By Ted Lerner
WPA Press Officer
A veritable slugfest on the cloth pitch awaits fans around China and throughout the world this week, as the 2014 WPA Women’s World 9-ball Championship kicks off in the world famous Chinese city of Guilin.
64 of the absolute finest women players from 25 countries will square off for what is by far the biggest and most prestigious prize in women’s professional pool, $300,000, with $40,000 going to the winner. The qualifiers run from October 13-14, while the main tournament kicks off Wednesday, October 15th and finishes up on Saturday October 18th.
This is now the 6th straight year that the Women’s World 9-ball Championship will be held in China, and the first year in the tourist enclave of Guilin. One of the better known tourist destinations of Southern China, and indeed the whole of China, Guilin, situated on the gorgeous Li River, is set to provide a fresh face to what has already become one of the Chinese sporting public’s favorite events.
For the previous five years, the event had been held in the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang, near the border with North Korea. Having the tournament in Shenyang and shown live around China has proven a huge boost for women’s pool in the world’s most populous nation. Pool in China has grown massively over that time but most of the game’s popularity resides with the women who provide the girlish glamour the Chinese sporting public simply adores.
But there’s also been plenty of girl athletic power on display, as the Chinese women have simply dominated the World 9-ball in China, winning four out of the five championships. Only Great Britain’s Kelly Fisher has been able to stem the tide, when she captured the World 9-ball Championship in 2012.
Last year, 21 year old Han Yu became the latest Chinese pool star to capture glory. The diminutive but fiery red head put on a clinic as she completely outclassed Taiwan’s Lin Yuan Chun, 9-1, in the final. The match was seen by an estimated audience of nearly 100 million people watching live on China’s state television(CCTV.).
Han’s ruthlessness on the table was clearly no fluke, as she went on to capture the 2014 China Open in Shanghai this past June. Now ranked WPA World number 1, Han comes into this week’s championship as the clear favorite to win. But, as usual, there will plenty of other women snapping at Han’s heels and who are more than capable of taking the crown. All 25 of the WPA’s top 25 ranked women are expected to be competing in Guilin this week.
Certainly pool fans the world over would love nothing better than to see Great Britain’s Kelly Fisher find herself in contention come Saturday. Just three months ago, the 35 year old and world number 2 underwent open heart surgery after she was diagnosed with a large atrial septal defect earlier this year. Fisher said then that she planned to be in Guilin to go for glory and she has kept her promise. And apparently the time away from the game has renewed Fisher’s lust for winning. Just last week the affable Brit won the Challenge of Champions invitational in San Diego. And, perhaps ominously for the field, Fishers says she enters the world championship without the expectations she had last year as defending champion.
“I am thrilled with my recovery and feeling good overall,” Fisher told the WPA recently. “I am hungry and excited to compete again but will go in to the competition with no pressures or expectations.”
Fans can certainly expect the the usual names to duel in some classic showdowns in the coming days. In addition to Han, China’s stars such as Lui Shasha(2009 champion), Fu Xiaofang(2010 champion), Chen Siming and , of course, the superstar of Chinese pool, Pan Xiaoting(2007 champion) will all draw huge crowds and will no doubt be playing late into the event.
Others considered threats to win are Korea’s Ga Young Kim, Hall of Famer Allison Fisher, Austria’s Jasmine Ouschan, and Taiwan’s Chieh Yu Chou.
For the main event on Wednesday, the players will be divided into 8 groups of 8 players. They will play a double elimination format in the group stage, race to seven, alternate break. The top four players from each group will progress to the final 32, where the format will become single elimination knockout, race to 9, alternate break. The final will be a race to 11.
*The World Pool-Billiard Association(WPA) will be on hand in Guilin throughout the week bringing you all the drama from the 2014 Women’s World 9-ball Championship. WPA Press Officer Ted Lerner will be reporting from the Guilin National Olympic City with daily articles containing insight and analysis, as well as photos. Ted will also be manning the WPA Facebook page and Twitter feed and responding to fans queries and comments. Fans can also follow all matches via the WPA live scoring platform.
Please visit the WPA Facebook page for the 2014 Women’s World 9-ball Championship here; http://www.facebook.com/pages/2013-WPA-Womens-World-9-ball-Championship/360470447416060?ref=hl
Follow the WPA on Twitter: @poolwpa
Visit the official website of the WPA at www.wpapool.com
*The 2014 Women’s World 9-ball will be held in Guilin, China from October 13-18, and is sanctioned by the World Pool & Billiard Association(WPA), the world governing body of pool. 64 women players from across the globe will compete for the biggest prize in Women’s Pool.