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Kuwait’s Al Shaheen Guts Out Wins to Stay Alive at Predator World 10-Ball Championship

Omar Al Shaheen

Omar Al Shaheen’s Wednesday had more twists and turns than a bag of gummi worms.

Just when he looked out of it, he’d bounce back just in time to pull off a win. Just when he appeared a lock to close out a match, the Kuwaiti who finished second to Albin Ouschan at last year’s World Pool Championships stumbled, stammered and allowed his opponent back into the match.

Despite the extra drama, Al Shaheen pulled off a come-from-behind as well as a nearly-blew-it win to advance in the World 10-Ball

Championships at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, defeating Roberto Gomez and Ping-Chung Ko in hill-hill battles on the one-loss side. The Kuwaiti will now play Chris Reinhold Thursday at noon.

Facing Gomez in an 11 a.m. local time match, the two competitors split the first 10 games thanks to a handful of safety exchanges paired with an occasional missed shot. After Gomez tacked on two victories to build a 7-5 advantage and move to within a game of advancing, Al Shaheen broke and ran to cut the lead to a game then used a victorious safety battle to gut out another win and tie the score. As two competitors again traded safeties in the deciding 15th rack, Gomez committed a foul and gave his opponent a wide-open table, which the Kuwaiti took full advantage of by pocketing the remaining balls and sneaking out with an 8-7 win.

Playing against Ko later in the evening, the 2019 World 10-Ball champion turned a missed shot by his opponent into an early 3-1 lead until a missed shot of his own. Suddenly it was Al Shaheen who could do no wrong, mixing in shot making and safety play to win five straight racks and build a 6-3 advantage. Ko would use a missed 8 ball by his opponent to steal a win but Al Shaheen returned serve with a win of his own to climb onto the hill, 7-4. Much like Al Shaheen in his previous match, Ko refused to go away quietly, breaking and running to cut the deficit to 7-5, then taking advantage of a 7 ball which Al Shaheen left on the corner pocket’s shelf to cut the lead to 7-6.

After a lengthy safety exchange in the 14th game, Al Shaheen left another opening for his opponent when he committed a foul by failing to touch a rail with a ball while attempting a safety. Ko cleared the table again to tie the score at 7-7 and send the match to a deciding 15th game in which Al Shaheen had the break. The Kuwaiti pocketed a ball on the opening shot and left the cue ball and 1 ball aligned perfectly for a textbook run out, which Al Shaheen completed to escape near-collapse, 8-7.

While the pool population continues to learn about Al Shaheen and his game, spectators have been familiar with Billiard Congress of America Hall of Famer Darren Appleton for nearly two decades. Wednesday afternoon, Appleton defeated John Schmidt, 8-4, to advance to the final 32, part of a continued recent resurgence by the Englishman that’s seen him place in the top 10 of last month’s Wisconsin Open as well as earn a runner-up finish in last year’s World Cup of Pool as he

The two competitors battled missed shots and open opportunities throughout the match as they split the first eight games evenly. Appleton claimed the ninth rack to take a 5-4 lead and his opponent left a window of opportunity in the next game when he kicked at the 2 ball, allowing the Hall of Famer to pocket the ball then use a safety on the 3 ball to close out the rack and increase his lead to two games. He added another win when Schmidt failed to pocket a ball on the break in the 11th rack then used another safety exchange after the break to close out the match.

Meanwhile, 19-year-old Eric Roberts of Tennessee and Yukio Akagariyama pulled two of the biggest upsets of the tournament Wednesday afternoon. Roberts defeated former World 9-Ball Champion Niels Feijen, 8-4, and Akagariyama took down reigning Ohio Open champion Mario He, 8-5. So, it only made sense that the two of them meet up in the next round.

It turned out to be a match where both struggled to find their top games throughout the match until the end, with Roberts gutting out an 8-7 victory. The two young competitors took turns trading missed balls and chances throughout the match as neither held a lead of more than one game throughout. With Roberts clinging to an 7-6 advantage, Akagariyama broke and ran to tie the match at seven games apiece. Roberts, who had been struggling with shot making throughout the match, saved his best for last, breaking and methodically running the balls off of the table to secure an 8-7 victory.

In other matches of note, Shane Van Boening remained undefeated by defeating Roland Garcia in a hill-hill match and Skyler Woodward was eliminated from the tournament by Max Eberle, 8-7.  Pijus Labutis eliminated reigning World Pool Champion Albin Ouschan, 8-2, and Poland’s Mieszko Fortunski took down Jesus Atencio, 8-4.

Competition resumes today at 10 a.m. local times with notable matches including Alex Kazakis meeting Francisco Sanchez Ruiz, Pin-Yi Ko squaring off with Sharik Sayed and Jung-Lin Chang facing Alex Pagulayan.

The Predator World 10-Ball Championship runs March 28-April 1 and still to come is The Alfa Women’s Las Vegas Open, which runs March 30-April 2.

