(Las Vegas)–The first ever WPA Players Championship got underway at Griffs Billiards in Las Vegas on Tuesday, and the quality of the match ups on offer out of the box certainly didn’t disappoint. That’s because the 64 player field is one of the highest quality gatherings of pool’s current and rising stars.
The format of the event is designed to offer plenty of excitement as well. Matches through the quarterfinals are all race to 7, alternate break. In addition, the tournament is single elimination. Thus, every shot matters and one mistake early one can spell curtains even for pool’s biggest names.
This is exactly what befell world number two Alexander Kazakis in his opening round match against Japan’s Toru Kuribayashi. The Japanese veteran took advantage of several early errors by the Greek star and led throughout, eventually winning 7-2.
Two time world champion and two time US Open 9-ball champion Darren Appleton opened up proceedings with a tasty showdown against three time world champion Thorsten Hohmann. Appleton, who’s had to take significant time away from the game in the last two years because of several family issues, looked like a renewed man today, and took down the German great, 7-5.
Defending US Open champion Jayson Shaw came to Vegas looking fit and ready to defend his title next week across town at the Mandalay Bay. Shaw cruised to an opening round win over Gerson Martinez, 7-3.
It was a good day from the Ko family from Taiwan. Two time world champion Ko Pin Yi and his younger brother Ko Ping Chung both won their matches. Compatriot Chang Jung Lin had high hopes coming into this event, but fell to Russia’s Maksim Dudanets of Russia, 7-3. Veterans Yang Ching Shun and Chang Yu Leung both notched victories today.
USA great Shane Van Boening led the American contingent and advanced with a 7-5 win over Kai Lun Hsu of Taiwan. Skylar Woodward advanced with a handy 7-2 win over Qatar’s Bashar Hussain. Shawn Wilkie had to bear down against fellow American Billy Thorpe, and hung on to win 7-5. Corey Duel faced off with Mosconi foe Niels Feijen of the Netherlands and emerged victorious, 7-2.
It was a solid start for the always stingy team Philippines. World number 3 Carlo Biado led the charge with an easy win over Ruben Bautista Escaler, 7-3. 2017 WPA World 9-ball champion joins James Aranas, Johann Chua, Raymond Faroun and Jeffrey De Luna in the final 32. Jeffrey Ignacio proved the lone loser for the Philippines today, losing to two time world champion, Mika Immonen, 7-5.
Other winners today include Albania’s Klenti Kaci, the Netherlands Marc Bijsterbosch, England’s Chris Melling, Germany’s Ralf Souquet and Poland’s Wojciech Szewczyk.
In perhaps the most exciting match of the day, Japan’s Nayouki Oi went to the limit with young Russian Fedor Gorst. The match went into extra innings as neither player could get the two rack advantage needed to win. Oi took the sudden death rack to advance with a 10-9 win.
Play in the WPA Players Championship continues on Wednesday at 12 noon local time.
The format will be single elimination race to 7 (win by 2), with the semi-final and final being a race to 9 (win by 2).
WPA Players Championship Payouts
1 – $10,000
2 – $7,000
3/4 – $5,000 ea.
5/8 – $3,000 ea.
9/16 – $1,500 ea.
17/32 – $400 ea.
Consolation Tournament Payouts
1 – $1,500
2 – $1,000
3/4 – $500 ea.
5/8 – $250 ea.
9/16 – $150 ea.
The online tournament brackets can be found at www.CTSonDemand.com.
The entire event is being streamed live by CSI media, a division of CueSports International (CSI). The production, complete with full-time commentary led by former World 8-Ball Champion, Karl Boyes, begins each day at noon pacific time. To watch live, visit www.playcsipool.com/watch-live.
The World Pool-Billiard Association (WPA) is the international governing body for pocket billiards and is comprised of six member federations representing North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia. The WPA is the world-recognized body for sanctioning World Championship events. It is also one of the three member organizations of the World Confederation of Billiards Sports (WCBS), representing the billiard disciplines of pool, snooker and carom. For more information about the WPA, visit www.wpapool.com.
CueSports International (CSI) is an international pool league and event leader and is currently comprised of three divisions: CSI leagues, CSI events and CSI media. CSI leagues manages the BCA Pool Leagueand USA Pool League, CSI events produces numerous amateur and professional events around the globe and CSI media creates live streaming and digital content. Through its vision and strategic alliances, CSI is “shaping the future of pool.” For more information about CSI or any of its divisions, visit www.playcsipool.com or find CueSports International on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter.
The WPA Players Championship is made possible by the following sponsors: