports are a welcome read to me. Thank you for taking the time.
 

gxman

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
So much better than CSI previous big tournament format with the 2 race to 4 and a shootout.
 

mikemosconi

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Thanks, great post-- maybe next year I stop in back up north at AC for a few days of this, it should be nice there in Sept.!
 

Z-Nole

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
$200 for six days.....what a value, plus you had VIP seats the last day. Crazy awesome. Really glad we have match room to champion our sport.
 

jay helfert

Shoot Pool, not people
Gold Member
Silver Member
Great write up as usual Stu! I love that you take the time to let us know how it really was being there.

Since when did you become a "gambler?" That is news to me. Are you a card counter at Blackjack or just another Pit degenerate? I want to hear about your wild and crazy side!

Sounds like $200 for six days of great pool is a bargain, but I'd like to know how much it really cost you to see this event. Travel cost, lodging, food prices and restaurant choices at Harrahs, etc.

I have to agree with Jam that being maskless in that environment would be a big turnoff for me unless I knew everyone there was vaccinated. And I'm very surprised that you especially were not being more careful. Masks were mandatory at the recent World Ten Ball at the Rio in Vegas and hotel security was strict about enforcing it. That was a good thing imo. I am going next month to the World Series of Poker at the Rio and ALL players must be vaccinated to play, and show proof of vaccination before being allowed to register. Otherwise I wouldn't be going. Spectators must all be masked and will be kept some distance from the players.

I agree with you that Matchroom is up to good things as far as Pro Pool is concerned, although I still don't get why an event that is played in the United States is not being shown on one of the myriad cable sports networks that are based here, and is being shown on free TV all over Europe and Asia. I see this as a slight against American fans, or an attempt to ensure they will get a live gate since local pool fans can't watch it on TV. You say you want to build pro pool in America, then put it on TV here! Let's put it in front of the masses of sports fans and see if they prefer pool to cornhole! Pool won't grow here until more people (then those who buy it on DAZN) are able to see these great players in action.

Pool needs viewing by large television audiences to ever grow as a professional sport in America! Otherwise no one knows it's even happening here, other than a few thousand hardcore fans like you Stu! It makes one think that Matchroom is growing pool as a sport for European and Asian markets and only using the USA as a base to do that. How many young American kids are going to take up pool as opposed to other sports if they are unaware there are professional tournaments they can play in, that aren't being shown on TV here? One might think that this is a strategy and not an accident. More and more all the top players are coming from foreign shores where they are watching these tournaments unfold in real time. Not so here, where sports minded kids have no idea there is even a pro pool event going on. And people on here question why we have no new young American players coming up in our sport. How about if a million kids here took up the game seriously instead of a few hundred!

Okay, I'm done with my rant. Carry on with all the fun and games.
 
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Scrunge19

Registered
I watched most of the coverage over the 6 days and I’d echo the sentiments that it was a great, well run event.

My only complaints would be the camera angles they used sometimes (closeups on the cue ball while it was still rolling or a players face while balls were moving) and Phil Yates. The camera angles are no big deal since they were pretty infrequent, but I just cannot stand Phil Yates. It’s just one over the top cliche or bad pun after another with him. Matchroom has proven that they can assemble an all star cast of commentators between nick, JJ, Karl, and jayson so I don’t think Yates is needed.
 

Fatboy

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Great write-up, Stu, and I agree with your pluses that I was able to see virtually.

I too am a huge fan of Emily Frazer. She's so professional, and I'm not sure where she got her expertise on setting up events with logistics in tow, but she's the real deal. I really enjoy pool much more since she's been directing the Matchroom Multi Sport pool ship. You're so fortunate to have the opportunity to chat with her.

What you may not have heard that us virtual railbirds could hear was the expert commentary, especially when Nick Schulman and Jeremy Jones were in the booth together. They just seemed to complement each other with a strong knowledge base of the game and its players. Karl Boyes was also wonderful to listen to. You knew that Phil Yates did his homework because he provided a ton of background information about the players on the TV table. This year's commentary at the Open was sublime. I hope they bring all of them back again and again.

Though this is a personal preference of mine, I was disappointed to not see more people wearing masks. I hope I am not slammed with political replies on this stance in the thread, but the reason it is disconcerting to me is that in D.C., the COVID rates have risen again to last year's high. I saw you and Fred in the stands a few times, maskless, and I pray you both will be okay. In a closed-room environment like that conference room at Harrah's with so many people, it is a hotbed for infection. One year at the Derby City Classic at the Old Executive West, Keith and I both got really sick with they flu. In fact, a lot of people got sick that year. I think it was 2003 or 2004.

We were going to go to Atlantic City to sweat this event, but because of the rise in COVID spread, we did not go. I know we missed out on pool at its finest. Your on-site trip reports are a welcome read to me. Thank you for taking the time.
I got sick with the flu real real real bad a few times at DCC. Once before I left. Was brutal. Especially at the venue now. Windows don’t open, zero fresh air it’s a gas chamber of virus & God knows what else in that building. At the old spot EW at least there was air.
FWIW I haven’t had the flu except from DCC otherwise in 12-15 years.

I’ll still go this next year. 🙏🏼🙏🏼

best
Fatboy
 

middleofnowhere

Registered
I'll be honest I'm on my phone so I'll have to read your story later when I'm on the computer screen. But just to add my two cents, for the last week my wife and I have been in 7th heaven.
Couple nights ago I hear the noisy ball return on the Gold Crown, it's my wife hitting balls so at 4 in the morning.
I'm looking forward to reading your story.
 

geoff_182

New member
I watched most of the coverage over the 6 days and I’d echo the sentiments that it was a great, well run event.

