Admittedly low on confidence, Karl Boyes and Mark Gray burst out of the gates of the World Pool Series’ RYO Rack Classic in New York.
By Ted Lerner – WPS Media Officer
(New York City) – Can a player win a tournament even if they are not playing their best pool?
Generally when you have the best pool talent in the world under one roof for four days, the answer is usually a resounding no. But sometimes in pool, those that have the least expectations can do the most damage, especially players that have entered the winner’s circle more than a few times in their career.
Take Englishmen Mark Gray and Karl Boyes. The two Brits arrived in New York City for the third leg of the World Pool Series, The Ryo Rack Classic Championship, admittedly in the dumps. Gray just came off a miserable performance at the scotch doubles World Cup of Pool in London, and hasn’t had a solid finish in all of 2017. Boyes, a former World 8-ball Champion, has barely touched a cue over the last six months and came to the Big Apple with a confidence level near the bottom of the Hudson River.
But both players, playing without a shred of expectation, each put in two impressive performances at Steinway Billiards Café in Queens on Wednesday, and have put themselves within one of reaching the final 16 single elimination stage of this 8-ball extravaganza.
The usually reliable Gray first thrashed American Greg Mitchell, 11-0. Later in the day on the TV table, in front of an audience that reached over 50,000 viewers courtesy of social media giant Unilad Sport, Gray faced off with American Dennis Hatch. The talented and passionate Hatch has had a good year so far and is close to getting back on the Mosconi Cup for Team USA.
After a slow start by both players, Gray picked up the pace and played some of his best pool this year. He broke well, played solid positions, and kept the game simple. The result was a scintillating 11-3 thumping for the Brit.
“I played better in the second half of the match, but I still don’t think I played very good” Gray said afterward, trying to downplay any possible resurgence in his game. “I haven’t had a good year, haven’t had any good results and it’s just been awful. I don’t think I’ve turned things around yet. But I guess I have to just take things one game at a time and see what happens.”
Boyes, who won the World 8-ball Championship in 2010, had an even better day than his mate Gray. The Blackpool native first manhandled Qatar’s Waleed Majid, 11-5. Then in his next match he downed American great Johnny Archer, 11-8. It was as good a start as anyone could ask for, but afterward Boyes was having none of it.
“ I have no chance to win,” Boyes said in jest, obviously trying to project a care free attitude that he hopes might actually generate a few more wins and a shot at the crown on Saturday. “I played terrible. I have no clue what I’m doing out there. But, hey, maybe I’ll get lucky.”
The two Englishmen will actually face each other in the next round so at least one of them will have an excuse to keep their expectations down low.
And while both Englishman are clearly keeping their expectations justifiably low, some players here in New York clearly showed up with every intention to win this third leg of this fledging 8-ball tour.
Austria’s Mario He recently won the World Cup of Pool with his partner Albin Ouschan and came to New York brimming with confidence. It showed on Wednesday as He outlasted 19 year old American Manny Perez, 11-7. He then went on to bury German legend Ralf Souquet, 11-3. The big Austrian needs one more win to reach the final 16 single knockout stage.
American Skylar Woodward also has been riding a wave of good vibes lately after his runner up performance with Shane Van Boening in the World Cup of Pool. Woodward, who is hoping to move into the top 10 in the Mosconi Cup rankings for team USA ,had a good start to the event with wins over Blair Levandowski and Tommy Tokoph.
Albanian Klenti Kaci, who won the second leg of the World Pool Series in April, the Aramith Masters, had a bye in the first round and then took down American Jorge Rodriguez , 11-7. Ireland’s Hall of Famer Karen Corr, who resides in Philadelphia, looked the goods today with two solid victories, including a round-two victory over talented Spaniard Mark Vidal. England’s Imran Majid continued his fine play this year with two wins, first by a hill-hill shootout over Raymond Linares and then Korea’s Lee Kang.
Singapore’s Sharik Sayed had a confidence boosting day. In round one Sayed and the Philippines’ Warren Kiamco took their match to a shootout, which Sayed won handily. Sayed then sent German great Thorsten Hohmann over to the losers side of the bracket with an impressive 11-4 win.
Israel’s Zion Zvi, who is the house pro at Steinway and lives just down the street, took advantage of his home knowledge and won twice on Wednesday, including an 11-8 win over talented Estonian Dennis Grabe. Mult-world champion and Hall of Famer Mika Immonen, who lives in New York, won twice. World Pool Series founder Darren Appleton had a walkover in the first round, then went the distance with American Corey Duel in round two, and stayed on the winners side by winning a shootout.
Play continues on Thursday for the RYO Rack Classic Championship beginning at 10:30am Eastern Time in the US. By the end of play on day 2, the field will be paired down to the final 16 where the format will become single elimination knockout.
The winner of the RYO Rack Classic Championship will take home $10,000.
For the complete draw and live scoring please CLICK HERE.
The third event of the World Pool Series, The RYO Rack Classic, is being held at Steinway Billiards in Astoria, Queens, New York City from July 12-15, 2017. The World Pool Series is sponsored by RYO Rack, Aramith, Molinari, Predator, Cheqio, Iwan Simonis, Kamui, Billiards Digest, Cuescore, Ultimate Team Gear, and High Rock Productions.
For more information on the World Pool Series, please visit www.worldpoolseries.com.
The Ryo Rack Classic will be streamed live and free on both the WPS Facebook Page and through the Unilad and Unilad Sport Facebook Page. To watch the free stream, you can visit www.worldpoolseries.com and click the “Watch” button to go our streaming page within the website.