GERMANY’S RALF SOUQUET tightened his grip at the top of the European 2017 Mosconi Cup rankings with another great performance as he finished in the top four of the recent Portuguese Open in Salgados. With no ‘World’ events having taken place yet, the ‘European’ and ‘World’ rankings are currently one and the same and the Kaiser has opened up a 45 points lead over third spot.
Souquet has already appeared in more Mosconi Cups than any other European player (16) and will looking to return to the side for his first appearance since 2013. Nick van den Berg, a winner in Portugal is up to second on 90, 33 points ahead of David Alcaide in third spot.
5-8 April 2017 - Aramith Masters Championship 7-8 April 2017 - Kamui Challenge Championship
18 year old High School Student Klenti Kaci Shocks The Pool World By Winning The Aramith Masters At The World Pool Series In New York City. Click the image to view the full size photograph - use "back" to return here.
Klenti Has Plenty To Celebrate--Finals Report from the Aramith Masters
Playing with an almost surreal poise and skill that belies his obvious youth, 18 year old Albanian Klenti Kaci captured the Aramith Masters Championship on Saturday in New York City with a two sets to nil win over the Philippines Carlo Biado, and at the same time laid claim to being the most promising young rising star in pool’s professional ranks.
The tall and good looking Albanian, who this week was on his third pool playing trip to the United States in the last 8 months, and who regularly plays on the Euro Tour, captured the $12,000 first prize in this the second event of Darren Appleton’s new 8-ball tour, the World Pool Series.
But much more than the money and even the title, Kaci showcased the kind of uncanny skill and psychological maturity reserved for players with years more experience. His ability to keep total control of the cue ball, keep the game simple, slurp up the intense pressure as if it simply didn’t exist, and hone in on the finish line like a fine tuned laser was simply breathtaking. This young man, who is still in high school back in his native Albania, has the goods and then some.
Those that know Kaci from his recent forays on the Euro Tour and his few stints in the States all knew he was a talented player. But of course nobody figured that the 18 year old was ready to win a tournament that was loaded with some of the world’s best pool talent and seen by several million people on Facebook Live through social media giant Unilad. The calm and collected Kaci, though, clearly had other ideas.
The young Albanian started the day a heavy underdog in his semi-final match with the man nearly everyone considers the best player on the planet right now, Jayson Shaw. The Scotsman, however, was the one who played with his back against the wall, while Kaci was in total control throughout and never got rattled. While Shaw struggled to get comfortable, Kaci kept cool and won the first set, 6-4. Shaw was more competitive in the second set and the pair played a one rack decider. But the Albanian showed more bottle and persevered to win the second, 7-6, to advance to a suprise final.
There he met up with the Philippines Carlo Biado, who had played solid in his semi-final match against England’s Darren Appleton, the man who founded the World Pool Series. The 35 year old Filipino was the steadier of the two, winning the first set 6-3, then the second set 7-5 to advance to the final with a 2 sets to nil victory.
One of the unique new features of the World Pool Series is the implementation of the shootout to decide matches that end up tied with one rack left. The idea is to create excitement for fans, as each player is left with just one type of shot to make; 5 tries at a difficult full table cut on the 8-ball. It’s the ultimate pressure shot as players are forced to show full bottle and guts to try and advance.
If day 2 of the Aramith Masters was any indication, fans can expect plenty of full throttle drama to decide matches going forward as we enter the business end of this, the second leg of pool’s newest tour. 72 matches were played today, and a whopping 12 of them were decided by shootouts.
Three of those nerve rattling shootouts featured England’s Chris Melling, who seemed attracted to the cliff hanging drama like a bee to honey. Melling’s stroke is normally steadied and honed by years of playing snooker, but several times today he cracked under the weight of the moment. He won his first shootout, then lost his second, which sent him over to the losers side of the double elimination bracket. The third time he found himself staring down the Philippines Dennis Orcollo, with five cut shots on the 8-ball to decide who would move on to the final 16, and who would exit the tournament. Melling beat the Filipino four shots deep into sudden death to stay alive.
The early stages of major pool tournaments generally see a few surprises from upstarts taking down big names. But Day 1 of the Aramith Masters, the 2nd leg of the new 8-ball tour the World Pool series(WPS), will surely go down in history for something quite different than a top star getting run out of the building by a no-hoper.
That’s because professional pool surely entered a new era at Steinway Café-Billiards in Queens, New York City today, thanks to the WPS’ new partnership with social media giant Unilad. The UK based Unilad, which specializes in trending content from around the world, boasts nearly 27 million followers on its popular Facebook page. And now they are broadcasting live professional pool to their legions of followers.
