(Doha, Qatar)–Sir Henry Royce, the maker of the famed motorcars, Rolls Royce, once said, “Take the best that exists and make it better. Accept nothing nearly right or good enough.”
Royce’s creed of excellence could very well be applied to the four greats who grabbed their semi-finals spots Wednesday at the Al Arabi Sports Club in Doha on the penultimate day of 2018 World 9-ball Championship. On a day of championship 9-ball pool of surreal quality, Carlo Biado, Shane Van Boening, Joshua Filler and Alexander Kazakis all wouldn’t take no for an answer, all reached for greatness, all excelled beyond the rest.
The four superstars now head into the final day on Thursday with an equal chance of entering pool’s pantheon of greats. Biado, who won here last year, is already there, and will hope to become the first player since Earl Strickland 27 years ago to win back to back titles. But first the Filipino will have to match wits with the USA’s Shane Van Boening, who seems destined to finally snap off the big one.
In the other semi-final, young German hot shot Filler will look to fulfill a dream many thought he would one day reach, but perhaps not at just 21 years old. But to get there the fast and loose playing Filler will have to battle through Greek workhorse Kazakis, who simply never knows how to quit. Both race to 11, alternate break semis will be played simultaneously beginning at 11am Doha time(GMT +3). The race to 13 final will break off at 3pm local time.
Despite his soft spoken and humble nature, Biado has to be the favorite of the final four, if only slightly, due to several factors; he knows what it takes to reach the mountain top, he plays under the radar, and he is playing the best pool of his career. In the round of 16 match that began the day, the 37 year old Biado came up against 2005 World 9-ball Champion Wu Jiaqing. The pair dueled for 90 minutes, breaking and running numerous racks. But when Wu scratched while down 9-8, the champ did what champs do; he closed the door and won a hard fought battle, 11-9.
The Filipino then came up against Taiwan’s rising player, Wu Kun Lin, who had disposed of Finland’s Petri Makkonen earlier. These two had history and it was to Biado’s favor for Wu was the very player the Filipino handily beat in last year’s semi-final on his way to the title. The result Wednesday was nearly identical. Firing on all cylinders Biado streaked out to a commanding 6-0 lead and never looked back, winning easily 11-4.
In the round of 16 Van Boening was expected to have a tit for tat showdown with England’s Chris Melling, who was having the best year of his pool career. But Melling couldn’t get many clear shots off the break, and the American took advantage. The match was tight early but Van Boening walked away an 11-5 winner.
In the quarters the American matched up against world number two, Taiwan’s Chang Jung Lin. Chang had earlier taken down compatriot Lin Ta Li, 11-7 and was starting to be mentioned as one of the favorites to take the title. Indeed for three quarters of his match against Van Boening, Chang did everything he needed to do to get himself into the semis and take a crack at his first 9-ball world title. Van Boening especially looked to be on the ropes when, at 7-5 down, he flubbed some shots and soon found himself 8-5 down. But after Chang took a bathroom break, the momentum suddenly shifted. The American found a gear while the Taiwanese went cold. Van Boening won six on the trot to win, 11-8.
The brash and flashy Filler has looked sensational all week in Doha, and on Wednesday he kept up the frenetic pace. In the round of 16, the German obliterated Hong Kong’s Robbie Capito in 50 minutes, 11-1. Filler expected a much tougher match in the quarterfinals against 2016 World 9-ball Champion, Albin Ouschan. But after an early tussle, the 21 year old proved too much, and won handily, 11-6.
Kazakis has shown himself all week to be one of pool’s most resilient players, a never-say-die grinder whom can never be counted out. This was exactly the case in the round of 16 when he came up against the Netherlands Niels Feijen. Up 10-7, Feijen looked all set to go through to the quarters. The Greek, however, didn’t lose hope, and several mistakes from Feijen allowed him to crawl back to tie the match at 10. In the final rack, Feijen broke and a tense safety battle ensued. Kazakis found an opening on a long pot and nailed it, then held his nerve for a miracle comeback and a spot in the quarters.
There he met up with American Corey Deuel, who had earlier kept his fine play going with a neat 11-9 win over 2015 World 9-ball Champion, Ko Pin Yi of Taiwan. Deuel and Kazakis traded barbs for three quarters of the match and were tied at 8-8. But after a week of steady play, the American suddenly seemed to wilt, committing several uncharacteristic errors. Kazakis kept plowing on, and he grabbed three in a row, to win 11-8 and move into the semis.
The winner of the 2018 World 9-ball Championship will receive $40,000. The runner up will receive $20,000. The total prize fund is $200,000.
Fans around the world can watch the free live stream which can be accessed via the live scoring page here; http://www.esnooker.pl/live/en/tsnew.php
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To view the Final 64 bracket, please CLICK HERE.
*The 2018 WPA World 9-ball Championship takes place at the Al Arabi Sports Club Sports Club in Doha, Qatar from December 10-20, 2018. The event is hosted by The Qatar Billiard and Snooker Federation(QBSF), and is sanctioned by The World Pool Billiard Association, the governing body of the sport of pool.
The WPA is on Twitter; @poolwpa
Visit the official website of the WPA at www.wpapool.com
The players will compete 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.
Media coverage of the 2018 World 9-ball Championship is being supported by the American Poolplayers Association(APA). Join the world’s largest pool league today. Please visit join.poolplayers.com
Race to 11, alternate break
11am Doha time (GMT +3)
Joshua Filler (GER) vs. Alexander Kazakis (GRE)
Carlo Biado (PHL) vs. Shane Van Boening (USA)
Race to 13, alternate break
3pm Doha Time
Joshua Filler (GER) 11- 6 Albin Ouschan (AUT)
Alexander Kazakis (GRE) 11 – 8 Corey Duel (USA)
Carlo Biado (PHL) 11 – 4 Wu Kun Lin ( (TPE)
Shane Van Boening (USA)11- 8 Chang Jung Lin (TPE)
Results Final 16
Joshua Filler (GER) 11 – 1 Robbie Capito (HKG)
Albin Ouschan (AUT) 11 -8 Wiktor Zielinski (POL)
Alexandros Kazakis (GRE) 11 – 10 Niels Feijen (NED)
Corey Duel (USA) 11 – 9 Ko Pin Yi (TPE)
Carlo Biado (PHL) 11 – 9 Wu Jiaqing (CHN)
Lin Wu Kun ( (TPE) 11 – 6 Petri Makkonen (FIN)
Shane Van Boening (USA) 11- 5 Chris Melling (GBR)
Jung Lin Chang (TPE) 11 – 7 Lin Ta Li (TPE)