(Las Vegas)—Any discussion by pool fans about which countries produce the world’s very best players will invariably find the Philippines and Taiwan at the top of the list. And this week in Las Vegas, not surprisingly, those arguments came through loud and very clear.
After three days featuring the very best pool players from all corners of the globe, the 64 player field at the inaugural WPA Players Championship has been whittled down to four, with both race to 9 semi-finals on Friday at Griffs Billiards in Vegas featuring the Philippines vs. Taiwan.
In one semi-final the Philippines’ Carlo Biado, the 2017 World 9-ball Champion, will square off against Taiwan’s Chang Yu Lung. In the other semi-final, the Philippines Johann Chua will match wits against Taiwan’s Kevin Cheng, who captured the 2015 US Open.
All four players put in wonderful performances today, each winning two matches to advance to the semis. The Philippines Chua has been living on a high wire all week and has managed to survive and tell the tale. After storming back from 6-2 down in the round of 32 against two-time world champion Mika Immonen, Chua pulled another fast one in the round of 16 today in his match versus Greece’s Nick Malaj. Chua found himself down 6-3 in the race to 7, alternate break match but tied the score at 6 to force an overtime. In the win by two format Malaj lead 7-6, 8-7 and 9-8 before a stingy Chua finally caught up. Chua took the nervy sudden death rack to advance, 10-9.
Chua finally had a chance to catch his breath in his quarters match against Vietnam’s Duong Quoc Hoang. The Filipino was never really challenged and won, 7-3.
Chua will now face Taiwan’s Kevin Chang, who has looked impervious this week. Chang first came back from a 4-1 deficit to the USA’s Shaun Wilkie to win 7-4. He then dueled with defending US Open champ Jayson Shaw in the quarters. The match was even through 5 before Cheng stepped on the gas and closed it out, 7-5.
In the round of 16, Biado, who is ranked world number 3, had to go into extra time to take down Taiwan veteran, Yang Ching Shun, 8-6. In the quarters Biado met up with the USA’s Shane Van Boening, who had, up to this point, looked like he had plans on lifting the trophy on Friday. The match was tight early, but Biado was just too focused and too sharp. The Filipino star made some nervy clearances on the way to a convincing 7-4 win.
Biado’s semis opponent will be Chang, who put in two rock solid efforts this afternoon. In the round of 16, the Taiwanese veteran had to go extra innings before outlasting the Philippines latest hot shot, James Aranas, 8-6. In the quarterfinals, Chang outpaced hall of famer Ralf Souquet, 7-5, to advance to the semis.
The first race to 9, alternate break semi final between Johann Chua and Kevin Chang will begin at 12 noon Vegas time. The second semi-final between Carlo Biado and Chang Yu Lung begins at 2pm. The race to 9, alternate break final will take place at 6pm.
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: