EIGHT GUNNING FOR THE BIG PRIZE
By Ted Lerner
WPA Press Officer
Photos Courtesy Dong Secuya/philboxing.com
(General Santos City, Philippines)–After a long and tense day of duels at the highest levels of the professional game, the field at the 2015 MP Cup World 10-ball Championship in the southern Philippine city of General Santos has been whittled down to eight superb talents, all of whom have a solid shot at emerging with the title on the final day on Saturday.
It’s nearly an all Asian-field, with three Filipinos, three Taiwanese, one Chinese and a Spaniard in the mix. It’s a heady cocktail of long time veterans and some of the great young players of the day. Interestingly, not a single one of the final eight players has ever one won a world title above the junior level. That, of course, will change for one deserving player come early evening on Saturday.
Do you like your pool served up with a bit of intrigue and storyline? Well check out this lineup that lags off at 10:30am local time(GMT+). In one quarterfinal, Taiwan’s Ko Pin Yi, a former two time world junior champion, and one of the world’s best young players over the last 6 years, will take on the veteran fellow Taiwanese Yang Ching Shun, who is making a comeback to the higher echelons of the sport after seven years. In another quarterfinal, the Philippines long time veteran Warren Kiamco, long a mainstay on the international scene but never a winner of the big one, will take on Ko’s teenage brother, the incredibly talented 19 year old Ko Ping Chung.
Spain’s David Alcaide, for years now one of Europe’s top players, will face one of the Philippines flashiest and strongest young talents in 22 year old Johann Chua. The final quarters match will see the Philippines Carlo Biado, a man who’s been knocking on the door of big time success for the last four years, take on another surging international player, China’s Lui Haitao.
Pool fanatics will find it almost impossible to pick a favorite among the eight, as each and every one has shown incredible skill, fortitude and the ability to close out their matches over the last four days. But if you had to pick a slight favorite, Taiwan’s Ko Pin Yi might be a solid selection. Yesterday the 25 year old emerged through a veritable gauntlet after taking two straight hill-hill matches. This is the kind of hardship scenario that often leads to a championship run in pool and indeed today, Ko turned on the afterburners. He first disposed of Mexican Ruben Bautista, 11-3. Then in the round of 16, Ko put the screws to Indonesia’s talented Irsa Nasution, 11 – 5.
Ko will surely be a favorite to beat Yang, but Yang is a sentimental favorite among long time pool fans, who remember his stellar play in the 2000’s. But while Yang was one of the greats of the last decade, he was also very much an underachiever. Known for his incredible daring in big money matches, Yang could never win the big one in tournament play. Today, though, Yang perservered nicely. He advanced out of the round of 32 with an all-time gift from the Philippines Baseth Mapandi, who fouled at 10-10 with just two balls on the table. Against Sweden’s Marcus Chamat, Yang got an early lead but struggled to close out the match, winning 11- 8.
Many long time Filipino fans would like nothing more than to see veteran Kiamco take the crown on Saturday. The 44 year Filipino has been at the game for over two decades, and has been playing the best pool of his career the last few months, including winning the Derby City 9-ball championship in Louiville, Kentucky. Admittedly in fine form, Kiamco showed amazing bottle today, starting off with an 11-5 thrashing of English great Darren Appleton. Then, in the round of 16, Kiamco battled back from a 5-1 deficit to Taiwan’s Cheng Yu Hsuan, taking his first lead late in the match, and closing things out in style, 11 – 9.
“I just stayed focused and kept putting on the pressure,” a pumped up Kiamco said afterward. “I’m all the way down but I just kept coming and coming. When I tied it at 9-9, I knew the pressure was on him.” Kiamco’s best ever finish in a world championship was 32nd place. He doesn’t want to let this opportunity slip by.
“If I have a chance, I will grab the opportunity.”
His opponent Ko Ping Chung couldn’t come from more of an opposite end of the pool spectrum. The 19 year old Ko doesn’t look a day over 13 and plays just like you’d expect a young prodigy; with a total lack of fear. Today, Ko put in two terrific efforts, first taking down the Philippines Jonas Magpantay, then holding his nerve against Russia’s Ruslan Chinakov, winning at the wire, 11-10.
Should Ping Chung and his older brother Pin Yi both win their quarterfinal matches, they would play each other in the semi-finals.
Spain’s David Alcaide has been a consistent top performer in Europe for years. His reputation as a player’s player, meaning the type that thrives in difficult circumstances, is well deserved. Alcaide is the current European 10-ball champion. In 2009 he reached the semi-final of the World 10-ball championship in Manila.
Alcaide is clearly peaking at the right time, and his convincing wins today over Taiwan’s Chang Jung Lin and Poland’s Mieszko Fortunski were certainly proof. The Spaniard is brimming with confidence and feels he is right where he needs to be going into Saturday’s play.
“I have confidence in myself and my game. Even when I miss I have confidence. I prefer 10-ball. I love this game, I love this tournament and I love playing in the Philippines. Everything is perfect. I like this kind of difficult tournament. It gives me good motivation, good concentration. The best players are here and I like playing the best.”
His opponent Johann Chua will provide a stern test, however. In a veritable sea of talented up and coming Filipino youngsters, Chua is perhaps in the top three. The dashing and good looking Bacolod, Philippines native has spent the last three years playing internationally. He has steadily made solid gains, reaching the quarterfinals in the 2014 World 9-ball championship and notching two third place finishes at the All Japan Championhip.
Chua is the real deal. Yesterday he took down the great Ralf Souquet. Today he manhandled China’s Wang Can, 11 -7 then came out and battled toe to toe with the Philippine superstar Lee Vann Corteza, winning a thriller, 11-10. That Chua broke and ran the last rack under immense pressure spoke volumes about this young man’s future.
