Engert wins World Pool Masters

Thomas Engert crowned a career best season as he stormed to the 2004 PokerMillion.com World Pool Masters title following a hard fought 8-6 win over countryman Oliver Ortmann at the Hotel Zuiderduin, Egmond aan Zee, Holland. With a $20,000 top prize, Engert has now banked a cool $70,000 in the last three weeks following his victory at the Challenge of Champions in the USA.

The European No.3 kick started his season in the spring with victory in European 9-Ball Championship and went on to win the Italian Open to cement a top ranking and thus qualify for the Masters.

Engert, who was the form player coming into the tournament, won the lag easily and made the 4-ball off a scorching break to stay at the table but a missed 2-ball brought Ortmann back to the table for a safety battle. Ultimately Engert missed a kick shot and gave ball in hand to Ortmann and he dished up to take the opener. A dry break in the next gave Engert a full table and he cleared the nine balls to take the rack and level the match at 1–1. Engert was forced to push out with no shot on the 2-ball in the next but Ortmann put him back in. An attempt at a bank shot went wrong and but Ortmann missed an easy 2-ball down the rail. Back at the table Engert made no mistakes to clear and go to 2-1.

A good break in the next from Engert saw two balls drop and he kept his head to run the table and go into a 3–1 lead. Engert narrowly missed a one ball bank which let Ortmann to the table and he made a brilliant clearance including a masse and a bank to get back into the game at 3–2 down. With no shot on the lowest ball in the next, Ortmann pushed out from the break and left Engert a tempting cross bank which he took on but missed. They then became embroiled in a safety battle before Ortmann cleared up to get to 3–3. It was still anyone’s game but Ortmann ran out of position on the blue 2 in the next and his attempted bank allowed an easy shot for Engert and he went on to complete the clearance and go back into the lead at 4–3. He further increased his lead to 5–3 in the next rack as he ran out from the break.

After the break, with no shot on the 1-ball Engert pushed out. Ortmann put him back in and he played a bad safety that gave Ortmann the chance to attack the rack and he cleared with confidence to move the score on to 5–4 in favour of Engert. A quality run out from Ortmann in the next levelled the scores up at 5–5, but a missed pot on the 1 ball let Engert back in but he ran out of position and missed a table length bank to leave Ortmann a chance to clear which he accepted to take the lead at 6–5 for the first time since the opening rack. With the 6 and 8 balls locked together on the bottom rail, Ortmann was unable to separate them and his attempt at a safety let Engert back in and he ran out to square the match at 6–6. Ortmann fouled in the next trying to get out of a snooker and with ball hand Engert held himself together to go into the lead at 7–6 and leave himself within a rack of victory Engert’s break in the next saw a ball down and the 9-ball hanging over the corner pocket. However, the 1-ball was positioned awkwardly and he could not get sufficient direction on the cue ball to make the match winning combo. Ortmann was snookered and although he jumped out, he left the 1-ball on for Engert. He cleared the 2 and 3 before Ortmann flung a white towel onto the table with the 4/9 a formality.

Both players embraced at the end before 2003 Masters Champion Tony Drago presented Engert with his trophy and winning cheque for $20,000.

Oliver Ortmann was honest in defeat after he saw his dreams of a first World Pool Masters title ended at the hands of Thomas Engert. The pair have been friends for the last generation and Ortmann was quick to heap praise on Engert – arguably the most in-form player in the world at this time.

“Thomas deserved to win; we’ve played a million times over 25 years and even though he’s not in a special rhythm and he’s not playing his best. I’m not surprised he won the tournament, I know he can beat everyone in the world. “I thought the game would become technical as we weren’t breaking and running and when I was 5-3 down I tried to do something about it.

“I thought I wouldn’t run out five games in a row so I tried to play safety shots but he’s a good safety player too and he hooked me once or twice. “This has been my first my first World Pool Masters final and since the World Championship I’ve been playing so much better, practising a lot and I knew I could win the tournament.

“Financially it’s a good weekend for me but I’m not just playing for the money, billiards is my life and I want to show the spectators something. With the Mosconi Cup also at the same venue in December, Ortmann, a near certainty for Team Europe added: “I think the Mosconi would be great here in Egmond and I can’t wait for it. “The Dutch people are the best supporters in Europe, the arena’s great and we have a great chance to beat the Americans again.”

THOMAS ENGERT admitted he was in the form of his life after claiming the title of 2004 PokerMillion.com World Pool Masters champion. Engert has now won over $70,000 in the past three weeks from his 9-ball exploits, and has justifiable claim to be called the best player in the world at the present time. And the German Pool Hall owner revealed that he was delighted to have defeated compatriot Oliver Ortmann in the final.

“I don’t know why I’m playing so well at the moment – but it’s not a problem for me!, he smiled. “I know I can play like this every year and I’ve waited so long to win major titles I’m wondering what it is that’s making it happen like this at the moment. “I played well all tournament but the final was different because I wasn’t running out racks. “My breaking was good but I wasn’t getting a good roll on the first ball and I was having to play safe. “I was a bit nervous and my hand was shaking – I was thinking that I needed to win this game to have a chance of getting in the Mosconi Cup team and that’s a massive thing for me.

Engert has had a long standing friendly rivalry with Ortmann, who he’s overjoyed to be playing well enough to beat. “25 years ago when we played he would destroy me, and I had to wait ten years until I even had a chance of playing as well as him because his standing was so high in the game. “There’s always competition in Germany but we’re one big family really and Oliver’s a great player. “I’ve won four big tournaments now this year – European Championship, Italian Open, Challenge of Champions and now this – and I’m feeling great about it!”