First Round of Play in the UAE

The first round of the elimination stages began today at the Etisalat WPA World 8-Ball Championships in Fujairah, UAE in the beautiful Fujairah tennis club. In the very first group to go out Joven Alba set what must be a record for finishing a race to eight in 8-Ball. He defeated Ali Nasih 8-0 in under thirty minutes!
Our first upset of the tournament occurred in the same round when Vincent Facquet defeated world ranked number 1 Mika Immonen. Facquet went out to an early 3-1 lead but Immonen held steady and brought the math back to even at 3. Then Facquet again surged to a 6-3 lead and again the Iceman was able to bring the score line level at 6. From there the hard-working Frenchman gave no quarter and never allowed Immonen to se another eight ball as he closed out the win 8-6 to send Immonen over to the sudden-death side of the charts.
Other matches of note found Scott Higgins defeating Marcus Chamat 8-6 and Karl Boyes winning 8-5 over Saeed Al Mutawe. Also Ronnie Alcano slaughtered Radoslaw Babica 8-1, Raymund Faraon beating Lee Chenman 8-4, Won Sik Ham (please say that name out loud) beating Mohamed Al Assel 8-5 and Mohammed Hosani slipping past John Morra 8-7.
Round two was a bit more predictable. Ruslan Chinakhov won his match 8-1 over Moein Khedri. Ricky Yang dismantled Khaled Sebata 8-0, Dennis Orcullo took down Oliver Mednilla 8-2, Mehdi Rasheki ran over Sandile Madlala 8-2 and Hussin Sayeem fell to Yukio Akakariyama 8-3.  Predator International champion David Alcaide won his match 8-3 over Ismail Yaqob, Lee Van Corteza survived a late-round surge by Majid Sultan to survive 8-5 and Pei-Wei Chang defeated Khaled Sebata 8-3.
The first man to finish in round three was Shane Van Boening. The very confident-looking Van Boening wasted little time in beating Masaki Tanaka 8-3 even though he very uncharacteristically actually scratched early in the match with ball in hand.  (Makes you feel a little better about your game, yes?) Three-time World Juniors Champion Pin-Yi Ko knocked the pins out from under Omran Salem 8-1 and Andreas Roschkowsky nearly duplicated that with his 8-2 drubbing of Kim Aquino. The drought on close scores continued when Jalal Sarkeski upset Lu Hui Chan 8-3 and worsened when Thorsten Hohmann handed the 8-0 doughnut to Abdulatif Fawal.
The other matches were closer. Darren Appleton got by Francis Crevier 8-6 and Jeff de Luna was upset by Mustafa Hassan 8-5 in a match that never saw de Luna catch a gear or even get his famous break working. Finally, Kenny Kwok and Abdullah Yousef had a close battle throughout that ended with Kwok on top 8-6.
Our final round of the day began with Huijdi See demolishing Sumit Talwar 8-2. Stephan Cohen treated Salah Al Remwy no better and won by the same score. The quick-game massacres continued with Niels Feijen defeating  Takhti Zarekani 8-3 and Ralf Souquet rolling past Kang Lee also 8-3.
Antonio Gabica looked in fine form and never appeared to feel any pressure as he methodically dismantled Matteuz Sniegocki 8-4.  Rueben Bautista then ended his day on a positive note by taking out  Majid Al Azmi 8-5 and at about the same time Marlon Manalo and Bashar Hussein took their match to double hill, tied at seven games apiece. Manalo took a break to gather his thoughts. But he scratched on the break to give the ball in hand advantage to Hussein.  Hussein took the rack and sent Manalo over to the desperation side of the charts.
Finally, the day came to an end when Shaker Wahdan ran the last table he saw and went home the victor over Amin Fekry 8-5.
A special word of thanks must go out to Knight Shot, one of the primary sponsors of this event. Not only are they supplying the tables they are also providing 24-hour technical support for the players. According to their representative they are the only WPA-approved supplier in the region with this capability. Tournaments of this caliber rely on sponsors such as this to make these events possible.