ON TOP OF THE WORLD
Dennis Orcullo, who once upon a time was an itinerant fisherman in a remote and poor part of the Philippines, has now reached the pinnacle of the pool world by being named the World Pool and Billiard Association(WPA) 2011 Player of the Year.
The 32 year old Orcullo racked up a total of 2570 points in 8 WPA ranking events over the course of the year to grab the top spot in the world rankings. Japan’s Yukio Akagariyama, who won the World 9-ball Championship in Qatar in June, came in second with 2382 points. England’s Darren Appleton, who won his second straight US Open title in October, finished in third with 2256 points. The Philippines Ronnie Alcano landed in fourth with 2063 points.
“That’s very good news,” Orcullo said when informed he’d been named the 2011 WPA Player of the Year. “I’m very happy and it’s a big honor for the Philippines. Hopefully I can continue to play my best in 2012.”
The WPA Player of the Year honors are based on the total number of ranking points each player accumulates throughout the calendar year. In 2011, the men competed in 8 different WPA ranking events. Players receive points based on their order of finish in each event. The amount of ranking points available in each event varies, depending on the size of the field and prize fund.
It was a year of firsts for the hardworking Orcullo. After years of knocking on the door, he won his first world championship in 2011 when he won the World 8-Ball title in February in Fujairah, United Arab Emirates. That win garnered Orcullo 900 ranking points and put him squarely on the path to the top honor. He then finished 7th in the Philippine Open, 5th in the World 10 Ball Championship and 3rd in the World 9-ball Championship.
But it wasn’t just in WPA ranking events that Orcullo performed well. In January he won the Derby City 9-ball division in Louisville. In September he was runner up to Ralf Souquet in the World Pool Masters. He then captured the brutally tough Philippine National 9-ball championship. Orcullo then went on to win his first big international tournament in the Philippines when he won the Predator International 10-Ball. All around Orcullo had a stellar year in 2011.
The WPA Player of the Year honors mark another remarkable milestone in Orcullo’s pool playing life. Orginally from Bislig, Surigao del Sur, Mindanao in the southern Philippines, Orcullo spent his childhood helping his father fish to try and feed the family. When his father tragically disappeared in a fishing accident, Orcullo, just 9 years old at the time, was forced to take over the arduous fishing duties to keep the family fed.
Orcullo used to play pool in his down time from fishing and fell in love with the sport. In his mid-teens he decided to follow his dream of becoming a world champion on the blue pitch and traveled to Manila. Years of hard work and perseverance began to pay off and have finally brought the man Filipino fans call “Robocop” to the top of the pool playing world.
For winning the WPA Player of the Year award, Orcullo will receive a trophy and a beautiful Tag Heuer watch.
For the complete final 2011 rankings please click here.