By Keith Paradise/CSI Media Staff Writer
Heading into the third and final day of Predator World 10-ball Championship’s first phase, it appeared American Shane Van Boening and reigning World Pool and Billiards Association 9-ball champion Joshua Filler could be heading towards an afternoon showdown.
With both competitors working their ways through the one-loss side of the bracket, Filler had to survive Fedor Gorst of Russia while it appeared Van Boening had drawn the easier of the competitors: Gerson Martinez of Peru. With Van Boening leading Martinez 4-1 and Filler comfortably ahead of Gorst, 6-2, the duel between the prolific American and the rising, young German seemed inevitable.
That was until the wheels came off for Van Boening.
Plagued by a series of uncharacteristic misses along with an ineffective break, Van Boening watched as Martinez came from behind and won, 8-6, in front of a stunned crowd that had gathered to watch. The Van Boening loss was part of a topsy-turvy day of pool at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino as the tournament field narrowed down to the final 16 players.
“I didn’t feel comfortable. That’s all I can say,” said Van Boening. “Probably too tired. It’s been a long trip in Vegas.”
The South Dakotan struck early, capitalizing on a foul and scratch on the break by his opponent to build an early lead. Van Boening was at the table and appeared in position to increase his 5-3 lead but missed two makeable shots on the 4-ball not, but twice. Martinez tied the match at five games each then added a break and run to take the lead.
Meanwhile, Van Boening’s break refused to cooperate, failing to secure a shot on the 1-ball after his opening shot in the last three games that he broke – including what ultimately became the final rack of the match. After a brief safety exchange on the 1-ball, Van Boening attempted a one-rail kick in of the ball and left it in the pocket’s jaws. Taking deep breaths and playing cautiously, the Peruvian worked his way through the clinching rack for the victory.
Two hours later, the upset-minded Martinez was promptly eliminated from the tournament by Filler, 8-2.
Fellow American Skylar Woodward would meet a fate similar to Van Boening’s later in the afternoon.
Woodward began his day fending off a late charge by Naoyuki Oi of Japan, who erased a 6-3 deficit to force a deciding game that he ultimately lost, 8-7. Oi fought back to even with well-placed safeties and a break-and-run. The two battled to a 7-7 deadlock and Oi was at the table in the deciding game but missed a long shot on the 2-ball. Woodward would clear the table but not before making things interesting, as he missed position on the 8-ball. The rising star from Kentucky executed a flawless bank shot on the object ball to help clinch the game and the match.
Facing Li-Wen Lo on the same table, Woodward found a different result. He quickly found himself down 6-1 as he struggled with safety play while he opponent worked his way through racks. The reigning Derby City Classic Master of the Table tacked on a pair of racks to cut the deficit to 7-3 and appeared positioned to narrow the gap more in the 11th game but misplaced the cue ball for positioning on the 5-ball, losing the game and the match, 8-3.
The good news for United States pool fans is that Billy Thorpe and Tyler Styer are alive and doing well.
The undefeated Thorpe built an early 4-1 advantage and held on to defeat Marc Bijsterbosch of the Netherlands, 8-5. Trailing 5-2, Bijsterbosch used a dry break and a missed shot by his opponent to cut the deficit to 6-4. Thorpe tacked on a break and run to push his advantage back to three games and appeared to have the match locked up but left the 10-ball sitting in the jaws of the corner pocket. Thorpe broke and ran in the next game to clinch a spot in Thursday’s final 16.
Bijsterbosch rebounded in the next match, defeating Mario He of Austria, 8-5, to advance to Thursday.
Styer had a bit more work to do in order to secure one of the remaining 16 spots, defeating Raymund Faraon, 8-1; John Morra, in a hill-hill match and Maximilian Lechner, 8-4.
Another player who remains undefeated of the eight remaining players is Ralf Souquet, who battled and survived a hill-hill match with Alex Kazakis of Greece, 8-7. Playing in his usual deliberate and analytical style, Souquet worked his way to a 7-3 lead but Kazakis fought back with victorious safety exchanges to tie the score. The young Greek, who won the EuroTour’s Ballazo Open last year, controlled the break in the deciding game but failed to pocket a ball. Souquet worked his way through the rack to secure the win.
Kazakis was sent to the one-loss side of the bracket where he was easily defeated by Filler, 8-2.
Speaking of Filler, the young German played some of his best pool at a time when he needed it most, besting Fedor Gorst, 8-4; then overwhelming Martinez and Kazakis by matching, 8-2 scores.
The eight remaining undefeated players in the event include Souquet, Thorpe, Jayson Shaw, Diamond Las Vegas Open champion Niels Feijen, Ping-Chung Ko, Masato Yoshioka, Jung-Lin Chang and Johann Chua. Competitors from the one-loss side include Filler, Styer, Bijsterbosch, Alex Pagulayan, Denis Grabe, Pin-Yi Ko, Yu-Hsuan Cheng and Wojciech Szewczyk.
With the first phase of the tournament completed, the remaining 16 players will now enter the single-elimination portion of the event – with the race lengths also increasing from eight games to 10. Additionally, the player seedings will be re-drawn, with the eight players from the winner’s side matched with players from the one-loss side.
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, visit www.world10ball.com