A lot of pre-match hype swirled around this notable match, and for good reasons – even aside from the huge money involved ($50,000 posted per side for a $100,000 total prize). For one thing, Dennis Orcollo had been on a big roll over the last few years, extending his reputation as perhaps the top 9 or 10-Ball money player in the world to the top all-around money player with a big challenge match win over Scott Frost recently. So the early “smart money” was heavily leaning toward Orcollo when this match was first announced, and that momentum carried right up into the week before the match kicked off. After all, Tony Chohan had only recently “retired” from pool and started a clothing line. Not to mention Tony having also not so long ago having taken a forced break from pool for several years while Dennis was competing intensely all over the world.
But then came the week leading up to the match, when Tony seemed to really have found a high gear and a “home cooking” comfort level at the host location for the big match, the newly rebuilt California Billiards in Fremont, CA. Although it was not technically his home room, Tony did spend his formative years (along with his cousin Amar Kang) developing his unique T-Rex style of One Pocket out there in CA in nearby rooms like Hard Times of Sacramento – incidentally one of Ronnie Allen’s haunts in his later years.
So Tony got to CA Billiards well ahead of the big match and got as comfortable as possible on what was to be the match table. He capped the week with back-to-back warm-up challenge matches with none less than Shane van Boening, both of which Tony won. All of a sudden, Tony’s stock took a big jump — at just the right time.
And then to the big match itself, and what a match it was!! The format was a race to 40, broken up into four days, with play stopping each day when one player reached a score of 10, 20, 30 and finally 40 on the final day. On the first day Tony blasted out of the gate showing an aggressive style of play that seemed to catch Dennis back on his heels. Tony came with an amazing array of offensive game changers – many that worked to his benefit, but some that failed as well. And in general, Dennis appeared to struggle to get comfortable at all. The result was a quick Chohan 10 games to 3 advantage, and all of a sudden, Dennis Orcollo was not quite the favorite he had seemed leading up to the match.
On day two, Dennis began to come into his game a bit more, and the two battled back and forth fairly evenly, with Tony still holding a six game edge after two days, 20-14. For day three, Dennis literally “took off his glove” (his pool glove) and got stronger and stronger, ending day three just one game behind Tony, 30-29 and it looked like he was poised to take over on the final day.
Sure enough, as the final day got underway, Dennis pulled ahead for the first time. However, Tony refused to fold, and the two of them battled back and forth to a dead tie at 38-38, so their race to 40 came down to a race to two at the end, with Tony getting the first break!! Tony in fact held serve to get to the hill first, but then Dennis laid down a fantastic break with a chance to knot the match at 39-39. However it was not to be, as Tony had a little more magic in him as he pulled off yet another incredible shot to turn around the break and set Tony up to win the match, 40-38. What an exciting match!!
Every game was a bit like a microcosm of Tony’s aggressive style vs Dennis’s steady precision, but at the same time, it seemed like their competing styles began to rub off on each other as the match wore on. As expected, Dennis especially featured world class ball-running from the outset — no matter where the balls were — as well as other “straight pool” skills like reading the rack and multiple ball combos etc. And while Tony never let up with his amazing array of power moves, the other thing that helped carry Tony to this victory is that he came with long longs and big cut shots really consistently during his ball runs. It seemed like Tony had a ton of fairly tough shots that could not be missed, and he usually buried them. That was simply great pool and he proved he is a great pool player in his own right in winning this match.
Over 5000 viewers at a time were glued to the games as the match came closer to the finish – reportedly much higher viewer numbers than any prior One Pocket pool streams. Judging from the very busy flow of chat comments, many new player/viewers were getting seriously more interested in One Pocket from watching this great display of top level play.
Many thanks to the two players, who put on such an incredible display of skills, creativity and competitive heart, and the host for the match, California Billiards. Also many thanks for the excellent quality of FREE stream provided by POV Pool, which held up amazingly well despite so many viewers! Finally, with a big match this close, all of us seemed to be asking the same thing, “When will the rematch be?” And now we have it, Tony and Dennis have agreed to a similar format rematch in October, this time in the east at Cue Time Billiards in South Carolina, and this time streamed by Pool Action TV.