After several near misses, Scotland's Jayson Shaw wins his biggest tournament to date, capturing the Kuwait Open 9-ball Championship with a 13-10 win over Taiwan's Chang Jun Lin.
Jayson Shaw has spent the last year knocking on the door of big time success. Tonight in Kuwait City, he could wait no longer and bashed the door in.
Playing with an air of expectation, the 28 year old Scotsman fulfilled the promise that so many could see coming for the last year, by winning the Kuwait Open 9-ball championship with a well played 13-10 victory over a relentless Chang Jun Lin of Taiwan.
The victory, Shaw’s biggest to date, is the culmination of the Scotsman’s meteoric rise in professional pool over the last 12 months. His American green card in hand, Shaw has traveled the globe in 2016, winning a handful of smaller events, and contending in some of the world’s majors. His 5th place finish in September at the World 9-ball Championship in Doha in August, and his third place finish at the US Open in October were further proof that something special was brewing. Tonight’s win in Kuwait confirmed it. And nobody doubts that this win will propel Shaw to even higher heights in the months and years to come.
The fact that this career defining win came against Chang was surely extra special for Shaw. For it was Chang who stopped Shaw’s charge at the recent US Open, and propelled the Taiwanese into the final where he lost to winner Shane Van Boening.
Chang’s second straight runner up finish in a major will no doubt sting for some time to come, especially because for the second straight time, the Taiwanese was playing lights out pool. Nobody, however, doubts that the 31 year old from Taipei will find major success and soon. The super talented Chang is playing his best pool in years and often looks unstoppable.
Shaw’s also looked unstoppable recently and he carried this confident air throughout the week here in Kuwait. This positive vibe was further enhanced yesterday in the moments before Shaw’s round of 16 match when he got word that he had qualified for his first European Mosconi Cup team.
Shaw continued his romp through the field today when he crushed the Philippines Warren Kiamco in the quarterfinals, 11-4. This set up a semi-finals showdown with 2015 World 9-ball and World 10-ball Champion Ko Pin Yi of Taiwan, who had just taken down the Netherlands Marc Bijsterbosch,11-7. If anyone needed any further proof that this was Shaw’s time, it came in this much anticipated showdown with Ko.
The pair stayed fairly even in the early part of the match, but Ko soon found a gear and looked to be streaking toward a solid win and a spot in the finals. Up 9-5, then 10-6, it seemed only a matter of time before Ko would close out the fight. But then Shaw began to claw back, in the same way he had come back from a 10-4 deficit to beat Ko in the US Open only weeks before. Tied at 10-10, Shaw took a bit of luck and some crafty safety shots, and won a thriller for a spot in the final.
There he met up with Chang, who had just come off of two hard nose wins over current World 9-ball champion Albin Ouschan, 11-6, and then scrappy Chinese Dang Jin Hu, 11-7. Two of the hottest players on the planet were fittingly about to continue their recently found rivalry for top prize in pool’s newest major event.
The early part of the race to 13 final saw Chang continue with his steady, hard nosed play while Shaw appeared slightly flat. Chang jumped out to a 4-1 lead and except for a golden break in rack 3, Shaw hadn’t sunk a single shot.
Then Shaw rediscovered his loose, freewheeling style and soon tied up the match at 5-5. The Scotsman took his first lead in the next rack with a break and run. When Chang returned the favor in the next frame, it was clear we were witnessing pool’s equivalent to a heavyweight slugfest.
Another mistake by Chang allowed Shaw back in the lead. Chang was about to land one back but he glaringly missed a makeable 9-ball and the score was now 8-6. Suddenly the air seemed to escape from Chang’s balloon, which only seemed to add fuel to the Scotsman’s fire. Two more mistakes by Chang helped further Shaw’s lead. Then Shaw nailed a 2-9 combo for a commanding 11-6 advantage.
Chang, however, wasn’t done yet. He found a gear of his own and won the next three racks to close to 11-9. In the subsequent safety battle in the next rack, the tension was palpable, especially coming from Shaw. Would this be another case of Shaw letting a big one slip away?
Not this time. Shaw outfoxed Chang and moved to the hill. Chang broke and ran to make it 12-10. But Shaw, visibly nervous, returned the favor and ran the table for the biggest win of his career and the $50,000 first prize.
Finally on top of the pool world, the affable Scotsman couldn’t contain his glee at what he had just accomplished. Hard work and dedication had been building to this moment for the last few months, and now the time to celebrate was here.
“The first few racks I was trying to really focus, and breath and get really calm,” an overjoyed Shaw said. “But I stopped that and said to myself, ‘Come on let’s go, let’s get some adrenalin going.’ And I thought to myself, ‘Just do what you do, just relax and let it go.’
“I’m just happy, excited. There’s been a lot of hard work and dedication that I’ve put into the game over the last year and I’ve had a lot of bad weeks where I’ve gone deep into big tournaments, and fell short. and it’s just nice to get a little bit of luck on my side when I play good.
“I’ve played good the last few tournaments and it's finally good to get the win. 5th at the World 9-ball, 3rd at the US Open and here I’m in the final and I’m thinking ‘come on, just take that extra step.’
For Chang, another bitter loss in another major final was clearly a hard pill to swallow. But, as usual with the Taiwanese players, Chang took the defeat with class.
“I played some parts of the match good and some parts bad,” Chang said through an interpreter. “When it was 7-6 I made a mistake, I got distracted when somebody in the audience took a picture and from there everything seemed to go downhill.
“This is my second straight big tournament where I got second place. Yes I’m disappointed but I’m also happy because I’m playing really good pool. I just have to keep trying and hopefully one of these days I will win one of these big tournaments. But congratulations today go to Jason Shaw. He played very well.”
Indeed Shaw was not only elated at what he had just accomplished, but also at what the win would mean for the future.
“It’s the same with everybody,” Shaw said, “once you get one big win under your belt, everything opens up. I’ve won many tournaments, but this is a major tournament. To win this is obviously going to open a lot of doors for me. When I’m in this situation again I’ll know how to handle the pressure and finish the job.”
For the win, Shaw pocketed $50,000.
* The 2016 Kuwait Open 9-ball Championship took place at the Al Ardiya Youth Center in Kuwait City from October 24 to November 5, 2016. The winner of the Kuwait Open 9-ball Championship received. $50,000. The runner received $25,000. The total prize fund is $275,000.
The 2016 Kuwait Open 9-ball Championship is being played under the patronage of the Kuwait Olympic Committee.
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