Ping-Chung Ko Wins CSI 8-Ball Invitational

Pin-Chung Ko

The final day of the CSI 8-Ball Invitational began with only two groups, C and D, seeking champions to move through to the Semi-Finals. In both of these groups all four players sat with 1-1 records so at the end their respective rounds there would be two players in each group with identical 2-1 records. That means our champions would be decided by tie-breakers, first of which is the results in their head-to-head competition.

First up was Group C. On table 1 we had Shane Van Boening versus Yu-Hsuan Cheng and table 2 found Ralf Souquet facing Dennis Orcollo. Both tables had scores of 1-1 after ten minutes of play. Thirty minutes later table 1 was still tied, this time at 4, while table 2 found Orcollo leading Souquet 4-2.

Van Boening then had an opportunity come his way as he cleared his own rack to go up 5-4 and then Cheng scratched on his break to turn the table back over to Shane with an opportunity to run out and go up 6-4 in the race to 9. He succeeded in that effort and had the added bonus of the next rack being his break. On table 2 Orcollo and Souquet continued their pattern and Orcollo led now 5-3. Ralf won the next rack to get within 1 and he had the chance to tie as the next game was his break.

Van Boening made his run and led 7-4. Cheng ran down to three balls left and then tried to break out a cluster and wound up with no shot. He attempted a bank-carom but failed and Van Boening was left with an easy table to go to the hill and lead 8-4.

On the other table Souquet won the next three racks to go up 6-5 but Orcollo took the next game to tie the match at 6. Cheng won two games on the trot and got within two at 8-6 but it was now Van Boening's break. Shane made four balls on the break and ran the table to take the win 9-6. This took Van Boening to the sidelines to watch the match between Souquet and Orcollo. He needed Orcollo to win in order to win the group as Van Boening had defeated Orcollo earlier in the week but had lost to Souquet. So if Souquet won his match he would go through and Van Boening would be eliminated. Van Boening had reason for hope as at this point Orcollo led Souquet 7-6. Orcollo appeared to be on the way to the hill in  the next game when he missed a two-foot nearly straight-in shot into the side pocket. The crowd gasped in disbelief as Orcollo stood there stunned.

Souquet cleared the table to tie the match at 7.  Orcollo at least had the next break and so still had the chance to get to the hill first.  WIth his break and clearance he accomplished that goal to go up 8-7. Souquet looked to be running the next table but he got funny on his key ball and needed to cheat the pocket to get shape on the eight. He cheated it a hair too much, missed the shot, and Orcollo came to the table with a chance for victory. Orcollo scratched on his second shot and Souquet was revived. He easily cleared his remaining two balls to tie Orcollo at 8.

It all came down to the final rack. Orcollo over-amped his break shot and the cue ball jumped off of the table. Souquet came to a very crowded table with a large cluster near the left-hand side pocket. But every ball had a pocket available if the position play were good enough. Souquet was up to the task and this meant that  he won the group based on the tie-breaker as he had beaten Shane in their head-to-head match.

Our final matches of the group stages contained Darren Appleton playing Francisco Bustamante and John Morra against Pin-Yi Ko. Darren Appleton got off to a hot start and soon led Bustamante 5-2 while Morra and Ko were keeping the suspense on high by keeping it close at 3-2 in favor of Ko. Ko then began to move out on Morra and soon led 4-2 and then 5-2.

This scoring pattern continued until Ko led Morra 7-3 and Appleton enjoyed the same margin over Bustamante. Appleton continued his lead out to the end to win his match 9-6 and then retired to watch the other match where Ko led Morra 7-5. If Ko continued for the win it would eliminate Appleton and put Ko in the Semis while if Morra were to come back and win Appleton would get the nod. Ko broke and ran the next rack to get to the hill and then Morra broke dry in the next rack. Ko could not get through the rack however and when he missed his third shot Morra returned to clean the table and go to 8-6. The effort came too late as Ko broke and ran the final rack to win 9-6. That result meant that Pin-Yi Ko won the final Group.

Our first Semi-Final match was between Pin-Chung Ko and Thorsten Hohmann. Ko broke and ran the first rack. Ko won the second game as well and then broke and ran the next rack to take a 3-0 lead and put Hohmann in an early hole. After three more racks Hohmann had made a start at righting the ship and trailed 4-2 and was at the table in rack seven.

At about this time we discovered that Ralf Souquet would have to withdraw from the tournament as he had to get to China for the World Team Championship and could not find an alternate flight that would get him there in time. If Shane Van Boening could be located he would take Souquet's place in the finals as he came in second in their group.

