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Chris Melling faces off against Asia in the Semi-Finals
 Posted on Monday, February 13 2012 @ 23:18:55 UTCby admin
8 Ball WPA Etisalat World 8-Ball Championships 2012
The Fujairah Tennis & Country Club
Fujairah
United Arab Emirates
www.wpa-pool.com - Groups (.pdf file) - Live score - Photos
www.world8ballchampionship.com
www.fujairahtennisclub.ae

12-17 February 2012


GREAT ESCAPE INTO THE FINAL FOUR

A LAST CHANCE COMEBACK PUTS CHINA'S LIU INTO THE SEMI-FINALS; JOINS FU, MELLING AND CHANG AS THE WORLD 8-BALL CHAMPIONSHIP HEADS TO THE FINAL DAY

For Karl Boyes, winning the World 8-ball title in 2010 fulfilled a lifelong dream for the talented Englishman. The 29 year old from Blackpool began his billiard career when he was 14 years old playing English 8-ball, a game similar to American 8-ball but played on smaller tables and with red and yellow balls. He played the sport for nearly 10 years and became one of the top players.

Boyes turned to American pool when the International Pool Tour came along in 2004, offering huge prize funds and 8-ball as the game of choice. When the IPT folded a few years later, Boyes decided to stick with the American game of pool, and quickly became an elite player in the pro ranks.



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Against Ko Liu was facing certain elimination as he was down 8-5, with Ko at the table after breaking and sinking a ball. In professional 8-ball, as has been proven all week, sinking a ball on the break virtually guarantees a run out so Liu had no reason to think he’d even get a chance. Besides, Ko hadn’t trailed in the entire match and, as he’s been doing all tournament, was playing superbly, using an incredibly powerful and precision break shot to take command of the match. For two days Ko had been one of the favorites around the arena to get to the final.

Ko, however, badly missed his first shot and Liu pounced, clearing the table. Liu then broke and ran to get to 8-7 down. He then played the rack of his life, deftly breaking up several difficult clusters while potting balls to tie the match. A high pressure break and run gave him an unlikely spot in the semis.

If today’s performance is anything to go by, Liu’s opponent Fu is certainly going to be a tough nut to crack, though. Fu started off by pounding Korea’s Hwang Yang, 9-0. Fu then manhandled the Philippines Lee Van Corteza 9-5. Fu didn’t have much problem handling See either.

While anything can happen in the wide open game of professional 8-ball, England’s Melling surely has to be one of the favorites coming into the final four. The 33 year old Brit has been one of the world’s best players for the last 18 months. Years before turning to the American game of pool, he played English 8-ball where he became one of the greatest ever to play the game, winning every major title several times. Melling brings a fearless and powerhouse style to the arena every time out, and oozes confidence.

Melling, though, very nearly let his chances slip away earlier in the day in his TV table match against the UAE’s best player, Salah Al-Rimawi in the round of 32. Al-Rimawi came back from 8-6 down and had the break in the last rack. Unfortunately for the home fans, Al-Rimawi broke dry. Melling stepped up and cleared the table for a gut wrenching 9-8 win.


That was all the spark that Melling needed as he next rolled over Thorsten Hohmann 9-4 in the round of 16. He then took that momentum into his impressive victory over Gomez.

“Except for a few bad racks in the middle, I played awesome,” Melling said. “I’m confident I can win this thing. The break is massively important. And I can pot as good as anybody. I just can’t make silly mistakes.”

As evidenced by his performance in three matches today, Chang certainly will pounce on the slightest misstep. Chang grinded out a 9-5 win over Bruno Muratore, 9-3 over Carlo Biado, before crushing Ortmann.

The semi-finals of the 2012 World 8-ball Championship begin at 1:30PM(GMT + 4). The finals will begin at 5:00pm. The winner of the 2012 World 8-ball Championship will receive $20,000, while the runner up will get $15,000. The tournament has a $156,000 prize fund.





AND DOWN THEY GO!

