Last Saturday Team Asia retained the AM8.com Queens Cup via a 10-7 score against Team West in Resorts World Manila. It was a very competitive and exciting three days of women’s pool. Here’s how it can become an even more thrilling addition to the Billiards firmament.
The Queens Cup is a fantastic idea. Take eight superb female pool players and make them duke it out for hemispherical superiority.
The second running of the event was a lot closer and more exciting than many expected, with the West squad turning back deficits of 6-2 and 7-3 to square the match at seven points apiece. But from then on the Asians put their foot on the accelerator to leave West in the dust by taking the last three matches.
Everyone enjoyed the show, but with a few tweaks it could become even more appealing and competitive. Here are my ideas.
Shift it to 9 ball. The Queens Cup has been a ten ball event, since that is the game that is in fashion lately.
10 ball is a slightly better test of skill than 9 ball. The extra spheroid makes the break shot less important since it’s harder to make a ball on the break. And that added ball brings more safety and countersafety, which is where the best pros can prove their mettle.
The problem with 10 ball is that the ensuing safety play is not TV-friendly at all, and with less-skilled players, the extra ball becomes just that, an extra ball that slows down play and gets in the way of attractive attacking pool.
In my opinion only the top 200-300 best players in the world should be playing 10 ball. The skill advantage of the game is lost on everyone else.
If the Queens Cup could be played with 9 balls instead of ten, the matches would go faster and the action would be more to the liking of the casual fans we need to bring into the sport to make it grow again.
Make the pockets bigger. I took a look at the table before the event. It was a gorgeous Brunswick Gold Crown V set up very nicely by the folks in Star Paper.
But I noticed that the pockets had “shims,” or thin pieces of rubber or leather on the very ends of the rails, that made the corner pockets a wee bit tight. (Of course the shims were underneath the cloth on the rails..) You could barely squeeze two balls into the mouth of the pocket with the shims.
Shims are ok for high-profile, top-level mens events. But for a sort of fun-themed women’s event like this, I would dispense with them and go for bigger buckets. We would see fewer missed shots, so the women players would look better on TV. Plus slightly bigger pockets might embolden the ladies to take on tougher shots like caroms, combinations, and the like, instead of ducking for safety.
How about a few more familiar faces? The eight players were all accomplished and well-known in the pool world, but apart from Asia captain Rubilen Amit, few are well-known in the Philippines.
I would definitely try to include Austrian Jasmin Ouschan, who was part of the first West team that got drubbed in 2013. The flaxen-haired Ouschan already has a fan club in the Philippines.
Allison Fisher is another who should be on the West side. Having a stronger West team benefits the event as a whole. We don’t want the Queens Cup to go the way of the Mosconi Cup on the mens side, which has grown increasingly one-sided in recent years with the Euros winning the last five against the Americans.
I would love to have Fu Xiao Fang on the Asia squad. Not only is she one of China’s best players, she is also very easy on the eyes, as a quick Google image search will prove.
Of course I understand that getting players’ schedules aligned isn’t all that easy for Dragon Promotions’ Charlie Williams.
Lets have even more tweaks on the format, games and other items. Yes, the Queens Cup is a serious competition that the ladies all want to win, but of course it is all good fun too.
I love the mix of singles, doubles, triples, and quadruples that the Queens Cup has. The triples and quads, especially, engender a certain orchestrated chaos that makes for good viewing, with a passel of players crowding around the table like witches stirring a pot of magical brew.
I’d try to have even more fun. How about a rack of bank pool thrown in there? Banks is a discipline that requires players to make banks shots only, so for sure the shots will be telegenic. Or perhaps even a guest male player that a team can call upon once or twice a match to shoot a shot. Or maybe a card that the captain can show once in a match to bring in any player she wants, even if she is not assigned in the match. I know I’m going very deep into brain fart territory here.
An MVP award would be good. This year that would be West’s Karen Corr, who was involved in all four of her team’s matches in the four-pack that got them level after being down 7-3.
But make no mistake, the AM8.com Queens Cup was an absolute hoot this year, especially since it was closer than the first edition, which Asia won 10-4. I’m hoping the ladies return next year and many more years after to spice up the local pool scene. – Rappler.com
Follow Bob on Twitter @PassionateFanPH.
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