(Doha, Qatar)–Shane Van Boening has never won a World 9-ball Championship. He did, of course, come ever so close, finishing runner up in2015, and 2016. After skipping last year’s championship, however, there is a palpable sense in Doha that the American star is absolutely destined to finally grab the world crown in 2018.
Interestingly there are eight former World 9-ball Champions in this year’s field, all of them still highly capable of pulling off the impossible feat yet again. But nobody is yet talking about them. It’s the moniker ‘SVB’ who is on everyone’s lips.
Van Boening has admitted that he is playing his best pool perhaps ever. After a grueling six month training regime, he led Team USA to a thrilling victory in the Mosconi Cup last week. He showed up in Doha saying he intends to win, and that he is playing with zero pressure on his shoulders.
Fans in Doha, and the pro poolcommunity itself seem to agree something is afoot. While most players played inthe relative obscure quiet of the cavernous Al Arabi Sports Club on day 1 ofthis year’s championship, Van Boening’s time in the arena today actually drew a fair amount of watchers. Everyone and anyone who likes pro pool around here seems to feel something special is afoot.
The American didn’t disappoint in his first outing, as he crushed Poland’s Marek Kudlik 9-1. Good breaking, solid potting, deft safeties all showed up in Van Boening’s arsenal today. Combined with his quiet confidence, SVB laid down an early marker stating that nothing short of victory in Doha will suffice.
As all 128 players saw action on the first day of the 2018 World 9-ball Championship, it’s clear, though, that Van Boening will have plenty of serious contenders just as eager and capable of taking the crown on December 20. This year’s field is positively stacked with ferocious talent, both young and not so young. With the Wiraka tables breaking fairly easily—wing ball down, 1 in or near the side pocket—it’s all going to come down to who can handle the almost impossible pressure. Pool fans are in for a real treat over the next six days.
In the group stages it’s all about just winning two matches, to make it through to the final 64, where the tournament becomes single knockout all the way to the final. Defending champion Carlo Biado of the Philippines had an easy time of it today, easily taking down Argentina’s Llanos Jorge, 9-3. The man who lost in last year’s final to Biado, fellow Filipino Roland Garcia, came into Doha one of the hottest players in Asia and with high expectations. Garcia, though, stumbled out of the blocks to Taiwan’s Hsu Jui An, 9-8. Garcia will move over to the one loss side of his group where he needs two wins to advance.
World number one Klenti Kaci came out looking tired against the always tough Chilean Alejandro Carvajal. The Albanian teen was down four racks early but battled back to clip Carvajal at the wire, 9-7.
Pool’s young guns get more numerousand more dangerous year after year. 21 year old German sensation Joshua Filler played his usual brand of solid, care free pool in a 9-6 win over Bulgaria’sRuslanov Stanimir. 17 year old Russian Fedor Gorst handled the always toughKuwaiti Omar Al Shaheen, winning 9-6. 17 year old Pole Wiktor Zielinski came inwith some expectations on his shoulders but he fell to Japan’s Tomoya Iima,9-7.
It was a good day for the USA Mosconi Cup team as both Billy Thorpe and Corey Duel notched victories, and moved with one win of making the final 64. Canada’s Alex Pagulayan, a winner in 2004, barely scraped by Lebanon’s Mohammad Berjaoui, 9 – 8. Fellow Canadian John Morra has an easier time of it today, blanking the Philippines Roberto Brillantes, 9-0.
Taiwan’s Chang Jung Lin is considered one of the tournament favorites but he struggled mightily against Korea’s Kwon Hojun. Chang was actually down 6-2 at one point but stormed back and won at the wire, 9-8.
Chang was one of eight Taiwanese notching victory today, including 2015 champion Ko Pin Yi, Ko’s younger brother Ko Ping Chun, Hsieh Chia Chen and Lin Wu Kun. The Ko’s actually have an even younger brother in the event, Ko Ping Han, but he lost to Japan’s Hayato Hijikata.
The four European Mosconi Cup players on hand all won today. Besides Kaci, Austria’s Albin Ouschan continued to look rock solid with a 9-4 win over the USA’s Thomas Tokoph. The Netherlands’ Niels Feijen waltzed to victory with a neat 9-5 win over the always stingy Taiwanese Chang Yu Lung. Greece’s Alexander Kazakis barely got by Slovakia’s Jakub Koniar, 9-8.
England’s Chris Melling is someone people seem to be talking about as a possible champion, and the lone British representative on hand didn’t disappoint, winning easily over the Netherlands Marc Bijsterboch, 9-2.
Former world champion Wu Jiaqing of China cruised with a 9-1 win over the Netherlands’ Jimmy Worung. China went 5 out of six today with wins also by Dang Jinhu, Liu Haitao, Wan Can and Xu Xiacong.
Former world champion and hall offamer Ralf Souquet found victory today with a 9-3 win over the Maldives’Mohammed Hassan. But former world champion and fellow hall of famer MikaImmonen fell to Russia’s Ruslan Chinahov, 9-5.
Qatar’s favorite player made a splash today. Waleed Majid, who made it to the quarterfinals here in 2014, showed that he has clawed his way back into championship form with a 9-5 win over former US Open champion, Yu Hsuan “Kevin” Cheng.
Play continues on Saturday in Doha at the Al Arabi with the action beginning at 10am local time (GMT +3.) After the four sessions on Saturday, 32 players will be out and 32 players will be through to the final 64.
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.
*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.
Fans around the world will be able toview many of the matches via the QBSF’s free live streaming platform. Multipletables will be available to view online at no charge to the public. Pleasevisit the WPA Facebook Page formore information.
