[spoilers] SVB vs. Dennis Orcollo - Race to 120 recap
Spoilers ahead, you've been warned~
This was a big money match played in Oklahoma. A little while ago, Shane demolished Dennis Orcullo in a big 10-ball set. Dennis couldn't outrun Shane's break, which is still the best in the world for 10b (Shane made a ball 89% of the time, without fouling). So, this rematch was set up, where the players would try 9-ball with modern break rules.
The idea, I think, was that dennis would have a better chance. In 10 ball, players break hard and square. The top pros can control the cue ball and cause the 1 to creep towards a corner, often hanging it for an easy opener. Nobody does this better than SVB.
In modern 9-ball, the 9 is racked on the spot (usually with a template) and players aren't allowed to break from the side rail. A square hit is ineffective, unless you cheat the rack by leaving gaps. Your best chance to pocket a ball involves cutting the head ball with approximately a half-ball hit. This causes the cue ball to travel a lot more with less control. More risk of a scratch, and more risk of having no decent opening shot. You can't break soft either because of the 3-point rule (3 balls must go into pockets, or reach the kitchen).
Basically, the breaker is almost guaranteed an opening shot, but it won't necessarily be easy.
You can see why these modern rules make a huge difference by looking at Shane's break in an event without these restrictions. He can just smash the 1 in the face (similar to his 10-ball break). His cue ball never comes within 2 feet of a scratch, and he makes 3 ball and parks the 1 within inches of the pocket. (24:00) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKdBhPg01VA&feature=youtu.be&t=1440
Compare to the opening racks of this race to 120
- in 7 games we have only one good opening shot, then a combo, a safety, a push, and 2 misses. My prediction was that SVB would still win handily, by maybe 18 racks. But I overestimated how much SVB's breaking skill would translate to 9-ball, and underestimated just how strong Dennis is, in every other area of the game. He is at least as good at shotmaking, kicking, jumping, and general safety play. To my surprise, he's even a hair better at breaking in this game, according to AtLarge's always-reliable break stats: https://forums.azbilliards.com/showthread.php?s=99da4c92f731abcef6f84657738ed2b4&t=519923
Their numbers are freakishly close, nearly identical. Both had a 53% break-and-run rate, with each getting a pair of 5-packs, a pair of 4 packs, and a pair of 3 packs. There are only 2 noticeable differences in the stats. Shane had one less scratch on the break, but 6 more fouls mid-game, indicating he may have a slightly weaker kicking game (or dennis has a slightly stronger safety game, forcing more tough kick situations for shane). Meanwhile, SVB had an unusually high rate of running out when Dennis' break failed. Maybe Dennis occasionally focused too much on leaving his cue ball in a good spot, at the expense of pocketing a ball.
Because I was sure it'd be a blowout, I didn't buy day 1 or 2. I might have reconsidered if I'd heard that Dennis was up 3 racks on day 1, 40-37. But apparently Shane caught a gear to start day 2, brutalizing Dennis 31 games to 8 before easing off the gas and allowing Dennis to regain some lost ground, leaving them at 80-66. I heard SVB spent his time practicing while Dennis did Karaoke.
My buddy bought day 3, and we watched together. At first, they mostly just traded blows without any packages or exceptional play. In fact there seemed to be hardly any runouts... lots of fouls and safety play. Dennis would come close to cutting the lead to 10, Shane would stretch it back to 11. This continued for a while, but Dennis would steal a game here and there, eroding the lead. At one point they hit 96-86. Then 102-92. The commentators were getting excited at the prospect of Dennis getting down to a single-digit lead, which I think gives the losing player a little psychological boost.
• Shane's break seems to have issues. Dennis tends to make the wing ball, and bank the 1 across the table. Shane tends to pocket the 1 in the side, leaving a random opener on the 2. He seems to repeatedly send the cue ball back into the 2nd row of the rack and get a kiss that leaves it near the foot spot. This happens so consistently it almost seems intentional. A shot from the foot spot isn't ideal if you're jacked over the 9, or the next shot isn't close to the hole. His openers are tough and he has to fight his way through racks.
