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Diaz-Pizarro & Helvik are EC 9-Ball Champs

Ine Helvik and Francisco Diaz-Pizarro

The 2022 Dynamic Billard European Pool Championships Seniors wrapped up today in Lasko as Francisco Diaz-Pizarro (Spain) and Ine Helvik (Norway) claimed the final gold medals in the 9-ball division. In contrasting finals, Diaz-Pizarro put on a blistering display of potting, while
Helvik battled back from an early deficit to come on strong in the home straight.

Diaz-Pizarro was a beaten finalist in this same event last year and had previously claimed 9-ball gold on two occasions at the non-seniors’ men’s ECs. This week he travelled to Slovenia just to compete in the 9-ball division, a decision that was fully vindicated. In addition to the gold medal and the title, the Spaniard also bagged a spot at next year’s World 9-Ball Championship.

He said, “Last year I made second place and this year finally I won! It could be bit of a disadvantage not playing in the other tournaments but I felt it was an advantage as I came fresh. The other players played many days and maybe they got tired. There was a chance to get qualification for the World 9-Ball Championship so I tried to win so I could go.”

Sini, a previous winner of this title in 2019, got the game underway but he was blocked on the 1-ball and pushed out. He left a one-rail escape and Diaz-Pizarro gave it back to him. Sini left the 1-ball into the centre pocket and the Spaniard looked good for the runout. Despite losing position, his potting skills sealed the opener.

After a powerful break off, the 5-ball crept into the path of the 2. However, a super jump shot kept Diaz-Pizarro at the table and a top-class bank on the 3-ball kept it going. Potting at pace, it soon became 2-0.

Sini came with an illegal break and the following exchange of safeties was ended with another marvellous jump shot as Diaz potted the 1-ball, leaving a shot on the 2. His pocketing skills were hard to live with as he ran out for a three-rack lead.

Diaz sent the 1-ball into centre pocket as he looked for another runout. He seemed in total control of his game with no pot too difficult and pin-point positional play. In no time he had cleared the table to reach the halfway stage of the match.

Sini needed to find something fast but his break yielded nothing as well as being illegal. With the 1-ball blocked, Diaz-Pizarro gave the table back and Sini pushed out. Again, the table was handed back to the Italian and his jump shot on the 1-ball made contact but left it on for his opponent. With very little hesitation, Diaz increased his lead to 5-0.

Diaz made his first mistake of the match as a delicate attempt on the 2-ball clipped the 6 on route to the pocket. Sini however, missed the 2 using the rest as his match went from bad to worse. In no time, Diaz had made it 6-0 as he looked unassailable.

There was more of the same from Diaz-Pizarro as he put himself on the hill at 7-0 and was breaking for the match. The win came in a flash. The 1-ball disappeared into the centre pocket and left a simple 2/9 combination which Diaz-Pizarro dispatched for the title.

Bronze medals went to last year’s multi-medallist, Jorge Tinoco (Portugal) and Valtteri Virtanen of Finland.

Ine Helvik, by her high standards, was having a terrible week at this European Championships. Having gone two and out in both the 10-ball and 8-ball, she saved her best to last as she overcame a rocky start to claim 9-ball gold, defeating Germany’s Susanne Wessel in the final.

The German took the early lead at 2-0, before Helvik forced her way back into the match as she tied it up at 2-2. They split the next two racks between them as it became a race to three racks.

Both players had plenty of visits in a difficult fifth rack before it came down to the 7-ball. Ultimately, a gutsy bank shot from Helvik set her up to take the lead for the first time at 4-3. A good break-off from Helvik gave her a difficult attempt on the 1-ball which she missed it. Wessels also fell short with an attempt but this time left it hanging for her opponent.

They both had shots on the 2-ball before Helvik rolled it in, leaving the possibility of a clearance and she kept it together superbly to run out for a two-rack lead and put herself on the hill. There was another illegal break from Wessels but Helvik missed the 1-ball trying to force position for the 2 up-table. With everything at stake, neither player could assert themself.

It came down to the 9-ball and after several attempts by both players, Wessels deposited it to stay alive at 5-4. Helvik, breaking for the match, made a good show of it and was soon eying up a possible 2/9 combo. It wasn’t the easiest but with the title on the line, she delivered it perfectly for the gold medal.

Commented Helvik, “This is my fifth title and I’m very happy about this as it’s been a while. I last won in 2019 and then the year after I was really struggling. In 2021 we were in Treviso and that was really a tough tournament and I went away with a bronze medal, so this was a big thing.

“At the beginning of the tournament, I had two out and two out so I didn’t really play that much before the 9-ball and I got a bit lucky too, I must say. My opponents had some bad rolls and stuff so it goes both ways but they had the bad ones at the right moment for me.

“I had some good support, not just my Norwegians but I also had a lot of other people rooting for me which was so nice. During the national anthem my team were actually singing and I almost broke into tears so that was really, really nice,” she added.

Alexandra Cunha (Great Britain) and Germany’s Sigrid Glatz claimed the two bronze medals.

The 2022 Dynamic Billards European Championship Seniors and Ladies comprises nine separate events across four disciplines – 8, 9 and 10 ball as well as straight pool for men and teams.

Full results of the championships are available at

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Sanchez-Ruiz moves closer to Mosconi Cup selection with undefeated win on home felt in Spain

Francisco Sanchez-Ruiz

Going into the PRP Nineball Open last weekend (Sept. 14-18) at the Exe Boston Hotel in Zaragoza, Spain, the struggle for a 3rd place spot on the Mosconi Cup’s European team, defined, as of August 31, by the Nineball World Rankings, was something of a race between Austria’s Mario He and Spain’s Francisco Sanchez-Ruiz. Both made it undefeated through two separate knockout rounds of the 128-entrant field in Spain. They both went on, undefeated to the finals where Sanchez-Ruiz prevailed to claim the event title, his fourth major title of the year.

With the USA’s Shane Van Boening and Germany’s Joshua Filler holding the top two spots in those Nineball World Rankings and being too far ahead in the rankings to be unseated, each Mosconi Cup team will select two more from the list at the conclusion of the final three ranking events; The Euro Tour Dynamic Billiards Slovenia Open in Lasko, Slovenia (Oct. 1-3), the Sandcastle 9-Ball Open at Sandcastle Billiards in Edison, NJ (Oct. 6-8) and the US Open Pool Championship at Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City, NJ (Oct. 10-15). With Austria’s Albin Ouschan, who did not compete in Spain, currently in the #3 position in the World Rankings and in the driver’s seat to claim a second spot on the Mosconi Cup team, the third selected seat continues to be a struggle between Sanchez-Ruiz (currently #4) and He (#5). Though at the moment, Sanchez-Ruiz has a commanding lead and seems likely to draw the third pick, it might well continue into next week’s Slovenia Open and depending on whether the two opt for a trip to New Jersey afterwards, it could end up on this side of the Atlantic. 

Sanchez-Ruiz and He emerged from separate brackets to advance to the PRP Nineball Open’s final draw of 32. Sanchez-Ruiz, after being awarded an opening round bye, defeated two of his fellow countrymen, Manuel Fernandez and Gabriel Carral 9-2 to qualify for the single-elimination Phase Two (well over 50% of the field was from Spain). He was joined from the winners’ side of the bracket by countrymen Jose Alberto Delgado and Jose Castillo, Lithuania’s Pijus Labutis, Poland’s Wiktor Zielinski and Mieszko Fortunski, Marc Bijsterbosch from the Netherlands and Hungary’s Oliver Szolnoki. 

In the other Phase 1 bracket, Mario He (also awarded a bye) defeated Spaniards Amalia Matas 9-4 and Mayte Ropero 9-7 to be among the winners’ side competitors to advance. Germany’s Ralf Souquet was on that list, too, as were Poland’s Konrad Juszczyszyn, Switzerland’s Ronald Regli, Spain’s David Alcaide and Jonas Souto, Estonia’s Denis Grabe and, also in the running for that 3rd spot on the Mosconi Cup team, behind He, Alex Kazakis from Greece.

