A shuffle in the order the “animal pattern” events will be conducted during the GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling IX, combined with a different mix in the type of lane conditioners, will add certain elements of intrigue to the ninth annual event when it gets underway at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nev., on Nov. 7.
Looking back at WSOB history, the multi-event tournament has historically bowled a schedule starting with the shortest animal pattern (the Cheetah) followed by progressively longer oiling patterns (Chameleon and Scorpion) leading to the longest (the Shark). Variations over the years have included the Viper, Carmen Salvino and a handful of other patterns.
But the goal has always been the same: provide the world’s premier players with a variety of challenges leading into the crown jewel, the PBA World Championship. It has been similar in concept to cycling’s Tour de France where stages along the way include mountain legs, sprints, flatlands, etc., and the best rider overall wins the grand prize.
The GEICO WSOB IX, presented by Eldorado Reno Properties, is yet another fine-tuning of the ultimate challenge as the PBA rolls into its new 2017-18 Go Bowling! PBA Tour schedule. The order of qualifying stages for the PBA World Championship will begin with the Chameleon 39 (meaning a 39-foot oiling pattern) followed by the Shark 45, Cheetah 33 and then the Scorpion 42. Different lane conditioning oils will be added into the mix (Logic for Chameleon and Scorpion, Defy 30 for Shark and Cheetah), further revising the challenges players will face in trying to bowl consistently to earn spots in the PBA World Championship finals.
“Our goal is to provide our players with a different set of challenges, but with the same ultimate purpose,” said PBA Deputy Commissioner Kirk von Krueger. “To give all players a better opportunity to acclimate themselves to the new sequence of events, we also have adjusted our practice schedule to allow players to focus on the challenges they’ll face.”
In previous years, von Krueger noted, the “official” tournament practice session involved applying all four animal patterns on selected lanes for a single practice session. Players had to move around to experience each. This year, there will be two practice sessions dedicated to the four animal patterns. All players will practice on the Chameleon 39 and the Shark 45 from 10 a.m. until noon (Reno time) on Nov. 7. Chameleon qualifying (two five-game rounds) will take place on Nov. 8 and Shark qualifying on Nov. 9.
Working in concert with the PBA Players Committee, a second day of practice on Nov. 10 from noon until 2 p.m. will give players a chance to re-group and re-focus. Half of the lanes will be conditioned with the Cheetah 33 pattern and the other half with the Scorpion 42 pattern. Players will then bowl their Cheetah 33 qualifying rounds on Nov. 11 and their Scorpion 42 qualifying on Nov. 12.
In all cases, qualifying on each animal pattern will involve two five-game squads including all players bowling at the same time, eliminating the previous “split squad” scheduling.
The combined 40-game pinfall totals for the four animal pattern stages (which will award PBA Tour titles on their own merits) will determine the top 25 percent of the field that will advance to the PBA World Championships, where all qualifiers will bowl another five-game session on each of the four patterns. The top qualifier for the World Championship will then earn the right to select the oil pattern that will be used for the ESPN stepladder finals.