• For example, here SVB has to deal with an 8-9 cluster. He's in control with a great shot on the 6 to play shape on the 7. He decides he wants to land above the 7 (around A), but inexplicably get the wrong angle... a lot of it. So he plays the 7, goes around the world for position on an 8-ball bank, and fortunately lobs it in. Dennis meanwhile seems to have much simpler outs.
• How's this for adorable position by Dennis, trailing 9 racks? https://pad.chalkysticks.com/bb3d8.png
• Dennis, feeling touched by an angel, passes up a push opportunity in the next rack, opting for a monster 8-foot jump shot that drills the 1 and squats dead. He follows up by cutting the 2 in, and drawing to bump out the problematic 3. Then he smoothly completes the runout... or does he? Slightly lax shape on the 9 leads to a rare dogged game ball. He leaves Shane terrible and wins anyway, cutting the lead to 7.
• After a smooth break and run, and a great safety that delivers BIH, Dennis cuts the lead to 5. Shane is forced to kick out of a safety, makes a good hit, leaves it long, but Dennis drills the tough shot and lands decently on a 4-10 combo into the side. It's just tough enough to miss, and SVB runs all the way to the 9, then shoots the shot that will probably haunt him for months. Shane dogs a completely routine 9-ball. We're talking a 99.8% type of shot. It's not even that the pockets are tight, it's a regular diamond. He just rattled it. To his credit, he hides the pain pretty well. The crowd yells and Dennis fans cheer when he clears up the hanger.
• This energizes Dennis, who is now within 4. His next break and run is absolutely textbook, every shot is 1-rail follow position or a stop shot. At this point, I see a version of Dennis I've never seen before. He starts showing more personality and emotion than usual. He's rushing to get the rack and break, he's leaning with violent body language to keep the 1 shootable and the cue ball away from the pocket. He gets a nice opener, and again, he comes with a flawless break and run, never an inch out of line. He breaks, makes his usual ball, and uses pure chi to push balls out of the way of his cue ball, affording another look at the 1-ball. He's within 2 and has a shot. Skyler is getting excited in the booth. Someone plays "Eye of the Tiger" on the jukebox... multiple times.
• The next out is a beautiful display of cue ball movement and shotmaking. Dennis is fearless. He has to shoot a missable opener with plenty of inside english to fall on the short side of the 3. He gets ok for the side or corner, and opts to go for the corner with draw to fall below the 3, getting shape on one of only 2 realistic pockets. This ugly cut angle wants to sent the cue ball towards the side pocket scratch, so he just rolls forward and accepts a long 4, which he confidently pockets. Dennis is out again, now within 2. Shane has been in the chair only about 12 minutes, because Dennis is shooting fast, but it must feel like a prison sentence watching him run this 3-pack.
• Dennis is staying hunkered down as if he doesn't want to waste time standing up and then getting down again. He's speedwalking just to grab the template and his break cue. Dennis is clearly leaning into his newfound Speedy Gonzalez persona. He's playing to the crowd, and they're eating it up, especially Sky and Billy in the booth. "HE'S RUNNIN AROUND LAHK A CHIKKIN WITH HIS HEAD CUT OFF!" "Yeah he's flat gittin' it!" "You know what I think he's in? He's in a BEER GEAR." The wing ball is under Dennis' complete control... but what about this marginal one ball... he has to play safe, right? Nope, it passes. Dennis position play is flawless, handling a touchy zigzag position from the 4 to the 5. The score is tied for the first time in forever, 114-114, and SVB has sat for 4 racks.
• Two balls down on the next break, and the runout is so textbook that there's no highlights to show... Dennis is bringing a 5-pack when he needs it most, punishing shane's dogged 9-ball HARD. Amazingly it's only been 15 minutes, that's how fast Dennis is shooting. Their average for this set (and typical pro average) is 5 minutes, Dennis is running out in 3.