Sanchez-Ruiz’ toughest battle advancing to the event’s quarterfinals came in the opening round of the single-elimination Round 2, when Francisco Diaz chalked up eight racks against him. From there, it was relatively smooth sailing through Ivan Nunez 11-3 for Sanchez-Ruiz to arrive at his quarterfinal matchup versus Delgado. He, on the other hand, began his single-elimination advancement with two double hill matches against Portugal’s Sara Rocha and Spain’s Iker Echeverria, which he successfully negotiated to face Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Sanjin Pehlivanovic. Three competitors lurking behind Sanchez-Ruiz and He on the rankings list, appeared in the other two quarterfinals. Kazakis, immediately below He on the list, faced Denis Grabe (in the 20s on the list), as Szolnoki, immediately below Kazakis, met up with Zielinski, immediately behind him.

Sanchez-Ruiz downed Delgado 11-5 and in the semifinals, picked up Zielenski, who’d eliminated Szolnoki 11-8. He defeated Pehlivanovic 11-2 and drew Kazakis, who’d eliminated Grabe 11-7.

Assuring their spots on the rankings list, Sanchez-Ruiz and He advanced to the finals; Sanchez-Ruiz 11-5 over Zielinski and He 11-2 over Kazakis. 

It was clear from the outset of the finals that Sanchez-Ruiz and He were playing for more than bragging rights at their local pub. He broke the initial rack and ran the table to open the scoring. Sanchez-Ruiz broke and won the second to create the first of only two ties in the race to 13. 

Sanchez-Ruiz won the next four to go ahead 5-1, at which point the two of them embarked on a series of runs that narrowed that lead down to between two and three racks. He got within a single rack three times in that stretch, at 6-5, 7-6 and 8-7, but He’s win of rack #15 opened the door for Sanchez-Ruiz to head on out on a four-match run that put him on the hill, ahead by five at 12-7. 

He, though, came right back and matched Sanchez-Ruiz’ longest run of the game at the start, winning five racks to force a single deciding game. He broke, but left himself with a low-percentage shot at the 1-ball, sitting north of and at a sharp angle to a side pocket. He played safe and began a two-ball safety battle that took up nearly half of the final match-time. Sanchez-Ruiz broke it up after He had given him an opening on the 2-ball that also opened the table. Sanchez-Ruiz ran them from there and claimed the event title.

The battle for the two remaining European Mosconi Cup slots (not counting the coach’s two wild-card picks), moves on to Lasko, Slovenia.

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Team Golds For Finland And Germany

Janni Siekkinen, Casper Matikainen, Jani Uski and Petri Makkonen

In the penultimate day at the Dynamic Billard European Pool Championships in Lasko, Slovenia, it was an evening of drama and excitement as the destination of the medals in the men’s and women’s team events was determined. And it was Finland in the men’s and Germany in the ladies’ who took the gold medals in a pair of thrilling finals.

In the men’s event, there were three matches playing simultaneously with the first team to achieve two wins carrying off the gold medals and the trophy. The featured match was on the TV table and involved Casper Matikainen (Finland) facing off against Daniel Maciol of Poland in 9-Ball.

The willowy Finn was always ahead of the game with some quality shot-making while his opponent never quite got to grips with the match. Matikainen had led 3-1 and 4-2, while the other two tables saw it at 3-3 in the 10-ball match between Petri Makkonen and Sebastian Batkowski, with the 8-ball encounter between Jani Uski and Wojciech Szewczyk also tied up at 3-3.

Always staying ahead of his opponent, Matikainen maintained his two-rack margin before leaping into a 6-3 lead. The Finn enjoyed some beneficial fortune as that became 7-3 and victory was in his grasp. At that same juncture, the other two games were in Poland’s favour as they led 6-4 in the 10-Ball encounter and 4-3 in the 8-Ball.