POLAND'S KAROL SKOWERSKI UPSETS DEFENDING CHAMP DENNIS ORCULLO AS A SLEW OF BIG NAMES FALL AT THE 2012 WORLD 8-BALL CHAMPIONSHIP

The World 8-ball Championship turned into a wide open race on Wednesday in Fujairah, United Arab Emirates, as some of the games biggest names, including defending champion Dennis Orcullo, last year’s runner up Niels Feijen, and semi-finalist Darren Appleton all were sent packing barely after the knockout stages had gotten going.

Other big names, like former champions Ralf Souquet and Karl Boyes were also handed their walking papers. In all it amounted to a proverbial one day bloodletting in one of the sport’s biggest championships.

The biggest upset of the day was easily Orcullo, who went down hard to upstart Karol Skowerski of Poland. Both Orcullo and Skowerski had won their round of 64 matches earlier in the day, and came up against each other in the first of the round of 32 matches later in the evening. When the defending champion sent the cue off the table on the opening break it must have been a terrible omen for the Filipino, who was certainly expecting to go far in the event he won last year.

Indeed things continued downhill even faster for Orcullo as he fell behind 5-0 in the race to 9, alternate break contest. The 28 year old Skowerski, who’s ranked number 4 in Poland, took advantage of several errors from the defending champion, and played surprisingly confident pool throughout. The Kielce native showed superb potting skills and was never intimidated even when Orcullo began a fight back. In fact it was the Filipino who seemed to fold as Skowerski won the match going away, 9-3 for the biggest win of his career.

“I played well and I really concentrated well the whole match,” an obviously delighted Skowerski said after the match as he was congratulated by teammates Radislaw Babica and Tomasz Kaplan, both of whom were eliminated earlier in the day. “I wasn’t scared and I wasn’t nervous.”

At about the same time, Feijen, who’s been runner up here two years running, found himself in a difficult match against the very talented Ko Pin Yi of Taiwan in a round of 32 contest. Everyone expected this one to go the distance but it wasn’t even close. Ko, who over the last year has been making it clear he intends to be one of the world’s best players, blew Feijen out of the building, taking the match 9-2.

One of the more interesting matchups of the early sessions in the round of 64 was perennial favorite Souquet taking on the USA’s Max Eberle. Eberle is the last American standing in this year’s championship, and over the last 24 hours he’s been openly relishing carrying the mantle for the USA, the ancestral home 8-ball.

Indeed “Mad Max” started his match like a man possessed as he jumped out to a 4-0 lead. As expected the Kaiser methodically crawled his way back into the match and looked to be squeezing the air out of the American. Eberle, though, stood his ground and wouldn’t let the German great catch him as he held on for a gritty 9-7 win.

“I came out strong and I think that set him back a bit,” Eberle said afterward. “Ralf was tight today. He usually plays cleaner but he kept giving me opportunities.”


Darren Appleton came into this year’s championship supremely confident of his chances to take the title, even admitting early in the week that for him to lose, an opposing player would have to shoot lights out pool.

“You really have to beat me,” the powerhouse Brit said. Those words came back to haunt Appleton tonight as China’s talented Li He Wen beat him senseless in the round of 64. The 31 year old Li, who hails from Shenyang in northeastern China and is China’s number one ranked player, steamrolled Appleton 9-3 to move into the round of 32 on Thursday.

“I played very good today,” Li said afterward through an interpreter. “He didn’t break good and he gave me too many chances.”

Several times today in Fujairah it was proved that players from the Middle East have made great strides in recent years and are no longer just filler for tournament fields. 23 year old Salah Al-Rimawi of the UAE brought some noise to the Fujairah Tennis Club as he upended fancied Brit Daryl Peach, 9 – 5. Al-Rimawi, who is the UAE’s number one player and made it all the way to the final 16 last year here, played solid pool throughout and jumped out to a 7-1 lead over the former World 9-ball champion, who had seemed out of sorts the entire tournament.    Peach fought back but Al-Rimawi showed true grit by bearing down and crossing the finish line in style.

