The stepladder finals for this Sunday’s PBA Viper Championship from the South Point Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas features two PBA Players of the Year and two other players hoping to add another PBA title to their resumés.
In the opening match of the second “animal pattern” tour event of the season, two-time Player of the Year Mika Koivuniemi will bowl against four-time tour titlist Mike Fagan.
Fagan is coming off a Player of the Year-contending season in 2011-12, which saw him win his first career major in the USBC Masters and collect a title in the Brunswick Euro Challenge. He also made telecasts in three other majors, and finished second to Pete Weber in a memorable U.S. Open.
After a 2010-11 season in which he made the TV finals in all four majors, won the 2011 PBA Tournament of Champions and earned Player of the Year honors, Koivuniemi is hoping to rebound from a 2011-12 season in which he made only one TV appearance.
The winner of the opening match will advance to meet five-time tour winner and reigning PBA Player of the Year Sean Rash.
Rash did just about everything at the 2011 World Series of Bowling except win a title. He made the TV finals in all four animal pattern events, the World Championship and the Mark Roth/Marshall Holman Doubles. However, his three second-place finishes in the WSOB, along with a win in the season-ending Tournament of Champions, proved enough for him to win his first Player of the Year title.
The winner of the semifinal will take on No. 1 seed Brad Angelo, who hopes to break a four-year winless streak that dates back to 2008 when he won the Viper Championship for his only tour title.
The next three consecutive Sundays after the Viper telecast will feature World Series of Bowling finals, with all 90-minute programs airing at 1 p.m. Eastern. The Chameleon
Championship will air on Dec. 30, the Bowlers Journal Scorpion Championship on Jan. 6, and the PBA World Championship on Jan. 13.
Each ESPN telecast will be complemented by special programming on PBA’s online bowling channel, Xtra Frame, just before and just after the telecast.