• Relief finally comes when Dennis is forced to play zigzag shape after a thin 1, and falls unluckily behind the 4. He's shooting so well I expect him to jump in the 2, but he opts for a swerve kick and gives Shane an opening. Shane has to play safe, and Dennis plays another long jump. This is another crucial point, I'm surprised by what SVB does here: nothing. Dennis' jump shot looks like a foul, splitting the 2-5. The 5 seems to have more energy and travel further than the 2 (though they both end up bonking other balls). Sky thinks it's a foul. I'm only 60% sure it is. I paused at the critical frame but the gap between frames is too long and both balls move. I made a short clip, what do you think? https://streamable.com/mkexxk
Shane doesn't even argue, just gets up and shoots. Maybe he's just being practical. Here's how it probably would play out, realistically: SVB: "I think that was a bad hit" Dennis: "No, it was good. I hit the 2." SVB: "You hit the 5" Dennis: "No, I hit the 2" (backers step in) (booth gets involved) (crowd and stream chat get involved) Someone drags out the old bulletproof debate shield: "If it's too close to call, it goes to the shooter." Shane backs down, looking like a villain who's trying to pull a move to kill Dennis' momentum. Dennis happiness turns sour. The outcome of the match is tainted. Half the fans are pissed.
So, maybe Shane has the brains and experience to quickly decide "if I fight this, it'll turn into a total shitshow. Not worth it."
• Shane does get a look at the 2, but hits it in a sort of disheartened way, missing badly (for him). Dennis makes several slightly hairy shots, before falling on an ugly 7 ball. He plays a smart simple safety, his first shot in a while that wasn't blind offense, and SVB is forced to make a long jump that sells out. 116-114 Dennis.
• On the next break, Dennis is too thin to cut the 1... but it banks. With absolutely no mercy, he guides it in with a mini bunnyhop lean. He's in line for the rest of the rack, and cleans up to make it 117-114.
• FINALLY, a roll for Shane. "A Roll for Shane", wasn't that by William Faulkner? Anyway - even in Beer Gear, Dennis won't shoot this ugly 2-ball. He sends the cue ball through the gap between the 4 and the rail, letting the cue ball come off the head raill and wedge behind the 4. But, tragedy strikes and his 2 ball banks into the side pocket. Now Dennis is forced to shoot from this ugly position. He makes a pretty good hit, but sells out a thin cut. Shane grinds his way out, stopping the bleeding at 117-115.
• The next break and run is completely routine for Shane, and you can see the icicles beginning to melt on his arm. 117-116.
• Shane's got an ugly cluster, but a pretty easy 1 in the side to deal with it. He doesn't seem to get whatever he was trying for, and is forced to shoot a 2-4 combo while stuck to the head rail. It drops, but the 2 rolls near the 5 and becomes uncuttable, and not especially bankable either. Shane plays a smart safety, and Dennis' jump sends the cue ball into the corner pocket. Shane ties it up 117-117 and it feels like Dennis amazing comeback might be stalled as the momentum swings back Shane's way.
• Which means it's the perfect time for a random 5-ball to kick SVB's cue ball into the corner. Dennis back in the lead, 118-117.
• The pool gods are laughing... Dennis' cue ball clips the 6 and scratches in the side. Several times now, we've seen breaks that come within a few inches of the side pocket... sometimes they fall in. Shane handles a couple of mildly touchy spots to run the rack. 118-118. At this point, it's anybody's guess who wins the set, but hill-hill feels like it's fated to happen. The commentators are joking about "back it and jack it!" and races to 240.
• This tough opening 2 is the only thing that might stop SVB's runout, and it doesn't. 119-118.
• And this just about sums up the last couple of hours for SVB. I can't call it bad luck, because his last break sent the cue ball within inches of the side, and this one goes straight in after bouncing off the side rail. Argue: Should shane have changed the break that's been working for him, to remove all risk of this scratch? Dennis had done breaks earlier with much more sidespin that hit 2 diamonds north of the side, nowhere near a scratch. So we know it's possible. On the other hand, if Shane experiments with something new on his final break, does he risk missing the first wing ball or 1-ball in hours? Do you risk that or do the thing that guarantees a ball on the break?
