Predator Press Conference & Players meeting, Portugal

The evening prior to the premier event of the Predator International 10-Ball Tour a press conference was held at the wine museum in Anadia. At the conference Karim Belhaj, President and CEO of the Predator Group explained that he decided last spring to hold the first event of the Predator International 10-Ball Tour here in Portugal while he was visiting an old friend who now lives in Anadia.  

Mr. Belhaj introduced Charlie Williams, founder of Dragon Promotions, who spoke of the state of pocket billiards around the world and how pocket billiards has exploded in popularity in Europe and Asia and that the strongest players in the world no longer hail from just America as rivalries have now developed between Asia, Europe and the Americas. He also spoke briefly of how Dragon Promotions and Predator Group continue to develop youth programs in order to foster the next generation of pool players throughout the world.  

Mr. Belhaj introduced Rodney Morris to speak a bit more of how international the game has become and of his experiences in traveling around the globe pursuing his profession. Mr. Morris spoke of how impressed he was with the new players coming out of Asia and how popular the sport is with fans in Taiwan and the Philippines in particular where the crowds are shoulder to shoulder at the major events in which he competes.  

Raj Hundal, a very experienced and popular international player, spoke next about how lucky he feels to be able to travel the world as a pro player and how pool is a unifying factor among the peoples of the world. He said that pool is a language that all of the world now understands.  

Jasmin Ouchan of Austria gave the feminine viewpoint of the game. She told us she began playing at the age of six and has been a pro now, traveling 250 days per year, for over five years. She explained how she enjoys playing against male players and feels that pool can be a unisex sport. She hopes that the Predator International 10-Ball Tour can bring this beautiful sport to more fans and is very excited about the launch of the tour.

Mr. Hundal then explained why they chose 10-Ball for the tour. He explained that 10-Ball presents a greater challenge to the players due to the increased importance and difficulty of the break and the new strategies that are evolving to play the game to best advantage. He stated that he feels 10-Ball will soon eclipse 9-Ball as the game of choice for pro events.

Charlie Williams then spoke about how one of the biggest changes he has seen in the game is the new importance of physical fitness for the pool pros. He mentioned Thorsten Hohmann as a fine example of how important fitness is for the modern player. He also spoke of how Mika Immonen, Jasmin Ouschan and Yu Ram Cha all include vigorous physical workouts in their practice regimens as endurance is a large part of the winning formula.  

Mr. Belhaj then said that he feels now is the time to bring this game to Europe and then explained that the tour will have stops in Spain, America and Brazil as well as this first stop in Portugal. He then thanked the hosts and wished good play to all of the participants.  

During the question and answer session Mr. Belhaj explained how pool is now becoming the game of choice for cueists around the world, growing now much faster than either caroms or snooker. Charlie Williams interjected that he sees a lot of snooker and carom players switching over to pool to take part in the burgeoning popularity of the game.

Following a brief break where the players sampled the local champagne (marvelous) the players meeting was held where it was announced that the tournament would follow the WPA world standardized rules for Ten Ball. The tournament will be a race to eight and the winner will break. No soft breaks are to be allowed. There will be a 30-second shot clock implemented for the semi-final and final matches and during the early stages for matches that are lagging in pace.

The players were urged to assist in raising money for the two orphanages that will benefit from the tournament by signing balls and cues that will be sold for the benefit of those orphanages. All of the event sponsors have also donated funds to the orphanages.

Mr. Belhaj then mentioned that the top eight ranked players at the conclusion of the first year of the tour will be sponsored by the tour for the following year by having their travel expenses and entry fees paid for every event of the year.  

At the conclusion of the players meeting the players were excused to return to their rooms for a good nights rest in preparation for the start of play on Thursday.