Carlo Biado of the Philippines will hope to extend his reign in the U.S. Open Pool Championship when it lags on October 10 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. It won’t be an easy task.
A year after defeating Singapore’s Aloysius Yapp in the final, the 38-year old Biado will need to outplay a field of 255 runners in one of pocket billiards’ most prestigious events.
World number one Shane Van Boening will be a massive favorite to regain the crown he won five times, including three in a row from 2012 to 2014. Another man to beat is 2019 champ Joshua Filler of Germany, one of a handful of players, Biado included, who have won this event as well as a WPA World 9 Ball Championship. Mika Immonen and Albin Ouschan, winner of the inaugural European Open, are also threats to win.
Taiwanese brothers Ko Pin Yi and Ko Ping Chung will be feared opponents while Skylar Woodward of the USA and Great Britain’s Jayson Shaw, another former champion, could also be in the mix, along with the ageless Earl Strickland, who lifted the event’s continental U.S.A. – shaped trophy on five occasions.
But you mustn’t overlook the role that Biado’s countrymen could play in this tournament. Johann Chua and Lee Vann Corteza cannot be counted out, and neither can rising star Anthony Raga. Veteran Jeffrey De Luna is also entered as is Roland Garcia, the runner-up when Biado won his World 9 Ball crown in 2017. Zamboanga’s Roberto Gomez, a former World 9 Ball silver medalist, will also try his luck.
The format will be double elimination, race-to-9, (race-to-8 in the one-loss side,) which shifts to single elimination race-to-10 when there are 64 players left. The races get progressively longer with the quarters and semis being races to 11 and the final a race to 13.
The U.S. Open is rich in history. First held in 1976, it was organized by the colorful Barry Behrman until shortly before his passing in 2016. It was contested in various venues in the state of Virginia until Matchroom Sports took over in 2019 after a one-year hiatus.
Matchroom changed the name of the event from the U.S. Open 9 Ball Championship to the U.S. Open Pool Championship, but kept 9 Ball as the form of pool used, as opposed to the rapidly growing 10-ball. It was played in 2019 in Las Vegas, and after skipping it again in 2020 because of the pandemic, held it in Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City last year.
For many players, especially Americans, the U.S. Open is the biggest title in the world of Pool, more coveted than the world 9 ball. The entry of Matchroom Sport, which has greatly professionalized the running of the event, has only added to the luster.
Although the Philippines has traditionally produced some of the world’s finest shooters, the U.S. Open has often been a scene of heartbreak for Pinoys. Biado is only the third Filipino to win, with Efren Reyes and Filipino-Canadian Alex Pagulayan being the other two.
Scores of Filipinos have served as roadkill in U.S. Open finals. Ronnie Alcano and Amang Parica both lost U.S. Open finals twice. Dennis Orcollo, Lee Vann Corteza, and Rodolfo Luat also fell at the final hurdle. Pagulayan and Reyes have both won and lost finals.
Biado claimed a prize of US$50,000 for his victory last year. Matchroom has yet to divulge the top prize for this year’s event but one imagines it will be the same or higher.
Filipino pool fans can watch the action from October 10 to 15 via the TapGo app, according to Matchroom. Visit https://matchroompool.com/usopenpool/ for more information.