The sheer gravity of the possibilities for this long suffering sport were on full display this afternoon at Steinway in the first TV table match between Russian Ruslan Chinahov, who won the first leg of the World Pool Series back in January, and Greek upstart Damianos Giallourakis. As the two young players battled it out in what turned out to be a very entertaining match, the viewer numbers started rolling in and they were simply out of this world. Over three quarters of a million viewers from all corners of the globe tuned in to some or all of the match live on Unilad’s Facebook page. If pool fans can’t get excited about the possibilities of what is a new model for broadcasting pool, it might be time to start watching curling.
For the 30 year old journeyman Gilaourakis, playing on the TV table in front of this massive audience proved to be all the motivation he needed to put in what was the best performance of the day. Chinahov, the defending champion, had just won the European 9-ball championship last week in Portugal and was riding a wave of confidence. But the pesky Greek overcame some early mistakes and stormed back from a 7-5 deficit with some surreal shot making to take the match to a shootout at 8-8, which he won by a score of 4-2. It was Gilaourakis’ second win of the day.
“I beat Ruslan in February in the Euro tour, also 9-8,” Gilaourakis. “I was a little tired at first, but I told myself don’t give up. I came here to win and I know I can win this match. I felt good. I didn’t expect to feel that good because I only slept 5 hours. I’m always excited to play the TV table. It doesn’t stress me out. I get excited. My game is good enough to win this tournament. Of course anything can happen so who knows.”The 30 year old Greek, who hails from Rhodes Island and now lives in Norway where he works as a waiter in an Asian restaurant, embodies the essence of what the WPS is really all about; talented players who are looking for regular earning opportunities and a chance to shine. Gilaourakis has played in ten Euro Tour events and has some solid finishes. He won the smaller Greek Open and the Norwegian Open 9-ball in 2015 and clearly can compete and beat the best.
The top 32 seeds all had byes today, but saw action in the second round and mostly performed to expectation. Ralf Souquet, Thorsten Hohmann, Dennis Orcollo, Mika Immonen, Darren Appleton, Chris Melling, Johann Chua, David Alcaide, Johnny Archer, Carlo Biado, Lee Vann Corteza, Karl Boyes, Billy Thorpe, Mark Gray and Jeffrey DeLuna all won handily to stay on the winners side of the bracket.
The USA’s Rodney Morris stumbled in his opening match, losing 9-4 to last minute entry Manny Perez, a young American who is surely a player to watch. Morris later came back on the losers side beating Michael Yednak to stay alive. Hall of Famer and women’s game legend LoreeJon Hasson saw the exits as she fell in her second round match to Puerto Rico’s Jimmy Rivera to suffer her second loss. Jennifer Baretta put in a gutsy effort against Keith West, winning 8-6 to stay alive on the losers side. Corey Duel also stayed alive with a win after losing to Lee Vann Corteza in round 1.
WITH FOUR events played in the 15 event series to determine the top ten players eligible for Team USA, it is veteran and former Mosconi MVP Dennis Hatch who heads the list, having pointed at two of the four events played. Behind him is another former MVP in Rodney Morris, while other former Mosconi players Shane Van Boening, Johnny Archer, Oscar Dominguez and Justin Hall help fill out the top ten spots.
This year it’s about finishing in the top ten once the 15th and final event has been played out in early September. That’s because US Team Captain Johan Ruijsink will be picking his team from the top ten finishing players. To give himself some leeway in this make or break year for Team America, Ruijsink will be selecting four players from the top ten plus another whose final ranking won’t be of significance.
Click the image to view the large poster - use "back" to return here. Left to right: Amalia Matas, Kurt Deklerck and Marc Bijsterbosch
Deklerck, Matas and Bijsterbosch win the 10-ball titles
At the Dynamic Billard European Championships for Men, Women and Wheelchair Athletes in the Salgados Palace Hotel in Albufeira, Portugal, the gold medals in 10-ball have been awarded. Kurt Deklerck (BEL), Amalia Matas (ESP) and Marc Bijsterbosch (NED) have taken the titles in their respective division.
It is the first European Champion title for the 23-year-old Bijsterbosch. After having eliminated his teammate and favoured player Niels Feijen (NED) 10:8 in the quarterfinal match, Bijsterbosch took on Francisco Sanchez-Ruiz (ESP) in the semi-final. He stood tall and took the victory with 10:6 which brought him into the final match. His opponent there was Christian Sparrenlowv-Fischer (SWE), another underdog that was not expected in the final match at all. Fischer eliminated Gabor Solymosi (HUN) clearly with 10:3 in the quarterfinal and Denis Grabe (EST) in a heartbreaking semi-final with 10:9. The final match was on between two newbies. In the beginning, both players were very concentrated and played equally strong.
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