The events coincide with the CueSports International Expo, which brings thousands of amateur pool players for the BCA Pool League World Championships as well as the USA Pool League National Championships.

Find the Predator World 10-Ball Championship brackets with live scores on the Predator Pro Billiard Series website.

The Predator World 10-Ball Championship is streamed for free on Billiard TV and the World Billiard TV YouTube channel.

Go to Billiard TV to watch 24/7 Billiard Videos on any device

Follow @probilliardseries on Facebook, @probilliardseries on Instagram or @PBilliardSeries on Twitter to follow the events.

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Corteza and Woodward Post Early Wins on Predator World 10-Ball Championship Opening Day

Skyler Woodward

Lee Vann Corteza has quietly gotten off to a rather solid start to the 2022 professional pool season – a trait that isn’t new recently for the 42-year-old.

The Filipino, who was a runner-up at the 2009 World 10-Ball Championship, has earned $31,000 in prize money this year thanks to top five finishes at the Wisconsin Open and Alfa Las Vegas Open and placed fourth in the Texas Open 10-Ball Championship. Prior to the pandemic shutdown in 2020, Corteza had already earned $26,000 in two months thanks to winning the 9-ball division and finishing second in the BigFoot division at the Derby City Classic.

Monday, on the opening day of the Predator World 10-Ball Championship, Corteza once again got off to a hot start by winning his first two matches, including an 8-4 victory against reigning World Pool champion Albin Ouschan. The Filipino overcame some early breaking struggles by capitalizing on a handful of opportunities left by his opponent to seal the victory at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino. Corteza will now face 2015 World 10-Ball Champion Pin-Yi Ko on Wednesday afternoon.

Using an early break-and-run along with some safety play mixed in, Corteza grabbed an early 3-1 but the Austrian took advantage of a pair of dry breaks by his opponent to tie the score at three games each. After splitting the next two games, Ouschan had the opportunity to take the lead but over-cut the 6 ball. The Filipino cleared the table to regain the lead, then tacked on another rack when his opponent fouled while attempting a jump shot. Now trailing by two games, Ouschan had an opportunity to pull within a single game but missed a 4 ball in the corner pocket.

Trailing 7-4, the Austrian had one last chance to mount a comeback in the 12th game, but instead executed a sequence which basically summed up his match. After Corteza missed the 2 ball and left it on the long rail, Ouschan cut the ball into the corner pocket, then jumped in the 3 ball only to watch the cue ball scratch into the side pocket, handing the table and the match to Corteza.

The final match of the night put a capper on a day where one competitor would jump out to an early lead only to have their opponent catch up in the second half of the match – including Billiard Congress of America Hall of Famer Thorsten Hohmann, who came back from a 5-2 deficit to defeat Ping-Han Ko.

Hohmann used a pair of victorious safety exchanges to whittle away at Ko’s advantage until the two players were tied after 12 racks. The young man from Chinese Taipei had a chance to increase his lead but left the cue ball straight in line with the 6 ball along the rail with the 7 ball on the opposite side of the table. He was unable to move the cue ball to the other side of the table after pocketing the 6, then missed a sharp cut on the next shot. Hohmann cleared the table to regain the lead, then took advantage of a victorious safety exchange to snatch the set, 8-6.

Spain’s Francisco Sanchez Ruiz would experience a similar fate in the next match, building an early 5-2 advantage against Jeremy Seaman until a couple of unforced errors allowed the American to tie the match 5-5. Working his way through the rack in the 11th game, Seaman appeared positioned to take the lead but instead drew the cue ball into the side pocket while trying to secure position on the 5 ball. Sanchez Ruiz took full advantage, clearing the table then using a missed shot by Seaman and a victorious safety on the 4 ball in the 13th game to pull out an 8-5 victory.

Earlier in the day, Skyler Woodward built a 5-1 lead against Niels Feijen only to watch the former World 9-Ball Champion also claw back and tie the match 5-5. Feijen struggled to get the rolls down the stretch, failing to pocket a ball on the break in the 11th game and scratching during the 13th rack, as Woodward held off the late charge to win, 8-6.

The opening day wasn’t particularly charitable to competitors who gained automatic entry to the championship by winning U.S. Pro Billiard Series events, with Michigan Open champion Aloysius Yapp falling to Donny Mills in the opening round, 8-3, and Ohio Open winner Mario He falling to Jeremy Sossei by the same score. Both now move to the one-loss side of the bracket, with Yapp meeting Evan Lunda Tuesday evening and He taking on Melish Dagas Tuesday afternoon.

The second day of play resumes at 10 a.m. local time, with notable matches including Mika Immonen meeting Corey Deuel, Alex Kazakis facing off against Billiard Congress of America Hall of Famer Alex Pagulayan and Derby City Classic 9-ball champion Francisco Sanchez Ruiz matching up with 2020 Diamond Las Vegas Open champion Jung-Lin Chang.

