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GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling VIII ready to invade Reno

For the eighth consecutive year, the world’s best bowlers are gearing up for a dramatic conclusion of the season as they prepare to invade Reno, Nev., for the GEICO Professional Bowlers Association World Series of Bowling VIII, presented by Silver Legacy Resort and Casino, Nov. 27-Dec. 11.

With five PBA Tour titles on the line to conclude a year that has seen bowling history re-written at every major championship contested to date, the live telecast of the PBA World Championship on Sunday, Dec. 11, from Reno’s National Bowling Stadium should provide a fitting ending to a memorable year.

Among the highlights thus far in the 2016 season:

  • In the first event of 2016, Anthony Simonsen became the second-youngest player to win a PBA Tour title, missing Norm Duke’s record by two days. Simonsen was 18 years, 347 days old at the time.
  • In the second event of the year, Venezuela’s Amleto Monacelli won the DHC PBA Japan Invitational at age 54, becoming the fourth-oldest ever to win a PBA Tour title.
  • Next, eight days shy of his 21st birthday, Jesper Svensson of Sweden became the youngest to win the FireLake PBA Tournament of Champions.
  • A week later, Simonsen – now 19 – became the youngest ever to win a PBA major when he won the USBC Masters.
  • Seven days later, Graham Fach won the Barbasol PBA Players Championship to become the first Canadian to win a PBA Tour title.
  • In November, Francois Lavoie won the U.S. Open, bowling the first nationally-televised 300 game in U.S. Open history, to become the second Canadian to win a PBA Tour title.
  • During the PBA Fall Classic at South Point Bowling Plaza in Las Vegas, 22-year-old Jakob Butturff won the Xtra Frame South Point Las Vegas Open, joining Ryan Ciminelli as the only two-time title winners in the seven-event 2016 PBA Xtra Frame Tour, but veteran Tommy Jones won a $10,000 winner-take-all bonus as the top all-around performer in the special XF series of events.

After his record-breaking start to the year, Svensson tacked on two more titles to become the first player to win five PBA Tour titles by age 21 and set in motion an intense PBA Player of the Year race that will carry into WSOB VIII.

Svensson is being pursued by two-time 2016 title winners Ryan Ciminelli, EJ Tackett, Sean Rash (who won both of his titles in the PBA Fall Swing) and Jakob Butturff.

And Canadian rookies Fach and Lavoie are battling at the head of the PBA Rookie of the Year race – an award won by international players only two other times in PBA history (Australia’s Jason Belmonte in 2009 and Sweden’s Svensson in 2015).

Keep in mind, however, that the GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling – the richest event in bowling with more than $750,000 in prize money – has a way of ignoring trends.

The four animal pattern events – Cheetah Championship presented by PBA Bowling Challenge Mobile Game, Chameleon Championship presented by HotelPlanner.com, Scorpion Championship presented by Reno Tahoe USA and the Shark Championship – often produce unexpected champions.

In 2015, Jon Van Hees won the PBA Scorpion Championship for his first PBA Tour title. Six other players made ESPN finals for the first time in their careers in the animal pattern events. Gary Faulkner Jr. won the 2015 PBA World Championship, and Simonsen teamed with Connor Pickford to win the Mark Roth/Marshall Holman PBA Doubles Championship, all for their first titles.

That has been a common theme since the WSOB was created in 2009. In the ensuing years, the WSOB has become the international showcase for bowlers, attracting bowlers from 37 different countries and making PBA Tour champions out of players from Australia, Colombia, England, Finland, South Korea and Sweden.

The World Series of Bowling has not only attracted bowlers from around the globe, but the introduction of Xtra Frame – PBA’s online video-streaming service that provides hundreds of hours of live coverage of WSOB competition – has given bowling fans an opportunity to watch their home-country favorites in competition on the sport’s most visible stage.

Expect nothing different in 2016, when bowlers from more than 20 countries descend on Reno. There will be a few subtle changes to enhance the event (the World Series has been in a constant evolution to remain fresh and vibrant), such as the return of the Shark Championship – contested on a 43-foot application of oil – in place of the Viper pattern, to provide a different challenge. Updated lane surfaces inside the National Bowling Stadium also are expected to change the way balls react on the lanes.

