2014 WORLD 9-BALL SUPREMACY UP FOR GRABS IN DOHA
By Ted Lerner
World Pool & Billiard Association
Drama, tension, excitement, heartbreak and glory.
These are the enticing elements on offer to pool fans around the globe as the biggest and most prestigious prize in the men’s professional game, the 2014 WPA World 9-ball Championship, goes up for grabs in the searing hot Middle Eastern city of Doha, Qatar, beginning on June 16th and running through June 27th.
This will be the fifth straight year that that the tiny Gulf country of Qatar hosts pool’s most prestigious tournament. Once again 128 players from over 40 countries will clash to see who will be crowned the king of 9-ball pool.
The tournament, which this year moves back to the beautiful Al Saad Sports Club in Doha, will be run in two stages. Stage 1,which runs from June 16-19, is the qualifying stage where 128 players will try to fill nearly one dozen open slots. The brutally tough qualifiers are already filled up with players from around the world, but with heavy emphasis on Middle Eastern players, Filipinos, Taiwanese, Japanese, and several Europeans.
Stage 2, which also features 128 players, begins on June 21. Once again the players will be broken up into 16 groups of 8 playing a race-to-9, alternate break, double elimination format. Four players from each group will make up the final 64, which marks the start of the always tense and dramatic single elimination phase of the tournament. Matches will then become race to 11, alternate break. The final, which takes place on June 27, will be a race to 13.
With so many great players from around the globe in one arena battling it out for 9-ball supremacy, it is little wonder that each year produces loads of fascinating story lines and nervy drama that keep fans riveted and players squirming until the last ball is pocketed.
Although surely more than capable of back to back wins, defending champion and world number one Thorsten Hohmann of Germany will be hard pressed to pull off a repeat of his spectacular all-around performance in the 2013 World 9-ball last September in Doha. Hohmann’s run through the field into the winner’s circle was simply one for the ages. After barely squeaking by Japan’s Toru Kuribayashi, 11-10, in the final 64, Hohmann, brimming with confidence, proceeded to slay defending champion Darren Appleton of England, then crushed a wall of four straight Filipino stars on the way to the title.
In the final, Hohmann came up against a surprise opponent in Filipino veteran Antonio “Ga Ga” Gabica, who was playing the finest pool of his 15 year career and had produced one of the great feel-good stories pool had seen in years. The 41 year old Gabica had lived and worked in Qatar for the last four years, working as an assistant coach for the Qatari national pool team. Both Filipinos and Qataris in the crowd were cheering wildly for Gabica and at one point were even chanting in unison, “Ga-Bi-Ca! Ga-Bi-Ca!”
Early on it looked as if Gabica would ride the magic carpet all the way to an unlikely world title as he went up 6-4 and was playing silky smooth pool. But one blatant miss by Gabica turned the momentum and the match as Hohmann took advantage and proceeded to hammer down the last nail for an emphatic 13-7 win.
The victory was the German’s second World 9-ball title and came 10 years after he burst onto the world wide scene with a world title win in Cardiff in 2003. Hohmann had already carved out a Hall of Fame worthy career in those ten years, but his win in Doha last year put him in that rarefied territory of pool’s super elite. Hohmann, who made it to the quarterfinals in last week’s China Open, is currently the WPA’s number one ranked player in the world.
With the best of the best from all corners of the globe descending upon Doha in mid-June, fans can surely expect more of the same roller coaster ride of emotions, along with pool played at its highest and most entertaining levels.
The winner of the 2014 World 9-ball Championship will receive $30,000. The runner up will receive $15,000. The total prize fund is $200,000.
The players will be competing on Wiraka New Model Tables with Simonis 860 Cloth, Electric Blue Color and using Aramith Super Pro TV Balls.
The Qatar Billiard and Snooker Federation, which is once again hosting and organizing the World 9-ball Championship, will be providing live streaming of the entire tournament on its website, www.qbsf.qa. The WPA will have more information on the Live Stream when it becomes available.
The WPA will be on hand in Doha throughout this year’s World 9-ball Championship providing up to the minute information, live scoring, photographs and in depth articles with insights and analysis.
Fans can interact with us through the WPA’s official Facebook Page for the event at this link; https://www.facebook.com/wpaworld9ballchampionship
The WPA is also on Twitter; @poolwpa
For more information you can also visit the WPA website at www.wpapool.com. Fans can also visit the website of the Qatar Billiard and Snooker Federation at; www.qbsf.qa
*The 2014 World 9-ball Championship will be held in Doha, Qatar from June 16-27,2014 and is sanctioned by the World Pool & Billiard Association(WPA), the world governing body of the sport of pocket billiards. 128 players from across the globe will compete for the most prestigious prize in Men’s Pool. The 2014 World 9-ball Championship is a WPA ranking event.