The Predator World 10-Ball Championship runs March 28-April 1 and still to come is The Alfa Women’s Las Vegas Open, which runs March 30-April 2.

The events coincide with the CueSports International Expo, which brings thousands of amateur pool players for the BCA Pool League World Championships as well as the USA Pool League National Championships.

Find the Predator World 10-Ball Championship brackets with live scores on the Predator Pro Billiard Series website.

The Predator World 10-Ball Championship is streamed for free on Billiard TV and the World Billiard TV YouTube channel.

Go to Billiard TV to watch 24/7 Billiard Videos on any device

Follow @probilliardseries on Facebook, @probilliardseries on Instagram or @PBilliardSeries on Twitter to follow the next events.

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Bigger Alfa Las Vegas Open Brings Star-Studded Field and Ko Brothers Return

The Ko Brothers

Wu Kun-Lin had been close to the finish line in a handful of major events in recent years only to stumble when he reached the finish line.

So, when he reached the last day of September’s Diamond Las Vegas Open, Wu was resolute to finish the job this time. So determined, that the 22-year-old found himself walking around the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino, host facility for the tournament, giving himself pep talks to try and remain composed.

“I talked to myself to get off of the pressure in the final day,” Wu said. “I felt much pressure because in the title match, both me and Omar had not won a title yet.”

Wu survived a strong performance by Estonia’s Denis Grabe in the semifinals and coasted past Kuwait’s Omar Al Shaheen in the championship match to post an undefeated record and win the third annual Las Vegas Open, ending his title drought and picking up $15,000.

“Sometimes I was very close to winning so the only thing that I thought of was winning a title,” said Wu. “That was my goal and I made it.”

Now Wu is back to try and repeat as champion, as the Alfa Las Vegas Open opens play today, kicking off 11 days of professional and amateur pool at the CueSports International Expo at the Rio. This year’s Expo features a new title sponsor for the professional open events – cryptocurrency Alfa – added a professional women’s tournament while expanding the men’s field from 128 players to 192 – with three of those registered being the Ko brothers, who are making their return to international competition for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic begin in 2020.

Three years ago, in the very same arena where he will be competing this week, a 23-year-old Pin-Yi Ko, used a combination of tight safety play and sound shot making to upend Germany’s Joshua Filler and earn the World 10-Ball championship – his first major championship after a handful of close finishes. Helping the young Ko battle his nerves was older brother, Ping-Chung Ko, who walked and talked with his younger sibling during timeouts. When COVID-19 began spreading in March of 2020 and lockdowns occurred, the brothers from Chinese Taipei found themselves sequestered at home for nearly two years. With restrictions lifting worldwide, these two competitors, 2020 Las Vegas Open winner Jung-Lin Chang and a handful of top-flight competitors from the Far East Asian country are now back in town and ready to compete after the long layoff.

The last time Greece’s Alex Kazakis competed in the U.S. Pro Billiard Series, nothing seemed to be easy. The Greek needed not one, not two, but four consecutive victorious extra-inning shootouts to edge Kuwait’s Bader Al Awadhi and win the inaugural Wisconsin Open last month. The reigning World Pool Masters champion returns to action this week while in the midst of a stellar start to 2022, having followed up his Wisconsin win with a sixth-place finish in the Predator Premier League Pool event in England and having won February’s Cajun Coast Classic 9-ball tournament.

Earning top honors at Premier League Pool for the second consecutive year was Austria’s Albin Ouschan, who is back in Las Vegas looking to build upon a 2021 which saw him take home three major events, including a second career World Pool Championship and the International Open. Ouschan, who has a pair of 17th place finishes at the Las Vegas Open, was so dominant in big events last year that he earned the Player of the Year award from Billiards Digest magazine.

With the competition now expanded to 192 players spectators will have a non-stop roster of top pros to watch throughout the four-day event, including five-time United States Open 9-Ball champion Shane Van Boening, reigning Mosconi Cup Most Valuable Player Jayson Shaw, former United States Open 9-Ball and World 9-Ball Champion Joshua Filler and former Mosconi Cup MVP Skyler Woodward. Also making the trip are reigning World 10-Ball champion Eklent Kaci, four-time Mosconi Cup competitor Billy Thorpe and reigning Kremlin Cup champion Tyler Styer. Previous Pro Billiard Series champions slated for competition include reigning Ohio Open champion Mario He and rising young superstar Aloysius Yapp of Singapore, who won last year’s Michigan Open.

The Alfa Las Vegas Open takes place March 23-26. The Alfa Las Vegas Open is followed by the Predator World 10-Ball Championship, which runs March 28-April 1 and The Alfa Women’s Las Vegas Open, which runs March 30-April 2.

The events coincide with the CueSports International Expo, which brings thousands of amateur pool players for the BCA Pool League World Championships as well as the USA Pool League National Championships.

