Friday Flashback: World Professional Billiard League (WPBL)

wpbl3wpbl1In 2013, a new sports league began a 132 match schedule with 12 cities participating in the new league which included 26 of the world’s top pool players.  All the teams and games were played in a specially designed arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.   The league featured a faster-paced version of pool that combined elements of snooker, 9-ball and straight pool rules.  There was also a shot clock to keep the game moving.

The most intriguing part of the league rules included the “bonus ball”.  Bonus Ball was played with nine billiard balls: four purple, four orange, and one black Bonus Ball. The objective of the game is to reach 30 points by pocketing balls. Each legally pocketed purple ball is worth one point, orange two points, and the Bonus Ball three points. Pocketing all three in order is called a “sequence”. A player continued their visit at the table until they fail to legally pocket a ball, or commit a foul. If a player failed to pocket the Bonus Ball on their turn, during their next visit to the table they will restart the sequence at purple. After the final orange ball is pocketed leaving only the Bonus Ball, the purple and orange balls are re-racked, and the active player performed a re-break. The game was played until a player reaches 30 points or the 15 minute game clock expires. Failure to reach 30 points within regulation time resulted in a shootout.

Each team consisted of four players – a captain, two regulars and an alternate.  Here was a list of the opening team rosters:

  • Atlanta Scorpions: Johnny Archer, Dennis Hatch, Shannon Daulton
  • Miami Cruise: Corey Deuel, Hunter Lombardo, Jose Parica
  • Las Vegas Dice: John Schmidt, Charlie Williams, Mike Davis
  • Los Angeles Wave: Oscar Dominguez, Ernesto Dominguez, Louis Ulrich
  • Phoenix Fire: Scott Frost, Tommy Kennedy, Manny Chau
  • Houston Hustlers: Jeremy Jones, Chip Compton, Justin Hall
  • Toronto Blue Sharks: Jason Klatt, John Morra, Erik Hjorleifson
  • Philadelphia Aces: Darren Appleton, Stevie Moore, Brandon Shuff
  • Minnesota Outlaws: Thorsten Hohmann, Ralf Souquet, Jesse Engel
  • Chicago Rockets: Rodney Morris, Raj Hundal, Mika Immonen
  • Pittsburgh Poison: Shawn Putnam, Adam Smith, Sylver Ochoa
  • New York Pride: Earl Strickland, Larry Nevel, Warren Kiamco

If you want to see an example of how a game was played, there are several videos on YouTube.   Here is the link to a match between Minnesota and Philadelphia:  WPBL Match

wpbl5

The World Professional League played their first league championship at the WPBL Arena in Las Vegas, NV Friday February 13, 2014 which was broadcast live in the US via ESPN3. The final match-up had the #2 seed Minnesota Outlaws facing off against the league’s #12 seed the Atlanta Scorpions.

The league’s first – and only – championship was played on February 13, 2014 between the Minnesota Outlaws and Atlanta Scorpions.  The Atlanta Scorpions were league underdogs going into the match facing one of the most consistent teams throughout the season in the Minnesota Outlaws. In the end, the Outlaws proved too tough for the Scorpions as they held on to win the first WPBL Championship. The night capped off with the Championship trophy presentation and the Outlaws being presented with the $30,000 grand prize in cash.

It appeared that the league was going to return for a second season but the WPBL quietly disappeared from the scene.  I have found nothing about the WPBL returning.

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