|Accu-Stats T.V table Photo by Big Red|
By: Erik Hjorleifson
The 39th installment of the U.S. open is upon us meaning the most prestigious american title is once again up for grabs. This year saw some changes to the format and by all accounts they seem to be well received and are more well suited to the current state of the Open, particularly the size of the venue. Round 1 begins at 10:30 am Monday.
Since moving away from the Chesapeake Conference Center, the Open went through some growing pains in figuring out how to accommodate the previous field size of 256 players. Competition in the last two years has been overshadowed by crowded playing arenas, poor spectator viewing and have given an overall tainted feel to the storied tournament.
This year tournament promoter Barry Behrman and tournament director Jay Helfert made the decision to limit the field to 128 players and raise the entry fee to $750 in order to maintain the same prize fund as years past. They have accomplished that goal coming only a few players short of a full field. This has served to make the field more prestigious, and more importantly has once again allowed the tournament to be played all in the same room for the first time since moving away from the Conference Center. This year the tournament features nine diamond tables with one streaming table provided by accu-stats.com.
The table spacing is not comparable to that of the world championships but they have done the best with the space they have been given. This year they have gone back to the raised spectator stands around all the playing areas that we had become accustom to at the previous venue. At the players meeting you could tell tournament promoter Behrman was once again proud of the venue he has put together for this years event. He also announced major plans for next years 40th anniversary tournament, including corporate sponsorship, and you could just tell by the way he said it that he will do everything in his power to execute this plan.
I would say that this is one of the strongest U.S Open fields in years, 24 of the top 32 players in the WPA rankings are in attendance and with the shortened field there are very few spots in the draw that are easy. There were 3 last minute entries from China, Dang Jinhu, Wang Can and Li He wen will carry the hopes for the east. Most of the top Europeans are in attendance and as usual the American and Filipino stars are all here to take their shot at the title. There are plenty of tough first round match ups and you can view all the brackets at Azbilliards.
The Canadian contingent this year consists of myself, John Morra, Jason Klatt, Alex Pagulayan and Paul Potier .Here are are the first round match-ups for the Canadian Players:
Mon 2:30 Paul Potier vs Michael Yednak
Mon 6:30 John Morra vs Raj Hundal
Mon 8:30 Erik Hjorleifson vs Eric Moore
Mon 8:30 Jason Klatt vs John Schmidt
Tues Alex Pagulayan vs Skyler Woodward
As you can tell from this small sample of matches, the field is packed with top players. As always a big factor of success in 9 ball is the break and we will see who will be able to adapt best to the new breaking rules that will see the 9 on the spot and break from the box. We will be back tomorrow with updates and insight from day 1.