Efren Reyes is the World 8-Ball Champion!
Efren Reyes is the World 8-Ball Champion!
At the International Pool Tour’s World Open 8-Ball Championship, billiards player Efren Reyes triumphed over “Rocket” Rodney Morris 8-6 to become the world 8-ball champion and win $500,000. The event was the culmination of seven days of continuous play from 200 of the finest players in the world down to 2.
Before the match, tour founder Kevin Trudeau was asked who he thought would win in the final match. “I don’t know. I don’t think it’s going to be eight-seven, though. Whoever wins this, I think it’s going to be one-sided.”
Trudeau was foiled by the problems both players were plagued with when they broke, though. For some reason, neither player made a ball on the break until the score reached 3-2 Morris, at which point the Hawaiian dropped the 10 ball on the break and ran out. But he scratched on the break three times during the match, which gave Reyes a huge advantage. With the score knotted at 5, Morris missed a tough shot on the 6 ball, and Reyes took a one-game advantage. The 11 ball went in on the break, and Reyes cleared but missed the 8 ball, eliciting a collective gasp from the audience. Morris played safe, leaving the cue ball near the top rail, while the 8 was in between the 15 and 10 balls. Reyes shot directly at the 8 ball and it dropped, which caused his side of the room to cheer, but head referee Ken Schuman called a foul, and the other side of the room erupted into cheers.
Morris scratched on the break for the third time to his dismay, and Reyes dished up to reach the hill 7-6. Reyes got lucky in his last break when the 15 ball collided with the 2, sending it flying into the corner pocket. A dicey carom on the 6 ball was his second shot, and it barely dropped, but the rest was cake. Reyes got perfect position on the 8 ball and pocketed it smoothly to win the match 8-6.
The tournament room went wild, and Trudeau came out with a suitcase of money and an enormous trophy. A brief presentation followed, with Morris addressed the crowd, saying, “This is a great event. I just want to thank you for your vision and for your courage to back it up with all your money. Everything was top of the line, from the masseuse to the food to the venue—everything was top class, and I’m really happy that I’m alive to play for this much money in this event.” Morris will receive $150,000 for second place.
Reyes made a short speech in Tagalog, but afterward he mentioned that the break was challenging for both players and then added, “I missed two eight balls, I think, but they were both corner pockets. It make me feel nervous—when I’m shooting that, I’m shaking a little. That’s why I missed the eights.”
But was it the money or the title that was the most important? “Both the money and the title! They’re expecting us to win in our country.”
Tournament director Deno Andrews said that he initially agreed with Trudeau about the final match being one-sided. “I thought so, too, because both of these players are such dominant players and they’re really not afraid of each other. I was expecting one to have his break on and one not to have his break on, and whomever had his break on I thought was going to win. But as you saw, with these tight pockets and really slow cloth, anything can happen.”
Does he think that the best man won? “I think the best player in the tournament won,” he affirmed. “It is what it is. You can’t beat Efren as far as calling him the best player in the world, I don’t think there’s anybody out there who would deny that.”
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