FOR FLAG AND COUNTRY
By Ted Lerner
(Beijing, China)–It’s not often that the best pool players in the world perform their normally solitary craft as members of a team. But this week in hot and muggy Beijing, we’re about to find out if the game’s top players can coalesce with each other and around flag and country.
The 2012 World Pool Team Championship got underway on Sunday inside the gymnasium of the Tongzhou Luhe High School, in the Tongzhou district of China’s capital, bringing together 24 pool teams from 23 nations(two from China.) And if the results of day 1 are any indication, the early favorites are going to perform to expectation.
Great Britain, Taiwan, China 1, China 2, the Philippines and Japan all notched victories in their opening matches in the group stage, earning a valuable three points. Only Germany fell short as they tied their match with Norway and settling for one point.
Germany’s dilemma highlights the most obvious theme here this week and that is; you’re only as good as your weakest link. The teams consist of a minimum four person teams—“persons” being the operative word, because one player on each team must be a female. That is not to imply that women are weaker, hardly. But teams that you might think would be powerhouses, like Germany with Ralf Souquet, Oliver Ortmann, and Thorsten Hohmann are left slightly shorthanded because their female player, 19 year old Jasmin Michel, while a solid player in her own right, isn’t really close to the speed of say, Great Britain’s Kelly Fisher, China 1’s Pan Xiaoting, or China 2’s Chen Siming. Although with short races and alternate break, anything is surely possible.
Perhaps a bit of a primer is in order because this tournament, while sure to be electric later in the week, offers up a dizzying format that can appear quite daunting to sink your teeth into.
*The teams have been divided up into six groups, four teams per group. Each team will play each other one time in the group stage(round robin format). Each match between countries will feature the teams playing each other in a set of six matches, all alternate break; two races in 8 ball, two in 9-ball and two in 10-ball.
*One 8-ball match will be men’s scotch doubles, race to 6. The other 8-ball match will be a men’s singles, race to 6.
*In 9-ball, the teams will compete in a women’s singles, race to 8, and a men’s singles race to 8.
*In 10-ball, the teams will play one mixed doubles match(scotch doubles), race to 7, and one men’s singles match race to 7.
*The female player must play in the 10-ball mixed doubles match, and a 9-ball match.
*No player is permitted to play more than two matches per session.
*The team who gets the most wins in a particular set of six in their match with another country will receive three points on their total in the group. If the match is a tie(3-3), each team will receive one point in their group.
*The two teams with the highest total points from each group will advance to the single elimination stage. In the event of a tie between two teams, the team with the best win/loss record will qualify number one.
Are you confused yet? Well things will start to clear up once the tournament advances to the single elimination stage, which will play out like this;
A total of 16 teams will qualify for the Single Elimination stage. The 1st and 2nd best team from each group and the four best 3rd place team of the six groups will qualify for the single elimination stage.
Because this stage is a single elimination knockout, once a team reaches a score of four wins, the match is finished. If a match finished tied at 3-3, the winner will be decided by a shoot-out. The shootout will work as follows;
The object ball(8-ball) will be placed in the middle of the foot rail at the same level as the first diamond. The cue ball will be placed on the head spot. Players have the choice to try and pocket the ball in either the left or right corner pockets. All players will play in sequence and the team to score six hits first with a margin of two or more(6-4, 7-5, etc.) will be the winner and will advance to the next round.
A similar tournament was held in Hanover, Germany in 2010 but in that case the teams were all men. It was won by Great Britain, when they defeated the Philippines in a thrilling final. So although this year’s teams include a female, we could say Great Britain is the defending World Team Champion.
And clearly Great Britain is one of the top two favorites to take this championship. The team includes two time US Open champion and recently crowned World 9-ball champion, Darren Appleton, 2007 World 9-ball champion Daryl Peach, Chris Melling, Mark Gray and recently crowned Women’s World 9-ball Champion, Kelly Fisher.
China’s two teams are also at the top of the betting list, especially China 1 with World 9-ball runner-up Li He Wen, Fu Jianbo, Liu Haitao, Fu Xiaofang and Pan Xiao Ting.