Earlier, 20 year old Ahmad Jallad, who showed fine form last June in Qatar for the World 9-ball championship, showed he can play serious 8-ball as he put in a gutsy performance against favored Filipino Joven Alba. Alba, who coaches the national team of the UAE, went up 6-2 only to commit some glaring errors that allowed the youngster to gain some momentum. Jallad clawed his way back to go up 7-6, then held off the Filipino for a narrow win, 9-8.

It was not the best of days for the Philippine contingent as six Pinoys went down to defeat. Still three big names are still in the championship; Lee Van Corteza, Roberto Gomez, and Carlo Biado.

Thursday is sure to provide plenty of drama and tension as the field will be reduced to four players by the end of the day. Thursday play begins at 2pm in Fujairah(GMT +4).

The 2012 World 8-ball Championship concludes on Friday with the semis and finals. The winner will receive $20,000 while the runner up will get $15,000. The tournament has a $156,000 prize fund.





SAVING THE DAY FOR THE USA

A GRITTY FIGHT BACK LEAVES MAX EBERLE THE LONE AMERICAN LEFT AS THE 2012 WORLD 8-BALL CHAMPIONSHIP MOVES INTO THE KNOCKOUT STAGES IN FUJAIRAH

Facing elimination, and bearing the burden of having to carry the hopes of the United States squarely on his shoulders, Max Eberle proved his mettle tonight at the Fujairah Tennis and Country club, pulling out a hard fought come from behind 7-4 win over Singapore’s Kwang Chan Ken to advance to the round of 64 knockout stage at the 2012 World 8-ball Championship.

Eberle, who originally hails from Ohio but now resides in Las Vegas, is now the sole American left in this year’s World 8-ball Championship. The single elimination knockout stage begins on Wednesday at 2pm(GMT +4). All matches will be race to 9, alternate break.

Eberle went into his do or die late night match already knowing he had to carry the flag for the red, white and blue. Moments earlier, Brandon Shuff, the only other American in this year’s competition, blew a golden opportunity to take down the Netherland’s Nick Van den Berg on the TV table. Shuff was clearing the table with the score tied at 5 and played poor position with just three balls left on the table, leading to a scratch. Van den Berg went up 6-5, then broke and ran for the 7-5 win.

“I dogged it,” a gutted Shuff said afterward. Things were looking dire for Eberle as well before he decided enough was enough. Leading 3-0, Eberle suffered several dry breaks and soon found himself down 4-3. Then the fight back began. “Mad Max” won four straight racks for the win.

“It was a gritty win,” a delighted Eberle said afterward. “I had to bear down and pull out some good run outs. I really fought hard and it feels good. America still has hope. I have to pull it out for the USA.”

It won’t be easy, though. Eberle has drawn none other than Hall of Famer Ralf Souquet in his first match in the round of 64. That match is scheduled for 4pm Fujairah time.(GMT +4)

Earlier, there were some tense moments out on the playing floor for former World 9-ball Champion Daryl Peach. Peach found himself at deaths door while facing 13 year old…yes that’s right—13 year old Mohammed Saed Saed of Qatar.


The youngster was playing lights out pool in that fearless way that only a juvenile can do, while Peach played horribly all match. Tied at 5 all, Peach had only the 8 ball left to go up by one, only to scratch after potting the black pearl. This put the kid on the hill with the break, but he broke dry and Peach cleared. Peach nearly gave it away in the decider, but fear and nerves finally caught up with Saed Saed and he blew a certain win with awful position, leaving Peach an easy run out.

“That was the worst match of pool I’ve ever played,” a somewhat stunned Peach said afterward.

The unique World Championship-style pressure seemed to infect many of the tables in the evening session. Aoki Ryoji from Japan and Jayson Shaw of Great Britain went down to the wire, with Ryoji pulling out a 7-6 squeaker. Hamzah Ali, the first and only pro pool player to come out of the African country of Eritrea came from 6-3 down to take Spain’s Carlos Cabello to a one game decider. Hamzah got down to the 8-ball but missed a golden opportunity for pool glory when he missed, leaving a clear and win for the Spaniard.