Oh yeah... Dennis hits about 3 rails total running out the rack with ball in hand. HILL HILL.
• The final break results in a marginal 1, which is perfect for the tension in this match. Sky thinks he's hooked, Billy thinks he isn't. The truth is somewhere in between... Dennis has to very slightly swerve the cue ball. Although it doesn't look like much, this is a hell of a shot to pull off at hill hill. These micro-masse shots require pure touch/feel. If your tip is a bit off, or your speed, the curve changes enough to ensure a miss. Dennis not only swerves just the right amount to pocket the ball, he makes sure to hit high enough on the cue ball to get good follow action... 3-rail shape with inside english. This leaves a long but makeable 2, and the rest is history... Dennis completes the ultimate comeback, from 20 racks down at one point, to running out on the hill. It's the closest long race in memory.
• Dennis celebrates by swan diving onto the table. Not gonna lie, I hate it :) I'm happy for him, but that's a $7000 piece of equipment. Still, he fought hard and played like god for hours. He deserved it, regardless of any rolls SVB got or didn't get. Several minutes of celebrating later, the booth notices Shane is still in his chair. Still, he took the L like a man, and I love this pic (photo credit: money match promotions) - https://i.imgur.com/2k7hvlf.png
• Nice production on this match. Good high quality video, 720 or 1080p throughout, maybe 10 or 15 seconds where it cut out here and there, but refreshing the page fixed it. THEY GOT THE WHITE BALANCE PERFECT. High quality camera and lens in general, fairly sharp and exposed correctly. Someone knows their photo/video gear, which is surprisingly rare in pool streams.
• Lotta weed sponsors.
• Dennis wearing a sideways hat is... I can't get into it. I'm not sure if he's trying to be like Alex, or he's starting to worry about his hair situation
• Chat was available... usually chat's full of trolls and kids, but these paid streams aren't bad. It's cool when the booth can interact with the internet punters.
• Commentary was a mixed bag. Jeremy Jones is always solid and popular. But near the end, it was mostly Skyler Woodward and Billy Thorpe. You'd think with two world-class players you'd be getting some valuable insights into the tricky shots, the mentality of the players when they're struggling, some smart options for a pushout.
But no, here's what you got:
"HE HAYUS TA PEWP! AHAHAEHAEEEEEEEEE DENNIS NEEDS TA PEWP! BETCHA LIFE!" "AIGHT guys sorry, we're back, just had to arrange some, you know, arrangements. Frmrifmrim" ... "Skyler had to go run some errands. That means go to the bathroom." "Ah like to play a rayce ta three, and look and what's bout ta happen, a race to three. For it all. And their name ain't paul. And they can bet it all." "If you ever seen a comeback, lemme tell you, how MOIST was that comeback from Dennis? "Billy just ordered a PIZZA. Billy just ordered a PAHIEYEETZA!" "WOHLOOHHHH!!!!!! I'm jussabout LOOH!!!!! LLROELORR I'm sorry for the yelln guys but ahm [email protected]!!! HERLOthere ain' nothn wronga be saying bout guys"
Basically, Sky and Billy sounded like a drunken skit from Hee Haw. I'm not saying it was all bad. There's something good about having really young guys who get super hyped up by the match and show a ton of enthusiasm for such an incredibly close match. But they randomly dip on and off the mic, their volume's out of control, they offer no interesting insights, and I consider this a no-brainer: don't bring up politics.
• Overall, I'd say this stream was worth the money, but it's still hard to get out my wallet because I had no idea this match would be exciting, these long races are often blowouts. Not to mention, most new streamers are total fuckups so who knows if you're getting good quality for your money. But rackem.tv (and whatever partners they may be working with) are better than average. I always had audio and video, I always knew the score, there was steady commentary and the matches were on time.
submitted by CreeDorofl