TAR's Justin Collett talks business about the industry, Shane, Earl and more...
Pro9 Hi Justin, thanks for taking time to talk to us at Pro9... How has business been for TAR over the last 12 months - is it everything you hoped it would be, do you think the future is looking positive for your business? Could you tell us a little about the TAR personnel, what they do at TAR etc?
Justin "Over the last year we have done some exciting things. We streamed the US Open 10 Ball event in Vegas last May, which we will be doing again this year in addition to the US Open One Pocket event put on by Cue Sports International. We had our most successful match ever with TAR 19 Mika Immonen vs Shane Van Boening at Amsterdam Billiards in New York City. That was a big thrill for me. Doing a match with those guys in Manhattan was a special thing. Our first match was in a small room in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Its a long way from Sioux Falls to Manhattan. It was one of my favorite events we have ever done."
"Pool in the USA is in a state of flux right now. Times are hard and money is short all over the industry. I feel confident that our company is agile and innovative enough to survive and grow even in these tough times. We are working on leveraging our strengths such as flexibility to cover many different types of events as well as produce our own. I have been working with Mark Griffin of CSI on something very exciting that we hope to announce soon. It will be a new way to do challenge matches. Some other people in the industry have kind of started catching on to the one on one matches and have started doing things that resemble our matches. Most are not true action matches but exhibitions. I feel some of them play off the niche we created. So it's time to change the game again. We will be doing that in the near future."
"TAR is made up of three partners. Chad Pollman of Sioux Falls, SD. and myself were the founding partners. We had two businessmen from Sioux Falls buy in early on. They were Chuck Moss and Jason Froeling. They were instrumental in the foundation and initial growth of TAR. Mark Griffin of CSI then bought Jason and Chuck out and TAR now consists of Chad, Mark and myself. I work full time at TAR so I do most of the stuff you see. Website, video, graphics and things of that nature. Chad helps setting up matches and getting events put together. Mark is always around to help with anything I need and has been a driving force behind everything we have done. With Mark being on the team we are able to access the resources of the BCAPL office and the great people who work there. It is a great resource to have. Together I think we make a good team."
"Read More..." for the details.
Justin Collett - The Action Report.
Pro9 Tell me a little about the upcoming TAR 20 event, I hear it's Earl Strickland vs. Shane Van Boening - were they keen to play each other, how did this match-up come about?
Justin "The match came about when Mike Gulyassy who is a friend and backer of Earl's posted a challenge on AZ Billiards Forums. My partner Chad contacted Shane after he saw the challenge because he knows Shane is always looking for a game. Shane said he wanted to play so it went from there. Chad contacted Mike Gulyassy and Mike Mousie who owns Ice Breakers the match venue and started planning the match. Shane and Earl played a race to 100 before in 2007, it was our third match, and Shane won by a pretty large margin. Close to 40 games. Earl was glad Shane was the one who answered the challenge because he wants another shot at him."
Pro9 Is there any "needle" between these two particular players, I've seen you promoting matches like that before, is it an important element or is this just business as usual for these two pro players?
Justin "Certain matches have a little bit of that "needle" you are talking about but for the most part our matches feature the top guys. These guys all basically travel to the same places, stay in the same hotels and see each other on the road at events year after year. There is no real animosity that I have ever seen. They all want to win though. In a few cases there may be some heat between two guys over something that happened on the road but for the most part they keep it professional and don't air their dirty laundry in public."
"The above doesn't mean when the bell rings they don't want to beat the other guy 100 to 0. Because they do. All of them. In TAR 20 Earl is on a resurgence in his career. He is playing better now than he has for a long time. He has the support of Mike Gulyassy and Mike Mousie which is a big deal. Having a good team on your side is very important. Earl has not forgotten the first match he played against Shane. The man is a Hall Of Famer, 5 time US Open Champion and has been a stone cold Champion since Shane was in diapers. He has told me he is a different player today than when he played Shane in 2007 and I believe him."
"Shane just wants to beat everybody. Earl gave him an opportunity to play in a format that he has pretty much come to define and he took him up on the opportunity. Shane loves a challenge and he really likes playing for the cash. He was born to play these kinds of matches and enjoys it when he gets the chance."
