Billiards fans were filled with heyday glee on the weekend of November 4-5, at the North American Pool Tour’s (NAPT) Desert Challenge, hosted by Griff’s Bar & Billiards in Las Vegas, NV. A flashback matchup in the finals between Karen Corr and Allison Fisher thrilled the audience, with Karen Corr claiming victory and continuing her reign of the NAPT; she’s won all three of the tour’s Division I events. This event was particularly challenging, as several large names made debut appearances on the tour, adding to the grand, ‘heyday glee’ nostalgia of the event. The four-day, 10-ball tournament, played out on nine-foot Diamond tables, drew 61 entrants.
Eleanor Callado not only let herself be drawn to Griff’s, but took 4th in the staggering field. After finishing only second to Karen Corr in August, this is a new notch she’s sure to remember. Along her way, Eleanor bested not only 8-time world champion Loree Jon Hasson (7-3), but also 2-time WPBA Champion Monica Webb (7-5), and 6-time European champion Line Kjorsvik (7-6). Eleanor showed herself worthy of her placings with steady position play and crowd-exhilarating shot making.
During her match with Line, Eleanor at one point was at two fouls in a row (a third one would lose the game), and Line had hidden the cueball so securely that many in the audience believed there was no way to hit the object ball. Rising to the challenge, Eleanor broke out her jump cue, jumped an entire table length, kicked off a rail, and not only made contact, but left Line safe! The drama! That match went appropriately to the hill, as did her next against Hall of Famer Vivian Villarreal. Not allowing Eleanor to repeat such a close victory, Vivian took that match 7-6. Ultimately Ms. Callado was knocked out by none other than Allison Fisher (7-3), on the Duchess’s first tour appearance.
Vivian, Line, and Monica were newcomers to the NAPT as well this event, all showcasing their talents long into the weekend. Vivian, also known as the Texas Tornado, is known for her quick and decisive shooting style. This weekend it was exciting to watch her whip around the table, powering balls in and playing a heavily offensive strategy. Vivian lost only to Karen Corr (7-0) in the semifinals, and then fell to the newly B-sided Allison Fisher (7-3) to take third. Allison had just fallen to Corr also.
Allison and Karen met twice this tournament. In their first matchup, Allison took an early lead 2-0, but didn’t hold it for long. Karen came back with tight defensive play and run outs to turn the score 6-4 to her favor and breaking the last rack. Corr shot down to the 10-ball, but ran into it, pushing it to a funny angle. She played it in the corner and it hung right in the pocket for her opponent. Stunned, Allison came to the table and shot the ball, not taking very long at all, and scratched in the opposing side! It was quite the unexpected turn of events, and Karen and Allison both scratched their heads a bit about it afterwards.
Allison went to the B-side to fight for a spot in the finals, where she put Line Kjorsvik out (7-4), Eleanor Callado out (7-3), and Vivian Villarreal out (7-3). After that champion-ending run, the Duchess of Doom was ready for her rematch against Karen. Being a true double elimination format, to win the tournament, Allison would have to win two successful sets of 7 games to the undefeated Corr’s one set. The audience settled in for a juggernaut match and they were not disappointed.
The lag itself garnered great applause, with Karen freezing her ball to the rail and Allison losing the first break by a fraction of an inch. It didn’t hurt her immediately though, as the English snooker player drew first blood and repeated her early lead of 2-0. Karen came back the next two games to tie it up, and the score stayed close the whole match. Allison at one point was up 5-3 after Karen hung a 6-ball. The safeties played in this match by both players were truly incredible, and well worth watching if you would like a class on when to play defensive. Karen seemed the cunning champion, choosing defense at least once a rack, utilizing a strategic play on the 9-ball to get on the hill. Fisher seemed a bit more aggressive, making an incredible 10-ball cut using the bridge to make the score even.
The final rack was Karen’s break, and she had to make a combo to get going, but the rest of the rack was fairly open. A break and run would be the fitting end to the rematch we’ve all been waiting for, so that’s what Karen Corr gave us! The Irish Invader claimed her third victory in a row on the Division 1 tour, thrilling all in attendance and at home. Allison took 2nd in her premiere attendance, Vivian 3rd, and Eleanor 4th, and what a weekend was had by all! We will just have to wait to see if someone can dethrone Karen Corr until 2018, until then, it’s been incredible to watch.
The NAPT would like to thank Mark Griffin and his staff at Griff’s Bar & Billiards for hosting, and POVPool for their live-streaming. The NAPT looks forward to returning to Las Vegas as Griff’s has signed on for two more years! This was the final stop for the NAPT in 2017, but next year comes quickly! Join us at www.playnapt.com for more information and to find links to watch this tournament’s live streamed matches.