A fruitless break from Maciol gave the table back to Matikainen and with the balls spread nicely, he cleared up to reach the hill with a five-game cushion. Maciol relaxed a little as he won the next for 8-4 but in what was the final rack, Matikainen made an excellent bank on the 2 ball, leaving a difficult 3/9 combo but with a comfortable lead, he took it on and made it, giving the first of the three available points to Finland.

The focus now shifted to tables two and three as Petri Makkonen moved to the hill in the 10-ball match, having overcome a two-rack deficit to leave Finland within a rack of the gold medals. Makkonen, with the break, delivered an enormous shot to down three balls. Sucking down deep breaths to keep himself calm, Makkonen rattled the jaws with the 1 ball to give the table back to Batkowski as the 8-ball match moved to five racks each.

Makkonen though got back to the table and had a terrific opportunity to bring home the gold. The balls were all there for the Finn as he pocketed the orange 5 into the centre pocket. The 6 was down the rail and the 8, 9 and 10 all out in the open. The seasoned Finn composed himself and took them down as his two jubilant team mates ran into the arena to celebrate their first ever team gold medal.

Commented Matikainen, “It feels great! I have a really nice team with me and we all trust each other. We didn’t really think it was going to be this time but this feels really good. It was a good match for me in the final but throughout the tournament I think everybody played good.”

For Petri Makkonen it was a nerve-racking affair but potting the championship 10 ball was a supreme moment; “I was one rack down all the way until I was 6-4 down but I dug deep. I had a few hiccups but I overcame them. I saw Casper was winning and Uski was playing good so it was easy to play and I relaxed a little bit when I saw we were one up and Uski was 6-5 up.

“I played good, we played good and here’s the result. Watching your team mates winning and at the table really gives you energy and it’s much easier to overcome things in your own match. Relieved is the word and we got the result we wanted,” he added.


Finland 2 – 0 Poland
Casper Matikainen 9 – 4 Daniel Maciol (9 Ball)
Petri Makkonen 8 – 7 Sebastian Batkowski (10 Ball)
Jani Uski v Wojciech Szewczyk (8 Ball) Did not complete

Semi Finals

Finland 2 – 0 Poland
Jani Uski 8 – 5 Diego Pedro Simon (8 Ball)
Casper Matikainen 9 – 7 Jonas Souto (9 Ball)
Petri Makkonen 8 – 1 Francisco Diaz Pizarro (10 Ball)

Poland 2 – 1 Denmark
Wojciech Szewczyk 8 – 5 Jeppe Thyde (8 Ball)
Daniel Maciol 9 – 3 Mickey Krause (9 Ball)
Sebastian Batkowski 5 – 8 Andreas Madsen (10 Ball)

Veronika Ivanovskaia, Melanie Subenguth, Tina Vogelmann and Pia Filler and German National Coach Tom Damm

In the women’s event it was Germany who prevailed with the winning duo of Pia Filler and Tina Vogelmann who defeated the Norwegian pairing of Line Kjorsvik and Nina Torvund via a deciding shootout after the two teams couldn’t be separated in regulation play. The format of the Dynamic Billards Women’s Team event saw two matches in 8 ball and 9 ball, with a shootout in operation should the two teams be tied at one match apiece.

After defeating Switzerland 2-0 in their semi-final, the German pair had a tougher proposition against Norway. The first match to finish was Pia Filler’s 7-1 9-ball win over Torvund, leaving the medal destination resting on the other game of 8 ball. With a big lead though, Kjorsvik closed out a 6-2 victory over Vogelmann to leave a shoot-out decider, where the black ball rests on the spot, with and the cue ball positioned at the centre of the head-string.

It took 16 shots to separate the pair as Norway missed with the score at 7-7 and the Germans converted to give themselves team gold, breaking a run of two consecutive silver medals. As well as Vogelmann and Filler, who collected her second gold of the Championships, medals also went to team members Veronika Ivanovskaia and Melanie Suβenguth who had won the team’s winners’ qualification match, also against Norway.

Commented Vogelmann, “It’s amazing, I can’t believe it at this moment. I was sure we were well-prepared; we’re a good team and we have so many good players in Germany at the moment, many more than the four playing in this tournament. You have pressure because you know you want to win it and you can win it but I think we are a shoot-out monster team!”