Find the Alfa Las Vegas Open draw on the Predator Pro Billiard Series website.

The Alfa Las Vegas Open is streamed for free on Billiard TV and the World Billiard TV YouTube channel.
Go to Billiard TV to watch 24/7 Billiard Videos on any device
Follow @probilliardseries on Facebook, @probilliardseries on Instagram or @PBilliardSeries on Twitter to follow the next events.

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The 2021 International Open Is Open For Business!

The INTERNATIONAL is BACK with NINE days of pure pool from October 22-30, 2021. With two successful years under its belt, the INTL, as it is recognized, has quickly become one of the top tournaments in the world. Previous to last year’s pandemic cancellations, the INTL brought over 200 players from over 23 countries together to play under one roof. The players will be playing on the “triple gold standard” of professional pool: Diamond tables, Simonis cloth, and Aramith balls, and they will be playing in the same Sheraton Waterside Hotel ballroom as in the past, as well as its predecessor, the U.S. Open. To say the least, familiarity will be their only solace, for the competition will be fierce. As the 1st tournament of the Mosconi Points 2022 Calendar, the 2021 INTL places itself in a unique position in the professional players mind – get ahead early in the points! The winner of the 2021 INTL leads the Mosconi Point standings right away! Also, being sanctioned by the WPA, the INTL is one of the last stops on the WPA 2021 tour and the last chance at the coveted points is sure to make for some heated play! With past winners such as 2018’s Chang Jung-Lin and 2019’s Jayson Shaw, the players will definitely be charging out of the gate!

Needless to say, with successful freshman and sophomore events, Pat Fleming, the producer of the 2021 INTL, is not content with sitting on his laurels. This year, Pat has made some significant improvements to his third International 9-Ball Open. So, you ask, what has changed? With $50,000 added, the INTL now has an expanded field AND lower entry fee – 160 player field and $500 entry fee – and first place is still $30,000! This year, the INTL joins all other International Pro events by shifting to single elimination for the final 32 players. This is going to ratchet up the competition immensely! But that’s only the start.

For 2021, while 9-ball is the centerpiece, Pat is grooming the INTL into something more than “just a 9-ball tournament”. In addition to the 160 player 9-Ball Open, the International will be showcasing the inaugural 32-player 2021 INTERNATIONAL ONE-POCKET OPEN. The One-Pocket Open takes place the first Friday and Saturday of the 2021 INTL, prior to the start of the 9-Ball Open, extending the INTL two extra days. With $5000 added, an entry fee of $300, and a $4500 first prize, this is going to be filled fast – and fast paced – with the world’s best one pocket players! It is double elimination until the final 8 players. Then watch the sparks fly! It is sure to be the start of yet another great yearly INTL event.

Not content with two pro tournaments going on at one event, Pat Fleming, in partnership with Ra Hanna of On the Wire, is bringing back the junior’s event. Better than ever, the 2021 Junior Invitational

Championship will have both a Junior Men’s AND a Junior Women’s division. On October 28-30, sixteen Junior Men and eight Junior Women will compete in their divisions to be the 2021 Junior Championship Men’s and Women’s 9-Ball Champions! We are very proud to support the next generation of professional players and very happy to give them the opportunity to play at the 2021 International.

The 2021 Diamond Big Foot Challenge, a most popular 10-Ball event on a Diamond 10-Foot table and a favorite discipline at the Derby City Classic, is being added to our schedule. This event will be featured in the Simonis-Aramith Arena for three days while the 9-Ball Open is simultaneously being competed in the ballroom. Sixteen of the world’s best are invited, so each match will be worthy of a finals match. This three-day event, Sunday-Tuesday, October 24-26, 2021 has a $16,000 purse with the winner pocketing $8,000. Don’t miss it!

The Simonis-Aramith Arena will, once again, be center stage for all of the 2021 INTL disciplines. Three levels of reserved seating will be available: TV Arena Table side seating, Tier 1 seating and Tier 2 seating, as well as general admission for the whole event. Full-day passes, and Multiple day-packages will be available. Tickets will go on sale Thursday, April 15th, 2021. Visit https://www.intlopen.com/seating to view the seating chart and reserve your seat.

Since the 2021 INTL has been extended to include two full weekends, it is expected to draw larger crowds for our vendors to cater to throughout the 9-day event. Interested vendors can sign up and reserve vendor space here: https://www.intlopen.com/vendors

Accu-Stats Video Productions will be providing recording and live-streaming of the 2021 INTL, through their Pay-Per-View service. Suffice to say, Accu-stats is looking to have a few tricks up their sleeve regarding production and access. Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.

https://www.accu-stats.com https://www.facebook.com/accustats/ https://www.youtube.com/c/AccuStatsVideoProductionsTV

For more up to date information on the 2021 INTL, visit both the INTL website and Facebook page.

https://www.intlopen.com https://www.facebook.com/theinternational9ballopen/

– The 2021 International is now accepting entry fees for One-Pocket and 9-Ball Player Entries.

