Anderson was voted the PBA Elite League’s Most Valuable Player after leading Las Vegas to the league’s best record

Following the first full regular season of the PBA Elite League presented by Snickers, an expansion of the PBA League, Andrew Anderson of the Las Vegas High Rollers has been named the league’s first regular season Most Valuable Player, as announced today by the PBA. The Mark Roth PBA Elite League Playoffs MVP will be awarded following the Elias Cup Finals on Sept. 17.

Anderson, who served as team captain when manager Amleto Monacelli could not manage in-person, led the High Rollers to a league-best 10-4 record and the No. 1 seed for the PBA Elite League Playoffs.

During PBA Elite League competition, the 29-year-old ranked third in total strikes (47) and strike percentage (66.20%) and fifth in strike attempts (71), tied with Lucky Strike L.A. X’s Jason Belmonte in each metric. Anderson filled frames at a rate of 89.55%.

“I felt like I put a lot of work in to try to help Amleto build the best team possible, but also put all of us in positions to succeed,” Anderson said. “It's really cool, not only that we're the number one seed, but that somebody on the team wins the MVP award.”

Anderson, who was the franchise's first draft selection in 2020, and AJ Johnson have been a part of all four seasons in Las Vegas franchise history, reaching at least the semifinal each time. Matt Russo joined the duo in 2022 and returned for a third consecutive season when Monacelli recouped him in last December's draft. Monacelli also added Matt Ogle, Sean Rash and Thomas Larsen in the draft.

Anderson and Johnson rotated as Las Vegas' anchor in previous seasons with the left-handed Russo waiting in the wings. Ogle and Rash often anchored their former teams as well, creating an interesting dynamic as the High Rollers established a hierarchy.

“The start of the season was a little new for all of us, learning where each person wants to bowl and where everybody is best at,” Anderson said. “From the manager's standpoint in me, it was quite a good dilemma to have. And let's not forget, we had a major champion coming off the bench. (Larsen) sat back and watched us bowl a lot, and he never batted an eye. That guy deserves a lot of respect to be as good as he is and do that.”

With a roster overflowing with talent and loaded with driven competitors, finding a lineup that satisfies everyone could have been an recurring issue. However, Anderson said a moment from the season’s opening round against Motown helped them develop trust in one another.

“Amleto wasn’t there and we had a tough start in the first game,” Anderson said. “I pretty much told the guys, ‘Hey, I’m not going to beat around the bush here: I’m going to anchor this game.’ Some of the team definitely had some questions marks. We won the first game and, at that point, there wasn’t a whole lot of trust yet.”

In the fifth frame, the first time Anderson's new teammates saw him follow up his leadership with action, Anderson left a super washout, but converted the spare, too. Then, as the game inevitably came down to the final frame, Anderson stood toe-to-toe with Motown’s Anthony Simonsen.

Anderson matched Simonsen strike for strike to win the game by two pins and clinch the match victory.

Video file
The deciding 10th frame of Las Vegas's Round 1 win over Motown


"That kind of told both myself and the team, ‘If Andrew is feeling good about the situation, he can handle it.’ And I think that had a trickle down effect for the remainder of the year," Anderson said. "When it comes to pressure situations, there's actually nothing I love more. My entire life, I've had a chip on my shoulder."

Throughout the season, Anderson as captain would often start another player fifth for the first game of a match. Then in the decisive second game, just as he did in Round 1, Anderson would insert himself into the anchor position.

“Bowling in that spot takes the pressure off of others is my way of looking at it, whether it's right or wrong,” Anderson said. “Sean Rash is one of the best bowlers of all time. Ogle, when he is on, is one of the best players in the world. Russo is one of the best left handers in the world. AJ, when he's on it, can keep up with anybody. If I can take pressure off of them, where they just get to throw good shots and not really worry too much about the outcome, I feel like it puts the team in a fantastic spot.

“If you look at the team on paper, I could see a world where I'm like the fourth or fifth best player on the team during spots. That also goes to show you how much trust they have me to throw those shots when needed.”

Anderson’s “MVP Moment” came in Allen Park, an hour from Anderson’s hometown of Holly, Mich. in a Round 12 battle with the Portland Lumberjacks — the team who ended their 2023 championship pursuit. The victor on the afternoon of April 6 would wield the league’s best record and control their own destiny for a postseason bye.

Las Vegas took Game 1 198-177, but faltered on the tricky right lane in Game 2, falling 237-150. The 2020 Elias Cup Finals rematch headed into a roll-off where the High Rollers would remain on the right lane.

With Las Vegas holding a 16-15 advantage after two shots, Anderson stepped up with a chance to shut out Portland.

That strike proved to be the determining factor between the High Rollers earning the top seed and potentially not receiving a bye. Portland and Akron each finished one game behind Las Vegas with a 9-5 record.

The High Rollers continue their quest for the franchise’s first Elias Cup title on Sept. 16. They will face the winner of the Sept. 15 quarterfinal match between Motown and New Jersey. The full PBA Elite League Playoffs schedule is available here.

Last season, the High Rollers were swept 2-0 by the Lumberjacks in the semifinals. A potential rematch would only happen in the Elias Cup Finals.

“We haven't gotten over the hump because of literally just one or two errant shots here and there. Everybody's guilty, myself included,” Anderson said. “I think the biggest difference this year is that we have guys who have a lot of games in Portland. I think that experience and that comfortability is going to really be the game changer. 

“I don't know when or if we'll get to bowl Portland, but I can promise you: me, AJ, and Matt have some unfinished business there.”

The PBA Elite League presented by Snickers Playoffs will be held Sept. 15-17 at Bayside Bowl in Portland, Maine. Tickets are available here.

More information on the PBA Elite League is available here.

MVP Voting Results

A panel of PBA officials each selected three players via ranked-choice voting. Anderson received all first-place votes.

  1. Andrew Anderson, Las Vegas — 150 points
  2. Packy Hanrahan, New Jersey — 60
  3. Jason Belmonte, L.A. X — 45
  4. Justin Knowles, Motown — 15
  5. Tom Smallwood, Portland; Jason Sterner, Motown; Kyle Troup, Portland — 10