This is how I feel about league play right now. Something's been funky for awhile. I started off the fall session reinspired. Playing 9-Ball on the 9 footers was starting to reshape my 8-ball game, but now I've had to drop 9-ball and the effect is wearing off. I still try to win my matches, but underneath my apparent competitiveness, I'm kinda bored.
I play mostly 2's & 3's. I win more than I lose. I know going into any match that my chances to win are pretty good. I struggle to remember anything from the match. When I think back to last year, things were different. I had just gone up from a 2 to a 3. I was on a team that had gone from the basement to the top of the pack and was seriously competitive. I came away from each match with one shot to celebrate and one to practice. I was loving pool.
Now, I play just good enough to win. Which actually means sometimes I lose. I can think of only two matches this season that really challenged me. The rest were forgettable.
One problem is the division I'm playing in. Its really overcrowded with 2's and 3's, so even the higher level players on my team aren't getting very challenging matches. This makes the problem even worse because not only am I playing crummy pool, I'm having to watch a lot of it too.
Another problem is the teams I'm on. Team A barely needs me. And the captains of both teams A & B tend to play people fairly even and rarely go for the high-low match up. With all the 2's & 3's in the league, its kind of unavoidable, but I still think the strategy would be the same regardless. The captain of my first ever team liked to put me up against stronger players and take advantage of the handicap. Because I'm a fairly strategic player, I often pulled out a win, but even when I didn't it was a memorable match. It also gave me a sense that he believed in my abilities. My second captain was me, and I continued to use this strategy effectively, whenever I felt like it.
So, what to do?.....I have some feelers out to move to either a different division or another league entirely, just for a little challenge. If I move up to a 4, that would help. I think I'm making some progress, but I'm sure its not going to happen next week. And if i'm playing only good enough to win, I might in fact be backsliding.
So for now, I'm stuck. All I can do is make an internal adjustment.
From now on, I must annihiliate my opponents. Even if they are 2's and 3's. Beginners. Players I empathize with. Nice people. Cute boys. Drunk players. Sober players. Players who are just playing for fun. Fortunately, or unfortunately, we don't have very many assholes in our league, which means gunning for annihilation could be challenging (see yesterday's post). But it is necessary for progress.
A win is just not good enough anymore.