– Spectator Tickets for Reserved and General Admission Seating will go on sale Thursday, April 15, 2021.

See the details below for more information on all of these events.

Quick International Open Details

9-Ball Division

1st: $30,000 2nd: $20,000 3-4th: $10,000

5-8th: $5,000 9-16th: $2,500 17-32nd: $1,250

  • ●  Format: Double Elimination, Race to 10
  • ●  Alternate break and neutral rackers
  • ●  Official rack is the Outsville Accu-Rack 9-Ball Rack template
    • ●  Single Elimination for final 32 players
    • ●  Sanctioned by: World Pool Association (WPA)
    • ●  Mosconi Points awarded

One-Pocket Division

  • ●  Play Dates: October 22-23, 2021 (Friday and Saturday: 2 days)
  • ●  Entry Fee: $300
  • ●  Size of Field: 32
  • ●  Added Money: $5,000 guaranteed regardless of number of players.
  • ●  Prize Fund Breakdown with 32 players:

1st: $4,500 3-4th: $1,900

2nd: $3,100 5-8th: $800

    • ●  Format: Double Elimination, Race to 3
    • ●  Single Elimination for final 8 players

Junior Division

    • ●  Play Dates: October 29-30, 2020
    • ●  Size of Junior Men’s Field: eight
    • ●  Size of Junior Women’s Field: four
    • ●  Format: Double Elimination, Race to 9, Alternate Breaks
    • ●  More details to follow.

ENTER AS A CONTESTANT NOW:There are several ways to pay your entry fee.
● Pay online with a debit/credit card or PayPal:https://www.intlopen.com/entry● OR mail check or money order payable to:
“International 9-Ball Open”
Addressed to:
International 9-Ball Open, PO Box 299, Bloomingdale, NJ 07403.● Pay on site with money order or cash (only if the field is not full).
● OR, for the 9-Ball Open only, you may pay a non-refundable $250 deposit,

online or via mail, with the balance of $250 to be paid by October 1, 2021.

RESERVE YOUR HOTEL ROOM NOW ($115 Discount Rate, single/double):

https://www.intlopen.com/hotel

BUY SPECTATOR TICKETS HERE – Tickets go on sale Thursday, April 15, 2021:

Any Questions? Contact: Pat Fleming International 9-Ball Open
PO Box 299
Bloomingdale, NJ 07403
973-838-7089 pat.fleming@international9ballopen.com

Chang Takes Advantage of Aranas Mistakes to Win Diamond Las Vegas Open

Chang Jung-Lin (Courtesy JP Parmentier – Cue Sport International)

Jung-Lin Chang stood at the table Saturday night, clinging to a 6-5 lead. His opponent, James Aranas of the Philippines, had won four of the last five racks to shave Chang’s lead down to a single game. With Chang controlling the break, he could either increase his lead or let Aranas all the way back into the match. 
 
“I didn’t think too much because it was my break,” Chang said. “After that, I had a chance to run out.” 
 
Chang took full advantage of the opportunity, as the powerful player from Chinese Taipei ran out and then used a handful of unforced errors by Aranas down the stretch to win the four of the final six games and claim the Diamond Las Vegas Open championship at Rio Hotel and Casino. Chang’s 9-5 victory in the finals avenged an earlier 7-4 loss to the previously unbeaten Aranas the finals on the winner’s side of the bracket.  
 
“(Aranas) made a lot of mistakes on some easy shots and that allowed me to get more points,” Chang said after the match. 
 
The Filipino opened the title match by using a victorious safety exchange to run out and take an early lead. Aranas appeared positioned to tack another rack onto his lead in the second game but misplayed position on the 9 ball, rolling the cue ball into the blocking 10 ball. He missed a kick shot on the object ball and Chang seized on the opportunity, using two breaks and runs along with an Aranas scratch on the break to build a 5-1 lead in a race to nine. 
 
“In the final I wasn’t comfortable,” Aranas said. 
 
The Filipino broke and ran in the seventh game to cut the deficit to three games and closed the gap even more when Chang missed a jump shot on the 4 ball in the following rack. Aranas appeared to be on the verge of slicing the lead down to one game but missed a makeable 8 ball in the corner pocket. 
 
“That was the chance for me to get closer,” said Aranas. “I was thinking about the shot clock and I was kind of like rushing and I missed it.” 
 
Chang cleared the table to push the lead to 6-3 but the Filipino continued to battle, taking advantage of a dry break by his opponent and adding a break-and-run to again narrow the gap to one game. Chang, who won the 2018 International Open, broke and ran in the 12th game, gutted out a win in the following game and closed out the match in the 14th rack when Aranas overran position on the 3 ball and ultimately overcut the shot. 
 