The remaining three days of this year’s World 8-ball Championship promise plenty of nerves, tension and fireworks as most of pool’s big names made it through. It’s almost assured to see a Filipino in the final four at least as all nine Filipino players entered into the tournament qualified for the final 64. These include defending champion Dennis Orcullo, Lee Van Corteza, Roberto Gomez, Carlo Biado, Joven Alba, Elmer Haya, Ramund Faoron, Demosthenes Pulpul, and Elvis Calasang.





IT FEELS GOOD TO BE THROUGH!

BRUNO MURATORE AND ELMER HAYA ENJOY THE FEELING OF MAKING IT TO THE KNOCKOUT STAGES OF THE 2012 WORLD 8-BALL CHAMPIONSHIP IN FUJAIRAH

Judgement Day at the World 8-ball Championship in Fujairah has brought on the usual dramas that come when a slight roll of a pool ball can change your fortunes forever. For guys who toil year round for moments like these, the stakes simply couldn’t be bigger; you win and you start afresh tomorrow, with the possibility of a life changing world title a few days away. You lose and the cool breezes rolling in over the Al Hajar mountains will do nothing to ease your pain as you leave this friendly emirate by the Indian Ocean feeling weak and shamed.

The field began with 96 players yesterday from over 40 countries. 17 men from various corners of the globe qualified through to the knockout stage on Day 1, and 47 more will make it through today, Tuesday, here in Fujairah.

In the first part of today’s session, quiet tension and drama was the order of the day as players known and unknown battled for the chance to move on to the round of 64. Two time world champion Mika Immonen finally saw action, but had to battle back from from 5-3 down in his race to 7 alternate break match versus talented Brit Jayson Shaw. The two engaged in a mano-a-mano slugfest , trading break and runs until Shaw capitalized on a bad roll of the ball from the Finn. Immonen sucked up the tension and battled back. Down 6-5 he cleared off a dry break by Shaw, then broke and ran for a spot in the final 64. Shaw gets one more chance to go through later in the night.

“The break is everything here,” Immonen said afterward repeating an oft heard sentiment from all the players here. “One dry break can cost you the match. If you break consistently, you’ll win this thing.”

Immonen, who admittedly didn’t have a good year in 2011, especially compared to the historic tear he went on in 09 and ’10, says he’d lately been working himself back into top physical condition and feels good about his chances to finally add the 8-ball world title, to his 9-ball and 1- ball crowns.

“I’m in ‘kill’ shape now,” he said, and revealed he’s run 6 kilometers on the treadmill at his hotel before the match. “I’m feeling good.”

Another player feeling good right now is Bruno Muratore. The friendly 44 year Italian veteran wasn’t a ceded player, so he had to win two to move on to the knockout stage. After winning his match on day 1, Muratore found himself in a winner’s side dogfight with China’s tough Fu Jianbo. The battle went hill-hill when Fu lost position and fouled. Muratore nearly lost his way on the clear, but he held his nerve to book a spot in the final 64.

“I had a lot of stress in this match because I know him,” Muratore said afterward. The Rome native said he likes his chances here because unlike a lot of touring pros, he plays 8-ball regularly back home. He finished 5th in this event back in 2008, losing to Philippine great Ronnie Alcano.

“In Italy I play 8-ball all the time,” he said. “I like 8-ball because it’s a brain game. You have to think about the path to the 8, and when you play safe, you have to think how you change the path for your opponent.”

The always strong Philippine contingent is looking rock solid so far this year and will easily have the most number of players in the final 64. As of press time, six Filipinos have qualified for the final 64 today alone. They’ll join defending champion Dennis Orcullo and two others in the knockout stages beginning Wednesday. Two Pinoy’s of note, Roberto Gomez and Carlo Biado, cruised through with easy victories today.

Elmer Haya is not a name one normally thinks of when talking about heavyweights from the Philippines. But this 35 year old from Molave, Zamboanga del Sur and Butuan City did himself and his country proud today by defeating Morroco’s Yousfi Chaouki 7-5 and qualifying for the knockout stage.

