Of all of the vacation and convention destinations in the world, Las Vegas usually isn’t particularly kind to most of its visitors.
After all, most of the city’s legendary and luxurious casinos certainly aren’t able to stay open because visitors keep breaking them with big jackpots. “The house always wins,” as the saying goes.
But the city has been particularly unlucky as of late for Billiard Congress of America Hall of Famer Darren Appleton, who was winless in his two previous visits to Vegas, posting back-to-back two-and-outs before heading home.
Competing in the fourth annual Alfa Las Vegas Open this weekend, it appears his luck might be starting to change. Appleton survived back-to-back shootouts – including a sudden-death thriller against reigning United States Open Pool champion Carlo Biado – to remain unbeaten in the four-day, 192-player tournament being held at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino.
After an opening round bye and a 4-3 sudden death win against Duong Quoc Hoang, Appleton reached the third round where he faced off against Biado, who drew first blood when his opponent scratched on the break in the opening rack. The Hall of Famer tied the score when the Filipino failed to pocket a ball on the break in the next rack, then rattled off three more wins to seal the set, 4-1.
The following frame was practically a photo negative, as Biado capitalized on two openings left by his opponent to an early 2-0 lead before Appleton narrowed the deficit with a successful combination shot on the 10 ball in the third game. Appleton appeared to tie the set at two games each when he pocketed the 10 ball again on a combination shot, but he failed to call the 10 ball to be pocketed. What looked like a tied set resulted in Appleton essentially playing a safety on himself when the 10 ball was re-spotted, with the cue ball’s path to the 1 ball now blocked After Appleton scratched during a safety exchange, Biado cleared the table and then added another rack to close out the set, 4-1.
After each player missed a ball in the first two innings of the shootout, both competitors executed back-to-back shots to send the set into sudden death. With the cue ball now moved back a diamond, Appleton again made back-to-back shots while Biado missed his attempt in the seventh inning to hand his opponent the victory.
Appleton will now face Pin-Yi Ko in the next round, who needed a shootout of his own to defeat Poland’s Mieszko Fortunski.
Hours earlier, Appleton’s friend and reigning Mosconi Cup Most Valuable Player Jayson Shaw wasn’t as fortunate.
Facing Dimitri Jungo of Switzerland, the two competitors battled throughout the first set, with the Jungo taking an early 2-0 advantage after his opponent left openings in back-to-back games. Shaw snagged a pair of games to tie the score thanks to a successful combination shot on the 10 ball in the third rack and a Jungo miss in the next game, but handed the table back to his opponent when he scratched in the fifth game. Jungo had an opportunity to close out the set but failed to pocket a ball on the break in the sixth game, as Shaw won back-to-back racks to seal the victory, 4-3.
The Scotsman climbed onto the scoreboard first in the second set when his opponent scratched, but Jungo would claim the next two games thanks to an unforced error by his opponent and a successful carom shot on the 10 ball in the third rack. Shaw tied the score in the fourth game after his opponent missed the 10 ball, but a missed 3 ball in the following game would relinquish the table to Jungo for the remainder of the set, as he cleared the table and then broke-and-ran to secure the set, 4-2, and send the match to a sudden death shootout.
After both competitors pocketed their opening shot of the extra frame, Shaw missed on his second attempt. Meanwhile, Jungo remained perfect throughout the deciding set, successfully executing four straight shots to pull off the upset.
In other notable matches that took place, Poland’s Wojciech Szewczyk fought back from an opening round 4-1 loss to Mika Immonen to claim the second set, 4-2, and beat the Hall of Famer in a shootout, 3-1. Spain’s Jonas Souto, who upset Shane Van Boening the day before, continued his hot play with a straight sets victory against Daniel Schneider, 4-1, 4-3. Poland’s Wiktor Zielinski defeated fellow countryman Konrad Juszczyszyn in straight sets, 4-1, 4-1 and Alex Montpellier took down Ping Han Ko in a shootout, 3-2.
Play resumes Friday morning at 9:30 a.m. local time with notable matches including Corey Deuel facing Juszczyszyn, Shane Wolford meeting Oscar Dominguez and Hunter Lombardo meeting Chris Reinhold in one-loss side matches.
Find the Alfa Las Vegas Open brackets with live scores on the Predator Pro Billiard Series website.
The Predator Pro Billiard Series is a series of open, professional events held around the world to provide more opportunities for professional and aspiring pool players to compete in high-quality events, earn more income, sharpen their skills, and earn their way into the Predator World 10-Ball Championship held in Las Vegas each year as part of the CueSports International Expo.
The Predator U.S. Pro Billiard Series by CSI feature six open professional events during the calendar year. Created by league operator CueSports International together with the Predator Group, these tournaments will run in tandem alongside of CSI league events being held throughout the country. The winner of each competition receives a guaranteed spot in the following year Predator World 10-Ball Championship, which will be held during the annual CueSports International Expo in Las Vegas at the Rio Hotel and Casino.
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