By TED LERNER / WPA PRESS OFFICER
64 GREATS OF THE WOMEN’S GAME WILL CLASH IN HISTORIC SHENYANG, CHINA
(Shenyang, China)–From the ancient imperial city will rise the new queen of 9-ball.
That’s the intriguing scenario this week as the world’s best women pool players take center stage in the beautiful and historical city of Shenyang, China, as the 2013 WPA Women’s World 9-ball Championship gets underway with qualifiers August 6-8, and the main event August 9-12.
This is the 5th straight year that the Women’s World 9-ball Championship has taken place in Shenyang, which sits very near the border with North Korea. The city’s history goes back 2300 years and was once the very center of Chinese culture and society in the 1600’s, before Beijing emerged as the new capital. Today the bustling metropolis of nearly 8 million people is one of China’s key manufacturing hubs. The main attraction for visitors today is the sprawling grounds of the fascinating centuries old imperial palace.
Whether ancient or modern, it’s clear success and grandeur have long been at the very heart of Shenyang’s fabric. And thus the city offers the perfect environs to bring out the best among the greats of the game of women’s pool.
Defending champion Kelly Fisher of Great Britain
Defending champion Kelly Fisher of Great Britain achieved her greatest triumph here last year, when she won her very first World 9-ball championship with a brilliant run through a stacked field of the world’s best. Fisher’s victory, cemented with a 9-6 finals win over China’s number one, Fu Xiaofang, was a milestone on many levels for the affable Brit.
With the career defining win, Fisher not only vaulted to the top of the women’s game worldwide, she also stemmed the tide of what looked to be absolute domination by a freight train full of incredible Chinese talent.
The first three years in Shenyang had produced all home side winners. In 2009 16 year old Liu Shasha came out of nowhere to win the world title. The next year Fu Xiaofang fulfilled her promise of greatness by winning the title. Then in 2011, tiny and boyish looking unknown Bi Zhu Qing shocked everyone by storming through the field to take an unlikely world title.
It was in that 2011 event that the ominous signals were sent out worldwide to any player not from China. 14 of the last 16 players were Chinese. In the quarterfinals China made it 7 out of 8. The semi-finals became an all-China affair. In that context Fisher’s win here last year takes on much added value, part of which is for the game itself. Having the “east vs. west” storyline play out in a country where pool, especially women’s pool, is massively popular, and where its top players are treated like bona fide sporting celebrities, means that much added drama and tension that fans love. But make no mistake. The Chinese have a massive advantage playing in the comfortable surroundings of home.
With most of the top women players in the world ready for action this week in Shenyang, this year’s event is sure to be another classic shootout. 64 players from 25 countries will go head to head. The usual names look set to duel in some brutally intense showdowns; World number 1 Fisher; number 2 and recent China Open winner Liu Shasha of China; world number 3 Chen Siming also of China, who many feel is due to win the big one; world number 4 Fu, who has the experience of having been inside the winners circle in this and other big events.
Another player to keep note of is Korea’s Ga Young Kim. The current women’s World 10-ball champion has been playing great in the last few months, and would surprise nobody were she to soon add a third World 9-ball championship to her already impressive resume. Then there’s Hall of Famer Allison Fisher, Austria’s Jasmine Ouschan, and Taiwan’s Chieh Yu Chou, who recently won a gold medal at the World Games in Columbia.
After the qualifiers fill in the field with six extra players, the main event gets underway August 9 inside the swank Richgate Shopping Center. 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, to be played on Monday August 12, will be a race to 11.
The winner of the 2103 WPA Women’s World 9-ball Championship will receive $40,000 while the runner up will receive $20,000. The total prize fund is $300,000; a princess-ly sum to be contested here in the imperial city of Shenyang, China.