shifting focus

so for many years the US has been on a downward slide in terms of pool action. with no major tournaments so speak of besides US Open (and the annual APA big bash if you count amateur action), the attention has been shifted to europe and beyond. nowadays Asia is the new hotspot if you’re looking for pool.

as a group, Asians seem to really enjoy cuesports as a competitive sport/game and a popular past time. it is treated seriously, and Asian societies have accepted cuesports as a legitimate source of entertainment, unlike the negative image it has in the US. pool, billiards, and snooker have all found enthusiastic supporters, even in the form of governments. Philippines have long embraced pool as a point of national pride. Taiwan, South Korea and Japan all have allowed pool and billiards to flourish. now China seems to be the country that’s really making a forceful push for its cuesports dominance. in recent times, we have seen a sizeable increase in the number of China’s professional women’s players. also, more professional men’s snooker players from China are now competing in European snooker circuits.

China’s latest push in pool is in the form of self-invented format known as Chinese 8-ball. i’m not super familiar with the format, but it’s basically 8-ball played on a 9-foot table with snooker cushions and snooker pockets. those rounded points on a pocket make even the simplest shots challenging; i watched orcullo missed some easy-looking shots simply because of the equipment. whatever the endgame is, China is sparing no expense at promoting Chinese 8-ball. they are organizing large events for men and women around this new format, and have lured snooker luminary stephen hendry to both play and promote the game. you can find a bunch of match videos on Chinese 8-ball; i watched several videos that featured pool champions (orcullo, appleton, pagulayan, to name a few) trying their hands at this new game. even earl dusted off his passport and played one of the tournaments in China. i’m not sure what goals China is trying to accomplish, but right now they are pouring a lot of money and effort into this project. personally, i think the game is very challenging because the equipment will punish you for every little mistake, and the pockets place a premium on accuracy and ball-pocketing ability. runouts have to be carefully planned and even more carefully executed; pool champions can easily botch a runout if they are not familiar with snooker equipment.

as for the future, who knows. if China keeps pouring money into this project, we can count on players keep showing up to play. that’s what pro players must do–they must be where the money is. my point? for those looking for pool action, go to Asia. as a pool player, you can’t find a more fertile pool ground right now.


portable audio (sort of)

recently i got a chance to play with a pair of headphones. you may not know that i enjoy a good set of ‘phones. i do. it’s quite useful, especially when you don’t wanna disturb people with your music or movie.

you may be familiar with the company Velodyne. in the audio world, they’re pretty famous for their home theater subwoofers. they now design a line of headphones for the consumer market. the one i listened to is the vTrue model. ( the look of the ‘phones is something else. it is made with forged aluminum and leather, & the ear portion is shaped like a teardrop. made to be visually striking, Velodyne is no doubt trying to compete with the likes of Beats and Monster headphones. being quite bulky and heavy, these ‘phones are made more for home use than on-the-go listening.

being Velodyne headphones, people familiar with the brand would assume the bass is outstanding, and the vTrue does not disappoint. these headphones excel at EDM tracks, rap, or any other bass-heavy songs. fans of Tiësto & other trance music will be delighted with these bassy performers. as an added bonus, midrange sounds clean and warm. contralto voices sound particularly rich with the vTrue.

the shortcoming of vTrue is in the treble department. when it comes to reproducing high notes, treble tends to get washed out by the midrange and bass, and the soundstage of the high notes seem to become distant & reverberant. it’s an odd effect, although i can’t say it’s really unpleasant. i think it’s tolerable.

comfort-wise, these ‘phones are about average. the heavy weight of the material can tire your head after a long listening session, but i experienced no discomfort after two hours of listening. the earpads surrounded my ears just fine, but i have heard of people complaining that the earpads don’t surround their ears, but rather sit on them. if your ears are large, you may wanna look elsewhere.

with the sensitivity rated at 95 dB and resistance at 24 ohms, the vTrue is very smartphone- and portable player-friendly. you should be able to drive these ‘phones directly with your mp3 player without any problems. if you decide to use amplification, remember to set the bass boost to zero. these ‘phones have plenty of bass; boosting the lows can make the ‘phones sound muddy.

anyway, the Velodyne vTrue is a swell set of ‘phones. it is not a well-rounded performer, however. if you listen to a lot of bass-heavy music, or if you like deep, clean, and well-controlled bass, give these a listen. like all headphones, the vTrue’s sound is affected by the designers’ biases. you should be a happy camper when you align your musical preferences with the vTrue’s strengths.


it’s almost the end of the year again. year in, year out, time advances so quickly i feel like i can hardly catch a breath. i’ve been shirking my blogging duties completely but i don’t feel too bad about it, mainly because i’m enjoying the things i do outside of blogging. i’ve been enjoying the company of friends, good meals, and explorations in pool techniques. things are fun for me right now.

as far as blogging goes, i’m not very eager to share what i’ve discovered in pool. not that they’re great discoveries, but i just don’t feel the need to write what i’ve learned. based on my experience, pool players are not a particularly open-minded or appreicative lot. besides, what i’ve learned probably won’t translate to other people’s playing styles, so i’ll let each discover his/her own techniques that best suit his/her individual style of play. i think that’ll work out the best. after all, i’m hardly qualified to teach anyone. a little secret though: i watch a lot of videos. that’s how i learn. maybe that’ll help you.

sometimes i’m astounded at pool players’ mentality. i still don’t understand why the bench warmers, those who never bother to pick up a cue and instead content with just sitting and watching, enjoy making snide remarks about people they’re watching. somehow they feel entitled to talk while never bother to get on the table. takes all kinds i guess. i have noticed that the ones who don’t talk a lot are the ones you should watch out for. you don’t really see efren mouthing off, do you?

speaking of efren, the filipino contingent continues to assault the US soil with their spectacular play. the scary thing is that new champions continue to pop up from nowhere, as if Philippines magically produces world champion pool players from thin air. the truth is probably less mythical than that, but that’s my impression. Taiwan is another place that grows champions by the bushel (e.g., Ko brothers). Korea and China also sprout many champions, but it seems more female champions come out of Korea and China than male champions. i could be wrong though. other Asian and south Asian countries are lagging. if you want to play competitive pool, Asia seems to be the hot spot right now. maybe things will change for the better in the US. i hope anyway.

so have a great new years folks. don’t drink too much, don’t celebrate too crazy, and enjoy your time with your loved ones. that’s really what’s important.