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Three-time winner Pasi Uotila leads opening squad at Brunswick Ballmaster Open

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118 bowlers from Finland, 108 men and 10 women, kicked off the 48th edition of the Brunswick Ballmaster Open Friday at Tali Bowling Center in Helsinki, Finland.

Former world champion Pasi Uotila (pictured right and above), a three-time Ballmaster champion (2000, ’04 & ’09) and one of just five multiple winners, rolled games of 221, 222, 218, 279, 208 and 259 in the opening squad to take the early lead with 1407 total and an average of 234.50 for six games.

Uotila and his team mates captured coveted gold medal in the five-player team event at the 2013 World Championships in Las Vegas.

Current national team member Niko Oksanen (left) was 25 pins behind Uotila in second place with 1382.

Mika Luoto (right), who won the gold medal in singles at the 2003 World Championships in Malaysia with 1427 total, led the second squad with 1379, including games of 233, 259, 233, 190, 247 and 217, to move into third place with an average of 229.83.

Pyry Puharinen (left) was just two pins back in fourth place with 1377 after starting his set with 258, 246 and 278.

Places 5 through 9 belonged to past or current national team members: Petteri Salonen (5th, 1360), Joonas Jehkinen (6th, 1360), Jesse Ahokas (7th, 1342), Kimmo Lehtonen (8th, 1331) and Joonas Jähi (9th, 1331). Lehtonen is a two-time Ballmaster Open winner (2002 and 2007).

Ani Juntunen was the best woman in 12th place with 1316 total, including 8 pins handicap each game, a standard for women on the European Bowling Tour.

Finnish bowlers had a 15-year winning streak from 1997 through 2011. Since 2012, only “The Big Finn”, Mika Koivuniemi, found success when he captured his unprecedented fourth title in 2014.

International champions included Bill O’Neill, United States (2012), Jesper Svensson, Sweden (2013), Paul Moor, England (2015) and Parker Bohn III, United States (2016).

Last year Dahne Tan (center) from Singapore became just the third woman to win the Ballmaster Open title with her fellow countrywoman Jazreel Tan (right) in second place and Finland’s Sanna Pasanen (left) in third place.

Qualifying commences Saturday, January 6 with squads 3 & 4 scheduled to start at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Eastern European Time (EET).

Photos courtesy of Seija Lankinen.

The 48th Brunswick Ballmaster Open will be held from January 5-14 at 36-lane Tali Bowling Center in Helsinki, the capital and largest city of Finland. Other than last year, when the BBO was a “platinum” level tournament, the 48th edition of the prestigious event is one of two “gold” events this season, the second highest of five EBT categories (satellite, bronze, silver, gold and platinum).

The BBO offers total prize money of 83.700 Euro, including all extra prizes, with 10.000 Euro going to the winner, 6.000 Euro to the runner-up and 4.000 Euro apiece to the third and fourth place finishers. Low to cash is 48th place, worth 800 Euro.

The tournament offers 3.000 Euro for the first 300 game, or for the highest game if there will be no 300 game.

Qualifying (six games, unlimited re-entries) begins Friday, Jan. 5, with squads 1 & 2 and concludes Saturday, Jan. 13, with squad 16 followed by the ultimate one-game Desperado Squad slated for 7 p.m. Eastern European Time (EET).

Women receive 8 pins handicap each game (up to 292 – maximum score is 300), an equality handicap provided to women in all EBT events.

Total 48 players, including the top 40 from the overall qualifying standings, the top 2 from a separate leaderboard of squads 9-10 and the top 3 of squads 1-8, who are not among the top 40 plus the top 3 from the Desperado Squad, qualify for the finals. The top 12 qualifiers receive a first-round bye.

The other 36 finalists bowl six games starting from scratch with the top 24 advancing to the second round. Those 24 join the top 12 qualifiers to bowl eight games starting from scratch.

The top 16 players will be seeded into two groups according to their positions: Group A (1, 4, 5, 8, 9, 12, 13 and 16) and Group B (2, 3, 6, 7, 10, 11, 14 and 15). Round 2 pins carry over. The group phase features seven games of round robin match play (no position round). During match play, players receive 30 bonus pins for winning a match and 15 pins each in the event of a tie.

The 15-game totals, including all bonus pins, will determine the top two players in each group who advance to the semi-finals (B1 vs. A2 and A1 vs. B2). The semi-final winners will bowl for the title (all one-game head-to-head matches).

The 2018 European Bowling Tour features 13 tournaments in 10 countries including two “platinum”, two “gold”, three “silver”, three “bronze” and three “satellite” events, which will offer total prize fund of more than 560.000 Euro.

The top 50 men and the top 50 women in each event receive ranking points. Those points will be tabulated throughout the season to determine the top 8 men and top 8 women, who will be eligible to compete in the 12th EBT Masters July 8, 2019 at Bowling Chamartín in Madrid, Spain.

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2018 Brunswick Ballmaster Open – Qualifying Standings after Squad 2/16

Top 40 from the overall qualifying standings, the top 2 from a separate leaderboard of squads 9-10 and the top 3 of squads 1-8, plus the top 3 from the Desperado Squad will advance to the finals. The top 12 qualifiers will receive a first-round bye.

Herbert Bickel

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