Saudi Arabia’s Abdul Rahman Al Amar is part of wave of young Middle Eastern players notching victories on Day 1 at the World 9-ball Championship.
By Ted Lerner/WPA Press Officer
Photos Courtesy of Bo Bader
(Doha, Qatar)–The moments before the first rack on the first day of the World 9-ball Championship are never easy, even for the best of players. The tables and conditions are new and untested. Players know they only have to win two race-to-9matches to qualify for the final 64, but things in pool can easily go array as you may come out flat, or the balls might conspire against you. Even the top players realize that just because you haven’t heard of the guy you’re paired against, it doesn’t mean you’re going to waltz into the money rounds.
Indeed while 15 of the WPA’s top 20 players won their opening matches on day 1 in Doha, several big names suffered setbacks, suddenly finding themselves on the one loss side of their groups, and one more loss from unceremoniously exiting pool’s biggest stage.
After 8 hours of pool at its highest level at the Al Arabi sports club, several things stand out loud and clear. The sport of pool has never seen this many highly skilled players from so many different countries. This fact, combined with the new rule this year of racking the balls with the 9-ball on the spot instead of the 1-ball, thereby toughening up the opening break shot, means that the 2016 World 9-ball championship will surely see the world crown contested at the highest level we have ever witnessed.
All 128 players saw action in the double elimination group stages today and, as usual, it seems the Taiwanese are ready to contend yet again. Defending champion Ko Pin Yi had a layup of a match to get things started as he cruised to a 9-1 win over Algeria’s Mohamed Elraousti. As the day progressed, the Taiwanese kept notching up impressive wins, going 8 out of 10; Chang Jun Lin, Chu Hong Ming, Ko Ping Chung(Pin Yi’s younger brother), Hsieh Chia Chen, Li Wen Lo, Wu Kun Lin and Cheng Yu Husan all saw victory. Only Chang Yu Lung and veteran Yang Chin Shun lost.
Many people believe that a European will be standing in the winner’s circle next Thursday because the Europeans have been playing with the 9-ball on the spot on the Euro tour for years, and already understand this breaks shot’s unique complexities. One player in particular with good odds is 2014 World 9-ball Champion Niels Feijen of the Netherlands, who didn’t face a difficult task as he waltzed past Qatar’s Abdul Latif Al Fawal, 9-3. It’s rumored that the Dutchman has put in 1000’s of hours perfecting the break shot and has even unlocked a certain secret about its configuration.
Other notable Europeans notching victories today include two time World 9-ball Champion Thorsten Hohmann of Germany, Greece’s Nikos Ekonomopoulos, Austria’s Albin Ouscan, and 2012 World 9-ball champion Darren Appleton.
Fans looking for a relatively new European face to break through should pay attention to Britain’s Jayson Shaw. The Scotsman recently topped two very strong fields in Europe and is currently leading the points race for the European Mosconi Cup team. This is a young player who is clearly on the rise and anxious to make some waves.
“My game is about as good as it’s ever been,” Shaw said after besting Iraq’s Karar Abdulwahed, 9-3. “I’m not putting any pressure on myself. There’s some seriously good players here so I’m just taking it one match at a time and trying to enjoy this atmosphere. My goal is to get into the final 16 and from there, anything can happen.”
It was a solid day for Spain as David Alcaide, Francisco Pizaarro Diaz, and Francisco Sanchez Ruiz all won. Ruis squeaked by last year’s surprise quarterfinalist from Singapore, Aloysius Yapp.
The day proved downright miserable for the USA, as 5 out of six Americans in the field went down to defeat. Last year’s runner up, Shane Van Boening drew a very difficult opponent in 2011 World 9-ball champion Yukio Akagariyama of Japan. The match was close halfway, but Akagariyama, who earned entry into the tournament by winning a qualifier, pulled away to win, 9-5. Only Oscar Dominguez saved the day for the USA, but barely as he squeaked by Poland’s Mateusz Sniegocki, 9-8.
