Balls! California man vanquish local Skee legend in championship

for The Brooklyn Paper
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A hometown hero lost his shot at glory, losing a coveted Skee-ball title to a clutch California competitor.

Williamsburg’s own David “The Bear” Mahler” fell in Sunday’s final of the Brewskee-ball National Championship at Grand Street’s Full Circle Bar to legendary hurler Joey “The Cat” Mucha, a San Francisco native.

Mahler, surrounded by friends and well-wishers, hung with Mucha for eight of the game’s 10 frames. But he cracked under pressure in the ninth frame, missing several 50s and allowing Mucha to amass an insurmountable lead.

“It was extremely impressive Tiger Woods-type performance,” said Full Circle’s Eric Pavony. “There’s a presence about Joey, a swagger, a glow that was extremely intimidating. He had people shaking before frame one. They had a tough time dealing with their nerves.”

The sport of balls, wrists and wit has taken off over the past two years, as dozens of Skee-ball–themed bars equipped with state-of-the-art machines have been held throughout the country.

But the revival of the beloved carnivalesque arcade trend can be traced to Eric Pavony’s Full Circle, which opened in November, 2009, and celebrated by hosting its own tournament.

The object of the sport is to roll a fist-sized ball into one of a series of holes allayed in concentric circles with different values. Thrusting the skee-ball into its hole without missing during a frame earns the player a “full circle” — the goal of all Skee-ballers.

Some of the more daring players try to roll a 100, or a hundo, the best competitors consistently hit 40s and 50s, forcing opponents to keep up.

That’s how Mucha won — experts say, after all, that he is the best low-ball shooter in the country.

Mucha vowed to win the tournament after losing last year, going so far as to install a regulation-size arcade game in the kitchen and living room of his Bay Area apartment, which was barely large enough for both him and his nonexistent girlfriend.

But he practiced rolling 40s every day and racked up several wins on the West Coast before coming to Brooklyn and pummeling the competition.

Mahler practiced almost as diligently, but in the end he could not keep finding the 40s, and lost the match as Mucha rolled full circles over several frames.

“The 40 has been the glorified hole for six years now and there’s a reason for it,” said Pavony. “The strategy running 40 after 40, for 10 frames while maintaining that level of focus, consistently with people chanting, it’s harder than it looks.”

Updated 5:24 pm, July 9, 2018
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