The Philippines has an excellent shot as they’ve brought Dennis Orcullo, Efren Reyes, Francisco Bustamante and Rubilen Amit. Chinese-Taipei is obviously loaded with world 8-ball champion Chang Jung Lin, Fu Che Wei, Ko Pin Yi and Chieh Yu Chou. Japan also is brimming with talent.
Dark horses? Try Poland, South Korea—with Ga Young Kim, Canada, and Vietnam—again a notch down because of the inexperienced female player.
The group stages of the 2012 World Pool Team Championship continues through July 3rd. The single elimination begins on July 4th. The finals will take place on July 6th.
The winning team will receive $80,000. The runner up team will take home $40,000. The total prize fund is $300,000.
*The World Pool and Billiard Association(WPA) is the governing body of the sport of pocket billiards.
Sanctioned by the WPA, The Multi-Ball Games Administrative Center of General Administration of Sport, Chinese Billiard and Snooker Federation, Beijing Municipal Bureau of Sport, Beijing Sports Federation.
Results from Day 1, Group Stages
Winner gets 3 points, loser none, tie gets 1 point
Philippines 4 – 2 Indonesia
Croatia 5- 1 Estonia
China 1 5 – 1 Canada
Finland 4 -2 Malaysia
China 2 4 – 2 Australia
Hong Kong 3 – 3 Singapore,
Japan 4 – 2 Poland
Sweden 3 – 3 Vietnam,
Great Britain 6 – 0 South Africa
South Korea 6 – 0 India
Chinese Taipei 6 – 0 Mongolia
Germany 3 – 3 Norway
Winning Team: $80,000
Runner Up: $40,000
Philippines—Efren Reyes, Francisco Bustamante, Dennis Orcullo, Rubilen Amit
Croatia—Ivica Putnik, Bozo Primic, Carlo Calmatin Zrinka Antonijevic
Estonia—Erki Erm, Joonas Saska, Mark Magi, Anna Grintosuk
Indonesia—Ricky Wang, Isral Afrinneza Nasution, Muhammad Zulfikri, Amand Rahayu
China 1—Li He Wen, Fu Jianbo, Liu Haitao, Fu Xiaofang, Pan Xiao Ting
Finland—Peter Makkonen, Aki Heiskanen, Abbas Al-Marayati, Marika Pokkijoki
Canada—Jason Klatt, John Morra, Erik Hjorleifson, Brittany Bryant
Malaysia—Ibrahim Amir, Patrick Ooi, Moh Keen Hoo, Klaudia Djajalie
China 2—Dang Jinhu, Dai Yong, Han Haoxiang, Liu Shasha, Chen Siming
Hong Kong—Kenny Kwok, Lee Chenman, Andrew Kong, Ellen Cheung, Ruby Cheung
Singapore—Sharik Aslam Sayed, Toh Lian Han, Aloysius Yapp, Lum Wai Keong, Ann Koh Seng
Australia—David Rothall, Louis Condo, Robby Foldvari, Lyndall Hulley
Japan—Yukio Akagariyama, Toru Kuribayashi, Naoyuki Oi, Chihiro Kawahara
Sweden—Marcus Chamat, Tomas Larsson, Andreas Gerwen, Carline Roos
Vietnam—Do The Kien, Nguyen Anh Tuan, Nguyen Manh Tung, Doan Thi Ngoc Le
Poland—Mateusz Sniegocki, Radoslaw Babica, Tomasz Kaplan, Oliwia Czuprynska
Great Britain—Darren Appleton, Daryl Peach, Chris Melling, Mark Gray, Kelly Fisher
South Korea—Lee Wansu, Ryu Seungwoo, Hwang Yong, Kim Ga Young
India– Alok Kumar, Sundeep Gulati, Syed Habib, Neena Praveen
South Africa—Dave Van Den Berg, Dino Nair, Nickie Erasmus, Nicola Roussouw
Chinese Taipei—Chang Jung Lin, Fu Che Wei, Ko Pin Yi, Chieh Yu Chou
Germany—Oliver Ortmann, Thorsten Hohmann, Ralf Souquet, Jasmin Michel
Norway– Roger Rasmussen, Mats Schjetne, Matey Ullah, Ine Helvik
Mongolia—L. Munkbold, L. Delgerdalai, T. Amarjargal, B. Uyanga, A. Batkhuu