As usual the Philippines has one of the largest contingents in the tournament and can be expected to go deep. Dennis Orcollo, Lee Vann Corteza, Johann Chua, Jeffrey Ignacio, Ramil Gallego, Alex Pagulayan(representing Canada), and Jeffrey De Luna were some notable Pinoys who notched wins today. World number 6 Carlo Biado lost to Czech’s Roman Hybler, 9-5.
China’s powerhouse lineup performed solidly today. Former world 9-ball champion Wu Jiaqing, world number 3 Lui Haitao, Li Hewen, Dang Jinghu and three others saw victory.
One of the early revelations of this year’s world championship is just how far players from the Middle East have truly come in competitive 9-ball. In years past Middle Eastern players were just entering these big events for the experience. Now it is clear they are truly on a world class level and will soon start contending and even winning big events. And they are coming from some very surprising places.
Nobody thought Iran’s Ali Maghsoud had much of a chance against Hall of Famer and multi world champion Mika Immonen, especially being down 8-5 in the race to 9. But the 27 year old from the Iranian city of Kermanshah buckled down, held his nerve and stormed back to win by a thread, 9-8.
“When I was down 8-5, I just knew I was going to come back,” Maghsoud, who owns his own pool club in Iran, said afterward. “He’s a world champion but I was very positive.”
Saudi Arabia showed they are a rising pool nation today as Abdul Rahman Al Amar beat American Justin Campbell 9-7, while Abdulla Al Shemmari took down the USA’s Hunter Lombardo, 9-5. Eritrean Hamzaa M Saeed Ali, who was born and raised in Saudi and still lives there also won, defeating Japan’s Naoyuki Oi, 9-8.
The 27 year old Al Almar is clearly knocking on the door to success. Last year he defeated the Philippines Johann Chua in the group stages and made it to the final 64. The former snooker player informed us that pool is actually backed by the government in Saudi and that there are currently over 14,000 registered pool players in the Kingdom. Yes, you read that right; Saudi Arabia is one of pool’s hot spots.
Even Bangladesh rode the winning wave today as MD Alim handily defeated Swedish veteran Marcus Chamat, 9-4.
The group stages at the 2016 World 9-ball Championship continue on Saturday at the Al Arabi Sports beginning at 10am local time(GMT +3.) All 128 players will again see action on Day 2, with 32 players advancing into the final 64 Knockout rounds, and another 32 players heading for the exits.
歐洲球員方面，2014年世錦賽冠軍、荷蘭球員Niels Feijen 9-3輕鬆取勝， 兩屆賽事冠軍Thorsten Hohmann，希臘名將Nikos Ekonomopoulos，奧地利好手Albin Ouschan以及2012年冠軍Darren Appleton均贏得比賽入圍勝部。值得註意的是入選莫斯考尼杯歐洲代表隊的蘇格蘭球員Jayson Shaw，他在近期斬獲了兩項重大賽事桂冠，是一顆冉冉升起的新星。在9-3擊敗伊拉克球員Karar Abdulwahed後，Shaw表示：“我盡我所能做到最好，我沒有給自己任何壓力。參加比賽的球員都是非常棒的，所以我僅僅著眼於正在打的一場球，試著去享受這種氛圍。我的目標是打進十六強，任何事都有可能發生。” 西班牙的David Alcaide、Francisco Pizaarro Diaz以及Francisco Sanchez Ruiz也如願擊敗對手，其中，Ruiz力克去年賽事大黑馬、新加坡小將葉浚偉。
今日比賽對美國球員來說則顯得相當慘烈，6名球員中的5位均輸掉了比賽，其中，去年世錦賽亞軍Shane Van Boening 5-9負於2011年冠軍赤狩山幸男，僅有Oscar Dominguez獲得了勝利，他也僅僅是9-8險勝波蘭球手Mateusz Sniegocki。
菲律賓球員延續了他們的強勢，Dennis Orcollo、Lee Vann Corteza、Johan Chua、Jeffrey Ignacio、Ramil Gallego、Alex Pagulayan以及Jeffrey De Luna那等明星球員均獲得了比賽勝利，唯有Carlo Biado輸掉了比賽。
今日比賽表現最為搶眼的要數中東球員，他們在往屆比賽中僅僅是為獲得經驗，而這一次，他們表現得相當有競爭力。在一場不被看好的對決中，伊朗球員Ali Maghsoud對陣名人堂成員、多次世界冠軍Mika Immonen，Maghsoud在5-8落後的情況下，連扳4局9-8爆冷擊敗Immonen。來自伊朗的Abdul Rahman Al Amar和Abdulla Al Shemmari分別以9-7和9-5的比分戰勝了澳洲的Justin Campbell和Hunter Lombardo。厄利垂亞球員Hamzaa M Saeed Ali則9-8力挫日本的大井直幸。
27歲的Al Almar曾是一位斯諾克選手，他在去年9球世錦賽中曾擊敗Johann Chua 晉級64強，他表示，沙烏地阿拉伯目前註冊有超過14000名花式撞球球員，這也意味著沙烏地阿拉伯也是花式撞球大國之一。
DAY 1 RESULTS , GROUP STAGES, DOUBLE ELIMINATION
Winners need 1 more win to advance to the Final 64.