Hohmann could not keep the table and turned it over to Ko who cleared the balls to go up 5-2. Hohmann broke and ran his next rack to get to three and Ko took the next to retain his three game margin at 6-3. He then broke Hohmann's serve to go up 7-3 with the next break.

Ko broke dry. Hohmann conquered that rack to close to 7-4 and also had the advantage of the next break shot. He used that to keep Ko in his chair and draw the score to 7-5. He was far from being out of the woods yet as Ko had the next break. Ko broke and ran to get to the hill with an 8-5 lead.

Hohmann broke the next rack and was cleaning up until he got out of line and left himself only a cross-corner bank shot that he failed to complete. Ko should have been out but instead hung a ball in the jaws of the corner to give Hohmann another turn at the table.  Hohmann had no choice but to play a bank on the key ball, dropped it and then the eight ball to get a little closer at 8-6.

It was now once again Ko's break with a shot at a break and run and the victory it would bring. This time there was nothing to stop him and he cleared the table for a 9-6 victory over Hohmann and a seat in the finals.

This brought us to the last semi-final match which, due to the forfeit by Souquet, was now to be contested between Pin-Yi Ko and Shane Van Boening. Ko won the lag but broke dry in the first rack. Shane ran the table to take the first lead at 1-0. Van Boening then broke and ran the next rack to go up 2-0.

Ko again broke dry and took his seat for Van Boening to play. Ko would not rise again that rack and Van Boening took a 3-0 lead. Van Boening broke and ran his next rack to extend to 4-0. Ko returned the break and run to move his first bead at 4-1. Van Boening duplicated that effort and led 5-1.

Ko again broke and ran to come to 5-2. This was becoming a runout festival. Shane broke and ran the following rack to take the score to 6-2. Ko did the same in the next rack for 6-3. Then Van Boening broke dry and Ko had a chance to take one of Van Boenings racks.  He did that and trailed 6-4 with the break.

Another break, another runout. This brought the match to 6-5 in favor of Van Boening. Van Boening eliminated his colors from the field of play, put the eight into the side pocket, and moved out to lead 7-5. Again, Ko duplicated the effort to draw us to 7-6. Van Boening needed the next rack to get to the hill and complicated the task by unintentionally running into a ball on his way to shape. He had two balls left and both were severe cuts. Amazingly, he made one of them and got shape on the other to pave his way to the hill at 8-6.

Ko made four balls on the break, ran through his first four balls and then snookered himself. He made a valiant effort at a shot but came up leaving Van Boening an open table with choices. Van Boening cleared the table for the 9-6 win and the opportunity to take the seat in the finals across from Pin-Chung Ko.

Our finals began with Van Boening winning the lag. This final match was a race to 11 games. Van Boening broke and ran the first rack and Ko the second. That pattern appeared to be ready to repeat as Van Boening again broke and ran but when Ko broke he scratched and turned the table over to Van Boening with ball in hand. Van Boening capitalized on the scratch to go ahead 3-1. Then Van Boening broke dry and Ko ran down to his final ball but had the cue ball snugged against a rail and he had to shoot that  ball jacked up. He missed it and that brought Van Boening back to the table. He cleaned it up to go ahead 4-1.

Ko also ran the next rack to bring us to 4-2 with Van Boening breaking. He broke dry and Ko had the chance to get within one game and own the break in the next. He won the rack to complete phase one and then only needed another break and run to get even with Van Boening. He did that and we were tied at 4 games each.

Van Boening again broke and ran to go ahead 5-4. Then Ko missed his first shot in the next rack and Van Boening went back to work. When finished he led 6-4. Van Boening broke and began his journey through the rack but he missed a shot into the corner to breathe life into Ko's mission.  Ko won the rack to bring the score to 6-5. He then took the next rack to tie the match at 6. Two racks later the tie had moved to 7 each.

When Ko won the next rack off of Shane's dry break he took the lead for the first time in the match at 8-7. He then broke and ran to go up 9-7. Once again Van Boening broke dry. If Ko could get through this rack he would be on the hill. He made that happen and was breaking for the win.

The next rack broke into a very tough table. It was anything but open. Ko needed to do a lot of work. He began with a combination on the four ball, then shot the seven into the side. He drew back for the one ball into the corner. He floated the cue ball down to the other short rail into the only spot on the table where he could play the five ball into the corner. Now the table was open and he easily cleared it up to win the Championship 11-7.

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