EJ Tackett, Jakob Butturff, Matt Russo and Tomas Käyhkö earn byes; Chris Via, Bill O’Neill, Jesper Svensson, Zac Tackett, Kevin McCune, Keven Williams, Dom Barrett and Anthony Simonsen advance to finals of the PBA Players Championship presented by Snickers.

The PBA Tour’s grand return to Bowlero North Brunswick in New Jersey could only have resulted in a final field rife with poetic storylines and magical homecomings. 

After 48 games of qualifying, plus a one-game roll-off, the 12 finalists of the PBA Players Championship presented by Snickers have been determined.

EJ Tackett earned the No. 1 seed, shooting 10,832 (+1,232) for his 48 games on the 39-foot Carter and 45-foot Weber patterns. Though this No. 1 seed does not guarantee him a spot in the title match, he earns an unprecedented fourth major championship top seed.

Earlier this season, Tackett earned the No. 1 seed at the U.S. Open presented by Go Bowling!, PBA Tournament of Champions and PBA World Championship presented by Pabst Blue Ribbon. He won the U.S. Open and World Championship to double his career major titles tally from two to four.

Jakob Butturff, Matt Russo and Tomas Käyhkö earned the No. 2-4 seeds and will also receive a one-round bye. Butturff and Käyhkö each advance to their second major telecast of the season, while Russo returns to TV at a major for the first time since last season’s PBA Players Championship.

Russo said win or lose, this will likely be the best telecast of his career.

He grew up in Millstone Township, N.J., less than 25 miles from the site of this week’s Players Championship. Russo grew up bowling youth and high school tournaments at Bowlero North Brunswick and is sure to have family and friends pack the house on Sunday afternoon.

The bracket begins Saturday, May 6 at 10 p.m. on FS1 with the No. 5-12 seeds. The opening match features two players making their PBA television debut, though two players have plenty of familiarity with bowling on TV.

No. 8 Zac Tackett — EJ Tackett’s younger brother — will face No. 9 Kevin McCune, the son of three-time PBA Tour champion Eugene McCune and grandson of former PBA Player of the Year Don McCune.

On Saturday, Zac will bowl on his first career PBA major telecast in the very same building EJ made his own major telecast debut at the 2014 USBC Masters. And if Zac defeats McCune, the brothers will go head to head on Sunday.

The second match pits No. 5 Chris Via against No. 12 Anthony Simonsen. Via left a 4-9 split in his final frame, which proved to be the difference as Käyhkö earned the final bye by just 10 pins.

Simonsen earned the final spot on Saturday’s telecast by defeating Jason Belmonte in a one-game roll-off. Belmonte doubled in his 10th frame, but left a 4-pin on his fill ball and opened the door for Simonsen.

The 26-year-old converted a 3-6-7-10 split, then struck on his fill ball to tie Belmonte. In the roll-off, Simonsen solved a tricky pair to win, 267-159.

A pair of lefties go head-to-head in the third match between No. 7 Jesper Svensson and No. 10 Keven Williams. The winner advances to bowl Butturff, the highest-scoring lefty of the week.

The ultimate match on Saturday pits the veterans No. 6 Bill O’Neill and No. 11 Dom Barrett. A potential battle between eastern Pennsylvania’s O’Neill and New Jersey native Russo could be in store for the following round.

The first round on Saturday will be single-game matches, while the Round of Eight and Round of Four matches will be a Race to Two. The championship match on Sunday, May 14 will be a best-of-five match.

The four advancers from Sunday’s telecasts return to Bowlero North Brunswick for the final rounds on May 13-14.

First-Round Matches

No. 8 Zac Tackett vs. No. 9 Kevin McCune
winner faces No. 1 EJ Tackett on Sunday, May 7 at noon ET.

No. 5 Chris Via vs. No. 12 Anthony Simonsen
winner faces No. 4 Tomas Käyhkö on Sunday, May 7 at noon ET.

No. 7 Jesper Svensson vs. No. 10 Keven Williams
winner faces No. 2 Jakob Butturff on Sunday, May 7 at 9:30 p.m. ET.

No. 6 Bill O’Neill vs. No. 11 Dom Barrett
winner faces No. 3 Matt Russo on Sunday, May 7 at 9:30 p.m. ET.

Qualifying Final Scores

  1. EJ Tackett, 10,832 (+1,232)
  2. Jakob Butturff, 10,806 (+1,206)
  3. Matt Russo, 10,731 (+1,131)
  4. Tomas Käyhkö, 10,594 (+994)
  5. Chris Via, 10,584 (+984)
  6. Bill O’Neill, 10,571 (+971)
  7. Jesper Svensson, 10,547 (+947)
  8. Zac Tackett, 10,493 (+893)
  9. Kevin McCune, 10,479 (+879)
  10. Keven Williams, 10,439 (+839)
  11. Dom Barrett, 10,403 (+803)
  12. Anthony Simonsen, 10,399 (+799)
  13. Jason Belmonte, 10,399 (+799)
  14. Trevor Roberts, 10,360 (+760)
  15. Justin Knowles, 10,346 (+746)
  16. Packy Hanrahan, 10,273 (+673)
  17. AJ Chapman, 10,251 (+651)
  18. Sean Lavery-Spahr, 10,243 (+643)

Simonsen def. Belmonte, 267-159, in a one-game roll-off.

Tournament Schedule

All times are listed in Eastern.

Saturday, May 6 | FS1
10 p.m. — Round of 12 (single-game matches)
Tickets for the 4 p.m. taping are available here.

Sunday, May 7 | FS1
Noon — Round of Eight (Race-to-Two matches)
4 p.m. — Round of Eight (Race-to-Two matches)
Tickets for the shows are available here.

Saturday, May 13 | FS1
12:30 p.m. — Round of Four (Race-to-Two matches)
Sold out.

Sunday, May 14 | FOX
1 p.m. — Championship Round (Best-of-Five match)
Sold out.

More information on the PBA Players Championship presented by Snickers is available here.