Haya’s one of these Filipino players who are easy to root for considering their life story. With few opportunities to earn back home, he’s been toiling for the last year in the UAE as a house pro in the Champion Billiard Club one hour from Fujairah in the emirate of Ras Al Khaima, sending home $700 each month to keep wife and five kids fed, clothed and educated.

Haya, though, is here to grab opportunity, not sympathy. He can flat out play. He recently won the Dubai 9-ball festival and collected $3000. And he says that unlike other Filipino players back home, 8-ball has been his game of choice in the UAE.

“I have confidence that I can do well here because I play a lot of 8-ball here,” Haya said.

The group stages will conclude this evening with several more sessions.





'YOU REALLY HAVE TO BEAT ME'

THROUGH TO THE FINAL 64 OF THE WORLD 8-BALL CHAMPIONSHIP, ENGLAND'S DARREN APPLETON KNOWS HE'S GOING TO BE TOUGH TO BEAT

With a long day one in the books here at the 2012 World 8-ball Championship in Fujairah, UAE, certain trends are already becoming crystal clear.

The break shot is going to play a massive factor throughout the week in determining who stays and who takes a walk. With super tight pockets and responsive rails, the seven Knight Shot tables inside the Fujairah Tennis and Country Club are playing extremely difficult. Which translates to any player not playing with an extra fine touch can forget about contending for the title.

All this clearly means that only those with the most developed skills, and the deepest experiences handling extreme pressure will be standing towards the end. And this is at it should be at the World Championship of 8-ball.

One of those who looked the goods tonight was England’s Darren Appleton. Appleton, ranked number 3 in the world and the current back-to-back US Open champion, didn’t get the easiest of draws, as he came up against Hungary’s very capable Vilmos Foldes in the race to 7 alternate break match. It was Appleton’s first effort on the floor and he came into the match nursing a burgeoning head cold. Foldes meanwhile had already won a tough qualifier over the weekend and had loosened up with a narrow 7-6 win over Australia’s Stuart Lawler earlier in the day.

Foldes started out on fire, breaking and running his first three racks for a 4-2 lead. On the table and about to go to 5-2, though, Foldes made a mistake and from there the match turned in favor of Appleton. The hardcore Brit methodically took control of the match and won 7-5 booking his place in the final 64 beginning Wednesday.

Keen observers of the pro circuit, as well as punters, have to figure that Appleton is one of the top five favorites in Fujairah. Although he’s made his name in the American game in 10-ball, 9-ball and straight pool, Appleton’s pedigree comes from 8-ball. He started his cue career player English 8-ball and was number 1 in that game for 7 years in the late 1990’s and 2000’s. He has made it to the semis of the World 8-ball two years in a row, losing to eventual runner up Niels Feijen.

Appleton knows what it takes to win in pro pool and he believes he has all the ingredients to add the World 8-ball trophy to his growing collection of titles.

“The break is massive in 8-ball,”Appleton said afterward. “ I’m one of the best and most consistent breakers in this game. And with these tight pockets, you have to be accurate. You have to have perfect cue ball speed. You can’t punch the ball on these tables. And there’s no slide in the rails.” And of course Appleton is supremely confident in his ability to utilize that intangible that all great players bring to big time tournament play.

“My mental game is my main asset. You really have to beat me.”


In all, 17 players punched their ticket through today to the final 64 knockout stage which begins on Wednesday. Defending Champion Dennis Orcullo of the Philippines had a few shaky moments on the TV table in his match vs. Kuwait’s Nasser Al Mujaibel. The match was tied at 4 and Orcullo didn’t look all too comfortable. But the Filipino star pulled it together for a 7-4 win and a spot in the final 64.

“I missed some easy shots,” Orcullo said. “The pockets are very tight and the table is new so I had to make some adjustments. I’m still focused and I’m confident I can win this thing again.”

Also making it through was the runner up in the last two World 8-ball Championships, the Netherland’s Niels Feijen who easily beat Hong Kong’s Lee Chenman, 7-3. Current World 9-ball champion Yukio Akagariyama of Japan took down Poland’s Tomasz Kaplan 7-3. England’s Chris Melling looked strong in beating the UAE’s Majid Sultan 7-1. The Philippines Lee Van Corteza and Joven Alba also made it through with wins.

