Last July, Fedor Gorst helped to kick off the first-ever Arcadia Arizona Open, the first of four events in the newly-created U.S. Pro Billiard Series, by posting an undefeated record and taking down eventual U.S. Pool champion Carlo Biado in the finals.
Six months later, the Arizona Open was back – kicking off the first of six tournaments being held in the United States by equipment manufacturer Predator Group and CueSports International in 2022 – and so was Gorst. The 21-year-old delivered a similar result as he did last summer, as he battled his way back from the one-loss side of the bracket to defend his title, holding off a fierce battle by Filipino Roland Garcia in straight sets, 4-3. 4-2.
With the victory, Gorst earned $25,000 and automatic entry into the 2023 World 10-Ball Championships in Las Vegas.
After his opening break shot of the championship match resulted in an effective spread of the balls, the young man from Moscow appeared positioned to draw first blood but missed a routine 7 ball in the corner pocket. He would tie the match at a game each when his opponent failed to pocket a ball on the break in the next game, then tacked on another rack when Garcia missed the 1 ball on a jump shot. The Filipino would claim two of the next three games thanks victorious safety exchanges and appeared to be in position to steal the first set but struggled with cue ball positioning down the stretch and missed the 8 ball, allowing Gorst to steal the set, 4-3.
The second set tilted in Garcia’s favor early, after Gorst missed the 1 ball in the first game and the Filipino knocked in a combination on the 10 ball then broke and ran to build a 2-0 advantage. Momentum shifted in the third game when Garcia scratched on the break, allowing Gorst to climb onto the scoreboard and then tie the match when his opponent misplayed the 6 ball. The Russian then used a break-and-run to take his first lead but failed to pocket a ball on the break in the next rack. Looking to tie the match and send it to a sudden death shootout, Garcia attempted a table-length jump shot to pocket the 1 ball and missed, leaving a wide-open table for his opponent. Gorst calmly pocketed the remaining balls to repeat as Open champion.
Gorst, who opened his day with straight set victories against Ralf Souquet in the round of 16 and Kang Lee in the quarterfinals, needed to beat Mieszko Fortunski of Poland in the semifinals to secure a spot in the championship. Fortunski, who is routinely reaches the late stages of big events, was undefeated through the first three days and had already disposed of World Pool Champion Albin Ouschan in the quarterfinals. After the 29-year-old Fortunski swiped the first rack of the first set, Gorst rattled off three straight wins thanks to a dry break and a missed shot by his opponent. Fortunski won a safety exchange to cut the deficit to 3-2 but failed to pocket a ball on the break in the sixth game, handing Gorst the table and a combination shot on the 10 ball for the match-winner.
The second set was all Gorst, who took advantage of multiple misses by his opponent to build an early 2-0 advantage. The young Russian forfeited the table in the third game when he missed the 7 ball but his opponent would miss the ball as well, allowing Gorst to climb to within one game of another trip to the finals. The former World Pool champion capped off the set with a winning combination shot on the 10 ball, defeating Fortunski 4-2, 4-0.
The Russian earned the victory despite struggling with his breaking throughout the final day, failing to pocket a ball on the break three times against Fortunski and twice in the finals against Garcia.
The Russian suffered his lone defeat in the event to Spain’s Francisco Sanchez Ruiz, who finished tied for third after losing in a semifinal shootout to Garcia. The Filipino displayed complete control during in the opening set against the Spaniard, as he mixed in a couple of run outs along with a Sanchez Ruiz miss to pitch a 4-0 shutout.
Sanchez Ruiz found his bearings in the following frame, building a 2-0 advantage thanks to a much-needed break-and-run before scratching on the break in the third game. Garcia won three straight games thanks to a break-and-run and a missed cut shot on the 1 ball by his opponent in the fifth game. After Garcia executed tough cut shots on the 3 and 4 balls in the sixth rack, it appeared that his victory might be a foregone conclusion – until he missed the 5 ball in the corner pocket. Sanchez Ruiz cleared the remaining balls to tie the score at 3-3, then used a bank shot on the 1 ball in the seventh game to run out the rack, win the set, 4-3 and force a shootout.
As the crowd at Casino Del Sol gathered around the arena, the spot shot competition turned into two players who challenged each other to blink, with each pocketing four straight balls without a miss. When the cue ball was moved back a diamond and the format switched to sudden death, the balls continued falling into pockets as if almost routine. After Garcia had made his eighth straight shot, Sanchez Ruiz struck the cue ball and watched as the 10 ball rattled in the pocket’s jaws and then popped out, giving Garcia the victory.
Find the Final Arcadia Arizona Open draw on the Predator US Pro Billiard Series FargoRate’s dedicated page
The Predator US Pro Billiard Series returns to action next month with the Apex Wisconsin Open, which will be held in conjunction with the CSI Wisconsin State Championships February 9-12 at Ho-Chunk Gaming in Wisconsin Dells.
The Arcadia Arizona Open was streamed for free all week on Billiard TV and the World Billiard TV YouTube channel.
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