Day 1 at The 2023 Michigan Open presented by Samsung TV Plus marks the event’s triumphant return for its third consecutive year at Battle Creek’s iconic Kellogg Arena. This versatile venue, known for hosting the Rumble Bees hockey team, has been transformed into the epicenter of professional billiards action once again.
The opening match on the TV table featured Max Lechner of Austria facing off against Roberto Gomez of the Philippines. Lechner showcased exceptional skills, securing a solid victory in two hard-fought sets, 4-2, 4-3, and avoiding a shootout in the process.
Polish contender Michal Olech faced the top pro Fedor Gorst, a three-time US Pro Billiard Series champion. Although it was Olech’s first foray into the US Pro Billiard Series event and his debut on the TV table, he displayed commendable resilience on the first set. Gorst, however, demonstrated his mastery, executing another remarkable long 1-ball jump shot with draw spin to secure shape for the 2-ball, leading to a decisive runout. 4-2, 4-0 for Fedor.
Georgi Georgiev of Bulgaria embarked on his first journey to the USA, making an impressive start with victories against Gerson Martinez and Denis Grabe. A particularly memorable moment occurred in the first set against Grabe, as the two engaged in a gripping defensive battle that stretched on for an astounding 30 minutes. Georgiev’s tenacity paid off, securing him a vital first-set victory in this format of short races.
In the Women’s Open event, the audience was treated to a riveting match between 13-year-old talent Savannah Easton and Mayte Ropero from Spain. Both players struggled on the defensive game, but Ropero capitalized on Easton’s errors and showcased her aggressive shot-making. The highlight of the day was Ropero’s astonishingly thin cut shot on the 5-ball, seemingly defying the laws of physics. Ropero secured a convincing 4-1, 4-1 victory and now looks ahead to a face-off against Kelly Fisher in the next round.
Local favorite Jeremy Seaman drew a spirited crowd of supporters, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Vietnamese star Duong Quoc Hoang. Hoang emerged victorious in two sets, clinching the match with scores of 4-2, 4-2.
A total of 14 matches were decided in dramatic shootouts. The final TV match of the day kept fans on the edge of their seats as Alex Kazakis faced off against Vitaliy Patsura. Kazakis dominated the first set 4-0 and had an opportunity to close out the match, but a missed 5-ball in the second set led to a shootout. In an intense showdown, both players made their initial four shots, setting the stage for a nail-biting finish. Ultimately, Patsura emerged triumphant, seizing a hard-fought victory.
Reflecting on his unexpected win, Patsura expressed, “I don’t know how I won this match; Alex played much better than me. Maybe the shootout is my strong suit. After this match, I think I’m going to sleep well.”
Two-time Michigan Open champion Aloysius Yapp demonstrated his championship pedigree with commanding victories over Raed Shabib and Dimitris Loukatos. Yapp is poised to make history with a potential third consecutive title and is set to face off against American contender Tyler Styer in the winners’ qualification round today (8pm local time).
More exhilarating action to come on Day 2, including a highly anticipated clash between Polish talents Wiktor Zielinski and Mieszko Fortunski, who will vie for a coveted spot in the last 16. Zielinski, already a two-time Las Vegas Open champion, has his sights set on yet another USPB title.
Day 2 play kicks off with the Men’s Open Loser’s round at 9:30am local time and the Women’s Open winner round at 11am.
Where to watch
Fans can watch table 1 matches live, for free on the World Billiard TV YouTube channel. Fans can also watch live on Billiard TV (https://streamstak.com/billiardtv/), which is available on many platforms including Samsung TV Plus.