Thursday, 19 April 2007

American Pool: 9-Ball Eurotour

Just thought I'd jot down a little note on what's going on in the world of 9-Ball over in Europe. For those who don't already know, 9-Ball is one of the disciplines of American pool along with 8-Ball and Straight Pool. The Eurotour, which now has seven tournaments per year, has been running since 1992, at which time it was dominated by top names such as Oliver Ortmann and Ralf Souquet, who between them have taken home 26 tournament victories out of a total of 85 tour stops since 1992. Hot on their heals is Thomas Engert with a total of 8 victories.

Back in the early days of European 9-Ball, there weren’t many players who could seriously challenge these guys and between 1992 and 2000 out of the 42 tournaments in the 9 year period, 31 were won by one of only 5 men. I list them here in order of number of victories:

Oliver Ortmann (11), Ralf Souquet (8), Thomas Engert (6), Mika Immonen (3), Tom Storm(3).

The remaining 11 tournaments were won by 11 other individuals.
If you compare these statistics with the statistics from the last 8 years from 2000 to 2007 inclusive you find that out of 43 tournaments, only 11 were won by the players listed above in order again:

Ralf Souquet (5), Oliver Ortmann (2), Thomas Engert (2), Tom Storm(2).

You then have the newer stock appearing such as:

Niels Feijen(3), Nick Van den Berg(3), Marcus Chamat(3), Alex Lely(3), leaving 20 tournaments to be shared out amongst another 19 players with 6 of those winning two events each.

Although still dominated by Oliver Ortmann and Ralf Souquet, both real class acts, the extent of their domination has greatly reduced with lower order individual winners rising from 11 to 19, almost a factor of 2, it’s easy to see the growth of the game in Europe over the last 20 years.

The level of the game in general has risen so high making it much harder for the likes of Ortmann and Souquet to continue to dominate the tour, although, having said that, Ortmann currently stands as the European number 1 ranked player, which shows what a class act Ortmann really is. To continue to produce such a high level of pool after nearly 20 years on the Eurotour is a testament to his commitment to and knowledge of the game. Citing this as my example, I’d put that up as evidence against statements made that the sport is really down to luck, and that anyone can win if the balls are rolling for them. This may be the case in the odd individual match, but as you can see from these statistics, ultimately the cream will rise to the top.

Many new and younger players are also now beginning to demonstrate the strength in depth that Europe is now producing in American Pool, arguably rivalling the USA, but although still behind the Philippines and some other Asian countries.

The current top 8 on the Eurotour are:

1. Oliver Ortmann 2415
2. Niels Feijen 2275
3. Fabio Petroni 2130
4. Thomas Engert 2105
5. Konstantin Stepanov 2075
6. Christian Reimering 2065
7. Jonni Fulcher 2050
8. Nick Van den Berg 2045

Going into the next event in Germany Ortmann is defending a 2nd place, Feijen a 3rd and Van den Berg a 5th, the other players have less to do to keep their points, so it’s possible that we might see the places at the top change around quite a bit after this event, with less than 100 points separating 8th from 3rd place it’s very tight. Potentially any one of these players could go to no 1 with a victory in Sindelfingen, one of the players’ favourite venues.

Americal pool in Europe is clearly still on the up, and with more TV coverage of the Eurotour on Eurosport and increased sponsorship deals, the money is slowly starting to come. The richest tournament held so far in Europe was the Eurotour stop in Liberec where the total prize fund was 50,000 Euros, and the top spot took home 6000 Euros. Let's continue to promote this sport and the interest in it and hopefully the pool players will soon be able to make a living more comparible with Snooker.

Watch this space for more coverage of the Eurotour, and hopefully some player interviews and other thoughts and views on the state of American pool in Europe.


Andy said...

Would the number 7 on the Eurotour be the guy who wrote this article??? :-)

jonni said...

Odd that we have the same name innit!