Year 2 of the event was to be in Bangkok. I was a bit intimidated by the prospect. Jakarta had done such a great job of hosting the inaugural event that the bar was set pretty high. I felt they were going to be a tough act to follow. That being said, I did what I always do and “Got by with a little help from my friends.” A good number of league players stepped forward to lend their efforts to Bangkok’s hosting of the event, and a committee was formed to deal with the various details and ensure that nothing was forgotten. Whatever we needed, there were yet other people that offered to lend their experience, advice, talents and connections. With strong and enthusiastic support from a number of people, I think it’s fair to say we succeeded in actually raising the bar a bit. Year 2 was played on Saturday, Sept 15th, 2012.
Paul Grey, who runs the Shanghai Pool League, had gotten wind of the event and wanted in. Pauly likes Bangkok, and the prospect of bringing a team here to play in the event was too appealing to pass up. Shanghai would now make it a 3-team event. Shanghai, like Jakarta, is a much larger city than Bangkok. It’s pool league is also much larger. They figured to be a formidable side. My spies in Jakarta were telling me to expect a Jakarta side that was on a mission. Coming into their house and beating them could only be avenged by them coming here and doing the same. Their team had been re-structured to bring in their very best tournament-tough players. Defending our title wasn’t going to be easy. We did have the home field advantage, though, and Bangkok was not going to have to deal with air travel and hotel issues. I felt we would have a pretty strong team. Almost everyone that had gone to Jakarta wanted in. As is typical of the expat community here, a few had moved on. A few other were willing to give up their place on the roster so that others could take part in the event. Most everyone was pretty supportive of my efforts to put together a team. There were a few open spots, and tournaments were held to fill them.
I opted to have event shirts made up to secure financing for the event. A friend turned me on to a shirt co. in Pattaya that had a lot of leftover fabric from having shirts made up for one of the Olympic teams. I was given a good price, and had 1,000 shirts made up. I delivered about 20 to every bar that plays in the Bangkok Pool League, and asked that they please support the event by selling them for 1,000 Baht each. The 1,000 Baht was not for just a shirt, though. Wearing the shirt would be the ticket into both the Meet & Greet and the Event itself, where the beer and a food buffet would be free. In addition to the shirts as a way of raising support, as I already alluded to, I had a lot of help from my friends. Glen Bullard was once again on board. Like Glen, Meaw (Hillary Group) also saw the event as something great for the city, the sport, and the people that work and play here. She was also fully on board. Henning Nilsen, who is the Bangkok distributor for Brunswick, was a Team Captain in Jakarta and another strong supporter. Henning would be able to deal with the tables for me through Brunswick for the event. Tee, who does work for both Glen and Henning, would be able to deal with setting things up and be able to supply his own crew to help him. Glen told me to let him and Meaw run point with Heineken, as both were big customers for them. It worked, and Heineken was brought on board as a sponsor to supply beer for us. Glen also offered up Nana Liquid for the Meet & Greet. where Heineken would supply the beer and Absolut would supply the Vodka.
THE VENUE: The event was originally planned to take place at the Westin Grande Hotel, but the deal fell through midway due to financial and logistic concerns. The Shanghai and Jakarta sides were still able to stay there at just over the employee rate, but I had to scramble to find another venue to hold the event. The Rembrandt came to my rescue, offering us a huge ballroom at a price well within my budget.
THE WALK– Jakarta had put on a great show for us, and I needed to find a way to reciprocate. The entire Bangkok crew were impressed by the police escort that Jakarta had arranged for us to take us from our hotel to Block M. I came up with an idea. The down side was that I knew I would not be able to pull off. The up side was that I had the support of Meaw, who was able to pull it off with a few phone calls. I assembled the Jakarta and Shanghai teams at The Ball In Hand for some practice and socializing in preparation for a walk from there to Nana Liquid for the Meet & Greet. When the cue came, I told everyone to head out and walk to Nana Liquid. When they hit the street, they discovered that the bars had emptied and all of the girls on Soi 4 between Ball In Hand and Nana Liquid were lining the street carrying signs and officially welcoming them to Bangkok. A sudden rainstorm put a damper on things, but enough of the girls held their ground in the rain and subsequent flood to blow our visitors minds. I still hear about it from those that made “The Walk.” I had hired 2 of the ugliest and most obvious katoeys I could find to carry a sign that read “Welcome back Brian. We’ve missed you.” Unfortunately, as everyone in Bangkok who has been here during Songkran already knows, katoeys do not like getting wet. They fled with the sign at the first drop. Still, it was something I’ve never experienced before in Bangkok, and a bit of a treat for our guests.
MEET & GREET: The Meet & Greet was held at Nana Liquid. The walk there from Ball In Hand did a good job of putting everyone in the mood for some socializing. Nana Liquid turned out to be a great venue for us, and a disco that did not get much business before midnight was packed with party-goers early. Everyone seemed to be enjoying it. The Game provided a great food buffet, and the beer was free. The drinking was at a pace that exceeded Heineken’s keg expectations, and Glen & Meaw solved the problem by throwing a few extra cases into the mix.
THE EVENT: Play began the following day at The Rembrandt. The tables were in, the lighting had been installed, and The Rembrandt personnel were a pleasure to deal with. We were ready to go. Heineken set up early, with the 1st of the 22 kegs the crowd would eventually drink themselves through. Each of the cities would consist of 4 teams that would play a total of 60 matches against each of the other 2 cities. Each round of play would consist of 60 games. Bangkok got off to a good start, and the score at the end of round 1 was Bangkok 29, Jakarta 24, and Shanghai 7. Jakarta came back in Round 2, and the score was Bangkok 50, Jakarta 50, and Shanghai 20 when it ended and we broke for the food buffet.
During the dinner break, Mika Immonen played an exhibition match. Brian had called me to say that Mika was coming to Bangkok with the Jakarta crew, and asked me if there were anyone in Bangkok that might be able to give him a decent match. Bangkok has some seriously talented pool players, but the name that immediately came to mind was Stuart Pettman. Stuart’s game was on a pretty dramatic rise, and I saw it as a pretty even contest. I was wrong. Stuart won the match rather handily.
When play resumed, and with the food in their bellies now neutralizing the Heineken they had been drinking all day, the boys from Bangkok rose to the occasion in round 3 and put the match away. The final score was Bangkok 82, Jakarta 70, and Shanghai 28. The competition between Bangkok and Jakarta was still very tight, though. Jakarta won 3 of it’s 4 matches against us by a score of 8-7 each, but they lost the other one by a score of 10-5. The aggregate score between the 2 rivals was 31-29 in Bangkok’s favor. Bangkok went 51-9 against Shanghai, while Jakarta went 41-19 against them. Shanghai, to be fair, was a better team than the score indicated. They began the party as soon as their plane landed, and had a bit of difficulty making the transition from party mode to competitive mode. They were a fun crew. Pauly still insists that they outdrank us. I think we won that contest too, but were better conditioned to handle it.
Bangkok was now a 2 time Champion. Of importance to me was that we received the 1st place prize money, which would guarantee a great start on being able to finance the next event in 2013. Shanghai would be the target city, and I knew the expenses would be a bit higher.