Losers still have to win 2 games to advance
Ko Pin Yi 柯秉逸(TPE) 9 – 1 Mohamed C. Elraousti(ALG)
Mario He(AUT) 9 – 5 Mazen Berjuai(LEB)
Thorsten Hohmann(GER) 9 – 4 Shahbaz Adil Khan(IND)
Jeong Young Hwa(KOR) 9 – 5 Waleed Majid(QAT)
Chang Jun Lin 張榮麟(TPE)9 – 5 Lo Ho Sum 盧浩琛(HKG)
Jeffrey Ignacio(PHL) 9 – 4 Karol Slowerski(POL)
Petri Makkonen(FIN) 9 – 0 Abdul Aziz Alawadhi(QAT)
Johan Chua(PHL) 9 – 8 Francis Crevier(CAN)
Darren Appleton(GBR) 9 – 4 Bruno Muratore(ITA)
Chu Hong Ming 朱宏銘(TPE) 9 – 2 Henrique Corriea (POR)
MD Almin(BAN) 9 – 4 Marcus Chamat(SWE)
Ruslan Chinakov(RUS) 9 – 4 Omar Al Shaheen(KUW)
Francisco Sanchez Ruiz(ESP) 9 – 8 Aloysius Yapp(SIN)
Cristopher Tevez(PER) 9 – 6 Daryl Peach(GBR)
Antonio Gabica(QAT-PHL)9 -7 Mohannad Al Ghumayz(KSA)
Albin Ouschan(AUT)9 – 6 Roberto Gomez(PHL)
John Morra(CAN) 9 – 5 Artem Koshovoj(UKR)
Zhou Long 周龍(CHN) 9 – 2 Aoki Ryoji 青木良治(JPN)
Alex Pagulayan(CAN)9 – 5 Mohammad Al Kashawi(KUW)
Luong Chi Dong(VIE) 9 – 8 Yang Ching Shun 楊清順(TPE)
Karl Boyes(GBR)9 – 5 Mohammed Saeed(QAT)
Hamzaa M Saeed Ali(ERI) 9 – 8 Naoyuki Oi(JPN)
Toh Lian Han(SIN) 9 – 6 Armin Mahmoudi(IRN)
Jeffrey De Luna(PHL) 9 – 6 Wang Can 王燦(CHN)
Dennis Orcollo(PHL) 9 – 5 Abdullah Mohd Karmastaji(UAE)
Ramil Gallego(PHL) 9 – 6 Imran Majid(GBR)
Irsal Nasution(INA) 9 – 2 Ali Abdulhadi Almeri(QAT)
David Alcaide(ESP) 9 – 4 Christian Goetmann(GER)
Nikos Ekonomopoulos(GRE) 9 – 4 Konard Juszczyszym(POL)
Jayson Shaw(GBR) 9 – 3 Karar Abdulwahed(IRQ)
Abdul Rahman Al Amar(KSA) 9 – 7 Justin Campbell(AUS)
Ko Ping Chung 柯秉中(TPE) 9 – 1 Robert Hart(USA)
Lui Haitao 劉海濤(CHN) 9 – 6 Andrew Kong Bu Hong(HKG)
Jalal Yousef(VEN) 9 – 6 Shaun Wilke(USA)
Niels Feijen(NED) 9 – 3 Abdul Latif Al Fawal(QAT)
Alexander Kazakis(GRE) 9 – 7 Satoshi Kawabata(JPE)
Chu Bing Jie 楚秉杰(CHN) 9 – 3 Nadim Okbani(ALG)
Ruben Bautista(MEX) 9 – 5 Hiroshi Takenaka 竹中寬(JPN)
Hsieh Chia Chen 謝佳臻(TPE) 9 – 7 Mieszko Fortunski(POL)
Ali Maghsoud(IRN) 9 – 8 Mika Immonen(FIN)
Waren Kiamco(PHL) 9 – 5 Omran Salem(UAE)
Oliver Ortmann(GER) 9 – 5 Skyler Woodward(USA)
Wojciech Szewczyk(POL) 9 – 2 Sayeem Hossain(BAN)
