Finland's Kai Virtanen, Ville Rajala move to the top at Ballmaster Open


    2016 European Bowling Tour #1

    Tournament organizer Virtanen becomes the first player to crack the 1400-mark (1432); Parker Bohn III, USA, is the only non-Finnish bowler in the top 44 (28th); No. 44 score to beat to advance is now 1246, a 207.67 average



    2016EBT01KaiVirtanen.jpgKai Virtanen (pictured left) and Ville Rajala of Finland moved to the top of the leaderboard in the 46th Brunswick Ballmaster Open as qualifying has surpassed the halfway mark Wednesday at Tali Bowling Center in Helsinki, Finland.

    Ballmaster Open organizer Virtanen became the first player in his tournament who cracked the 1400-bar when he closed squad 10 with a huge 288 game for 1432, an average of 238.67 for six games. The former Finnish national champion, who won the prestigious tournament in 1995, started his series with 220, 204, 246, 253 and 221.

    2016EBT01VilleRajala.jpgRajala (right), a two-hander, who delivers the bowling ball from the left-hand side (pictured above) since he was nine years old, stayed consistently close to his 233.17 average over his six games in squad 9 to finish the day in second place with 1399.

    Rajala, who will be celebrating his 18 birthday Saturday, January 9, rolled games of 236, 236, 235, 243, 223 and 226 to overtake previous leader Juhani Tonteri by three pins. Tonteri slipped to third place with 1396.

    2015BWCSannaPasanen2.jpgThree-time Ballmaster Open champion Pasi Uotila is fourth with 1394 while Perttu Jussila caps off the top five with 1392.

    Finnish national team member Sanna Pasanen (left) is the best of 54 women in the 426-player field from Estonia, Germany, Russia, Spain, Sweden, United States, Uzbekistan and the host country Finland in 16th place with 1324 total, including 48 pins handicap.

    2015PBAParkerBohn.jpgParker Bohn III (right), United States, is the only non-Finnish bowler in the top 44, who will advance to Sunday's finals. The 35-time PBA champion, who also owns one European Bowling Tour title, was second to fellow left-handed bowler Rajala in squad 9 with 1284, good for 28th place.

    After the World Bowling Tour has released its preliminary schedule for the 2016 season, it is clear that 46th Brunswick Ballmaster Open will no longer be part of the World Bowling Tour and therefore the winner will not be awarded a Professional Bowlers Association Tour title.

    With 10 of 18 squads in the books, Joni Oksanen holds 44th place with 1246 or an average of 207.67. Qualifying commences on Thursday, January 7, with squads 11 and 12 scheduled to start at 3 and 7 p.m. Eastern European Time (EET).

    2015BallmasterLogo_small.jpg Since its inception in the year 2000, the European Bowling Tour kicks off with Brunswick Ballmaster Open in Helsinki, Finland. The 46th edition of Europe's most prestigious bowling tournament will kick off the 17th EBT season from Tuesday, December 29, 2015 through Sunday January 10, 2016 at 36-lane Tali Bowling Center.

    The BBO is the first of three "EBT Platinum" events this season, the highest of the four EBT categories, and offers total prize money of 103.300 Euro, including all extra prizes, with 13.000 Euro going to the winner, 9.000 to the runner-up and 6.000 and 4.000 to the third and fourth place finishers, respectively. Low to cash is 54th place, worth 1.000 Euro.

    Qualifying (six games, unlimited re-entries) starts on Dec. 29 with squads 1 & 2 and concludes Jan. 9 with squad 18 followed by the ultimate one-game Desperado Squad slated for 8 p.m. Eastern European Time (EET - one hour ahead of CET).

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

    Total 54 players - the top 44 from the overall qualifying standings, the top 6 from a separate leaderboard of squads 1-8 who are not among the top 44 and the top 4 from the Desperado Squad - qualify for the finals. There is no bonus for the qualifying leaders this year.

    All 54 finalists bowl two blocks of five games with the top 12 advancing to the round robin match play portion. Those 12 bowl further 11 games of round robin match play (no position round) with the previous pinfall total carried over. During match play, players receive 30 bonus pins for winning a match and 15 pins each in the event of a tie.

    The top 4 players after 21 games including bonus pins determine the champion in a traditional stepladder final. The No. 4 seed meets the No. 3 in the opening match. The winner takes on the No. 2 seed for the right to bowl the top seed for the title and the 13.000 Euro top prize.

    2016EBTLogo_small.jpg After the withdrawal of the Russian Open and the cancelation of the Istanbul Open, the 2016 European Bowling Tour currently consists of 16 tournaments in 11 countries featuring three "Platinum" events, three "Gold", four "Silver" and six "Satellite" events. All tournaments together offer total prize fund of roughly 850.000 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 12 men and top 12 women, who will compete in the 10th EBT Masters February 27, 2017, at Dolfijn Bowling in Tilburg, Netherlands.

    Photos by Seija Lankinen.


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    2016 Brunswick Ballmaster Open - Qualifying Standings after Squad 10/18

    Top 44, top 6 from a separate leaderboard of squads 1-8 who are not among the top 44 and the top 4 from the Desperado Squad will advance to the finals on Sunday, Jan. 10.