In the end, it wasn’t Joshua Filler’s best performance but it was still a championship one.
Playing on the final day of the Apex Wisconsin Open, the former World 9-Ball champion earned his first-ever Pro Billiard Series title, defeating Vitaly Patsura of Ukraine in the semifinals and taking down sentimental favorite Tyler Styer in the finals. The German was in control throughout most of the four day, 64-player event, winning seven straight matches and losing only one set throughout.
“Today I didn’t play as good as I did on the days before but when you’re in the semis you know you have to play well so it puts more pressure on you,” said Filler. “I was playing good and I was just happy to have won it.”
After Filler missed a 2 ball in the opening game, Styer appeared to be in position to take the first game but missed the 10 ball, allowing Filler to come back to the table and roll in the game winner. The American was able to snatch a game back in the next rack when Filler misplayed position on the 4 ball then left an opening after kicking at the ball but he lost his momentum in the next game when he misplayed a safety on the 2 ball which handed his opponent an open table and a 2-1 lead. Styer appeared to be in position to tie the match again in the fourth rack when his opponent miscued on the 8 ball but, with the 9 and 10 balls frozen, the American misplayed a safety and allowed his opponent to tack on another game. Styer had another chance to cut the deficit after forcing Filler into a foul in the fifth rack but missed the 3 ball in the corner pocket, then watched as the German closed out the set, 4-1.
Styer opened the second set with a break-and-run but couldn’t land a ball off the break in the next game, allowing his opponent to use a combination shot to run out the rack. The former world champion then took the lead for good with back-to-back breaks and runs. Styer had one last chance to climb back into the match but misplayed a bank of the 2 ball into the side pocket, leaving Filler an open table and routine run out for the victory.
In the first semifinal against Patsura, Filler broke and surprisingly missed the 1 ball but still managed to strike first after forcing his opponent into a scratch with a safety, then jumping in the 1 ball and running out in the next game to build a 2-0 lead. The Ukranian got on the board when his opponent missed a jump shot in the third game but Filler climbed onto the hill by winning the fourth rack. The Ukrainian pulled to within a game when his opponent scratched, but Filler was able to seal the set when Patsura committed an intentional foul attempting to tie up balls in the center of the table.
When Filler committed a foul in the opening game of the second set, it appeared Patsura would strike first until he misplayed shape on the 6 ball, then missed a safety attempt. Filler cleared the table, then added another rack after a victorious safety attempt in the next game with a jump shot on the 5 ball. The German broke and ran to take a commanding 3-0 lead and had a chance to close out the set but missed a combination shot on the 6 and 7 balls. The Ukrainian cleared the table to get on the scoreboard and broke and ran to pull within a game but missed a 2 ball in the side pocket in the sixth game which allowed filler back to table. The former China Open champion used a safety on the 2 ball to close out the rack and secure a trip to the finals.
In the second semifinal between Styer and Peru’s Gerson Martinez Boza, the American used a break-and-run to build a quick 2-0 advantage then used a safety exchange after the break to add another rack and climb onto the hill. Martinez was able to capitalize on a missed 4 ball by his opponent and narrow the deficit to 3-1 but allowed Styer to close out the set when he failed to pocket a ball on the break and left the American an open table.
Styer opened the second set by getting out of a safety on the 3 ball with a one-rail kick but Martinez tied the match when he forced Styer into a foul. Both players struggled to pocket balls on the break, as the American regained the lead when Martinez broke dry for the third time and added another win when Martinez missed the 2 ball in the side pocket. Playing in front of a supportive crowd in his home state, Styer closed out the match with a run out after forcing his opponent into a foul with a safety.
In the women’s division, the final four was set Saturday night, with Billiard Congress of America Hall of Famer Allison Fisher defeating Tyler’s wife, Margaret Styer, in straight sets.
After splitting the first four racks, Styer was in position to take the lead but missed the 6 ball in the corner pocket. Fisher cleared the table to take the lead then capitalized on a scratch by her opponent to finish off the set, 4-2.
The beginning of the second set mimicked the first, with the players battling to a 2-2 tie until Fisher grabbed the lead off of a victorious safety. After Fisher broke dry in the sixth game, Styer worked her way through the rack but misplayed position on the 8 ball then lost a safety exchange on the ball, as her opponent cleared the table to snag the set and secure a spot in the semifinals.
In other quarterfinals matches, reigning World 10-Ball champion Chieh-Yu Chou defeated Seo Seoa, 4-3, 4-3, Bulgaria’s Kristina Zlateva took down Tzu-Chien Wei, 4-2, 4-3 and Kristina Tkach survived Wan-Ling Wang, 4-3, 2-4, 4-1.
Action resumes Sunday morning at 10 a.m. local time, with Zlateva facing Chou and the second semifinal will get under way at 1 p.m. local time with Fisher taking on Tkach.
Matches can be watched on Billiard.TV and on World Billiard TV, the official YouTube channel of CueSports International. A schedule of televised matches will be posted daily on the Pro Billiard Series and CSI Facebook and Instagram pages.
The Apex Wisconsin Open is the second tournament of the season for this year’s Predator Pro Billiards Series schedule. The 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.
These events are played on Predator Apex Pro tables covered with Predator Arcadia Performance Cloth, with Predator Arcos II balls, and under the Predator Arena billiard lights.
CueSports International (CSI) is an international pool league and event leader and is currently comprised of three divisions: CSI Leagues, CSI Events and CSI Media. CSI Leagues manages the BCA Pool League and USA Pool League, CSI Events produces numerous amateur and professional events around the globe and CSI Media creates live streaming and digital content. Through its vision and strategic alliances, CSI is “shaping the future of pool.” For more information about CSI or any of its divisions, visit www.playcsipool.com.
Predator’s mission is to inspire billiard fans by providing innovative experiences and products that deliver high-performance, with unsurpassed class and style. Predator, Poison and Uni-Loc are Predator Group brands that focus on performance pool tables, cues, billiard accessories, and precision components. For more information regarding Predator Group’s products, visit www.predatorcues.com, www.poisoncues.com and www.uni-loc.com.