The Jakarta organizers were absolutely wonderful hosts! I think everyone that came got far more than they expected.
OVERVIEW: Saturday, October 29th, was chosen as the date for the inaugural event. People began arriving earlier in the week, and all arrived in time for a Meet & Greet Party that was held on Friday to let the Bangkok and Jakarta sides meet one another before the start of the competition the following day. The Meet & Greet was held at Everest Bar on Block M. Block M is the center of the expat nightlife scene in Jakarta, a street lined with a good number of popular bars. Several of those bars play in the Jakarta Pool League. Brian took those that had arrived by Thursday night on a walking tour of the street, introducing us to the various bar owners. The women of Jakarta were obviously anticipating our arrival. Everyone we met did a great job of making us feel welcome and answering various questions we had about the Jakarta scene. Like us, they were expats from all over. The only real difference was that we wound up in different cities.
HOTEL & EVENT VENUE: Brian had arranged a group rate for us at the Arion Swiss-Bel Hotel in South Jakarta. The event was to be held in the grand ballroom there, so it was convenient not to have to deal with the Jakarta traffic. Four new tables had been set up for us to play on. The hotel is a 4-Star, and we all were comfortable there.
MEET & GREET: 2 buses arrived at the Arion Swiss-Bel to take us to the Meet & Greet. In front of our buses was a police motorcade to deal with the traffic. A camera crew was on hand to video us as we made our way into Everest, complete with a spokesperson. The reception we got at Everest was wonderful. All the beer was free, and there was a great food buffet that was beyond what anyone expected. Everyone mingled and eventually went on their own way in groups to discover what the night had in store for them. For most, it was party time.
THE EVENT: The 4 team Captains and I assorted our 4 5-man teams out over breakfast. It was not an easy task, and a few were disappointed about being left off the roster. The vast majority were okay with it, though. We had more spectators than players, and they were free to make their presence felt by some vocal support. There were obviously more Jakarta supporters there, but I think even they would admit that the Bangkok crew were louder. There were 7 Thai girls that made the trip with us, and they were not shy about enthusiastically cheering us on. Screams of Bangkok!, Bangkok! are still ringing in my ears. It set a nice tone for the event.
The first round consisted of 40 games in a match that was to be a race to 61. It ended in a tie, with both teams at 20 wins. After the 2nd round, it was Bangkok 41 – Jakarta 39. Both teams were required to cut down to 10 players for round 3 so we could go to playing the balance of the match out on1 table. Bangkok seized the opportunity to get red hot in Round 3, and took a commanding lead. With Bangkok on the hill and Paul Heap playing Michael Ha, Michael made a small mistake trying to negotiate a snooker. There was absolute silence as Paul gave a broad smile. When he potted the 8-Ball to win the match, all 58 of us erupted into a wild celebration that lasted 20 minutes. It was something that I don’t think any of us had ever been a part of. We were all hugging each other while the Jakarta crew looked on in stunned silence. They are a strong side, but we had come into their house and beat them.
Winning the event gave us the lion’s share of the prize money. That along with the sponsorship that came in enabled me to pay most or all of everyone’s hotel and air costs. The Meet & Greet was free beer and food, as was the event.
The final score was Bangkok 61 – Jakarta 53. It was the event itself, though, that will be remembered….not the final score. We bonded as a group and came together when we needed to. An event was born that we all knew was going to be repeated, and I don’t think a single person in our group regretted making the trip and being a part of something so unique and special. It was magic.
Continue to AEPC Year 2