Steffan at the BUCS 8-Ball Pool competition
8-Ball Pool BUCS Silver for Student Steffan
After 6 BUCS 8-pool competitions, Steffan Llewellyn was apprehensive going into his seventh competition. We caught up with Steffan who let us know all about how he got on...
Going into my seventh BUCS 8-ball pool competition and having never got past four rounds before, I had long since told myself to write-off the individual competition and just focus on the team event. Having been knocked out in the very first round last year, my expectations were at an all-time low going into this one. In some ways the event had been made harder since Great Yarmouth days as now Championship and Trophy players were separated into different events right from the off, meaning the chances of getting an easier opponent in the first round or two were much lower.
Having waited all day until 16:30 Saturday afternoon to get on a table, finally my first match took place. Despite playing a first team player that had already played a match, I managed to win comfortably 3-1. At least I'd beaten my previous year's record! The next round was an even more comfortable 4-0 win, taking me into the last 32. In my next match I dominated, with a lucky shot every now and then, leading to a decisive 4-1 win which took me into the last 16. Now I was daring to hope I might get at last to the quarter-finals. Up against a seasoned veteran pool player, I knew my next match would be the hardest yet. Surprisingly, however, due to some decent tactical play and an off-form opponent, I entered the quarters with a 4-0 victory. But now I faced the finalist of the Southerns competition held two weeks earlier (I only got to the semis of that tournament). He is a good tactical player as well and in the race-to-five took me to the brink of defeat at 4-2 down. However, after a short break I somehow managed to pull back to 4-4 and trigger a deciding frame in which I potted all of my colours and left the black near the middle. After a couple of back-and-forth safety shots, I was given a chance to cut the black in the middle off one of his balls and this saw me enter the semi-finals with a 5-4 win.
Having got further than I ever thought I would, I now faced another seasoned player of the game and knew they must be very good in order to get this far in an historically tough tournament. With tactical play and a bit of luck every now and then, I once again manged to scrape a 5-4 victory. A sense of numb disbelief is all I can describe it as, the thought I was in the finals of a tournament that I'd spent seven years never getting anywhere in. But now I was up against perhaps the favourite to win the tournament going in and had only dropped a few frames in the individual event up to then, someone that also plays for England too.
I spent Sunday afternoon still in a state of disbelief but also with an element of trepidation creeping in. I had watched every BUCS final since joining University pool and recall how I had often thought 'thank God I'll never be in a final, I'd hate it with all those people watching'. I'm not a good pressure player at the best of times and my game can fall to pieces in such an environment. My main fear was this would happen right from the off and I'd be left with a 6-0 defeat having barely potted a ball properly...
The first frame he cleared from an awkward position. The next four frames I managed to dominate, primarily once again using tactical play, I knew he could out-pot me so needed to play him on my terms. At 4-1 up in a race-to-six, he was visibly distressed and the prospect of winning the event was so close to hand. I just needed to win two of the next potential seven frames. Despite an audience of 70 or 80 players and presumably at least that number or more watching on the live stream, I hadn't so far experienced the anticipated nerves and was reasonably relaxed...perhaps all the pub league and interleague games over the past year had assisted me in this regard.
When the opponent returned from a break, the sixth game commenced. What followed was a 22-minute highly tactical frame, the forte of World rules fans and the bane of International rules advocates.
Despite him having the advantage for most of this frame, due to his red ball being in front of my yellow ball and slightly in front of the black ball for a lot of it, I somehow managed to get to the position of potting all my yellows and having a shot on the black. The red was in front slightly and they were touching. A soft shot wouldn't have budged either ball at all. If I did a deliberate foul, whether I left him in a foul snooker or not, all he had to do was pot the red and the black would easily follow on his next shot. With no other options left, all I could do was play the black at the right angle at a hard pace in the hope the sheer force would push it past the red and either pot it, or at least somehow edge in front a bit. What followed nobody could predict...
With an enormous roar from the audience, all three balls potted in the same shot. In some ways, a fitting end to such a long and arduous frame. Despite losing it, I had at least maintained my reputation as a tactical World rules player, technically getting myself into a position of potting the black in a frame I was mostly at a disadvantage in. Nevertheless, it proved to be a crucial frame. Had I gone 5-1 up, the chances of winning were nearing on certain. But because of that bizarre shot, something seemed to click in my subconscious and the dreaded wobbles began, leading me to barely be able to pot balls for the remainder of the match. Moreover, the opponent seemed to have found renewed optimism because of that win and tightened up his game to win the next four frames, leading to a 6-4 defeat for myself.
Still, two frames from winning BUCS 8-ball isn't bad going!
You can find out more about how University of Exeter Snooker and Pool team get on with their season here.
Date: 9 March 2023