Team USA's Tackett, Anderson advance to doubles semifinals at 2018 World Men's Championships

HONG KONG - EJ Tackett and Andrew Anderson pushed each other all year on the Professional Bowlers Association Tour, where they both were among the contenders for the season-ending Chris Schenkel PBA Player of the Year Award.

This week at the 2018 World Bowling Men's Championships, there still may be some friendly competition on the lanes, but there also is an uplifting cohesiveness that comes with putting on a Team USA jersey.

Every aspect of the nearly two-week tournament is about camaraderie and teamwork, and the two World Championships first-timers have excelled together through two events at the South China Athletic Association Bowling Centre.

Their success in doubles Wednesday was the result of almost a week of communication and trial and error, and they're now headed to the Dec. 2 semifinals as the top seed.

Tackett led the doubles effort with a 1,421 six-game set, which started with games of 235, 257 and 289. The performance was a 160 pins better than his singles effort earlier in the week, and the improvement can be attributed to some equipment adjustments suggested by Anderson.

Anderson, the No. 1 seed for the singles semifinals and owner of the week's first perfect game, added a 1,335 set to the leading 2,756 doubles total. The two surged to the top of the standings with 531 in their third game Wednesday, and averaged nearly 230 overall to secure their spot in the medal round.

The Team USA tandem was followed in the standings by Canada's Dan MacLelland and Francois Lavoie (2,666), Malaysia's Adrian Ang and Tun Hakim (2,596) and Korea's Park Jong Woo and Kim Kyung Min (2,579).

Team USA's Kyle Troup and Jakob Butturff just missed the cut, finishing tied for sixth place with 2,549. Defending champions Tommy Jones and Chris Barnes struggled in their title defense and finished tied for 31st place with a 2,410 total.

"I had some trouble in singles, but we learned some things and made changes that helped us be successful today," Tackett said. "That's what it's all about. When you don't have it, you learn something for next time. We've worked together really well so far in this tournament. We're feeding off each other, taking advantage of what we find and grinding when we have to. We communicated well today and were able to come away with a pretty good score."

In each semifinal round at the 2018 World Men's Championships, the first and fourth seeds will face off, while No. 2 and No. 3 meet. The winners will battle for the gold medal, and the loser will take home the silver. Both semifinal losers will earn bronze medals.

In the singles semifinals, Anderson will take on No. 4 Dan MacLelland of Canada, the 2014 singles champion at the World Men's Championships. The other match will feature Team USA's Kyle Troup (No. 2) and No. 3 Rafiq Ismail of Malaysia.

On the way to the medal round in his debut event with Team USA, Anderson was dominant with a 1,473 total, while Tackett struggled to put together a big game and finished with 1,261.

The teammates talked through what went right and what went wrong in singles, and the suggestions Anderson made helped Tackett on Wednesday.

"I think we just work really well together, and it feels like at any point so far, at least one of us has had pretty good ball reaction, so we've been able to communicate from there and mesh well overall," said Anderson, the 2018 PBA Player of the Year. "I had a really big day the other day, and EJ had a monster day today. It was fun to watch him bowl incredible today, and it was great team bowling overall. We were able to shoot over 400 every game, and even on the pairs we thought were going to be troublesome, we were able to find something pretty quickly."

Tackett describes Anderson as more technically minded and appreciates how he takes the time to explain things in a way each person would best understand.

What Tackett determined during singles was that he'd initially misread the lanes and 38-foot World Bowling Los Angeles oil pattern. His game plan was to manipulate the ball to get it through the front part of the lane, a trick that was not necessary.

Late in singles, he started rolling the ball more, his natural strength, and his look was much better. Adding some shine to his equipment, followed by a few practice games on their day off, proved to be the difference for Tackett on the way to his hot doubles start.

"I felt like I bowled better than my score in singles, but I also felt like I was trying to out-bowl bad ball reaction, and that's never going to yield high scores," Tackett said. "I certainly could've bowled better. At the same time, we learned something during that block, which is important. Having the time yesterday to make some surface changes and get in a few games really helped coming into doubles. I felt like I knew what my arsenal was going to do, but it was nice to throw some shots and see how everything rolled."

Now, the teammates will turn their attention to trios, which gets underway Thursday morning. All competitors will bowl six games over two days, before the field is cut to the top four for the semifinals. There will be three squads of trios each day.

Anderson, Tackett and Troup will hit the lanes at the SCAA Bowling Centre on the day's first squad, and Barnes, Butturff and Jones will bowl on the final squad Thursday.

"Me and EJ had high expectations once we found out we were bowling doubles together, and we wanted to carry in the momentum from the big year we both had on the PBA Tour," Anderson said. "Making the medal round in both events so far is a great way to start the World Championships, and I'm really looking forward to the rest of the week, starting with trios tomorrow."

All 265 competitors at the 2018 World Men's Championships will bowl 24 games this week (six games in singles, doubles, trios, team), and medals also will be awarded for all-events and Masters match play.

The medal round for singles is Dec. 1, doubles is scheduled for Dec. 2, the trios medal round will be Dec. 3, the team event will conclude Dec. 4 and the Masters final will take place on the event's final day, Dec. 5.

All qualifying rounds at the 2018 World Men's Championships are being livestreamed by World Bowling, and all medal rounds will be broadcast to the United States and Canada by FloBowling. A FloBowling subscription will be required to watch the medal rounds.

For more information on the 2018 World Men's Championships, visit