PLAY CONTINUED at the Tercentenary Hall at the Victoria Stadium with three more first round matches in the 24th annual Dafabet World Pool Masters and there were victories for Japan’s Naoyuki Oi, Jayson Shaw (Scotland) and Alex Pagulayan.
Taking place in Gibraltar, the Masters sees 16 top international players competing in the shadow of the Rock of Gibraltar to determine the destination of the $20,000 top prize. The whole event is broadcast live on Sky Sports in the UK & Ireland and on networks around the world.
Jayson Shaw, carrying the tag of ‘the best player in the world’, beat Poland’s Wojciech Szewczyk 8-3 to reach the quarter final. Shaw missed a few balls but played solidly enough to leave the young Pole in his chair for periods of the match.
Szewczyk had an outrageous piece of bad fortune early in the match when trailing 2-0. Shaw missed the 8 ball t leave the Pole a straight shot into the middle pocket. He punched straight in only to see if fly back out of the pocket, which handed the rack to SShaw.
Commented Shaw; “I didn’t play my best. I played a lot last year and it has been a busy start to this year so I just had a two week break where I didn’t hit a ball until I arrived.
“He was unlucky when the 8 came out of the pocket, he didn’t really do a lot wrong – I had a break and run and he had a bit of an unlucky roll. I had the rolls in that match but that is how pool goes. My break wasn’t working so I tried to swap a couple of times and found a position which works so I will stick with that now.”
The opening match was the most entertaining of the tournament so far as Japan’s animated Naoyuki Oi enjoyed a big early lead, saw Kevin Cheng (Chinese Taipei) come back at him, before closing out the match for an 8-6 win.
The ebullient Japanese star opened up a 3-0 lead as he broke and ran the first three racks to leave Cheng looking stranded. The Taiwanese broke that run taking the fourth but Oi took the next two to leave at 5-1 to the good.
Cheng though got to grips with the table and managed to claw the score back to 5-4 but couldn’t capitalise with the break in his favour. Oi got to the hill at 7-4 but Cheng rallied once again to win the next two. However, a positional mistake allowed Oi back to the table and he closed out the match.
Oi, who plays Albin Ouschan in the quarter-finals, said, “My break was good but I wasn’t happy with my game otherwise. There was a lot of pressure and Cheng is a great player, but he didn’t work out the break. “I still have work to do with the break but it was working well for me today. Ouschan is a great player, the world champion, so it will be a difficult match but if I play with my heart again then I can win.”
The final match of the afternoon session featured local hero Stephen Webber, who had won through a qualifying event in Gibraltar to take his spot, against former World 9 Ball champion and US Open champion Alex Pagulayan.
As expected it was one-way traffic but Webber enjoyed a moment of glory in the sixth rack when Pagulayan called a push shot on himself and with ball in hand the Gib man ran the table to take a rack.
Pagulayan said, “I was a bit shaky at the beginning, I am known for that – it takes me 10-15minutes to warm up but I played pretty well. I don’t know how I will feel tomorrow but it will be a tough game against Jayson, right now all the young players are tough to play against, especially him because he is on a roll right now. “
“It was great, I really enjoyed it!” said Webber.
“The first few frames were a bit difficult to get going, especially when Alex was clearing the table every visit. I missed a silly 9 early on but that was just a bit of nerves. When I got into it I really enjoyed it and got to show what I can do for a few frames.
“I play a lot of 8-ball but this is a great opportunity for me and for everybody who took part in the qualifiers – it has really given everybody a boost on the rock for what we can do in the future and what we can do for pool, because so many people here are into in the sport.”
Play continues tomorrow at 6.30pm local time.
There are a total of five sessions of play and all tickets are available fromhttps://www.buytickets.gi/events/world-pool-masters-2017-87 or on the door.
The Masters carries an $80,000 prize fund, and the event is broadcast live for 20 hours in total.
The World Pool Masters is sponsored by the following suppliers: RASSON (tables), IWAN SIMONIS (cloth), SALUC (balls), PREDATOR (cues) and ULTIMATE TEAM GEAR (clothing).
Notes: Matchroom Sport are one of the world’s leading producers of televised sport and are responsible for over 1,000 hours of original programming across a range of sports. Based in the UK and chaired by charismatic founder Barry Hearn, the World Pool Masters is one of a stable of pool events that include the World Cup of Pool and the Mosconi Cup.
Photos: JP Parmentier