Tuesday, 12 January 2016

25th Edition of the Turning Stone Classic: Mika "The Iceman" Immonen Claims his First Big Title of 2016

Mika Immonen and Erik Hjorleifson. 

By : Markus Noé

Thursday January 7th the 25th edition of the Turning Stone Classic got underway. As many know this tournament attracts most of the top players from around the world and is a nice title to add to anyone's resume. Once again this was a full field of 128 players which featured many U.S Open winners and World Champions.

Joey Cierco vs Ko Pin Chung

Being that Turning Stone is located only a few hours away from the Canadian border, as always the Canucks were well represented. Out of the 32 top players who made the cash last weekend 6 were Canadian. In these types of tournaments there are usually upsets to report however last weekend I saw the biggest upset that I was ever privileged to see. It was Ko Pin Chung who is ranked #6 in the world against a semi-pro from Montreal, Québec Joey Cicero.  Cicero to this point already had a great tournament beating Nelson Oliveria 9-6 and going on to win his next two matches before meeting up with Chung. Cicero played nearly flawless, breaking and running several racks in this race to 9 and did the unthinkable by dispatching one of the infamous Ko brothers 9-6. He did so to the delight of the very vocal Québec fans.

Ko Pin-Yi vs Erik Hjorleifson 
My business partner here at Cue Sport Nation Erik Hjorleifson was also putting together a run of his own. After beating Mike Davis 9-6 he was matched up against Ko Pin-Yi, the world #1 player. To me this was the most competitive match of the tournament. Besides my obvious bias towards Hjorleifson, both players played flawless never missing a ball. The only mistakes made were dry breaks. Hjorleifson got off to a great start leading 6-2 early on while stringing racks together. It was a dry break that got him off the table and then before you could blink it was 6-6. In the end he was able to edge out Ko 9-7 to continue on the winners side bracket.

Hjorleifson continued his charge beating Sylvain Grenier 9-7 and Mario Morra 9-8 before he met up with Oscar Dominguez. This was the final four match on the winners side. In the beginning this match was close with both players exchanging racks. The point where this match changed in Hjorleifson's favor was after a very classy move by Dominguez who is known as a gentleman on tour. He attempted to play a safe which he nailed however he was the only one who noticed that he did not touch a rail, and to his credit called himself on the foul. Hjorleifson took full advantage of this as he was breaking well and ran some racks to push his lead to 7-4 and eventually won 9-4.

Oscar Dominguez 
Dominguez went on to play Rodney Morris, and defeated him 9-2. It must be noted that Dominguez had an incredible tournament beating Jeremy Sossei 9-0, and Jayson Shaw 9-5 just to mention a few of his matches. Next up for him was none other than Mika Immonen multiple World and U.S Open Champion, who just lost to Hjorleifson in the winners side final 9-4. This was my third time at this event and every time I go Immonen is always in the top five and a threat to win the event. This match was close until 5-5 Immonen seemed to have found a break and took over the match winning 9-5.

This was Hjorleifson's first final at Turning Stone and in any field that featured this many world class players. Immonen who has been in this spot many times came into this match oozing with confidence. Hjorleifson won the lag and broke first, after missing the one ball we all got to see why Immonen is known as the Iceman. He iced Hjorleifson and the next time he got to the table it was 5-0. Overall in this final Immonen broke and ran eight or nine out of the 13 racks he needed to win. The final score was 13-2 and in no way is this a slight to Hjorleifson; you can't win if you don't have a shot.

Immonen is coming off a solid year as he has been winning in Europe which many people do not realize because of the lack of coverage. Look for him to have a big 2016, after talking with him you can tell he is focused on once again taking down major titles. For Hjorleifson who does not travel as much as many of the top pro's, this was a breakthrough performance and I expect you will be hearing more from him in 2016. In Canada he is a well known talent however I believe he has put others around the world on notice that there is another top talent that they have to contend with.

Congratulation to Mika Immonen who played a great tournament. He won the first ever Turning Stone Classic 16 years ago and has now won the 25th edition. This is a testament to his consistency and longevity in the sport.I would like to thank everyone for the positive support we had during our coverage this week. Our traffic on Facebook, Twitter and our website were off the charts as it is obvious that there is a need for what we do. If you're interested in becoming a sponsor please contact me at markus.noe@live.com and if you would like to donate please do so through PayPal on our homepage at www.cuesportnation.com  

Here is my interview with the champ!


1st. Mika Immonen $8000
2. Erik Hjorleifson $5000
3. Oscar Domingues $3600

For full pay outs click here: http://www.azbilliards.com/tours_and_events/1-joss-northeast-9-ball-tour/6898-turning-stone-classic-xxv-9-ball-open/results/

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