• North Central Pool Tour

Hill-Hill Win for Salim over Martin Caps Off Second NCPT U.S. Open Qualifier

by Laura Semko


From Left to Right: Can Salim (1st), Justin Mason (2nd+ U.S. Open Qualifier)

Chris’s Billiards--famous for its cameo in The Color of Money--hosted the North Central Pool Tour’s second U.S. 9-Ball Open Qualifier on January 18, 2020. Thirty-two players competed for a slice of the $3,500 payout and the $1,000 paid entry.

Can Salim from Dusseldorf, Germany, went undefeated through the bracket. He notched wins over Robert Madison (7-1), Neil Vichiensaen (7-4), Arlo Walsman (7-1), Frankie Ruiz (7-2), and Tom McCluskey (7-1).

As Salim waited in the hot seat, his final-set opponent Justin Martin from Wilmington, North Carolina, had to put in some extra work. He lost an early round match against Mason Koch, the 2019 NCPT tour champion. He then rebounded on the B side, besting opponents such as Arlo Walsman (6-3), Andrew Mackey (6-4), and Tom McCluskey (6-5). He even faced Koch again (6-2).

Martin showed the same grit in the final race. Both players kept it close for much of the set. Martin held a modest lead over Salim after game 7. He was up 5-2. But Salim charged forward with a break-and-run, and more, to make it 7-5.

To close out the match, both players showed strong focus. They traded a series of break-and-runs. But Salim miscalculated a 4-5 combination in game 16, letting Martin reach the hill. In the final game, Martin missed the 1 ball. Back at the table, Salim had some trouble with the 5 ball. He played a safe, forcing Martin to pull out his jump cue. Martin hit the 5 ball but ended up giving Salim the final out.

You can watch the finals and other streamed matches from the event at RailbirdsTV on YouTube. Players in the money were:

1st Can Salim ($1,145)

2nd Justin Martin ($745 plus $1,000 paid entry to the U.S. Open)

3rd Tom McCluskey ($505)

4th Mason Koch ($340)

5th/6th Andrew Mackey and Frankie Ruiz ($225)

7th/8th Arlo Walsman and Sergio Rivas ($150)

The next NCPT stop will be a women’s 9-ball event on March 7 at City Pool Hall in Chicago. Register early at NCPTplay.com.