Pro9 Surely Shane must be a bit of a favourite, although he hasn't put in any truly stellar performances lately, is there any weight being given because his opponent has had a big break from playing, or is Earl really saying he's back to his former speed?
Justin "Shane is a favorite just based on the previous meeting between the two. There is no weight or handicap in the match. It is a straight up race to 100, 10 ball set. Earl recently won the $50,000 added Seminole Mizerak Championship over a strong field and had a decent Derby City Classic. Some people would have you believe Earl is drawing dead in this match but I don't believe that to be the case. This match has some very different things going on than the one previously. Shane is a favorite going in for sure but that can change on the first day if Earl catches the gear we all know he has or Shane falters on unfamiliar equipment. Best I can tell the consensus is Shane is a 15 to 20 game favorite going in. I have heard that before in other matches too. Like our first match when Shane played Corey Deuel and he was the underdog. Shane won that by 30. Upsets can happen."
Pro9 Once again these players are playing a staggering "Race-to-100" format. These marathons must be pretty physically gruelling for the players, why are they so keen to play such long races?
Justin "The race to 100 format has become accepted by players and backers mainly for two reasons. The first is that all of our matches are minimum $10,000 per man and this is a lot of money. The race to 100 ensures the players are going to get to play for their money. The reason the players like it is because at the end of the day there are no questions about who was the better player during that time period. A race to 100 is a real test. A few rolls one way or the other are not going to change the outcome like it could in a short race."
"The three day match also makes sense for us and the host location logistically. It is just too expensive to get all the people and equipment in one place to just do a one day match. The three day match allows the venue and us more chances to make money and recoup what is always a big number that we spend on expenses."
Pro9 I see it's advertised as being played on a 5x10 table - I'm not sure many Pro9'ers will have even heard of a 5x10 pool table - who makes that size pool table, is that common? Who wanted to play on this large table, and why?
Justin "5x10 tables were common in the US many years ago. Earl has always said that a 5x10 is what pro's should be playing on as it provides a better test of skill. Shane is basically playing this match according to the conditions Earl has set forth. The initial challenge was to come to Ice Breakers and play Earl on a 5x10 so thats what he is doing. The actual table they are playing on is an old Brunswick Gold Crown. Ice Breakers owner Mike Mousie went out and bought the table specifically for this match. It is being completely refurbished and made ready for the match. It will have 860 Simonis on it as well as heated slate in order to provide a consistant playing surface throughout the match. Pockets will be 4.5 inches or less. Until the table is actually set up for playing conditions we don't really know what it will be like."
"That is one of the biggest stories of this match. Neither guy has gotten to play on this table. It won't be set up until Monday March 14. Four days before the match. It is going to be an interesting thread that runs through the match."
Pro9 I've not heard about the venue until recently, what is IceBreakers like, and why was this venue chosen? Is it neutral territory?
Justin I have never been to Ice Breakers. I have seen some photos on their website and watched some streaming they had out of the venue and by all accounts it is a very nice place. Based on what I know it is a large pool room that has a full bar and restaurant. The venue was part of the original challenge put out by Earl and the two Mike's. Mike Mousie owns the room and he is solidly in Earls corner so I guess you could call it Earl's territory."
Pro9 Justin, who do YOU think will win TAR 20, Earl or Shane, and what do you think the score will be?
Justin "Gut feeling is Shane by 18. For Earl to win he has to jump on Shane early. Shane is a brutal front runner in these long sets. If he gets up 10 or 11 games it is very hard to reel him back in. Alex is the only one who has ever done it. If Earl can lead on the first day he has a shot, if he is leading after day 2 he has a chance to shock the world."
Pro9 Justin, thanks for taking time out to speak to us at Pro9 - we love what you do, and we really enjoy the high quality live-streams you provide, and I'm sure I speak for many Pro9'ers when I wish you all the best of luck for the future.
Justin "I just want to thank you and all of the Pro9 members who have supported TAR by watching the matches. One day I hope to cross the pond and get to meet some of you. I have been fortunate enough to hang out with Daz and Karl along with their wrecking crew in Vegas and if everyone is as much fun as those guys I know the trip would be a good time."
Justin Collett was talking to Big Dave Knight, 8th March 2011.
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