It was a terrible day for the USA as the lone two players from the home of 8-ball suffered losses. Brandon Shuff came in confident of a win vs. Hajato Hijikata of Japan. But the American newcomer couldn’t keep pace and lost 7-5. Max Eberle simply couldn’t get out of the box vs. Spain’s Carlos Cabello and lost 7-3.

The remainder of the final 64 will be determined at the conclusion of play on Tuesday.





96 PLAYERS VIE FOR WORLD 8 BALL TITLE IN FUJAIRAH - UAE

ROAD TO 8-BALL GLORY BEGINS

The race to 8-Ball glory got underway early Monday morning here in the coastal emirate of Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates, with 96 players from over 40 countries vying for the 2012 WPA World 8-ball Championship.

Defending champion, current World #1 and 2011 WPA Player of the Year, Dennis Orcullo of the Philippines is back to try for a very possible repeat. Orcullo won his first world title last year in Fujairah when he beat Niels Feijen in the final 10-3. Orcullo used that amazing victory as a springboard for a sensational all around year in 2011 and has come to the Middle East brimming with confidence.

But while Orcullo certainly comes into this year’s championship as one of the heavy favorites, the famously wide open game of 8-ball means that there’s probably 20 or more players who can be considered serious contenders for the Filpino great’s crown. Among those are World 9-ball champion and world number 2 Yukio Akagariyama of Japan, current and back to back US Open Champion Darren Appleton(world #3) of the UK, World 10-ball Champion Huidji See(World # 5) of the Netherlands, back to back runner up Feijen, the Philippine great and World # 6 Lee Van Corteza, Chinese Taipei’s Chang Jung Lin(# 7), China Open winner Chris Melling(# 8 ) of the UK, German greats Souquet(#11) and Thorsten Hohmann(13), Finnish star Mika Immonen(19), former World 9-ball champion Daryl Peach of England. And current European number 2 Mark Gray, who has won three tournaments in the last few months.

The tournament is being held inside the beautiful Fujairah Tennis and Country Club where seven tough Knight Shot tables have been set up inside the cozy confines of the sports hall. A total of $156,000 in prize money is on offer, with $20,000 going to the winner on Friday night.


This is only the eighth time that the World 8-Ball championship has been contested and all of them have been held in Fujairah. The conditions this year have already gotten the nod of approval from players as each match throughout the event will be played with the alternate break format, ensuring fewer one sided blowouts than in previous years.

The higher caliber players were also happy with the extremely tight pockets which have been set at just 4 inches in diameter.

Most of the top players in the field will begin to see action in the evening session of Day 1 and morning sessions on Day 2. The players have been divided into 16 groups of 6 each, playing a double elimination format. The top 32 players have been seeded and have received byes for their first matches. This means that each of the top 32 players only has to win one match to move into the knockout stage of 64, which begins on Wednesday.

In early action on Monday Radislaw Babica, Thomasz Kaplan and Karol Skowerski made it 3-0 for Poland with easy wins. The Philippines Demosthenes Pulpul, who for the last year has lived and worked as a house pro in the UAE, and won entry to this year’s championship via a local qualifier, easily defeated Belgium’s Bahram Lofty, 7-2. Pulpul’s countryman Elvis Calasang stayed on the winners side with a win. Germany’s young rising star Dominic Jentsch easily won his first match. As did Austria’s Serge Das and Russia’s Konstantin Stepanov.

The WPA will be providing up to the minute coverage of all the happenings on its website, www.wpa-pool.com, including live scoring of all matches, in depth articles on the goings on posted several times a day, as well as blow by blow coverage of big matches via the WPA’s Twitter page, @poolwpa.

*The World Pool and Billiard Association(WPA) is the world governing body of the sport of pool. The WPA is also the member organization for pool of the World Confederation of Billiard Sports (WCBS), the international umbrella organization encompassing all the major cue sports.













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