Korea and Japan Dead Locked

First day of 2nd Annual Korea vs Japan began with 2 on 2 mens doubles and featured Korea's #2 Woong Dae Kim and Charlie Williams against Japan's #1 Hiroshi Takenaka and #2 Go Takami. Takenaka came with 2 big shots in the match as Japan could do no wrong while Kim made a critical error on a scratch shot and Japan cruised to a quick 3-0 victory. Next Korea's Captain Shin Young Park and #2 womans Yun Mi Lim took on Japan's #3 Shuji Nagata and their star womans player Miyuki Sakai in her television debut. Sakai seemed a little shaky for her first TV appearance when she missed an easy 8 Ball to put Japan up 2-0, and gave the Koreans the chance to come back with 3 in a row to win the match 3-1 and tie the score at one match apiece for Korea and Japan. Next was the 4-on-4 scotch match where Team Korea seemed to play in perfect unison with Williams coming with a huge three ball combo to start the run out and later a long table length draw shot to put Korea in the lead 2 matches to 1.

With the singles starting, Korea opted to try to take a bigger lead by sending in its top gun The Korean Dragon while Japan needed to stop Korea's momentum and sent in Takenaka. Williams made 2 great shots in the beginning rack but then missed an easy 4 ball which gave Takenaka breathing room to take on that and the next game in a break and run for 2-0 lead. Then Takenaka missed a 5 ball but left Williams no shot in game 3 and Williams went for a safety that came out bad and Takenaka came with an eventual 4-0 shut out of Williams to tie it 2 to 2. Things looked even worse the next match as Park trailed 0-3 to Takami but clawed his way back with superb jump shots and safety play to tie it 3-3. The final game saw Park dry off the break and giving Takami an open table. But Takami made the one with a scrathc in the side giving Park the open table and run out putting Korea back on top 3-2. Then it was Kim against charismatic JBC founder Nagata in the final mens single of the day. Nagata was delightful to the Korea audience in his introductions pulling out his cue like a sword and swiping it gracefully in samurai fashion. His theatrics paid off on the table as well as he capitalized on Kim's errors giving Nagata a 4-2 win and Japan their 3rd match win.

Finally, it would be the showdown of the women warriors as Korea's "Pool Princess" Yun Mi Lim took on "Lady Samurai" Miyuki Sakai. Sakai seemed to be settling down in her nerves as she took a 2-0 lead. But then a miss by her in game 3 breathed life into Lim and Lim seemed unstoppable the rest of the match as she punished each Sakai error for a 4-2 win for Korea. This was their first rematch since Sakai's thrilling win over Lim 9-8 in the 2004 Korea International Championships.

With the rule of the trailing team being able to choose in what order would they like to play the Woman vs Man match, Japan opted to put their Japanese man out first against Korea's woman with Korea having the reverse choice the next day. So Lim was sent out again to take on Japan's Captain and #3 Nagata. Lim had defeated Japan's #3 Man last year Higaki on TV in Korea vs Japan #1. Could Lim do it again? The pressure was on Nagata as he made 2 critical errors giving Lim the 1st game and seemingly the 2nd game when Lim unexpectedly missed. Then Nagata held himself together for the 3-1 win to end Day 1 four matches apiece for Korea and Japan.

Day 2 starts tomorrow with the first team to reach 9 matches crowned the champion. Matches will include Japan Woman vs Korean Man, #1 Korean vs #1 Japanese, 4-on-4, and man/woman team vs man/man scotch doubles matches, and the final matches

Korea vs Japan Ultimate Pool Challenge will air 8 weeks on its regular Monday night time slot on MBC ESPN.