My only complaints would be the camera angles they used sometimes (closeups on the cue ball while it was still rolling or a players face while balls were moving) and Phil Yates. The camera angles are no big deal since they were pretty infrequent, but I just cannot stand Phil Yates. It’s just one over the top cliche or bad pun after another with him. Matchroom has proven that they can assemble an all star cast of commentators between nick, JJ, Karl, and jayson so I don’t think Yates is needed.
Totally agree with all of this. It's like they are trying too hard with the camera angles. Way too many important things were missed because they choose to zoom into something insignificant. It's great to have different camera angles before a player shoots to be able to see if a ball passes and stuff like that, but when the player shoots, show the full table.

And for Phil Yates, I can't stand when he rags on players for missing shots when it's obvious he doesn't understand the difficulty of the shot in the first place. His comments about some of these amateur players early in the tournament were terrible. And most of these guys were still very good players, just were over-matched against real pros. Phil Yates would lose 9-0 against these guys that are losing 9-0 vs the pro players, yet Yates makes comments like he could beat these guys with 1 hand tied behind his back...
 

sjm

Sweating it at Derby City
Silver Member
Thanks for your comments, Jay.

My typical trip into the casino lasts about ten minutes, so I guess I'm not the kind of gambler that Harrah's prefers. My player rating comes from trips to the casino at Derby City, as the Horseshoe is also a Caesar's property. I did play a few minutes of baccarat sitting next to Orcullo and Pagulayan at one point.

The all-in cost of the trip was relatively small. My hotel bill for the six nights was about $800. The US Open could have been done on the cheap if I'd had a roommate, but I preferred not to share a room at this event. From New York, one could drive to the event, so transportation costs were minimal other than the cost of my rented car, which was about $400 for the week. Hence, the all-in cost of the trip, inclusive of the event tickets for this fan was under $1500. That's not including the cost of food. Still, it's a relatively inexpensive vacation by my standards.

I am not willing to make this thread about masks and will, consequently, decline comment on that matter. Things were handled in compliance with New Jersey state guidelines and that was good enough for me.

Obviously, I am not in a position to comment on the TV and stream product offered during the event. As for the TV issue, I'd love to know the extent to which Judd Trump's participation jacked up the ratings. What a polished, classy young man he is, and we can only hope that some snooker fans tuned into pool because of his participation.

The US Open event would have been even better if you'd been there, Jay. I miss you, my valued friend.
 
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bb9ball

Registered
Great write up as usual Stu! I love that you take the time to let us know how it really was being there.

Since when did you become a "gambler?" That is news to me. Are you a card counter at Blackjack or just another Pit degenerate? I want to hear about your wild and crazy side!

Sounds like $200 for six days of great pool is a bargain, but I'd like to know how much it really cost you to see this event. Travel cost, lodging, food prices and restaurant choices at Harrahs, etc.

I have to agree with Jam that being maskless in that environment would be a big turnoff for me unless I knew everyone there was vaccinated. And I'm very surprised that you especially were not being more careful. Masks were mandatory at the recent World Ten Ball at the Rio in Vegas and hotel security was strict about enforcing it. That was a good thing imo. I am going next month to the World Series of Poker at the Rio and ALL players must be vaccinated to play, and show proof of vaccination before being allowed to register. Otherwise I wouldn't be going. Spectators must all be masked and will be kept some distance from the players.

I agree with you that Matchroom is up to good things as far as Pro Pool is concerned, although I still don't get why an event that is played in the United States is not being shown on one of the myriad cable sports networks that are based here, and is being shown on free TV all over Europe and Asia. I see this as a slight against American fans, or an attempt to ensure they will get a live gate since local pool fans can't watch it on TV. You say you want to build pro pool in America, then put it on TV here! Let's put it in front of the masses of sports fans and see if they prefer pool to cornhole! Pool won't grow here until more people (then those who buy it on DAZN) are able to see these great players in action.

Pool needs viewing by large television audiences to ever grow as a professional sport in America! Otherwise no one knows it's even happening here, other than a few thousand hardcore fans like you Stu! It makes one think that Matchroom is growing pool as a sport for European and Asian markets and only using the USA as a base to do that. How many young American kids are going to take up pool as opposed to other sports if they are unaware there are professional tournaments they can play in, that aren't being shown on TV here? One might think that this is a strategy and not an accident. More and more all the top players are coming from foreign shores where they are watching these tournaments unfold in real time. Not so here, where sports minded kids have no idea there is even a pro pool event going on. And people on here question why we have no new young American players coming up in our sport. How about if a million kids here took up the game seriously instead of a few hundred!

Okay, I'm done with my rant. Carry on with all the fun and games.

Speaking of having it on TV to attract new fans and players, it was mentioned on the stream that Yapp took up pool after seeing it on TV when he was 8 years old.
 

sjm

Sweating it at Derby City
Silver Member
What you may not have heard that us virtual railbirds could hear was the expert commentary, especially when Nick Schulman and Jeremy Jones were in the booth together. They just seemed to complement each other with a strong knowledge base of the game and its players. Karl Boyes was also wonderful to listen to. You knew that Phil Yates did his homework because he provided a ton of background information about the players on the TV table. This year's commentary at the Open was sublime. I hope they bring all of them back again and again.
I cannot overstate how pleased I am to read this. I was pleasantly surprised to run into Nicky Schulman on the first evening of the event. He and I used to play plenty of pool together back when he lived in Manhattan. I once heard him commentate poker, and figured he would be an excellent pool commentator. Glad to hear Karl Boyes was on his game as a commentator, just as he was at the World Pool Championships. He has always been a great in-the-arena presenter, too, and is a huge asset in any Matchroom production.

The inclusion of lots of background information about the players is also a very big deal, because I felt that this was lacking during the commentary at the World Pool Championships.

Matchroom continues to tweak its pro pool product in the best interests of its fans and we're all the better because of it.
 
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