Made it to Galveston without any big travel hassles which is always nice. Why you hold a tournament an hour away from the nearest major airport will always be a mystery to me but after I saw the layout at Moody Gardens I can see how a good argument could be made.The place is nice.
Talked to some of the vendors and they all pretty much are doing the same thing. Standing around looking at each other wondering if anyone is going to show up and buy something. It don't look good. The funny thing is the people that are walking around are the who's who of pool players in the world. In the first hour I said hello to probably 5 of the top ten players in the world. The talent here is amazing.
I walked around and checked out the venue. Based on what I was told by staff they have 40 bar tables and 40 big tables set up in the main tournament room with 10 or so mixed tables in a green room down a hallway. Evidently there are about 100 bar tables sitting in trailers that never got unloaded. Due to a scheduling glitch with the hotel the tables were not able to get set up till Monday and by then they didnt really need them so in the trucks they sit.
The floor plan is bit hinky IMO. They have the vendors kind of scattered willy nilly amongst the the bar tables and it makes for some goofy traffic patterns. But seeing as the turnout is small I guess it doesnt matter too much. Basically it looks like what it is; a first time effort. The room itself is one of the nicer ones I have been to and they spared no expense when it came to seating for spectators. They went CRAZY with bleacher seating for the pro arena and feature table pit. I have no idea what the capacity is but it is more than anything I have ever seen with maybe the exception of the US Open. Optimistic is a good word to describe it. For anyone who has never priced setting up bleachers in a hotel it would probably give you a heart attack what they had to spend on this. They didnt scrimp thats for sure.
I checked out the now somewhat infamous streaming set up and was shocked at the lighting set up. They are using spot lights suspended over the table instead of the standard set up ESPN and Matchroom use which is fluorescent Kinoflow type lights which provide a soft even light instead of the harsh hot light they have here. More than one person said the lighting "sucks" for the players with harsh shadows on the table and balls. Supposedly they were working to change somethings but it was basically the same when I left. The one camera I saw was the overhead view and it was something I had never seen before which means it is either some high speed broadcast unit or what it looked like to me which is something from about 10 years ago. Overall the set up looks impressive on site but the end result for the online viewer frankly sucks for what was supposed to be something special. I have my thoughts on why that is but for now I will just keep my mouth shut.
I was wore out from traveling and being on a vampire schedule the previous week so I went back to the hotel about 6PM and crashed out till midnight. I went back to the event center and walked around looking for something to get into. I ran into Joey "GO GALVESTON !!!" Aguzin and Boradriver from the AZ forums. We drank a beer together and shot the shit. I mentioned to Joey that I had seen people online were not happy with the Gabe/Scott exhibition and he agreed that they basically were just shooting at their hole nonstop. I slept through the whole thing so I have no opinion.
As I was talking to Joey Mark Griffin walked up and I immediatly started talking shit to him about how bad i would thrash him on the pool table were he impetuous enough to try me some. Ten minutes later we were on one of the nine footers in the pro arena locked in mortal one pocket combat. I promptly thrashed him 8 to 1 in the first game. That is the good news. The bad news is I think he got used to cue I loaned him cause I didnt win another game. My story is that since he is at such an advanced age I felt it would only be right to show him the proper respect by easing up on him. Hey...its my story and I am sticking to it. Mark called it quits and took off for his room and I hung out and knocked some balls around for awhile and then took off myself.
It is now 3:30 AM local as I write this and the one thing am curious to see tomorrow is the reaction to the news that the $50,000 guaranteed first place in the amateur open 8 ball teams event has been reduced to $9,000. Oh yeah, me thinks some shit will be stirred up with that one. Or maybe not. I can't figure the pool world out. People get bat shit crazy about trivial things like phenolic tips and don't even bat an eye when prize funds change or don't add up at events all over the country. So I expect something between a full out revolt and no change whatsoever tomorrow.
Overall first day impressions:
1. Nice place to hold a tournament
2. Best field in the U.S. this year Pro wise.
3. These guys are gonna lose their ass on this deal. (General peanut gallery consensus $300,000- $500,000 loss)
4. I am glad I came and look forward to seeing some awesome ten ball this week.
More to follow tomorrow. I was gonna post pics here but it is easier to just do a picture thread on AZ Billiards forums so that is where you can see them. Check it out here.