The WPA is also 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 supportedby the American Poolplayers Association (APA). Join the world’s largestpool league today. Please visit join.poolplayers.com
Results Day 1
Eklent Kaci (ALB) 9-7 Alejandro Carvajal (CHL)
Meshaal AL Murdhi (KUW) 9 – 5 Abdulatif Alfawal (QAT)
Aloysius Yapp (SIN) 9 – 3 Fayaz Hussain (MAL)
Vitaliy Patsura (UKR) 9 – 5 Woo Seung Ryu (KOR)
Joshua Filler (GER) 9 – 6 Ruslanov Stanimir (BUL)
Mazen Berjaoui (LEB) 9 – 6 Matt Edwards (NZL)
Radoslaw Babica (POL) 9 – 5 Hunter Lombardo (USA)
Jeffrey De Luna (PHL) 9 – 7 Sami Koylu (TUR)
Hsu Jui An (TPE) 9 – 8 Roland Garcia (PHL)
Bader Alawadhi (KUW) 9 – 1 Ahmed Nizam Uddin (BAN)
Billy Thorpe (USA) 9 – 4 Ahmed Aleqaly (JOR)
Lui Ri Teng (TPE) 9 – 1 David Alcaide (ESP)
Fedor Ghorst (RUS) 9 – 6 Omar Alshaheen (KUW)
Jeong Young Hwa (KOR) 9 – 7 Mohammad Soufi (SYR)
Robbie Capito (HKG) 9 – 5 Wojciech Szewczyk (POL)
Sanjin Pehlivanovic (BOS) 9 – 7 Johann Chua Gonzales (PHL)
Niels Feijen (NED) 9 – 5 Chang Yu Lung (TPE)
Francisco Diaz-Pizarro (ESP) 9 – 2 Israel Rota (PHL)
Corey Duel (USA) 9- 5 Ahmed Tanvir (BAN)
Petri Makkonen (FIN) 9 – 3 Fawaz Al Rashedi (KUW)
Hsieh Chia Chen (TPE) 9 – 3 Satoshi Kawabata (JPN)
Ruslan Chinhov (RUS) 9 – 5 Mika Immonen (FIN)
Mateusz Sniegocki (POL) 9 – 7 Vincent Halliday (RSA)
Jeffrey Ignacio (PHL) 9 – 6 Abdullah Alenzi (KUW)
Alexander Kazakis (GRE) 9 – 8 Jakub Koniar (SVK)
Hayato Hijikata (JPN) 9 – 4 Ko Ping Han (TPE)
Xu Xiacong (CHN) 9 – Ahmad Mohamad Silah (JOR)
Waleed Majid (QAT) 9 – 5 Yu Hsuan Cheng (TPE)
Alex Pagulayan (CAN) 9 – 8 Mohammad Berjaoui (LEB)
Toru Kurbayashi (JPN) 9 – 5 Sharik Aslam Sayed (SIN)
Roman Hybler (CZE) 9- 8 Mohammad Al Amin (BAN)
Ko Pin Yi (TPE) 9 – 4 Hasan Idan (IRQ)
Carlo Biado (PHL) 9 – 3 Llanos Jorge (ARG)
Sergey Lutsker (RUS) 9 – 8 Nguyen Anh Tuan (VET)
Tomoya Iima (JPN) 9 – 7 Wiktor Zielinski (POL)
Hoang Guong Quoc (VET) 9 – 5 Ameer Ali (IRQ)
Liu Haitao (CHN) 9 – 2 Ali Abdulhadi (QAT)
Wang Can (CHN) 9 – 6 Marlon Manalo (PHL)
Casper Matikainen (FIN) 9 – 8 Martin Daigle (CAN)
Naoyuki Oi (JPN) 9 – 2 Abdullah Falah (IRQ)
Jason Theron (RSA) 9 – 6 Thorsten Hohmann (GER)
Tomasz Kaplan (POL) 9 – 6 Takhti Zarekani (IRA)
Takano Tomoo (JPN) 9 – 7 Maximilian Lechner (AUS)
Wu Jiaqing (CHN) 9 – 1 Jimmy Worung (NED)
Chris Melling (GBR) 9 – 2 Marc Bijsterboch (NED)
Richard Halliday (RSA) Ali Maghsoud (IRA)
Yukio Akagariyama (JPN) 9 – 6 Maksim Dudanets (RUS)
Lin Wu Kun (TPE) 9 – 5 Wojciech Sroczynski (POL)
Ko Ping Chung (TPE) 9 – 6 Ivar Saris (NED)
Nikolas Malaj (GRE) 9 – 3 Robert Hart (USA)
Jalal Al Sarisi (VEN) 9 – 5 Oliver Szolnoki (HUN)
Shane Van Boening (USA) 9 – 1 Marek Kudlik (POL)
Phone Myint Kyaw (MYN) 9 – 3 Denis Grabe (EST)
Lo Ho Sum (HKG) 9 – 3 Toh Lian Han (SIN)
Konstantin Stepanov (RUS) 9 – 8 Enrique Rojas (CHL)
Dang Jinhu (CHN) 9 – 8 Lin Ta Li (TPE)
Francisco Sanchez Ruiz (ESP) 9 – 6 Aung Moe Thu (MYN)
John Morra (CAN) 9 – 0 Roberto Brillantes (PHL)
Konrad Juszczyszyn (POL) 9 – 4 Kong Bu Hong (HKG)
Albine Ouschan (AUS) 9 – 4 Thomas Tokoph (USA)
Ralf Souquet (GER) 9 – 3 Mohammed Hassan (MAL)
Wen Lo Li (TPE) 9 – 5 Bing Chen Gao (CHN)
Damianos Giallourakis (GRE) 9 – 7 Bashar Abdulmajeed (QAT)
Chang Jung Lin (TPE) 9 – 8 Kwon Hojun (KOR)