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Matchroom's New Break Format Pro or Con? ~ By Patrick Sampey

Updated: Aug 20, 2022

Wednesday, August 17th, 2022 – The Inaugural European Open, held August 9-14-22 in Fulda, Germany, at Hotel Esperanto Fulda – touted to be another gargantuan 9-ball open event, equivalent to the European version of the US Open, featuring 256 players to start, just concluded a few days ago, and what a thrilling final, with Albin Ouschan defeating SVB (Shane Van Boening) 13-11 in a billiards contest for the ages, and any pool fans watching would witness SVB and others struggling with the new break format, where players used some type of "cut break," SVB scratching, his cue ball rebounding several times short side rail to opposite side rail, scratching "cross side," as goes the pool-hall jargon, in the side pocket no doubt. SVB and Albin battled the whole way, capitalizing on one another's mistakes, and SVB would make one of the most incredible shots I've ever seen in a one-pocket-style, end rail to end rail, supernatural-seeming shot, then missing the next routine shot that would have made the match 12-12 with SVB breaking for the match. Instead, he misses and loses 13-11 in the thriller!

But all that is to say that many players, myself included, originally thought the break format sucked at the European Open. I did get upset with Matchroom originally, but actually, perhaps it was good to make these champions break "from the box" and that they should have possibly adjusted their breaks better to contend for the break change.

That cut break didn't seem to work consistently, but I'm definitely no pro. But it seemed like, with that cut break like SVB was using, it caused the cue to scratch off the short side rail, to the side pockets and top corner pockets, so that didn't appear to be working well for him. I feel like how hard SVB can break; if he just broke 75% power straight down the middle, he would have made balls 75 percent of the time. Not sure. But it's just another rack for them to sort out now, and many, like myself, question if we should constantly change the rules of the game. Personally, if they use the magic rack and the one on the "foot spot," like we're the original rules, and allow players to break anywhere behind the "head string," and watch as these champions string multiple racks together. Why not? Throttle it up, I say! If SVB can break and run five back-to-back racks in a single set, let's see it! I remember watching Reyes run five back-to-back racks on a Japanese player Takahashi Kunihiko to see the match with Reyes. Go to for a bit of history: (not sure the spelling, my bad. Really old match), but suffice it to say, top pros like that would do that with the tournament rules of old; Reyes dominated under those rules so often, as did Strickland and others that could string together multiple racks.

Winner break? Alternate breaks? Break with the nine on the foot spot? Rack the one on the foot spot? So many players appeared to really struggle with the break, including SVB, but even so, the cream still rose to the top because SVB and Albin Ouschan had been there before, so perhaps the break format didn't change the ultimate outcome. It was in SVB's hands to tie it, 12-12, have the break, and break and run out more easily on a traditional 9-ball rack, but it's also the European Open and their format and rules. Perhaps, as long as the rule on the break is the same for every player like it was, then that's a level playing field, and myself and others shouldn't complain.

Quite frankly, this is partially an apology to Matchroom for getting upset over the break. Really the kind of attitude I had was a little unwarranted, I feel, in many ways, but at the same time, perhaps try another Open 9-ball event in the future with the traditional 9-ball rules that Strickland and Reyes played under and see what happens! That's my request. I try. The fans want to see break and runs, and lots of them! 4" pockets not tight enough? Go to 3.75" pockets. But perhaps go with a traditional, standard break shot, like the game of snooker has. Then, if fans can have a rule that doesn't change tournament to tournament, perhaps the fans can follow the game better, and the players can have standard rules that don't change constantly. Maybe?

"Players from around the world, led by the top 32 players on the Nineball World Rankings, will be competing to capture the title from a field of 256." – said Matchroom from

And there were tenacious matches, nail-biting thrillers, like that epic clash of the titans 13-11 thriller, that could have gone SVB's way and yet another win on an already stellar billiards career, but Albin Ouschan added it to his array of accolades instead – SVB missing a routine shot many APA 4's may not miss. The entire finals actually came down to one missed shot, really! That alone is incredible!

The final rack, Albin Ouschan, breaking straight down the middle, makes a ball, doesn't scratch, and has a shot on the one ball, makes it, then the two makes it, then leaves himself a tough cut on the three, misses, but leaves SVB obscured behind the edge of the eight ball. Then? Then, SVB makes one of the greatest end-to-end table clutch bank shots I've ever seen. And, you know when you make a shot like that, and the adrenaline is pumping through your veins? I've made great shots and missed routine shots after that myself. Perhaps SVB felt the pressure. Perhaps he lost focus for a second. Perhaps he miss-cued or miss-hit the cue ball, and that threw his shot off. However, SVB had a routine run out and missed the 5 (purple) ball and a standard run out. One missed shot, that's what this epic billiards battle came down to. Awesome.

Also of Note was the fact that it was Albin's 32nd birthday – he is still in the heart of the prime of his game, winning a billiards birthday inaugural European Open trophy to add to his growing collection. And the Tallahassee Squirrel, SPM (Sneaky Pete Mafia) magazine, and the billiards world at large see you, and we say, "Hail to the European Open Champion of 2022! Well done, sir!"


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