Professional pool is here to stay
Well, the Pockets Pro Series 2022 has been an action-packed affair to date and Championship Events 9 & 10 which were played on Saturday and Sunday definitely didn’t disappoint either.
For those that don’t know, the series is the brainchild of Arthur Titus who is the managing director of the Tullamarine pool hall and nightspot Pockets. The series is Australia’s first ever professional pool series and is contested by eight of the nation’s most decorated players who are competing for an unprecedented prize pool of $126,000 which is just totally unheard of when it comes to eightball – and any other cuesports for that matter – in this country.
Players competing in the series are:
- Ben Nunan (VIC)
- James Delahunty (SA)
- Michael Scerri (VIC)
- Rusty Wheeler (QLD)
- Marc Robertson (VIC)
- Steve Woods (ACT)
- Justin Sajich (WA)
- Alec Evreniadis (SA) – (replacing Johl Younger)
Saturday’s Championship Event 9 was won by Justin Sajich who claimed his third event win of the series. Sajich wasn’t in his best form, but it was good enough on the night to defeat in-form series leader Marc Robertson in the final by seven frames to five despite trailing 3-0 and then 4-1 earlier in the match.
Looking at the statistics, Sajich was up against it before the match even began, with Robertson coming out on top in all four of their previous encounters and dominating the frame count by 28 to 14 before this clash.
The match looked to be going to script when Robertson pocketed a black to move to 4-1 up but Justin had different ideas as he managed to string a couple together and get within one frame of his opponent at 4-3 down.
Robertson then moved himself within two frames of victory with a lead of 5-3 over his opponent but it was not to be for the Victorian as from there it was all Sajich as he powered home taking the next four frames – three fairly scratchy frames with numerous errors and misses from both players and a reverse-master break for good measure – on the trot to claim the win.
With the event win Sajich now moves to second on the leaderboard on 19,250 pts but still trails series leader Robertson – who is now clear favourite to win and is currently sitting on 26,250 pts – by some 7,000 pts.
Enroute to his victory, Sajich defeated SA’s James Delahunty in the first round. With James on the hill (requiring only one frame for victory) and the score line reading 6-4 in his favour he looked to have the match all but sewn up but Justin then proceeded to really hit his straps with a master break (pot all seven colours and the black without missing), reverse master (as above but following opponent’s break), and yet another master break to claim the victory in emphatic style which was actually totally against the trend considering his stats as far as master breaks goes is sitting around only 13% which is the worst in the competition. He then proceeded to eliminate Ben Nunan by seven frames to two in the semi-final to give himself a bit of confidence going into the final.
Robertson took care of early series leader Steve Woods seven frames to four in round one and was also too good for Rusty Wheeler in the semi-final with another 7-4 win to qualify for yet another final.
Championship Event 10 of the Pro Series saw South Australia’s James Delahunty take the honours. He defeated Michael Scerri seven frames to five after trailing the Victorian 3-1 earlier in their first-round match and then took care of series leader Marc Robertson seven frames to four in the semi-final on his way to the final.
Delahunty’s opponent – Steve Woods – earned his berth in the final – his first appearance since Event 2 – courtesy of a scratchy win in round one over Justin Sajich in which he pots the black with just three seconds remaining on the match clock – time limit for the race to seven matches is set at one hour – to go 6-5 up for the win. He then proceeded to eliminate current Australian Singles Champion Ben Nunan in their semi-final clash in yet another fairly scratchy match riddled with missed pots and positional errors. Woods eventually won the match seven frames to six with even less time remaining than in his round one win. The match clock had clicked over to zero and there couldn’t have been any more than 0.1 or 0.2 of a second left when his cue tip came into contact with the white ball to pot the final and match winning black.
Delahunty got off to a flyer in the final and was out to a 5-0 lead over his opponent in what seemed like a blink of an eye. Woods put up a bit of resistance, but just wasn’t good enough on this occasion, eventually succumbing to his in-form 2016 World Championship teammate seven frames to two. The now 2-time event winner finds himself sitting on the 3rd rung of the ladder 2,750pts ahead of nearest rival Michael Scerri in fourth position and trailing Justin Sajich (second) by 2,000 pts.
Both Sajich and Delahunty are realistically the only challengers to Marc Robertson who sits atop the leaderboard, but they would both have to win one of the remaining events and finish second in the other while relying on Robertson not progressing to a final to have any chance of claiming the title. Michael Scerri can also still win mathematically speaking but everything would have to go wrong for the top three and he would have to win both remaining events.
South Australia’s Alec Evreniadis came into the fold for Championship Events 9 & 10 after original starter Johl Younger of Victoria was forced to retire from the series for personal reasons. Our newest competitor to join the Pockets Pro Series 2022 was actually awarded a wildcard into the 2023 running of the tournament not too long ago so was going to see some Pro Series action no matter what – if he was to accept the invitation. Alec went down to Ben Nunan 7-5 in his debut and also lost his first-round match in Event 10 – to current series leader Marc Robertson – seven frames to three. The South Aussie pool hall proprietor (Adelaide’s Empire Bar & Pool) – affectionately known to his mates as Ace or the Iceman and also commonly referred to as the G.O.A.T. of Australian pool – showed promise but was no doubt at a disadvantage compared to his opponents who have had four weekends and eight events in which to get accustomed to the different tournament conditions such as the different tables (size and cloth type), reduced shot clock (in eight ball players are permitted sixty seconds in which to take a shot, in the pro series they are only allowed thirty seconds, and just the whole set-up with the cameras and lights and full production crew etc could possibly have been a bit daunting but given a bit of time to settle in he is bound to be in his element and find his rhythm.
Be sure not to miss the exciting finale of the series on the weekend of the 10th and 11th of September when Australia’s best pool players will clash for the last time in 2022 in championship events 11 & 12 at Pockets in Tullamarine, Victoria. Catch all the action at www.pockets.com.au
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