Pool post. You have been warned. :-)
Not a single shot, but watch Francisco ("Django") Bustamante of the Philippines elegantly solve a very difficult table at the 2013 United States Bar Table Championships, 8-Ball Division. After breaking and choosing stripes he has not one but two pockets blocked (the back left and right corners, by the solid black 8 and solid orange 5 ball respectively) and five balls are lined up neatly in front of the front left corner pocket. He must devise a way to set up pockets for all the stripes as he works the cue ball around the table. Although none of the individual shots are telegenic, long experience and table smarts go into the solving of this rack. Well illumined by the announcer, Ken Shuman, who explains the process as it unfolds.
Django makes this look easy, but it isn't.
ADDENDUM: The link is set to open at the 10 minute mark. If that doesn't work for you, go to the 10 minute mark manually. (Thanks to David Bostedo for this.)
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Featured Comments from:
Chaz L: "That really was a beautiful runout. Great control of the cueball, as you would expect from Django."
Roy: "I'd hope that anyone who likes pool would be able to appreciate snooker played well. For what may be an unsurpassably great break, take a look at Ronnie O'Sullivan's (12th!) astonishing 147 break (maximum possible, for non-aficionados) at this year's Welsh Open. Note that two of the shots, including the final black, are played left-handed: gratuitously in the case of the latter. The whole thing takes little more than 5 minutes. I'm reluctant to ascribe 'genius' to sportsmen (or to photographers for that matter) but this guy comes close. Interesting too that his turbulent personality, which restricted him to some extent—although it didn't prevent him from being regarded as the best player of all time by his colleagues—has been tamed by the attentions of a sports psychologist. The World Championship is currently in progress. At which O'Sullivan may well win the title for the 6th time."
Ahem: "I'm a very casual pool player, and I've dabbled in snooker back in the day. That O'Sullivan 147 play was astonishing—and you don't have to know anything about the sport to appreciate the expertise required.
"On that topic, here's another non-sport sport, a clip of the video game Street Fighter. This clip is two superstars going against each other in a tournament. While you can probably get how big of an ending the match has, it does benefit from a bit of further explanation. Daigo (male avatar) has been beaten to the very last shred of health by around 2:15—just one hit and he's done for. Justin (female avatar) unleashes a 10+ hit combo at 2:45 and the crowd goes nuts, smelling blood. But Daigo incredibly manages to time each of his blocks perfectly—thought impossible at the time—and makes a comeback of the decade, appreciation for it underlined by the reactions from the crowd. Chills.
"And to further illustrate the appeal of esports as a spectator sport, League Of Legends tournaments routinely get 100k+ views, and popular streams get tens of thousands daily on Twitch."
Mike replies: A great point. I think video games have definitely soaked up most of the populist mojo that pool had way back when in the 19th century. In the 1920s, at the peak of baseball, billiards (mainly 3-cushion, if you can believe it!) was just as big a sport. Willie Hoppe earned as much as Babe Ruth, and there was as much coverage in the newpapers for billiards as for baseball. It had been going downhill for a long time before video games came along, of course, but now, with pool continuing its decline, video games are clearly part of what's displacing it.
And just speaking personally, I've often thought that the "relaxed zombie state" I get into when I'm knocking the balls off the table again and again is very similar to what I feel when I'm mindlessly playing video games. It's relaxing and distracting in the same sort of way, I think.