A week after qualifying rounds across the country, the first regional stepladder of the 2021 PBA Players Championship will take place Sunday.
The series of five regional stepladders will begin with the West Region at Noon Eastern on Sunday live on FS1 (U.S.) and FloBowling (international).
The show will feature the players with the highest totals after 28 games of qualifying in Phoenix last weekend. Anthony Simonsen earned the top seed and will be joined on the show by No. 2 seed Wesley Low, No. 3 Jakob Butturff, No. 4 Darren Tang and No. 5 Kris Koeltzow.
Simonsen, who had four runner-up finishes last season, won his last title nearly a year and a half ago at the FloBowling PBA Bear Open in August 2019. He did, however, make the show in three of the four majors in 2020.
If the 24-year-old seven-time champion can win the PBA Players Championship this year it would be his third career major. He won the USBC Masters in 2016 and the PBA Players Championship in 2019.
On the other side of the spectrum is second seed Low, who started his first full year on the PBA Tour in 2020 only to have it cut short by the coronavirus pandemic.
Low, 23, was a standout bowler at Wichita State and had aspirations of winning the PBA’s Rookie of the Year award last year. The good news for Low is the PBA decided not to present the award last year, and he’s eligible for it again this year.
Just by making this show, Low has already established himself as a frontrunner for the award. If he can advance through the West and win the $250,000 first-place prize on Feb. 21, the PBA Rookie of the Year race may be over before it barely had a chance to get started.
In 2019, Butturff was cruising along and had his best career season. He won three titles, including the USBC Masters, that year but 2020 was a different story as he was unable to win a title. He will look to get back on track this weekend in his quest to win his eighth career title.
Tang is among a group of young rising stars desperate to break through for their first win on the PBA Tour. He had his chances in 2020, finishing second at the PBA Hall of Fame Classic, third in the PBA Scorpion Championship and fourth in the PBA Cheetah Championship.
Koeltzow, a two-time PBA regional champion, has a tough ask ahead to make it out of the West after surviving a close call to earn the fifth seed. He did, however, have recent success against one of the other stepladder finalists in this region when he beat Low in the title match of the PBA Grand Resort & Hotel Southwest Invitational.
The winner of Sunday’s stepladder will advance to the finals of the PBA Players Championship, which will take place live on FOX (U.S.) and FloBowling (international) on Feb. 21 at 12:30 p.m. Eastern.