John "Mr.400" Schmidt is one of USA's best hopes to win
New Brunswick, New Jersey- It has been over 20 years since an American has won a World 14.1 Championship. In the modern era since the Dragon Promotions resurrection of The World Tournament, Europe has dominated the straight pool scene. So the million dollar question: Can an American win the World Tournament of 14.1?
Top USA pro and 14.1 specialist John Schmidt was asked to give his viewpoints. Schmidt has a high run of over 400 (twice!) and is widely hailed as one of the best straight pool players in America.
You have a 9th and 5th place finish at The World 14.1. How do you think you will fare this year? "I've played very little this year. I really don't expect too much of myself , thus less inner pressure. For me that's usually better so I might play really well. I love straight pool and this event by far has the best money and talent, thanks to the generosity of Dr. Fedak."
How do you think the older, veteran legends will do ? "Guys like Hopkins and Sigel are still threats. Ray Martin is probably the oldest in the field, but Johnny Ervolino ran a 333 when he was 66 years old. So none of these guys can be taken lightly"
Aside from yourself, who are your top USA picks? "Johnny Archer is always up there. He shoots so straight and knows how to control and slow his opponents down. Charlie Williams is always dangerous with his laser beam eyes that makes everything. Max Eberle is also very solid."
Sigel and Immonen, both real threats at this year's World Tournament
World 9-Ball and 10-Ball Champion Mika Immonen has been eluded by the World 14.1 title by fractions. He has placed second 2 years in a row. He shares some of his opinions with us.
With Europeans winning the last 5 World Tournaments of 14.1, it's undeniable that Europe is the King of 14.1 now. Why are the Europeans so good? "That's an interesting question, but perhaps the standard in Europe has been elevated higher in modern times. Most of the major international titles in all disciplines have been going to Europeans the past several years. In China, Philippines, and USA . There's definitely a pattern."
You have a Bronze, and 2 Silvers at The World Tournament. Were you lucky or is it just a matter of time...? "It's definitely a nice trend I'm making (laughs). Well, I thought I had it won two years ago when Cohen made that great comeback against me. And last year Oliver just played fantastic. But yes, I believe it's just a matter of time before I win this."
What made you into such a great straight pool player? "It's always been one of my favorite games. Growing up I didn't have the luxury of good practice partners, so I spent alot of time alone playing , and 14.1 was a perfect game for me. At first straight pool was just a practical game for my training, but later it also had philosophical meaning."
Out of the Americans, who would be your choice to have the best chance to win the World Tournament? "I would say John Schmidt. He knows and plays the game well. "
What do you think he needs to do in order to win? "Improve his consistency. He is capable of playing at a very high level if he keeps his mind on it."
The 14.1 Warm-Up Tournament starts today August 28 at 3pm at The Hyatt Regency Hotel and is open to all players and spectators to play and watch. Schmidt and Immonen are both scheduled to play as well.
The World Tournament of 14.1 main event will start Monday August 29th at The Hyatt Regency in New Brunswick, New Jersey with the round robins at 10am. Call 407-782-4978 for more info or email firstname.lastname@example.org