Karl Boyes, a 6'2" former 8 Ball World Champion, left everyone in the dust, including his finals opponent, countryman Darren Appleton, as he won Asia's first major Speed Pool tournament in Surabaya, Indonesia, on Sunday. The win makes him US$41,500 richer.
Boyes won the 7-rack final in a blistering pace, clocking just 5:33 seconds against Appleton's 7:03. The Manchester shooter mastered the soft break needed to in Speed Pool to get the perfect spread of balls that would result in a scatter of mostly short stop shots that conserve time. He also avoided making too many mistakes.
The final was a 7-rack match, unlike all previous matches in the competition which ran over five racks. After five racks, Boyes had used up only 3:43 seconds, which would have been the fastest five-rack time, beating the 3:49 he hung up on Dennis Orcollo to win in the semifinal.
Orcollo was just not in sync as he made too many mistakes, timing in at 5:37. He said afterwards that he felt that Boyes had a big advantage because of his height. "Ang layo ng hakbang niya kaya mas mabilis siya tumakbo."
Boyes had earlier vanquished Mika Immonen of Finland, 4:57 to 6:56. The Iceman had a rough outing in rack three, as he needed to make three intentional fouls to extricate himself from difficult situations of the table, only the situations got worse with every foul.
In the other semifinal, Appleton defeated close friend Chris Melling, another Englishman, after Melling made too many errors. Appleton's sizzling 4:43 was his third consecutive sub-5 minute score. The newly-crowned world 9 ball champ also eliminated Roberto Gomez the night before with a 4:43.
The other Pinoy to make it to the last day was Jeff De Luna, but he fell to Appleton in the quarters, 4:56 to 4:37. De Luna was in contention until the fourth rack when he scratched, dooming his chances. De Luna was by far the most frenzied when it came to running around the table.
In the Guinness Speed Pool rules, fouls and misses mean a 10-second penalty while scratches are punished with a 20-seconder.
In Speed Pool, each player breaks a 10 ball rack and can shoot any of the one-to-nine balls in any order. He must take down the 10 ball last. Knockout matches were over five racks, with the cumulative time being tallied and the player with the fastest time advancing.
The field started off with forty players. A qualifying phase whittled it down to 32, then a knockout system produced Boyes as the champ.
The players seemed to really warm up to the concept, with American Shane Van Boening even going so far as saying on his Facebook status that "I have to say the Guinness World series Speed Pool is the best tourney I ever play in my whole career(sic). Excitement, Pressure, Drama, and simply just fun. If there is a way to make pool to be famous (sic). Guiness has solved the problem. This is definitely the key to make pool to grow and more popular (sic). Forget one pocket, 9 ball, 10 ball and 8 ball. Done! I hope this speed pool takes off."
The format is notable in the sense that upsets were rare. Speed Pool seemed to be a true test of skill and not a mere gimmick, as the top eight players were all proven winners with the lone exception being Indonesian qualifier Cherry Suliawan.
After holding two traditional 10 Ball events in 2010 and 2011, it appears that Guinness has hit on a winning formula and will likely support a similar event next year. The tournament attracted scores of fans to the Ciputra World Mall in Indonesia's second-largest city.