By Keith Paradise/CSI Media Staff Writer
At the young age of 21, Joshua Filler already has the kind of career that many players would dream of having.
The German sparkplug with the dynamic disposition at the table won the China Open in 2017, the World Pool and Billiards Association’s World 9-ball Championship in December and has a pair of EuroTour championships under his belt this year.
Filler inched closer to adding another major title to his resume Thursday afternoon at the Las Vegas’s Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino, eliminating the previously unbeaten Jayson Shaw and Niels Feijen at the Predator World-10 Championships. He now advances to Friday’s semifinals, which will be at noon pacific time and will be streamed like on YouTube for free.
“Overall, I’m really, really happy with my game and with my break. Everything worked,” Filler said.
Shortly after the first phase of competition concluded on Wednesday night, the tournament was re-drawn and re-seeded – with players from the winner’s side matched against competitors from the one-loss side. Filler drew a fellow European in Shaw, winner of this year’s Turning Stone Classic and a runner-up at the Mezz Bucharest Open and Ginky Memorial.
Filler struggled with his break early and Shaw jumped out to a 4-2 lead in a race-to-10. The young German used two victorious safety exchanges as well as two breaks-and-runs in the middle of the match to claim his first lead, 6-5. Shaw tied the match in the next rack when Filler overran position on the 6-ball and missed, but Filler would use a successful jump shot on the 3-ball to run out the rack in the 15th game to regain the lead. Shaw again tied the match in the following frame with a break-and-run but Filler took the lead for good in the 17th game, using a tight cut shot on the 1-ball run out the rack and climb onto the hill, 9-8. The German finished off the match in the following game when his opponent failed to pocket a ball on the break.
Filler advanced to the quarterfinals where he met Niels Feijen, a man who needed a bit of luck in order to survive his round of 16 matchup.
Feijen battled Wojciech Szewczyk of Poland to a 9-9 deadlock. Szewczyk was at the table in the deciding game and appeared positioned to run out the rack and claim the match, but overdrew the cue ball attempting to land position for the 5-ball – instead positioning the ball slightly behind the 9-ball on the rail. Frustrated with himself, he dropped his cue stick and walked away in disgust, then initiated a safety exchange with Feijen – who pocketed the ball with a jump shot and ran out.
Filler built an early 4-1 lead in the semifinals, using two breaks and runs and a dry break from his opponent. Feijen rallied in the middle of the match, using a Filler foul and two breaks and runs to cut the margin to 6-5. Feijen had an opportunity to knot up the score at six games each but was unable to secure position on the 9-ball. Filler cleared the rack and tacked on an additional break-and-run to push his lead back to 8-5.
The German wasn’t out of the woods yet, however, as Feijen used a safety exchange and a missed kick shot by Filler to cut the lead to down to one. Again, Feijen had a chance to tie the score and committed an unforced error – this time missing a 6-ball. In the 16th game. Filler cleared the table then tacked on one final run out to secure the victory.
“I felt very strong. Sometimes I was nervous when he came back,” Filler said. “I was 5-2 up and then he battled back every time that I was up. He made it very tough for me.”
Filler will face Pin-Yi Ko in Friday’s semifinals, who took advantage of a handful of victorious safety exchanges to pull ahead of Jung-Lin Chang and win, 10-8, in the quarterfinals.
Ko, who won the last World 10-ball title when it was staged in 2015, used a break and run as well as a pair of safety exchanges to build an early 4-1 advantage then pushed the lead to 8-4 when Cheng left openings after safeties in the 10th and 11th racks. At the table with a 9-6 advantage, Ko appeared ready to close out the match but left the 8-ball in the corner pocket’s jaws. His Chinese Taipei counterpart cleared the table then broke and ran to narrow the deficit to one game, but Ko added and break-and-run of his own in the 18th game to seal the victory.
Thursday was also a very fruitful one for Pin-Yi Ko’s little brother, Ping-Chung Ko, who survived Marc Bijsterbosch, 10-7, in the quarterfinals then used pinpoint execution of safeties to easily defeat Alex Pagulayan, 10-4. The Filipino, who advanced to the quarterfinals by battling back from a 7-3 deficit to defeat Ralf Souquet, opened the match winning three of the first five racks but couldn’t overcome Ko’s safety play. Ko tied the score at three games each then proceeded to win seven of the last eight games to secure the victory.
The match momentarily halted when the hotel’s fire alarm activated. With the emergency lights flashing like a nightclub, Pagulayan and Ko opted to continue playing.
“We don’t care about that. At home, we play with chickens running around,” Pagulayan said to a referee. “Same thing in China.”
With both Ko brothers onto the semifinals, this year’s event mirrors the 2015 World 10-ball Championship in which the elder Ko won and his younger brother reached the semifinals.
Junior Ko will take on Masato Yoshioka of Japan in the second semifinal match Friday, who overcame some early struggles to put away Tyler Styer, 10-7.
Styer, who reached the quarterfinals with a come-from-behind victory against Billy Thorpe, took an early 4-0 lead thanks to two unforced errors by his opponent paired with two breaks and runs. The momentum shifted towards Yoshioka during the fifth game, as he won six of the next seven racks while the American struggled with working through some difficult racks. Styer had an opportunity to tie the score at six games each in the 12th game but overran position for the 8-ball – leaving the cue ball pinned to the 10-ball.
“I just had some really finnicky, tricky outs to try and get through in the middle of the match and I just couldn’t get out,” Styer said after the match. “Those rolled over to the end and I just didn’t play my best.”
Nothing seemed to go right for Styer down the stretch, who left an open shot for his opponent on the 4-ball in the 14th game after failing to pocket the ball with a jump shot, then attempted a safety on the 1-ball in the 16th game and wound up pocketing the ball instead.
After the semifinals are completed the championship match is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. Pacific time.
The Predator World 10-ball Championship is a presentation of CueSports International and sponsored by Predator Group. Predator Group is an international billiard industry leader with a focus on high-performance cues and shafts as well as bringing constant innovation and game-improving equipment to billiard players worldwide. The event is being hosted by the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino and broadcast live on YouTube by CSI Media, a subsidiary of Cue Sports International. For more information, visitwww.world10ball.com