Like our website
Tweet @bowlingball
Follow @bowlingball
Use and distribution of this article is subject to our terms and conditions
whereby's information and copyright must be included.

The GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling Still Rolling Along Six Years Later

Author: Jim Goodwin

Next month, 240 of the best bowlers in the world will arrive in Las Vegas to compete in the PBA World Series of Bowling VI. Mike Monyak and the South Point Hotel, Casino and Bowling Center will hostthe sold out event once again. New this year is the South Point Bowling Arena, built to host this and USBC Championship events.

It will open ahead of schedule and be the site of the WSOB television show taping, the first major event in the new building. WSOB VI competition is scheduled for October 24-31. Television shows will air on ESPN December 14 – January 25. PBA Xtra Frame coverage can be found at 

Perhaps the most remarkable and pleasantly surprising thing about the WSOB is that it has evolved into a truly international event. Only 168 of the players in WSOB VI hail from the USA this year. The other 72 are traveling to Vegas from 20 different countries . . . and most of them are proven players; some coming on their own money, and others with backing from sponsors and even their governments.

Some of the larger groups include 5 players from the UK, 5 from Japan, 6 from China, 9 from Columbia, 12 from Sweden, Denmark and Finland, and 10 from Venezuela. In 2011, the third annual WSOB was dominated by foreign players. They won all of the singles titles and seven of the eight events contested. It was also the year Australia’s Jason Belmonte became a superstar, winning three WSOB titles. Stuart Williams and Dom Barrett of England, Andres Gomez of Columbia, and Osku Palermaa of Finland were the other champs. American stars Norm Duke and Wes Malott prevented a clean sweep by winning the Roth-Holman Doubles that year. Kudos to former PBA Commissioner Fred Schreyer, Tom Clark, Kirk Von Krueger, and everyone else at the PBA for having the vision and courage to create the WSOB concept in 2009. We  said it was a good idea then, and we still believe it today. Without it, the PBA might not have survived in the tough sports television world of recent years.

We asked PBA Commissioner Tom Clark recently what his event team has learned after running the WSOB for five years. “Most significant, length of format” said Clark; “trying to find that sweet spot to create credible competition in combination with a schedule the competitors can live with, especially the international contingent. That said, I think we¹ve learned something in every single aspect of the concept every year.”

PBA Hall of Fame writer Matt Fiorito called the WSOB concept “The boldest move in 40 years” when he first was announced to roll in Detroit in August 2009. Sadly, we lost our good friend Matt in November of 2010, but his vision and common sense writing will be remembered. He encouraged the women’s tour to make a similar move in 2003 when its survival was in doubt. And he had the good sense to know that times were changing for the PBA and that television was the primary factor in making it necessary to film several finals together. He chuckled when he called it “The tail wagging the dog.”

The one thing that we wish were still a part of the WSOB is the PBA Women’s Series Finals, but costs and other factors did not allow the series to continue after its first year as a part of the WSOB. This year, the PBA is bringing in eight women’s regional event players to roll for extra cash. They qualified through their performance against other women in regional events.

The top eight regional men will also qualify, as will the top eight from the PBA 50 Senior Tour. After eight game qualifiers, the top two from each will join the two Teen Masters Tournament champions in a special four-match TV show that will air January 18.

The World Bowling Tour is also involved in the WSOB. The top three from a two year WBT point list will roll for $70,000 in prize money. The finalists are Mika Koivuniemi, Sean Rash and Jason Belmonte on the men’s side, and Kelly Kulick, Liz Johnson and Sweden’s Sandra Andersson for the women.

Sound confusing? Maybe a little, but once you study the schedule, it starts to make sense…and true blue bowling fans can follow their favorite players during more than 50 hours of Xtra Frame coverage during the qualifying rounds.

Altogether, $645,000 in prize money will be dispersed during WSOB VI. The “animal pattern” events – Cheetah, Viper, Chameleon, and Scorpion will pay the winners $20,000 each; but the big prize of $50,000 goes to the winner of the GEICO World Championship. In late breaking news, GEICO has also signed on to become the entitlement sponsor of the entire WSOB.

The GEICO World Championship is considered the first major title of the 2014-15 PBA Season, and perhaps the toughest to win. Why? Because the five finalists will qualify for the ESPN television finals on October 30 in Las Vegas . . . but they will not bowl for the title until January 11.

When this practice was started during the first WSOB after being tested prior to that in a couple of Women’s U.S. Opens, our friend Matt Fiorito said he did not like it. “I don’t think it is fair for the players to have their mood and momentum killed by the delay,” he said. “If I were one of the finalists, I’d be awfully careful crossing the street during that time.”

But, like Matt did, we accept the delay because we know that the PBA is doing all that can be done to make the WSOB and the rest of the tour as good as it can be in very tough times. And like them, we are ready for tough times to be over soon.

 Article was posted with permission from Stars & Strikes, America's Bowling Newsmagazine.

Click here to shop smart deals Need Help? Click here to access our contact information.
WeeklyContestText Click here to shop all Pyramid bowling balls