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When the 2021 PBA Players Championship gets underway, the players will face four lane patterns as they try to advance to their regional stepladders.
The five regional events will all use the same patterns as the players bowl four seven-game rounds live on FloBowling on Jan. 16 and 17. The patterns being used will be Viper 36, Chameleon 39, Bear 41 and Shark 48.
These patterns will test each player’s versatility, lane play strategy, stamina and determination to go after the $1 million prize fund and take home the $250,000 pay day for the win.
Before we break down the patterns, here’s one thing to think about before we go into the patterns. The five regional qualifiers are at different Bowlero centers located in Virginia, Florida, Arizona, Wisconsin and Texas, which means lane surfaces and topography will all be different.
While these patterns should play similar at these centers, they will not play the same due to those variables. These pattern breakdowns are looked at with a general view the players can expect to experience on the lanes.
Round 1 – PBA Viper 36
Viper will be the first pattern the players see as they start their 28 games of qualifying. At first look, urethane will definitely be a viable option for most players to limit the backend reaction on the short pattern.
A reactive ball will hook early on short but it will burn out its energy early leaving a weak pocket hit. Urethane smooths that reaction out by getting its grip much earlier in the lane than reactive to dig through the 30.55mL oil volume up front and blend out of the breakpoint reaction to deliver a consistent and powerful hit to the pocket.
The 3.11:1 ratio makes this pattern a bit more forgiving than the other three patterns. Look for players to get their ball near the gutter around the five board. Players who benefit from urethane will find this pattern favorable to starting off their weekend.
Round 2 – PBA Bear 41
The second pattern the bowlers will face is the Bear. Notoriously known for being of the most difficult animal patterns over the years on the PBA Tour, this pattern looks to be the toughest out of the four.
Medium length patterns and near-flat ratios are sometimes the most brutal for the players on tour. These patterns are usually open for a lot of options that will get the players thinking of what will work at the time.
Urethane could work but reactive could work better. But the reverse effect can also apply depending on a player’s style and game.
This pattern will make or break the bowlers with the ratio at 2.45:1, the flattest of all four patterns, and the oil volume is 30.85mL, the highest of the four patterns.
Depending on the lane surface and topography, the players will be ready to work on manipulating their release, changing their ball speed and controlling their bowling ball’s reaction at the end of the pattern to initiate constant contact with the pocket.
Round 3 – PBA Chameleon 39
Chameleon will start the second day of qualifying, and the length of the pattern falls between Viper and Bear at 39 feet.
With a ratio of 2.94:1 and 26mL of oil volume (the least amount of volume of all four patterns), look for players to use a variety of looks at what best suits their game.
Watch for some players to use urethane around the six or seven board to start and possibly make a transition to reactive through the block. Players can expect to get pretty deep on this pattern to keep their ball on line in the oil and get away from the friction, which there will be plenty of due to the lower volume.
This pattern is a make-or-break pattern in the overall standings for the players that are in the hunt to make the top five and get into the regional stepladder. If you don’t have it together by this pattern, it could be quite a long shot to stay in the mix.
Round 4 – PBA Shark 48
The final pattern of the PBA Players Championship regional qualifying round is Shark, and it’s the longest at 48 feet.
Expect players to keep their breakpoint closer to the pins around the 15 board. Watch for the players to start migrating left and more left as the pattern breaks down especially with the lower than usual volume amounts on the PBA Tour, just a few ticks higher than the Chameleon’s 26mL (Shark is 26.35mL).
Depending on the lane surface and topography, this pattern could open up for multiple angles with the right hand adjustments, ball speed, ball choice and ball rotation.
Mid-lane read is extra critical to get correct on these longer patterns. Think of it as a car braking into a corner. The ball needs to stay on line and not get too far outside if it has any shot to hit the pocket. Too much brake and the ball will check up to the opposite side of the pocket.
Players are expected to use bigger core and stronger cover bowling balls to help create better ball motion and efficient carry through the pin deck.