“The most important thing of all is mentality. You have to go through the pressure,” said Chang. “The last thing is the gods. The gods give you something, you take it.” 
 
The second-place finish is one of Aranas’s best in a 128-player tournament with an international field. The Filipino, who is reigning Super Billiards Expo 10 ball champion, opened the event with three consecutive 7-5 victories against Rory Hendrickson, Chris Melling and Maximillian Lechner. After defeating Ian Costello, 7-3, Aranas worked his way past Justin Bergman, 7-5, then jumped out to a 6-1 lead against Ralf Souquet only to see the German battle back and cut the lead to one. During a lengthy safety exchange with Souquet in the final game, the Filipino jumped in the 1 and 2 balls then ran out the rack to secure the match. 
 
“Ralf is such a great player, he’s a legend to me,” Aranas. “It’s hard to give him a chance to get back on the table.”  
 
Aranas then advanced to face Chang in their first matchup of the way, using two breaks and runs and a dry break from his opponent to jump out to an early 4-0 lead. After Chang used two breaks and runs and a scratch on the break by the Filipino to narrow the gap to 4-3, Aranas cleared the table in the eighth game then took advantage of two dry breaks by Chang to close out the match. 
 
“I’m proud of myself for what I’ve done,” said Aranas. “This is probably the first time I’ve come this close in an event like this. This was a big opportunity for me.”  
 
Justin Bergman is adamant that he didn’t play well during the event. Whatever game he did have was good enough for third place, as the young man from Illinois gutted his way past opponents until fatigue took its toll.
After a 7-4 decision against Kengo Suzuki in the opening round, Bergman took down John Morra, 7-5; Ta-Li Lin, 7-1 and Ko Pin-Yi, 7-5. After falling to Aranas 7-5 late early Saturday morning around 2 a,m., Bergman grabbed about an hour of sleep and was back at the table Saturday morning at 10 a.m. He gutted out back-to-back hill-hill matches against Corey Deuel and Poland’s Karol Skowerski before taking down Chris Robinson, 7-4. Now playing in the quarterfinals on the one-loss side, Bergman split the first six games with Souquet before a missed 5 ball by the German in the seventh game opened the floodgates. 
 
“I changed my mind right before the shot,” said Souquet. “That basically threw me off completely afterwards. It wasn’t a tough runout, I just needed good shape on the 6 ball and, for whatever reason, I changed my mind.”
Bergman cleared the table to take a 4-3 lead, then took advantage of a couple additional missed shots by Souquet to close out the match, 7-3. His luck – and energy – would run out in the next round against Chang as he failed to pocket a ball on the break in his first three attempts. Chang built a commanding 6-0 then held off a late rally by his opponent, ultimately winning 7-3. 
 
“I wasn’t comfortable and he’s such a great player, you have to do everything perfect to beat him,” Bergman said. 
 
It was a turn-back-the-clock weekend for the 51-year-old Souquet, who used his first trip to American soil in 2020 to land a fourth-place finish. After an opening round forfeit by his opponent, the German rattled off four straight wins to reach the final four on the winner’s side before falling to Aranas. Souquet then defeated Ko Pin-Yi on the one-loss side of the bracket before falling to Bergman. 
 
The Diamond Las Vegas Open is a presentation of Cue Sports International and sponsored by Diamond Billiard Products, an industry leader in pocket billiard table manufacturing. The event is being hosted by the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino and broadcast live on YouTube by CSI Media, a subsidiary of Cue Sports International. For more information, visit www.world10ball.com 
 
CueSports International (CSI) is an international billiards organization which produces the United States Open 8-ball, 10-ball, one pocket, bank pool and straight pool championships. CSI, which also operates national amateur pool leagues, has three divisions: CSI leagues, CSI events and CSI media. CSI leagues manages the BCA Pool League and USA Pool League, the events division produces numerous amateur and professional events and the media department creates live video billiards content. For more information about CSI, visit www.playcsipool.com or find CueSports International on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter.
 
The Diamond Las Vegas Open is sponsored by: Predator Group, Omega billiard supplies and Kamui cue tips. 

Bergman over Van Boening Finishes Up International 9-Ball Open Day Four

Francos Sanchez-Ruiz (Erwin Dionisio)

Day four at the International 9-Ball Open got started with both of the Team USA Mosconi Cup hopefuls playing on neighboring tables. Corey Deuel and Max Eberle are battling to see who fills the final slot on the team. Yu-Lung Chang bested Max Eberle 11-7, while Corey won over Ri Teng Liu 11-8. Advantage Deuel? We all have to just wait for the announcement. 
 
Elsewhere, world #1 Joshua Filler notched up another win by taking down Denis Grabe 11-7. The feature match was Alex Kazakis versus James Aranas. Both men showed a few early-day arm struggles but Kazakis woke up first and won this one 11-6.
 
