Things weren’t looking so good for Jayson Shaw.
The talented, young Scotsman trailed Poland’s Mieszko Fortunski nine games to eight in his opening round match of the Predator Grand Final and had just missed a bank shot on the 1 ball.
With just two games needed to win the race-to-11 set Fortunski’s fortunes changed, as Shaw took advantage of a pair of last-minute opportunities to pull ahead and gut out the back-and-forth match 11-9 at Astoria’s Steinway Billiards. Neither player held more than a two-game lead throughout the two-hour match, as they not only traded leads but also some uncharacteristic errors along the way.
Shaw jumped out to an early 4-2 lead but Fortunski used a break-and-run and a missed 1 ball by his opponent to tie the game. The Scot pulled ahead 5-4 but failed to pocket a ball on the break and watched as the Pole won back-to-back games to regain the lead, 6-5. And so it went throughout the remainder of the match, with one player taking climbing ahead only to see their opponent storm back to either tie the match or reclaim the lead. Shaw fell behind 9-8 after he misplayed a safety in the 16th game that led to a run out by Fortunski, who then broke and ran in the following game. When he missed that 1 ball bank shot into the side pocket in the 18th game it appeared Shaw could be heading to the one-loss side in the first day of competition.
However, the European Mosconi Cup team member gained new life moments later when Fortunski scratched. The Scotsman cleared the table to tie the match at nine games each the took a 10-9 lead when his opponent failed to pocket a ball on the break in the next game. After Shaw pocketed a ball on the break in the 20th game he used a well-played safety on the 1 ball to maintain control of the table and the rack to win the decisive game.
The match was one of many nail-biters on the first day of competition in this final World Pool Series event of the season – with Tony Robles and Darren Appleton winning first-round matches on the winner’s side in sudden death shootouts. Robles defeated Canada’s John Morra and Appleton defeated Filipino Carlo Biado in eight frames in which both players struggled to put away their opponent.
Biado, who was a runner-up at the World 9-Ball Championship in Qatar last month, started his day by fending off a comeback attempt by Omar Alshaheen and defeating the Kuwaiti, 11-9. After trading games during the first half of the match, Biado capitalized on a handful of mistakes by Alshaheen to take a 9-5 lead. The Kuwaiti used a break-and-run and a couple of Biado errors to cut the lead to 10-8. Standing at the table with the break, Alshaheen had the chance to pull within one but scratched – handing Biado ball-in-hand and the match.
The action resumes Friday at 11 AM Eastern time with 10 second-round matches on the one-loss side, including American Michael Leahy facing Ralf Souquet on the stream table. The 1:30 PM match on the broadcast table will be Morra versus the winner of a morning match between Americans Hunter Lombardo and Keith Guenzel. The winner’s side of the bracket begins to heat up at 4 PM with Appleton facing Filipino James Aranas, Denis Grabe of Estonia taking on Mika Immonen and Greece’s Alex Kazakis scheduled to meet Joshua Filler on the video streaming table in a rematch of the last month’s World 9-Ball semifinals.
The broadcasting schedule for the 6:30 PM and 9 PM matches will be determined later.
Fans looking to watch the action can purchase a pay-per-view online streaming package – with one-day viewing passes costing $8.95 and full tournament access costing $24.95.
This last event of the 2018 World Pool Series, The Predator Grand Final, is being held at Steinway Billiards in Astoria, Queens, New York City from January 17-20, 2019. The World Pool Series is sponsored by Predator, Poison, Aramith, Rasson, Iwan Simonis, Tiger, and Kamui. Our suppliers and partners are Billiards Digest, CueScore, Let’s Go Print, Outsville, UpState Al, and the WPA.