8-Ball Competition Started With Many Close Results And Unexpected Comebacks

Konstantin Stepanov discussing with EPBF referee Johny Vanrijkel
At the Dynamic Billard European Pool Championships 2018 in NH Conference Centre, Veldhoven, The Netherlands, Konstantin Stepanov (RUS) defeated Christian Sparrenloev-Fischer (SWE) in 8-ball with the closest of all score 8:7.
The match was close from start to finish. The largest gap between the two contestants was an interim 5:3 lead for Stepanov. Apart from that, both players always took racks in turn and did not allow the opponent to get a comfortable advantage. The match consequently went to a 7:7 hill-hill situation with Sparrenloev-Fischer being on the hill first. He executed the break in rack 15. He had a ball down and an open table in front of him. All lights were green for the victory for Sparrenloev-Fischer. He examined the situation very carefully and decided to go for the stripes. When pocketing the 3rd ball of his group, he turned out to be in an awkward position with the cue ball which forced him to play a very difficult shot. Consequently, he missed the shot and allowed Stepanov back into the table. Stepanov, who was already with one foot in the grave, thankfully accepted the unexpected chance and cleared the table to take the match with 8:7 and advance into the single elimination stage of the 8-ball individuals.
Other remarkable results in the men’s division include Alexander Kazakis (GRE) winning his first two matches in the 8-ball competition. He overpowered Huseyin Borankan (TNC) 8:5 and then wiped the floor with David Zalman (CZE) 8:1. He is now in the round of the final 64 players single elimination which will be played tomorrow at 14:30 CET. In the same round is David Alcaide (ESP). He took consecutively took down Saki Kanatlar (TUR) 8:4 and Andreas Madsen 8:5.
In the senior’s division, long-time Dutch team member Jimmy Worung (NED) lost a heartbreaker in the first round with 6:7 against Joakim Gunnarsson (SWE). He then went up against Christian Messerli (SUI) on the loser’s side and quickly found himself trailing with 2:4 after six racks. But then Worung got himself together and played much better and more solid than in the beginning of the match. He did not allow Messerli to win one more rack and won the encounter with 7:4, eliminating Messerli from the 8-ball individuals.
In the women’s division, Sara Rocha (POR) got off to a good start. She played her first 8-ball match against Helen Nyberg (SWE). The match was expected to be quite close but Rocha completely dominated the encounter and in the end, 6:1 was displayed on the scoreboard in favour of Rocha. In the next round, the Portuguese faced favoured Ina Kaplan (GER). Kaplan soon had a 5:2 lead over Rocha and things looked quite promising for her. But then Rocha struck back and found momentum. She pulled back rack after rack from Kaplan and even managed to tie the score at 5:5, hill-hill. Kaplan broke the final rack but no ball went in. She left an open table for Rocha. The Portuguese selected the high numbered balls and started clearing the table. She finished her group and left a long and tough shot on the 8-ball to win the game and the match. Rocha focussed on the ball, took her time and pocketed the 8-ball in the center of the corner pocket, snatching the match with 6:5 from Kaplan. Oliwia Czuprynska (POL) remained victorious against yesterday’s 10-ball Champion Yana Shut (BLR). After having trailed 0:3 already, Czuprynska launched a great comeback. She played stronger and that obviously confused Shut a lot. The athlete from Belarus started committing mistakes which seemed to be quite unusual for her, having her strong performance from yesterday still in mind. Czuprynska got on a roll and used her chances and took 6 racks in a row from Shut, winning the match 6:3 to advance to the single elimination stage.
In the girls’ division, #1 seeded player Darya Siranchuk (UKR) is right on track. She became 3rd last year but since last year’s Champion Kristina Tkach (RUS) grew out of the girls’ division and nowadays plays in the women’s division, and last year’s runner-up Weronika Karwik (POL) has not been nominated for this year, Siranchuk got the #1 seed. And she justified that seed already,  having a walk-over in round one and then taking down Milena Murha (BLR) 5:1. The same seeding situation was given in the Under 17’s division where last year’s bronze medallist Szymon Kural (POL) was seeded #1 for the competition. Unlike Siranchuk, Kural lost his opening match quite clearly with 3:6 to unheralded Alexandar Georgiev (BUL).
No seeded players are attending the 8-ball individuals in the Under 19’s category. The „big guns“ from last year have advanced to the men’s division. On the other hand, the medalists from last year’s Under 17’s are now probably the favourites in this division. Sanjin Pehlivanovic (BIH), Wiktor Zielinski (POL), Mustafa Alnar (TNC) and Dmitrii Shkudov (RUS) all won their first matches and booked their seat in the single elimination already. Any Champion in the Under 19’s would probably be a surprise.
In the new Under 23’s division, the reigning Champion Joshua Filler (GER) is playing in the men’s division and therefore cannot defend his title this year. However, with Pijus Labutis (LIT), Aleksa Pecelj (SRB), Vitaliy Patsura (UKR) and Casper Matikainen (FIN), there are still some high profile name in the field. All of the ones mentioned won their matches on the winner’s side so far and are now playing for a seat in the quarter-finals.
In the wheelchair division, two of the strongest players met in the first round match. Kurt Deklerck (BEL) faced Fred Dinsmore (IRL). Both of them have titles under their belt. Today, Dinsmore was the luckier player in the end, winning the match 5:4 over Deklerck. In the upper half of the draw, defending Champion Jouni Tahti (FIN) will play his all-time rival Henrik Larsson (SWE) tomorrow for a spot in the quarter-finals.
In the ladies’ division, defending Champion Susanne Wessel (GER) got smashed by newly crowned 10-ball Champion Ine Helvik (NOR) with 2:5. Wessel will get another chance over the loser’s side but needs to win three consecutive matches now. Last year’s runner-up Karin Michl (GER) showed no weakness and won her match with 5:3 over Gum Zwijnenburg (NED).
The Dynamic Billard European Pool Championships 2018 will commence tomorrow morning at 09:00 CET with matches from the 8-ball competition.
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