AN EPIC WORTHY OF A FINAL!
By Ted Lerner
Photos courtesy of Pan Yulong
(Shenyang, China)–Korea’s Ga Young Kim and Great Britain’s Kelly Fisher are two giant names in today’s world of women’s professional pool. And today, as the 2012 Women’s World 9-ball Championship entered the knockout stages, the two put on a show that will surely enhance their reputations many fold for years to come.
Kim is a two time former world 9-ball champion and US Open champion who lights up arenas wherever she plays. Besides her prodigious talents on the table, Kim is about as good an ambassador as the sport will ever find. In addition to her native tongue, she speaks fluent Chinese and English. And her looks, charm and fashion sense are impeccable.
With her rugged looks and style, world number 2 Fisher can appear at first to be almost the antithesis of Kim. But the affable Brit is just as deadly on the pitch, and just as nice off of it.
So when the two met up today in the round of 32 inside the ultra hip Richgate Shopping Center here in Shenyang, the match had the feel of a finals showdown. For some reason the organizers decided not to put this match on the TV table, and instead stuck the pair in the very back of the 2nd floor trade hall where all the outside table matches have been played. Perhaps it was just as well because the barebones setting gave the match the feel of a back alley brawl, which is what it turned out to be.
The few dozen fans squeezed into the small space who watched the pair slug it out will not soon forget what they saw. Both players, who know each other’s games well, played their usual manner of fast and aggressive pool. And they combined that fan-friendly style by playing just about as perfect as one could play over the course of 17 racks.
Up early, Kim, fiery and intense, continually repulsed every effort by Fisher to grab the lead. Along the way, Kim continually pushed her lead up then always saw it shrink back again. The pair executed one amazing shot after the next, as if the contest was a great heavyweight fight of years past, where every bomb was answered with another bomb back. Stellar banks, pots off kicks, lock down safeties, great escapes, you name it; this was championship 9-ball at its best.
Eventually Kim found herself on the hill, up 8-6. But Fisher would have the last laugh, as she pounced on Kim’s one missed shot in the match, in the last rack, and took a 9-8 win, to move into the final 16.
“That was one of the best matches I’ve ever played,“ an obviously ecstatic and relieved Fisher said afterward. “The standard was so high. I had to play that good to beat her because when she’s on fire, she’ll kill me. She has in the past.”
Fisher has to like her chances as the world championship heads into the last two days, but with the quality of the field remaining, she knows the deal.
“Just give 100% and hope that the luck is on my side,” she said. “I can win here. But this is 9-ball and anything can happen. I just have to take it one match at a time.”
Fisher will now face the lone American entry in this year’s championship, Monica Webb, on Wednesday. Webb came off the losers side in the group stages today and took down China’s Bai Ge in the round of 32, 9-4 in a fairly sloppy match.
The remaining two days are shaping up to be a fascinating slugfest of epic proportions as the race to the world title intensifies. Unlike last year where the Chinese had already taken over by the final 16, this year the remaining field is much more varied; six Chinese, four Taiwanese, two Brits, 2 Japanese, 1 Korean and 1 American.
China had 33 players in the field of 64 but the six remaining are all capable of taking the title. 18 year old Chen Siming looks like she is going to be very difficult to stop. First out on the TV table today, world number 1 Chen demolished former world champion Shin Mei Lui of Tawain, 9-3. 2010 World 9-ball Champion Fu Xiao Fang, and 2009 World 9-ball Champion Liu Shasha also looked ready for glory as they easily won their matches.
One of the surprises of the day came when Japan’s Sone Kyoko shocked the home town fans by defeating defending champion Bi Zhu Qing of China 9-7 on the TV table. Kyoko will join compatriot Chichiro Kawahara in the round of 16 after Kawahara easily beat the Philippines’ Rubilen Amit, 9-2.
Hall of Famer and four time world 9-ball champion Allison Fisher made it a bummer of a day for the Philippines, as she knocked out Iris Ranola, 9-6.
The contingent from Taiwan is looking very strong so far, especially 2008 World 9-ball champion Lin Yuan Chun and two time and current Amway champion Chou Chieh Yu, who both advanced today.
Two dark horses fans should look out for are Korea’s Park Eunji and China’s Yu Han. Yu made it to last year’s semi-final where she barely lost to Chen Siming. Yu is quietly playing strong pool and can beat anyone in the field. Park is surely a bit of a longer shot but this stylish young lady seems to have a knack for finding the finish line.