Suβenguth added, “I’m very proud of the team and of course the final was very exciting to watch and I’m very happy we got the win.”

For Ivanovskaia who had played her part in the earlier rounds, it wasn’t an easy experience; “It was very nervy watching. There’s a lot of support between each other and a lot of belief in ourselves and they both played very good in the final.”

Finally, for Pia Filler, who is still alive in the 9-ball event which concludes on Saturday, it was another great day at the ECs; “It was my first time playing in the team event and I’m very proud of us, I think we did a really good job. I know the job for today was done very well but there’s another gold medal to be won and of course I’ll be trying my very best to win that too.”


Germany 2 – 1 Norway
Pia Filler 7 – 1 Nina Torvund (9 Ball)
Tina Vogelmann 2 – 6 Line Kjorsvik (8 Ball)
Germany 8 – 7 Norway (Shoot Out)

Semi Finals

Germany 2 – 0 Switzerland
Tina Vogelmann 6 – 2 Claudia Von Rohr (8 Ball)
Pia Filler 7 – 2 Christine Feldmann (9 Ball)

Norway 2 – 0 Poland
Line Kjorsvik 6 – 1 Oliwia Zalewska (8 Ball)
Nina Torvund 7 – 3 Izabela Lacka (9 Ball)

The 2022 Dynamic Billards European Championship sees 15 separate events
across four disciplines – 8, 9 and 10 ball as well as straight pool –
plus the men’s and women’s team competitions. In total there are four
divisions; men, women, under 23 men and wheelchair users.

All matches can be viewed live at

Results, live scoring and draw are available at

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Francisco Diaz Snags First Joss Tour Title

Francisco Diaz, Room Owner Andrea Duvall and Bucky Souvanthong

Last week’s stop on the Joss NE 9-Ball Tour (see report here) saw Francisco “Frankie” Diaz drop his first match of the event to Mike Donnelly. After that 9-6 loss, Diaz put away his cue and left, forfeiting his match on the one loss side. Apparently, one of the keys to winning a tour stop is winning that first match. That seemed to be the lesson this week when the tour visited Utica Billiards on the Boulevard in Utica, NY. 

Diaz won his first match this week (9-2 over Jason Hall), and that win helped springboard him to success. Diaz finished up Saturday play with a 9-3 win over Aaron Greenwood and an impressive 9-2 win over Qais Kolee. 

Diaz came back on Sunday and proved that Saturday play was no fluke, starting the day off with a 9-1 win over Tim Davis to get to the hot-seat match. It was that match that gave Diaz his biggest challenge of the event, going hill-hill before beating Dan Sharlow. 

On the one loss side, last week’s winner Bucky Souvanthong was making up for an early Saturday loss to Mike Rash. Souvanthong won three straight matches on the left side (Jason Reese, Seth Delvillano and Kolee) to qualify for Sunday play. 

Souvanthong started Sunday play with a tester, as he went hill-hill with Len Gianfrate before dispatching Hendrik Drost (7-2), Jamie Garrett (7-2) and then Sharlow (7-4) to qualify for his third straight appearance in the finals of a Joss Tour stop. 

The finals went one set with Diaz scoring a 9-6 win to remain undefeated and capture his first title on the Joss NE 9-Ball Tour. 

Sunday’s second chance tournament saw Redgie Cutler on a tear. Cutler took the hot-seat with five match wins by a combined record of 15-3, beating Joe Wysocki 3-1 in the hot-seat match. One of Cutler’s wins on his way to the hot-seat was a 3-0 match over Aaron Greenwood, and it was Greenwood coming from the one loss side to challenge Cutler in the finals. Greenwood would take Cutler to hill-hill but would not be able to stop him, losing in the first set of the finals 3-2 for the Cutler win. 

The Joss NE 9-Ball Tour will be in action again this weekend with a $1500 added main event and $500 added second chance tournament at Diamond Billiards Bar & Grill in Rochester, NY.