The second round of the day saw only four matches. The first to finish award for this round would go to Ruslan Chinahov of Russia, who only took a little over an hour to defeat Naoyuki Oi of Japan 11-4. Next to finish was our defending champion Jung-Lin Chang, who took care of business by winning 11-7 over Fedor Gorst.
 
Aloysius App and Roland Garcia kept it close throughout their match with rarely more than one game separating them. Yapp managed to be the last man standing when he won the hill-hill match to claim the win 11-10. Another tight one was the TV match between Albin Ouschan and Nick Ekonomopoulos. They also went head to head on every rack and wound up tied at 9 games apiece in their race to 11 games. Ouschan got to the hill first and won a brief safety battle for the 11-9 win.
 
The 2:30 session also had four matches. John Morra took down Marco Teutscher 11-6 and Denis Grabe won a tight one with Mika Immonen. The two champions were tied at 9 games apiece when Grabe took control of the next two racks to win 11-9. Our third match was not so close as James Aranas kept his hot game going and defeated Yu-Lung Chang 11-6.
 
The final match of the day session was Corey Deuel against Francisco Sanchez-Ruiz. Francisco began like a house on fire and went out to an 8-0 lead before Corey won eight racks of his own to tie us at 8 apiece. What began as a race to 11 was now a race to three.
 
After two more racks we were tied at nine games each. What a  battle this had become! Deuel broke and ran the next rack to be the first to ascend to the hill. In the next rack Deuel was running out before hanging the 7-ball in the corner. Sanchez-Ruiz ran the remaining three balls to stand beside Deuel atop the hill. The most dramatic match of the day had come down to a one-rack decider. Sanchez-Ruiz broke dry and Deuel was forced to play a safety when he could not get on the two ball. The safety war that ensued was won by Deuel when he finally gained a shot on the two ball. The cluster of  the five and six stopped his run and again he sought safety. Another war of safes began.This time it was Sanchez-Ruiz who got the first shot and he made the most of it, winning the rack and one of the most exciting  matches this reporter has seen in thirty years of watching tournament pool.
 
Coming back from the dinner break, six matches were scheduled for 6:30. The two winners side matches saw Ko Ping-Chung make quick work of Jayson Shaw 11-5 and Max Lechner having a slightly more comfortable 11-7 win over Dennis Orcollo than he did Wednesday night against Van Boening. On the one loss side, Chinahov, Chris Robinson, Aloysius Yapp and Albin Ouschan were all eliminated in 17th place. 
 
The 8:30 round featured Darren Appleton vs Joshua Filler. Despite Appleton struggling with the break, the match went 10-10 before a Filler safety left Appleton with no alternative but to try to tie up a ball. With Appleton failing to do so, Filler took ball in hand and ran out for the 11-10 win. Sanchez-Ruiz may have still been brimming with confidence from his win over Deuel, as he eliminated Denis Grabe in a quick 11-3 match. Other matches saw James Aranas eliminate John Morra and Alex Kazakis sending Thorsten Hohmann to the one loss side. 
 
The final round of the night only held two matches with defending champion Chang Jung-Lin playing Alex Pagulayan and the last two remaining US players facing off with Justin Bergman battling Shane Van Boening. While Pagulayan made relatively quick work of Chang 11-4, Van Boening and Bergman engaged in another extended battle. Both players came out of their corners looking a little tired, but it was Bergman who took control and Van Boening struggling to find his "A-Game". . Bergman led the match by four racks at 10-6, before Van Boening came back to 10-9 with an open table to tie things at 10-10. Van Boening navigated the table, but left a tricky 8-ball that he was obviously not happy with. Van Boening settled for a long shot on the 9-ball and it proved to be his doom, as the ball never even challenged the pocket and Bergman cleaned up for the 11-9 win. 
 
You can follow the action all week long, with our online brackets and real time scoring. Select matches will also be streamed online as part of Accu-Stats PPV coverage of the event

International 9-Ball Open Day Two Complete

Nguyen Phuc Long (Erwin Dionisio)

Matches began on day two of the International 9-Ball Open Tuesday at 10:30 AM and the  featured match was  between 3 time VNEA National Champion Danny Olson and European Mosconi Cup member Alex Kazakis. The match went back and forth until the score was 4-4 and then Kazakis caught a gear that took him to  a 10-5 lead, needing only one more rack for the win. Olson then found his momentum and soon brought the score to 10-8, but the comeback  was not to be. In the final rack Olson stumbled on the three ball and Kazakis ran the rack for the win. Another match of note was between our defending champion Jung-Lin Chang and Che-Wei Fu. This one saw Fu controlling the first half of the match and Chang fighting back in the second half. It came down to a nail-biting double-hill finish with Chang sinking the final ball for the win. 
 
