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Bowling News USA - January 18, 2012 The Schlemer Report - World Championship Finals

After four weeks of elimination rounds, the time finally came for the final four to square off for the first major of the PBA season. Odds were pretty high that there would be a first time major winner crowned since the three Storm staffers that were on the show didn’t have one between them. I have to say there was definitely no proverbial winner heading in. Even though Rash picked the Scorpion pattern thinking he could out strike everyone, I had a sneaky feeling the lanes were going to get ugly quick, and they did. Any time you get three of the highest rev rate players on tour, on one pair of lanes, oil pattern destruction is going to happen very quickly.

In practice before the show, all four players were moving back and forth – here and there. Ryan Shafer was the straightest of the group and if the lane permitted, he hoped to stay right of the high rev guys and steer clear of their lane traffic. In theory it was a superb idea, in reality, the high rev guys didn’t want that to happen. So about half way through practice Belmo, Osku, and Rash all made moves to the right and tossed some shots. High rev rates plus balls with surface equals early breakdown. Shafer had no choice but to edge in and try and create something where the others played. As you witnessed if you were able to watch, because Ryan had a lower rev rate and more axis tilt, his ball glided through the friction that developed in the front part of the lane. By the end of practice we all knew it was going to be a grindfest. The front part of both lanes started hooking so much that even the normal moves and adjustments (like more loft) didn’t seem to work for the crankers. Shafer had a great look and just needed to toss quality shots to get through the elimination rounds.

Starting game one, Shafer had the best look by far on both lanes with a Marvel Pearl. Belmo had a decent look with a pin-up Critical Theory, and to be perfectly honest, I was most concerned with Osku as he never seemed to find a ball that he was comfortable with. Not to mention it seemed he moved every shot in practice, but yet he still said he would figure it out. He just wanted to see the lane transition a little more. I guess looking back now, even with the crazy finish the first game, there was definitely a method to his madness.

As the frames went by the first game, nothing pretty was developing. Everyone had an open frame and the left lane was changing more and more with each shot. For some reason, that left lane just kept hooking earlier and earlier; but every time one of the guys would try to cheat a little left, the ball looked like it was on a snow saucer. Ah the joys of oil transition on television. I have been doing this for over ten years now and still there is no method or equation for how things happen on TV. Just like the tenth frame in the first game when Osku stepped up on the squirrely left lane using the Defiant and struck, then left a ten pin, and almost whiffed it to face elimination. Then as fate would have it, Belmo selected both the lane and starting position for the one ball sudden death. Now don’t get me wrong, no one had either lane figured out by any stretch of the word, however, Osku did seem to have a good handle on that right lane. Although up until that point he hadn’t thrown too many good shots, he stepped up and put all 10 back to send fellow two-hander Belmo packing.

As game two started, the left lane kept changing and never seemed to stop changing. Ryan was still comfortable with the Marvel Pearl on both lanes, just like game one, but Osku felt that now the left lane had started to hook so much earlier that the Defiant was just too much ball. That is why he switched to the Outlaw. It’s still a solid coverstock (less aggressive), but much less core which allowed him to get the ball through the front part of the lane. Ryan with his lower revs and years of experience knew the key was to fill frames as he went about his business. Osku relied on his pure power and rev rate to overcome what was left on the lanes. The other guy named Rash tried to keep up with Osku, but we all know that two hands (in this case) was better than one.

One game to play – left standing was the seasoned veteran with multiple second place finishes in majors and the up and coming two-handed Finnish sensation. Either way, one of them was winning their first career PBA Major Title. To be honest, it was a coin toss at that point. No clear cut advantage. The lanes continued to transition and both knew they had to avoid open frames and 180 may win the whole thing. Before the title match, the guys got a few shots and it was then that Ryan decided he needed a little more ball to get through the puddle that developed down lane. We opted for the Nano Pearl that he used on his qualifying show to make it thus far. The Nano Pearl still cleared the front part of the lane, but the combination of the Shape-Lock HD core and NRG cover gave him a more consistent read down lane. Osku was still good with the Hy-Road on the right lane and the Outlaw on the left. It definitely was a grindfest and the unfortunate happened to Shafer later in the match with the chopped 3-6-10. Although it is often said it is not over until it is over, it was all but over at that point.

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January, 2012