The round of 16 begins Wednesday in Shenyang at 10am local time(GMT +8). The field will be down to four after tomorrow’s play. The semi-finals and finals will take place on Thursday June 21. The winner will receive $40,000 while the runner up gets a check worth $20,000. The total prize fund is $160,000.
The WPA will be providing full coverage of all the action from the 2012 Women’s World 9-ball Championship in Shenyang here on our website, www.wpapool.com. You can get all the latest updates with live scoring of all matches, articles offering insights and analysis, updated brackets and photos. Fans around the world can also follow the tournament via the WPA Twitter feed, @poolwpa.
Round of 16 Matches
Wednesday June, 20, 2012
Race to 9, Alternate Break
Chen Siming(CHN) vs. Chichiro Kawahara(JPN)
Lin Yuan Chun(TPE) vs.Fu Xiao Fang(CHN)
Yu Han(CHN) vs. Li Jia(CHN)
Tsai Pei Chen(TPE) vs. Shou Chieh Yu(TPE)
Sone Kyoko(JPN) vs. Park Eunji(KOR)
Kelly Fisher(GBR) vs. Monica Webb(USA)
Allison Fisher(GBR) vs. Tan Ho Yun(TPE)
Chen Xue(CHN) vs. Lui Shasha(CHN)
Day 2 Results, Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Round of 32 Knockout Stage. Race to 9, Alternate Break
Chou Chieh Yu(TPE) 9 – 7 Lin Hsiao Chi(TPE)
Li Jia(CHN) 9 – 4 Han Fang(CHN)
Lin Yuan Chun(TPE) 9 – 4 Line Kjorsvik(NOR)
Chen Siming(CHN) 9 – 3 Liu Shin Mei(TPE)
Yu Han(CHN) 9 – 4 Ren Qiuyue(CHN)
Fu Xiao Fang(CHN) 9 – 4 Wei Tzu Chien(TPE)
Chichiro Kawahara(JPN) 9 – 2 Rubelin Amit(PHI)
Tsai Pei Chen(TPE) 9 – 5 Lai Hui Shan(TPE)
Kelly Fisher(GBR) 9 – 8 Ga Young Kim(KOR)
Monica Webb(USA) 9 – 4 Bai Ge(CHN)
Sone Kyoko(JPN) 9 – 7 Bi Zhu Qing(CHN)
Park Eunji(KOR) 9 – 5 Angeline Ticoalu(INA)
Lui Shasha(CHN) 9 – 4 Wu Jina(CHN)
Allison Fisher(GBR) 9 – 6 Iris Ranola(PHI)
Tan Ho Yun(TPE) 9 – 5 Caroline Roos(SWE)
Chen Xue(CHN) 9 – 5 Marika Poikkijoki(FIN)
1st Session. Losers Bracket. Winner is through to final 32, loser is out
Wei Tzu Chien(TPE) 7 – 0 Jing Siya(CHN)
Li Jia(CHN) 7 – 2 Liu Yichen(CHN)
Ren Qiuyue(CHN) 7 – 5 Masami Nouchi(JPN)
Kim Ga Young(KOR) 7 – 2 Chan Ya Ting(TPE)
Iris Ranola(PHI) 7 – 6 Charlene Zhai Zeet Huey(SIN)
Angeline Ticoalu(INA) 7 – 2 Keiko Yukawa(JPN)
Kyoko Sone(JPN) 7 – 4 Sylvia Lopez(ESP)
Marika Poikkijoki(FIN) 7 – 6 Jung Bo Ra(KOR)
Caroline Roos(SWE) 7 – 2 Junko Tsuchiya(JPN)
Monica Webb(USA) 7 – 5 Wu Zhiting(TPE)
Line Kjorsvik(NOR) 7 – 6 Zhou, Doudou(CHN)
Lin Hsiao Chi(TPE) 7 – 5 Kaori Ebe(JPN)
Tsai Pei Chen(TPE) 7- 1 Gao Meng(CHN)
Liu Sha Sha(CHN) 7 – 3 Akimi Kajatani(JPN)
Liu Shin Mei(TPE) 7 – 5 Zheng Xiaochun(CHN)
Kawahara, Chichiro(JPN) 7 – 4 Liu Liying(CHN)