The first day of the Dynamic Billard European Pool Championships in NH Conference Centre Koningshof in Veldhoven, The Netherlands, came to an end with as many as 462 straight pool matches played on 60 tables. Expectations were met on some occasions while other athletes had to settle for second best. Some hopes came treu, some were brutally destroyed.
In the men’s division, two former Champions surprisingly met on the loser’s side in the qualification round. Francisco Sanchez-Ruiz and David Alcaide, both from Spain, met in a match where one of them had to go home. This was especially tough for them since they live in the same town and are good friends and training buddies for many years now, they normally even share a room when they go abroad on tournaments. But the pool gods had them meet in this do-or-die match. Sanchez had execute do the opening shot. He left an open shot on the 8-ball for Alcaide. But instead of pocketing the 8-ball, Alcaide scratched and allowed Sanchez back to the table with 0:-1. Sanchez cleared one rack and also pocketed the break shot for a 15:-1 lead. He was in a good shape and the balls were nicely spread out on the table in front of him. He pocketed another shot and then scratched on the following attempt which brought Alcaide to the table at 15:-1. With a few safety shots, Alcaide managed to get back to 15:13 with Sanchez Ruiz still being in the lead. At that score, Alcaide missed an easy cut into the side pocket. This time, Sanchez showed no more mercy for his long-time friend. he cleared the table and ran the match out with an inning of 85 points, winning the match with 100:15 to terminate Alcaide’s hopes for another straight pool medal this year.
Defending straight pool Champion Niels Feijen (NED) clearly won his opening match over Stefan Noelle (GER) with 100:0, running out in one inning after Noelle gave him a shot in his second visit at the table. Then, Feijen had to deal with Jaroslav Polach (SVK) in the winner’s qualification round. He did not quite find his rhythm as he did in the match before and Polach used his great chance, taking down the Champion with 100:26 after 3 visits to the table. Polach is now through to the single elimination stage of the last 32 players while Feijen needs another victory over Konrad Juszczyszyn (POL).
Definitely one surprise today was the grandmaster Stephane Cohen (FRA) taking down David Alcaide (ESP) as clearly as 100:5. While Cohen had smooth sailing, Albin Ouschan (AUT) really needed all his power to defeat unheralded Lukas Kovac (SVK) 100:91.
Another well known face in the European pool world is former European Champion Nick van den Berg (NED). For private reasons, van den Berg stopped playing the Euro-Tour and international events since the end of 2017 but since this event was on his home soil, he wanted to find out whether he is still on top of his game. The first discipline straight pool was too much of an obstacle for him though. He really had a tough draw and faced Francisco Sanchez-Ruiz (ESP) in his first match. The Spaniard played well and won the match clearly with 100:19 over van den Berg. Then on the loser’s side, van den Berg ran into Konstantin Stepanov (RUS). After the break shot, van den Berg allowed Stepanov to see a shot…. and that was the end of the match and the straight pool discipline for him. Stepanov ran 100 and out on van den Berg and played a perfect match in one inning. Van den Berg must now hope to get better draws in the coming disciplines.
In the women’s division, defending Champion Kristina Tkach (RUS) made short work of her opponents so far. After a walk-over in the first round, she smashed Melissa Kuys-Rademakers (NED) 75:40 and then Sara Iannini (ITA) even 75:9. Her toughest opponent in European pool is Jasmin Ouschan (AUT), last year’s runner-up in women’s straight pool and #2 seeded player this year. Ouschan also performed pretty strong today. She overpowered Nina Torvund (NOR) 75:18 and then Silvia Lopez (ESP) with 75:28. This means that Ouschan as well as Tkach is already in the single elimination round of the last 16 women. Though there are still several serious opponents „in the way“, they both left the impression that they want a rematch in the final from last year.
In the senior’s division, last year’s runner-up and #1 seeded player Dirk Stenten (GER) lost his opening match to a strong playing Marinus Gennissen (NED) with 46:75. However, Gennissen also could not make it into the round of the last 32 players single elimination yet since he fell to the sharp blade of Thomas Lindloff (GER) in the next round with 23:75. Another seeded player, Danilo Cipriani (ITA) lost in the first winner’’s round today with 37:75 to Sami Karttunen (FIN). The only seeded player in the senior’s straight pool division to make it to the single elimination stage yet is Reiner Wirsbitzki (GER). He took down Markku Toivonen (FIN) 75:23 and Riccardo Sini (ITA) 75:27. Portugal’s hopes Henrique Correia and Manuel Pereira are also among the players who made it over the winner’s round and can be regarded as hot title contenders.
The first day’s play also saw the future of European pool take to the stage with both the U17’s & the U19’s in action. The Straight-pool discipline has been a strong point for the Polish youth over the past few years and that looks to continue here in Veldhoven with 4 from the 5 entrants in the U17’s, still flying the Polish flag into the last 32. With Wiktor Zielinski moving up to the U19’s and running amok with his opponents, it’s time to shine for someone in this talented team. Szymon Kural, last year’s 8-ball bronze medallist is leading the way with some stern shooting earning him an elimination match against the Belarusian Mikita Paluyan starting Friday at 10 am local time.
The Dynamic Billard European Pool Championships 2018 will commence tomorrow morning at 10:00 CET with matches in the straight pool individuals competition men, seniors, U17 and U19.
The Jubilee Championships are played on 60 tables which are all streamed LIVE throughout the whole event. In order to be able to follow all the action LIVE, premium membership can be obtained at www.kozoom.com. Once a premium membership is held, all events for the respective period of time can be viewed LIVE. Additionally, a huge video gallery is contained in the website.
The event is hosted by the European Governing Body for Pool, the European Pocket Billiard Federation (EPBF) and organized by International Billiard Promotion (IBP). For further information and reference please go to the federation website www.epconline.eu or visit us on Facebook for regular news clips or contact our press office firstname.lastname@example.org.