Guest column: Elite Mooresville 9 Ball Team makes the podium in the 2023 World Championships APA Las Vegas Tournament

📸: Cassie Granger Howell

Special to the Scoop


Dead Stroke. In the pool world, Dead Stroke equals a performance and execution so flawless — so technically correct — that one cannot miss.

A Mooresville HotShots Bar and Grill 9 Ball team named Dead Stroke did just that, becoming the third-place winner out of  582 total teams competing from all over the world in the category of 9 Ball. The team is the first North Carolina team in the history of the American Poolplayers Association (APA) to advance that far.

Teams from as far away as Singapore recently converged on 3,000 Paradise Road in Las Vegas, Nevada, the location of the Westgate Hotel and Casino. More than 2,500 teams were present to compete in categories such as 8 Ball, Jack and Jill, Masters, Singles, Captains, 9 Ball and various Mini Mania events.

The journey began with an APA session. At the end of playoffs, team Dead Stroke came in third in their division but won a Wildcard spot in the Tri Cup Tournament held at Railbirds in Hickory, NC. Upon winning that tournament, Dead Stroke advanced to the World Qualifiers at the same location. After coming out on top once more, the next destination was Vegas!

But let’s back up just a bit. To be eligible to play in a Vegas APA Tournament, you must be actively playing on a league team in the current session of the same format of the tournament. You also need an established skill level. In 9 Ball, that could be anywhere from a 1 to a 9. Out of five games played in a match, the total of skill levels of the 5 players cannot exceed 23. A player must also qualify with 10 matches within the last 2 years played.

Now back to our local stars …

Dead Stroke is incidentally the only NC team to win on the “podium” level of the World Championships. Team Captain Herman Allen was interviewed at the tournament and asked, “If you could choose an animal to represent your team, what would it be and why?” Herman’s reply: ”A lion because the team has a lot of heart and no quit!”

Kellen Van Abel, HotShots manager and team member of Dead Stroke, is still in that Vegas state of mind, basking in the full experience of the tournament week. I asked him what the experience left him with. His answer: “Team building and sportsmanship meant more to me than the shot.”  

Indeed, this time and experience forged unbreakable ties. Some team members came home with nicknames like Team Co-Captain Beth aka ‘Sudden Death Beth’ Allen, earning her new nickname after a thrilling showdown sudden-death match. Team member Steve Small commented that his favorite memory was simply having the team become closer and develop a tight rapport.

Dead Stroke Team members include Captain Herman Allen, Co-Captain Beth Allen, Kellen Van Abel, Andrew Wahab, Zach Thomasee, Colby Waldroup, Joe Zeback and Steve Small.

Besides a gorgeous three-foot-tall trophy on display at HotShots Bar and Grill of Mooresville on Plaza Drive, the team won $8,000 for the trip to Vegas from the Piedmont APA, an additional $1,000 dollar purse from the World Qualifier and $5,000 for their Third Place World Tournament finish.

Dreams can come true if you believe! A huge congratulations on a job well done and for representing Mooresville and North Carolina on a global stage with class and sportsmanship.

Teams are forming now all over the world for new members. No experience is necessary; your captain and teammates will help you hone your skill. House cues and chalk are available, and you just pay for each match you play! Go to Piedmont APA for this area or the main APA website for locations, and get started. It is a great family activity that fosters lifelong friendships. 


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About Author

Hi! I’m Jaime

I was a newspaper reporter in Mooresville, NC for a decade and covered local government issues from 2003 to 2006.


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