By Ted Lerner/WPA Media Officer
*Photo of Robbie Capito courtesy of Dream Sport Management
(Doha, Qatar)–Up until the very last moments of the round of 32 today, this year’s World 9-ball Championship was notable for its lack of upsets that always seem to be a hallmark of this annual 9-ball extravaganza. That is until Robbie Capito decided he wasn’t going away quietly.
Robbie Capito? Yeah, don’t be surprised that you haven’t heard of him. Not many outside of his native Hong Kong have. But this cool headed and fearless 17 year old of Filipino descent pulled off what is easily the biggest upset of this year’s championship, and one of the biggest we have seen in years here in Doha, when he came back from certain defeat and took down the world number one, Klenti Kaci, 11-10, to move into the final 16.
Only minutes before, Capito looked like he would be exiting the Al Arabi Sports Club as unknown as he was when entered at the start of his match. He trailed the mighty Albanian 7-1. He then slowly clawed his way back into the match, but it didn’t quite seem enough. Down 10-8, surely the steady Kaci would close out the match and move into the round of 16 on Wednesday.
Capito, who had earlier defeated Lebanon’s Mazen Berjaoui in the round of 64, never gave up, and he tied the score at 10 all. Breaking in the final frame and clearly under duress, he held his nerve and closed out the rack to notch an unlikely win, and an even more unlikely spot in the final 16 at the World 9-ball Championship.
Capito, who speaks four languages and is still in high school, will now go on to face Germany’s Joshua Filler when the tournament resumes on Wednesday. (the tournament will have a day off on Tuesday as Qatar celebrates its National Day.) The Hong Kong native will have to reach into his bag of tricks to stop the flashy young German, as Filler has looked unstoppable so far. The German played his trade marked fast and loose style in two easy wins so far, first against Greece’s Nikolas Malaj and then Vietnam’s Nguyen Anh Tuan.
If you like the youth movement in pool, you certainly want to pay attention to another 17 year old who has been turning heads this week. Like Capito, Poland’s Wiktor Zielinski is still in high school and can boast world class talent. The young Pole proudly displayed his formidable wares today in two solid wins, first against fellow Pole Tomasz Kaplan, and then the Philippines Johann Chua.
It will surely be fascinating to watch how Zielinski handles the likes of Albin Ouschan in the round of 16. The Austrian, who won this event in 2016, is playing top notch pool and looks impervious to the pressure. Ouschan’s two strong wins today showed he has the goods to go all the way this year.
Defending champion Carlo Biado stayed on track to defend his title, and he is also now the only Filipino left in the field. After two wins today Biado will engage in a fascinating matchup in the last 16 against former world 9-ball champion, and China’s last hold out, Wu Jiaqing.
America’s Shane Van Boening continued his march through the field today with two steady wins. Van Boening played with his characteristic laid back style, but always on point when he needed to be. After losing in the final here in 2015 and 2016, the American seems to be carrying a bit of a chip on his shoulder. It’s victory on nothing for Van Boening, and with the way he is performing now, he could be considered the favorite.
SVB, though, will first have to get through a red hot Chris Melling of England in a match that already has pool fans around the world salivating. Melling played in his usual swashbuckling in his two victories today but will have to step it up several notches to take down the determined Van Boening.
Corey Duel is the only other American remaining in the field. The veteran always plies his trade in characteristic quiet and laid back fashion and this week, these traits have served him well. Duel earned his spot in the final 16 with two workmanlike performances first against Canada’s John Morra and then versus Spain’s Francisco Diaz Pizarro.
Duel, though, hasn’t yet faced anything like what he will be up against on Wednesday when he matches wits with Taiwan’s Ko Pin Yi. Ko, who won the China Open this year and won this event in 2015, hammered compatriot Liu Ri Teng in the round of 64, 11-5, then did it one better to Korea’s Woo Seung Ryu, 11-4.
The Taiwanese are proving yet again that they are arguably the world’s strongest pool playing nation with a quarter of the final 16. It will be an all Taiwan matchup when Lin Ta Li takes on world number two, Chang Jung Lin. Chang had struggled in the group stages but shook off the rust today and looked his old killer self. In the round of 32 he disposed of hall of famer Ralf Souquet, 11-6.
Wu Kun Lin’s beautiful cue action led him to the semi-finals here last year and this year he appears to feel he can get there again or even more. Wu had to scrape his way into the final 16 in an 11-10 nail biter against China’s Liu Haitao.
Wu will face Finland’s suddenly red hot Petri Makkonen. The hard working Finn put in a tremendous effort today with wins over Filipino Jeffrey Ignacio, 11-9, then young Russian Fedor Gorst, 11-8.
World number six Niels Feijen has that same look he had when he marched to the crown here in 2014. The Dutchman looked untouchable in his two big wins today and he is admittedly confident and playing without pressure. In the round of 16 he’ll have to square off with his Mosconi Cup teammate Alex Kazakis. The Greek grinded out two tough wins today, first 11-10 over Poland’s Radislaw Babica, then over Finland’s Casper Matikainen, 11-9.
