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Immonen

A Walk Through

By Mika Immonen

On the short list of the 21st century's greatest, the Iceman won the 2009 World 10-Ball Championship. And like Appleton, Immonen has won back-to-back U.S. Open titles, his in 2008-2009, in addition to the World Pool Championship and a host of other international titles.

In an effort to get you inside a professional player's mind when he's at the table, I'd like to take a look at the final rack of my win at the 2009 World 10-Ball Championship. At the time, I was fresh off my second U.S. Open and my confidence was sky high.

May13%20MikaDia1

My break was improving toward the end of the tournament, although it still wasn't anything amazing. Mostly, I was taking advantage of opportunities, all while committing very few unforced errors.

In the final, played in Manila, I faced Filipino Lee Vann Corteza. It was a tight match early on, though I managed a 9-6 lead in the race-to-11 when I cleared the table after Corteza scratched. I ran out the next rack to get on the hill, 10-6, when I broke the final rack.

My break worked fairly well, which you can see in Diagram 1. I made the 4 ball, and I had a clear look at the 1 ball in the top left corner. I knew that if I just stayed in line, I could be out. At the same time, I didn't want to rush to any conclusions. Being so close to a major title, it's important to stay calm - and just stick to your routine as if it were any other rack.

The shot on the 1 ball was a little tricky. I didn't have much room to manufacture a better angle on the 2 ball, so I had to draw the cue ball straight back and off the long rail. The 7 and 10 balls prevented me from using a rail for position on the 3, which made it that much more important to get a good angle on the 2. Still, drawing back for the 3 was a little tricky because I had to move the cue ball a bit.

May13%20MikaDia2

It's extremely important to stay in line early in the rack, because of all the traffic on the table. In this case, I didn't have too much trouble. The only shot that was close to running short was position on the 6, as you can see in Diagram 2. With the 8 ball so close, I didn't want an angle that would make the cue ball run into the 8. I knew if I was close to straight-in on the 6, I could draw back for a nice angle on the 7.

I didn't have any major problems getting on any of the balls. I think I was in the zone, where I was just moving the cue ball around effortlessly. Always try and limit how much you're moving the cue ball. With a number of draw shots, I had the cue ball going directly into position for the next ball.

As you can see in Diagram 3, I held the cue ball's angle for the 8 in the top right corner. Using stun with a hair of right English, I let the cue ball go a bit long on the 9, but I was still on the right side of the ball. From the position shown, I just drew the cue ball back in line with the 10.

May13%20MikaDia3

After I made the 9, I finally relaxed a little and pumped my fist; I knew I was one shot from victory. At the same time, I had to remember not to rush. You need to have a bit of humility while still being confident. That way, you can stay focused.

While you may not be playing for a world championship, keep working on your position play and cue ball control. Play within yourself, stay focused, and you'll see your game improve.

(links)
10-Ball Home Page
Bob Jewett: Know the Rules
Darren Appleton: Break It Open
Kelly Fisher: The Pro's Game
Mika Immonen: A Walk Through


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