The 2010 APA Ultimate Trick Shot Tour Championships were last week in Las Vegas. Fourteen of the best trick shot artists in the world were there to vie for the title, including six that have been invited to ESPN's Trick Shot Magic or World Cup of Trick Shots this year - Andy Segal, Nick Nikolaidis, Bruce Barthelette, Jamey Gray, Tom Rossman, and Dave Nangle. The preliminary brackets looked like this: Flight A - Andy, Bruce, Tom, Tim Chin, Paul Danno, Dainius Stipinas, and Gordon Hedges; Flight B - Nick, Jamey, Dave, Jason Lynch, Jason Kane (a late replacement for Stefan Mendrick), Joe Bonge, and Matt MacPhail. On the surface, it looked like a race for fourth place and the final playoff spot in each group. Flight B turned out that way with Nick going undefeated followed by Jamey and Dave. The final preliminary round match between the two Jasons was essentially a play-in match which Jason Lynch won as he pulled away towards the end.
In Flight A though, I had other plans. I started out well against Paul and almost stumbled against Dainius, but strung together enough shots in the end for the win. A tougher match awaited against Bruce, who I defeated last year in the quarterfinals. This year's match was a little closer, but I took advantage of a couple of misses from him to prevail 9-7, his only loss in the preliminary round. It didn't get any easier against Tom who just came off an incredible tie against Andy. In the end, I just played for the tie instead of going for a bigger shot and we drew 9-9. Against Andy, the shots got a little stranger, but we also tied 7-7. I rounded it off with a late win against Gordon on Thu night to cap off first place in the group, followed by Tom, Andy, and Bruce (fourth place with just one loss, ouch).
That stuck me in the quarterfinals against Jason Lynch and his intimidating stroke. I kept to my plan and managed to capitalize on a couple misses from him, sealing the match with one of Nick's shots which I'll try to post in the near future. My semifinal match against Jamey took a similar route, as he missed one of his challenges that I was able to make, and I kept the pressure on by making most of mine. In the end, he conceded when I had the last shot and a one point lead. Against Nick in the final, we went back and forth in the beginning before he took a lead toward the middle of the match at 4-3 and 5-4. I pulled the point back with a frozen masse shot, squeezing the cue ball out between two frozen balls and getting it to masse back to make a hanger. We each missed a couple shots after that and I made my last challenge which looked like it confused Nick to take a 7-6 lead. He tried an audacious jump-fouette shot, narrowly nicking the rack on his last two attempts to give me the victory. It was quite an amazing run for me, especially to beat some of the biggest names in the game in the same tournament.
Check out this video clip and American Poolplayers Association news brief about my win!