Final 16 Matchups
December 19, 11am Doha Time(GMT +3)
Robbie Capito(HKG) vs. Joshua Filler(GER)
Albin Ouschan(AUT) vs. Wiktor Zielinski(POL)
Niels Feijen(NED) vs. Alexandros Kazakis(GRE)
Corey Duel(USA) vs. Ko Pin Yi(TPE)
Carlo Biado(PHL) vs. Wu Jiaqing(CHN)
Petri Makkonen(FIN) vs. Lin Wu Kun((TPE)
Chris Melling(GBR) Shane Van Boening(USA)
Lin Ta Li(TPE) vs. Jung Lin Chang(TPE)
Final 32 Results
Robbie Capito(HKG) 11 -10 Ekent Kaci(ALB)
Joshua Filler(GER) 11 – 6 Nguyen Anh Tuan(VET)
Albin Ouschan(AUT) 11 – 8 Roland Garcia(PHL)
Wiktor Zielinski(POL) 11 – 5 Johann Chua(PHL)
Niels Feijen(NED) 11 – 1 Mateusz Sniegocki(POL)
Alexandros Kazakis(GRE) 11 – 9 Casper Matikainen(FIN)
Corey Duel(USA) 11 – 7 Francisco Diaz-Pizarro(ESP)
Ko Pin Yi(TPE) 11 – 4 Woo Seung Ryu(KOR)
Carlo Biado(PHL) 11 – 7 Konrad Juszczyszyn(POL)
Wu Jiaqing(CHN) 11 – 6 Toru Kuribayashi(JPN)
Petri Makkonen(FIN) 11 – 8 Fedor Gorst(RUS)
Lin Wu Kun((TPE) 11 – 10 Liu Haitao(CHN)
Chris Melling(GBR) 11 -1 2 Yukio Akagariyama(JPN)
Shane Van Boening(USA) 11 – 7 Jalal Al Sarisi(VEN)
Lin Ta Li(TPE) 11 – 7 Sharik Aslam Sayed(SIN)
Jung Lin Chang(TPE) 11 – 6 Ralf Souquet(GER)
Results Final 64
Ekent Kaci(ALB) 11 – 4 vs. Bing Chen Gao(CHN)
Robbie Capito(HKG) 11 – 4 Mazen Berjaoui(LEB)
Nguyen Anh Tuan(VET) 11 – 4 vs.Wang Can(CHN)
Joshua Filler(GER) 11 – 5 Nikolas Malaj(GRE)
Roland Garcia(PHL) 11 – 7 vs. Waleed Majid(QAT)
Albin Ouschan(AUT) 11 – 6 vs. Hsieh Chia Chen(TPE)
Wiktor Zielinski(POL) 11 – 4 vs. Tomasz Kaplan(POL)
Johann Chua(PHL) 11 – 2 vs. Phone Myint Kyaw(MYR)
Niels Feijen(NED) 11 – 4 vs. Bader Alawadhi(KUW)
Mateusz Sniegocki(POL) vs.11 – 5 Ko Ping Han(TPE)
Casper Matikainen(FIN) vs. 11 – 5 Takano Tomoo(JPN)
Alexandros Kazakis(GRE) vs. 11 – 10 Radoslaw Babica(POL)
Francisco Diaz-Pizarro(ESP) vs. 11 – 10 Naoyuki Oi(JPN)
Corey Duel(USA) 11 – 6 John Morra(CAN)
Woo Seung Ryu(KOR) 11 – 8 vs. Konstantin Stepanov(RUS)
Ko Pin Yi(TPE) 11 – 5 vs. Liu Ri Teng(TPE)
Carlo Biado(PHL) 11 – 9 vs. Vitaliy Patsura(UKR)
Konrad Juszczyszyn(POL) vs. 11 -7 Wen Lo Li(TPE)
Wu Jiaqing(CHN) 11 – 4 Tomoya Iima((JPN)
Toru Kuribayashi(JPN) 11 – 7 Francisco Sanchez-Ruiz(ESP)
Petri Makkonen(FIN) 11 – 9 Jeffrey Ignacio(PHL)
Fedor Gorst(RUS) 11 – 6 Wojciech Sroczynski(POL)
Liu Haitao(CHN) 11 – 6 Alex Pagulayan(CAN)
Lin Wu Kun((TPE) 11 – 4 Maximilian Lechner(AUT)
Yukio Akagariyama(JPN) 11 – 8 Ko Ping Chung(TPE)
Chris Melling(GBR) 11 – 8 Hsu Jui An(TPE)
Shane Van Boening(USA) 11 – 7 Yu Hsuan Cheng(TPE)
Jalal Al Sarisi(VEN) 11 – 10 Dang Jinhu(CHN)
Lin Ta Li(TPE) 11 – 9 Jeffrey De Luna(PHL)
Sharik Aslam Sayed(SIN) 11 – 10 Aloysius Yapp(SIN)
Ralf Souquet(GER) 11 – 6 Ruslan Chinahov(RUS)
Jung Lin Chang(TPE) 11 – 1 Omar Al Shaheen(KUW)
After a day off where the country celebrates the Qatar National Day, play resumes on Wednesday, December 19 at 11am Doha time(GMT +3.)
The winner of the 2018 World 9-ball Championship will receive $40,000. The runner up will receive $20,000. The total prize fund is $200,000.
Fans around the world can watch four tables on our free live stream which can be accessed via the live scoring page here; http://www.esnooker.pl/live/en/tsnew.php
Click the tables where you see the word “Video” and you will be taken to Youtube to watch the match. Tables 1, 7,8,9. Please visit the WPA Facebook Pagefor more information.
To view the Final 64 bracket, please CLICK HERE.
*The 2018 WPA World 9-ball Championship takes place at the Al Arabi Sports Club Sports Club in Doha, Qatar from December 10-20, 2018. The event is hosted by The Qatar Billiard and Snooker Federation(QBSF), and is sanctioned by The World Pool Billiard Association, the governing body of the sport of pool.
The WPA is on Twitter; @poolwpa
Visit the official website of the WPA at www.wpapool.com
The players will compete on Wiraka DYNASTY Tables with Simonis 860 Cloth, Electric Blue Color and using Aramith Tournament Pro cup TV Pool Balls featuring the new Duramith Technology.
Media coverage of the 2018 World 9-ball Championship is being supported by the American Poolplayers Association(APA). Join the World’s Largest Pool League today at http://bit.ly/2G5vYZY. Please visit join.poolplayers.com