Wu Kun Lin 吳坤霖(TPE) 9 – 6 Ralf Souquet(GER)
Hayato Hijikata 土方隼斗(JPE) 9 – 7 Nick Van Den Berg(NED)
Francisco Pizaarro Diaz(ESP) 9 – 7 Abdulla Yousif(KUW)
Muhammad Bewi Simenjuntak(INA) 9 – 8 Fahad Khalaf Al Jassas(BAH)
Roman Hybler(CZE) 9 – 6 Carlo Biado(PHL)
Wu Jiaqing 吳珈慶(CHN) 9 – 3 Ali Al Obaidli(QAT)
Ryu Ceung Woo(KOR) 9 – 8 Manual Chau(PER)
Oscar Dominguez(USA) 9 – 8 Mateusz Sniegocki(POL)
Dennis Grabe(EST) 9 – 2 Toru Kuribayashi 栗林達(JPN)
Li Hewen 李赫文(CHN) 9 – 4 Mohammed Berjaui(LEB)
Francisco Olita Felicilda(QAT-PHL) 9 – 7 Marco Teutscher(NED)
Li Wen Lo(TPE) 9 – 3 Ariel Castro(ARG)
Yukio Akagariyama(JPN) 9 – 5 Shane Van Boening(USA)
Lee Vann Corteza(PHL)9 – 5 Salah Eldeen Al Remawi(UAE)
Abdulla Al Shemmari(KSA) 9 – 4 Hunter Lombardo(USA)
Rogelio Belleca Sotero Jr(PHL) 9 – 6 Do Hoang Quan(VIE)
Konstantin Stepanov(RUS) 9 – 8 Chang Yu Lung 張玉龍(TPE)
Bashar Hussaiin(QAT) 9 – 6 Abder Rehman Mebarki(ALG)
Dang Jin Hu 党金虎(CHN) 9 – 8 Joshua Filler(GER)
Han Hao Xiang 韓皓翔(CHN) 9 – 8 Ahmed Mohammad Salah(JOR)
Cheng Yu Husan 鄭喻軒(TPE) 9 – 3 Himanshu Jain(IND)
**The 2015 WPA World 9-ball Championship takes place at the Al Arabi Sports Club Sports Club in Doha, Qatar from July 30-August 4, 2016. The winner of the 2015 World 9-ball Championship will receive $40,000. The runner up will receive $20,000. The total prize fund is $200,000.
The players will be competing 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.
The 2016 World 9-ball Championship is being hosted by The Qatar Billiard and Snooker Federation(QBSF), and is sanctioned by the The World Pool Billiard Association, the governing body of the sport of pool.
The WPA will be on hand in Doha throughout this year’s World 9-ball Championship providing up to the minute information, live scoring, photographs and in depth articles with insights and analysis from WPA Press Officer Ted Lerner.
Fans can interact with us through the WPA’s official Facebook Page for the event at this link; https://www.facebook.com/worldpoolbilliardassociation/
The WPA is also on Twitter; @poolwpa