In 2016, the top 24 qualifiers in each of the animal pattern championships will advance to best-of-five-game match play elimination rounds to give players a more diverse path to the ESPN finals in each event. But like years past, the animal pattern events will also serve as “stages” to advance to the main event – the PBA World Championship – similar in concept to the way world-class bicycle racers advance to the podium in the famous Tour de France.

Eight games each on the Cheetah, Chameleon, Scorpion and Shark qualifying stages will serve as the 32-game qualifying phase of the PBA World Championship. An additional six-game cashers round for the top 25 percent of the field will determine the 24 players who will then bowl 24 games of round-robin match play to determine the five players who will bowl for the $60,000 first prize in the final major championship of the year, live on ESPN on Sunday, Dec. 11 at 1 p.m. Eastern (10 a.m. local time).

The carrot-at-the-end-of-the-stick in the animal pattern championships is that all four of them include a $20,000 first prize, a chance to bowl on ESPN and a PBA Tour title for each winner. So consider it “qualifying on steroids.”

That’s not all. WSOB VIII will get underway on Sunday, Nov. 27, when eight PBA Regional, eight PBA-PWBA Women’s Regional and eight PBA50 Tour players will compete in special PBA Challenge events – eight-game match play events video-streamed live on Xtra Frame. Those players, who earned their berths in season-long points competitions, will then bowl in the World Series.

Another bonus feature, reviving a special event held in 2010 and 2012, will be the USA vs. The World team showdown. Based on the same 32-game pinfall totals used in PBA World Championship qualifying, the top five American players and the top five international bowlers will advance to the team event which will be contested after the PBA World Championship telecast on Dec. 11 for delayed broadcast on ESPN on Sunday, Jan. 8, at 1 p.m. ET.

Bottom line, the world’s most expensive and dedicated bowling facility – Reno’s 21-year-old National Bowling Stadium – will once again be at the center of the bowling universe for two solid weeks.

Grassroots bowlers in and around northern Nevada and California will have an opportunity to bowl with the greatest stars in the sport during the annual WSOB Pro-Am on Saturday, Dec. 3 (call the National Bowling Stadium at 800-304-2695 for details).

The Dec. 10-11 weekend will feature six ESPN television finals. An all-day pass to watch the Cheetah, Chameleon, Scorpion and Shark Championship finals on Saturday, starting at noon, is available for $20.

An all-day pass for the live PBA World Championship finals on Sunday at 10 a.m. followed by the USA vs. The World special team match is available for $15, and will include a free hotdog and beer/soft drink for the first 200 through the door. TV tickets can be purchased at pba.com/tickets.

That’s about all, except for the occasional “surprise.” In previous World Series, devoted bowlers such as Sirius radio star Howard Stern’s engineer, Scott Salem, bowled. So did NFL superstar Terrell Owens. Last year, Boston Red Sox outfield Mookie Betts made his professional bowling debut.

That’s what makes the GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling great. You never know what’s going to happen…

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2016 PBA Tour Schedule & Champions

PBA World Series of Bowling VIII Schedule

National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nev. (Nov. 27-Dec. 11, 2016); all times are Pacific

Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016
3 p.m. – PBA Regional, PBA-PWBA Women’s Regional and PBA50 Tour Challenge, 8 games round-robin match play (top two in each division advance to Xtra Frame finals)
6:30 p.m. – PBA-PWBA Women’s Regional Challenge Xtra Frame championship match (live on Xtra Frame)
7 p.m. – PBA50 Tour Challenge Xtra Frame championship match (live on Xtra Frame)
7:30 p.m. – PBA Regional Challenge Xtra Frame championship match (live on Xtra Frame)

Monday, Nov. 28, 2016
10 a.m. – A Squad practice session (Cheetah, Chameleon, Scorpion and Shark lane conditions)
2:30 p.m. – B Squad practice session (Cheetah, Chameleon, Scorpion and Shark lane conditions)
6 p.m. – Mandatory PBA WSOB VIII players meeting

Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016
9 a.m. – Cheetah Championship – A Squad 8 qualifying games
4 p.m. – Cheetah Championship – B Squad 8 qualifying games
(Top 24 advance to best-of-five-game single-elimination match play on Tuesday, Dec. 6; top 8 qualifiers earn one round bye)

Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016
9 a.m. – Chameleon Championship – A Squad 8 qualifying games
4 p.m. – Chameleon Championship – B Squad 8 qualifying games
(Top 24 advance to best-of-five-game single-elimination match play on Tuesday, Dec. 6; top 8 qualifiers earn one round bye)

Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016
9 a.m. – Scorpion Championship – B Squad 8 qualifying games
4 p.m. – Scorpion Championship – A Squad 8 qualifying games
(Top 24 advance to best-of-five-game single-elimination match play on Wednesday, Dec. 7; top 8 qualifiers earn one round bye)

Friday, Dec. 2, 2016
9 a.m. – Shark Championship – B Squad 8 qualifying games
4 p.m. – Shark Championship – A Squad 8 qualifying games
(Top 24 advance to best-of-five-game single-elimination match play on Wednesday, Dec. 7; top 8 qualifiers earn one round bye)
(Top 25 percent of field based on 32-game combined qualifying totals from Cheetah, Chameleon, Scorpion and Shark championships advance to PBA World Championship cashers round)

Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016
6-9 p.m. – Pro-am

Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016
11 a.m. – PBA World Championship cashers round, 6 games
(Top 24 based on 38 games advance to round-robin match play)
5:30 p.m. – PBA World Championship, 8 games round-robin match play

Monday, Dec. 5, 2016
11 a.m. – PBA World Championship, 8 games round-robin match play
5:30 p.m. – PBA World Championship, 8 games round-robin match play
(Top five after 62 games of qualifying and match play advance to ESPN finals)

Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016
10 a.m. – Cheetah Championship, qualifiers 9-24, best-of-five-game single elimination match play
1 p.m. – Cheetah Championship, qualifiers 1-8 plus 10 a.m. winners, best-of-five-game single elimination match play
(Winners advance to Round of 8 on Thursday, Dec. 8)
4:30 p.m. – Chameleon Championship, qualifiers 9-24, best-of-five-game single elimination match play
7:30 p.m. – Chameleon Championship, qualifiers 1-8 plus 4:30 p.m. winners, best-of-five-game single elimination match play
(Winners advance to Round of 8 on Thursday, Dec. 8)

Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016
10 a.m. – Scorpion Championship, qualifiers 9-24, best-of-five-game single elimination match play
1 p.m. – Scorpion Championship, qualifiers 1-8 plus 10 a.m. winners, best-of-five-game single elimination match play
(Winners advance to Round of 8 on Thursday, Dec. 8)
4:30 p.m. – Shark Championship, qualifiers 9-24, best-of-five-game single elimination match play
7:30 p.m. – Shark Championship, qualifiers 1-8 plus 4:30 p.m. winners, best-of-five-game single elimination match play
(Winners advance to Round of 8 on Thursday, Dec. 8)

Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016
10 a.m. – Cheetah Championship Round of 8, best-of-five-game single elimination match play
(Four winners advance to ESPN match play finals)
1 p.m. – Chameleon Championship Round of 8, best-of-five-game single elimination match play
(Four winners advance to ESPN match play finals)
4:30 p.m. – Scorpion Championship Round of 8, best-of-five-game single elimination match play
(Four winners advance to ESPN match play finals)
7:30 p.m. – Shark Championship Round of 8, best-of-five-game single elimination match play
(Four winners advance to ESPN match play finals)

Friday, Dec. 9, 2016
No competition (television setup day)

Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016
Noon – Cheetah Championship presented by PBA Bowling Challenge Mobile Game match play semifinals and finals (airs on ESPN on Dec. 18, 1 p.m. ET)
2:30 p.m. – Chameleon Championship presented by HotelPlanner.com match play semifinals and finals (airs on ESPN on Dec. 24, 1 p.m. ET)
4:15 p.m. – Scorpion Championship presented by Reno Tahoe USA match play semifinals and finals (airs on ESPN on Dec. 25, 2:30 p.m. ET)
6 p.m. – Shark Championship match play semifinals and finals (airs on ESPN on Dec. 25, 3:30 p.m. ET)

Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016
10 a.m. – Live ESPN stepladder finals, PBA World Championship (10 a.m. Pacific; 1 p.m. Eastern; re-airs on ESPN on Jan. 1, 4 p.m. ET)
1:30 p.m. – USA vs. The World Team match (airs on ESPN on Jan. 8, 1 p.m. ET)

Author: Herbert Bickel
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