“There was so much pressure in that match,” Chua said. “When I was growing up, 11 and 12 years old, Lee Vann is my idol. That was the first time I played him because we are friends and we never even play money matches. It’s my dream to play him in a world championship. It’s really amazing that I beat him.”
While Chua can perhaps afford to wait for ultimate glory, Carlo Biado feels his time is now. The 31 year old from La Union, Philippines has logged countless hours on the road the world over the last five years. He’s a terrific talent and his three wins today showed he has the stamina to go along with his superb skills. Biado first beat Greece’s Nick Ekonomopoulos,11 -7. He then hammered fellow Filipino Romeo Silvano, 11- 1. Biado then dusted Poland’s Radislaw Babica, 11 – 7. After his third tussle of the day, Biado said he felt more primed for prime time than ever.
“I have learned from all my mistakes,” he said. “I’m practicing a lot and I won’t stop until I get a world title.”
Biado will have to come back with one of his best ever performances when he faces China’ Liu. The Inner Mongolian native also logged three rock solid performances today, including a nervy 11 – 10 win over Alex Pagulayan in the round of 32. Lui has been playing his best ever pool in the last year, and could now be considered China’s top male player.
This match between Biado and Liu, like all of Saturday’s quarterfinals, promises to be a stern test of pool at the very highest levels of the sport.
The winner of the 2015 World 10-ball Championship will receive $40,000. The runner up will receive $20,000. The total prize fund is $200,000.
**The 2015 MP Cup World 10-ball Championship takes place at the SM Mall in General Santos City, Philippines from February 15-21 and is sanctioned by the World Pool & Billiard Association(WPA), the world governing body of pool.
To view the brackets please CLICK HERE
The WPA will be on hand in General Santos throughout this year’s World 10-ball Championship providing up to the minute information, live scoring, photographs and in depth articles with insights and analysis from WPA Press Officer Ted Lerner.
Fans can interact with us through the WPA’s official Facebook Page for the event at this link;https://www.facebook.com/wpaworld9ballchampionship
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For more information you can also visit the WPA website at www.wpapool.com.
Quarterfinals, Saturday, February 21, 10:30AM(GMT +8)
Semis and Final to take place afterward.
Ko Pin Yi(TPE) vs. Yang Ching Shun(TPE)
Warren Kiamco(PHI) vs. Ko Ping Chung(TPE)
David Alcaide(ESP) vs. Johann Chua(PHI)
Carlo Biado(PHI) vs. Liu Haitao(CHN)
Results Final 16
Ko Pin Yi(TPE) 11-5 Irsa Nasution(INA)
Yang Ching Shun(TPE) 11 – 8 Marcus Chamat(SWE)
Warren Kiamco(PHI) 11-9 Cheng Yu Hsuan(TPE)
Ko Ping Chung(TPE) 11 – 10 Ruslan Chinakhov(RUS)
David Alcaide(ESP) 11-7 Mieszko Fortunski(POL)
Johann Chua(PHI) 11-10 Lee Vann Corteza(PHI)
Carlo Biado(PHI) 11 – 7 Radoslaw Babica(POL) 4-3
Liu Haitao(CHN) 11-6 Ricky Yang(IND)
Results Final 32
Irsa Nasution(INA) 11 – 10 Jundel Mazon(PHI)
Ko Pin Yi(TPE) 11 – 3 Ruben Bautista(MEX)
Marcus Chamat(SWE) 11 – 10 Wu Kun Lin(TPE)
Yang Ching Shun(TPE) 11 -10 Baseth Mapandi(PHI)
Cheng Yu Hsuan(TPE) 11 – 2 Liu Ri Teng(TPE)
Warren Kiamco(PHI) 11 – 5 Darren Appleton(GBR)
Ruslan Chinakhov(RUS) 11 – 8 Ruben Cuna(PHI)
Ko Ping Chung(TPE) 11 – 7 Jonas Magpantay(PHI)
David Alcaide(ESP) 11 – 8 Chang Jung Lin(TPE)
Mieszko Fortunski(POL) 11 – 9 Raymund Faraon(PHI)
Johann Chua(PHI) 11 – 7 Wang Can(CHN) vs.
Lee Vann Corteza(PHI) 11 – 8 Fu Chei Wei(TPE)
Radoslaw Babica(POL) 11 – 6 Karl Boyes(GBR)
Carlo Biado(PHI) 11 -1 Romeo Silvano(PHI)
Ricky Yang(IND) 11 – 4 Petri Makkonen(FIN) vs.
Liu Haitao(CHN) 11 – 10 Alex Pagulayan(PHI)
Day 4, Final 64
Fu Chei Wei(TPE) 11 – 8 Ronnie Alcano(PHI)
Lee Vann Corteza(PHI) 11 – 9 Albin Ouschan(AUT)
Karl Boyes(GBR) 11 – 7 Anton Raga(PHI)
Radoslaw Babica(POL) 11- 10 Renemar David(PHI)
Carlo Biado(PHI) 11 – 7 Nick Ekonomopoulos(GRE)
Romeo Silvano(PHI) 11 – 6 Roberto Gomez(PHI)
Petri Makkonen(FIN) 11 – 6 Elmer Haya(PHI)
Ricky Yang(IND) 11 – 7 John Morra(CAN)
Liu Haitao(CHN) 11 – 7 Jerico Bonus(PHI)
Alex Pagulayan(PHI) 11 – 6 Ryu Seung Woo(KOR)