The second round saw Alex Pagulayan using his pixie dust on Josh Roberts for an 11-4 victory while Ko Ping-Chung got past Brandon Shuff 11-5. Meanwhile, Ping-Chung’s younger brother Ping-Han was gathering experience playing Dennis Orcollo on the TV table. Experience is all he would earn as Orcollo took him down 11-6. Chris Robinson shot an amazing match to overpower Naoyuki Oi 11-4 and Marco Teutscher won over Wu Kun Lin 11-8.
 
The third round of day featured Corey Duel and Max Eberle both competing in the same round. They are battling for the last spot on the Mosconi Cup team. Deuel defeated Jani Siekkinen 11-5 while Eberle fell victim to David Alcaide 11-5. Other matches of interest saw Denis Grabe winning over Earl Strickland 11-8 and Darren Appleton over Tyler Styer 11-5. 
 
Coming back from the dinner break, play shifted to the winner’s side and the arena was filled with marquee matches. On the TV table, Nikos Ekonomopolous faced Lee Van Corteza. The match changed complexion in a hurry at 5-4 Ekonomopolous when he won a rack, broke the 9-ball and then shot an early 9-ball in the next rack. Suddenly, it was 8-4. Corteza fought back to 9-8, but couldn’t get over the hump as Ekonopolous won the match 11-9. 
 
The comeback of the day belonged to Vietnam’s Nguyen Phuc Long against Niels Feijen. Feijen looked to be cruising to an easy win at 7-2, when things turned in Nguyen's favor. Nguyen combined a couple of good rolls with a four pack to keep Feijen in his chair as he won nine straight racks for the 11-7 win. 
 
Play then shifted back to the one loss side to finish out the night. The 8:30 round saw very little as far as surprises with Albin Ouschan, Naoyuki Oi, Donny Mills, Billy Thorpe and Roberto Gomez all advancing. One other match of note saw Aloysius Yapp hand the youngest Ko brother, Ping Han, his second loss in a row and eliminating him from the event. 
 
The final match of the night featured Skyler Woodward against an unusually subdued Earl Strickland. Having just faced each other in a challenge match earlier this month, both players were familiar with each other’s games. The players battled to 9-9 before Woodward notched the win to eliminate Strickland. Other players being eliminated at night’s end were Tyler Styer, Poland’s Wiktor Zielinski, Ernesto Dominguez and Frankie Hernandez.
 
You can follow the action all week long, with our online brackets and real time scoring. Select matches will also be streamed online as part of Accu-Stats PPV coverage of the event

Filler’s a Killer as Predator World 10-ball Championship Down to Final Four

Japan’s Masato Yoshioka

At the young age of 21, Joshua Filler already has the kind of career that many players would dream of having.
 
The German sparkplug with the dynamic disposition at the table won the China Open in 2017, the World Pool and Billiards Association’s World 9-ball Championship in December and has a pair of EuroTour championships under his belt this year.
 
Filler inched closer to adding another major title to his resume Thursday afternoon at the Las Vegas’s Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino, eliminating the previously unbeaten Jayson Shaw and Niels Feijen at the Predator World-10 Championships. He now advances to Friday’s semifinals, which will be at noon pacific time and will be streamed like on YouTube for free.
 
“Overall, I’m really, really happy with my game and with my break. Everything worked,” Filler said.
 
Shortly after the first phase of competition concluded on Wednesday night, the tournament was re-drawn and re-seeded – with players from the winner’s side matched against competitors from the one-loss side. Filler drew a fellow European in Shaw, winner of this year’s Turning Stone Classic and a runner-up at the Mezz Bucharest Open and Ginky Memorial.
 
Filler struggled with his break early and Shaw jumped out to a 4-2 lead in a race-to-10. The young German used two victorious safety exchanges as well as two breaks-and-runs in the middle of the match to claim his first lead, 6-5. Shaw tied the match in the next rack when Filler overran position on the 6-ball and missed, but Filler would use a successful jump shot on the 3-ball to run out the rack in the 15th game to regain the lead. Shaw again tied the match in the following frame with a break-and-run but Filler took the lead for good in the 17th game, using a tight cut shot on the 1-ball run out the rack and climb onto the hill, 9-8. The German finished off the match in the following game when his opponent failed to pocket a ball on the break. 
 
Filler advanced to the quarterfinals where he met Niels Feijen, a man who needed a bit of luck in order to survive his round of 16 matchup.
 
Feijen battled Wojciech Szewczyk of Poland to a 9-9 deadlock. Szewczyk was at the table in the deciding game and appeared positioned to run out the rack and claim the match, but overdrew the cue ball attempting to land position for the 5-ball – instead positioning the ball slightly behind the 9-ball on the rail. Frustrated with himself, he dropped his cue stick and walked away in disgust, then initiated a safety exchange with Feijen – who pocketed the ball with a jump shot and ran out.
 
Filler built an early 4-1 lead in the semifinals, using two breaks and runs and a dry break from his opponent. Feijen rallied in the middle of the match, using a Filler foul and two breaks and runs to cut the margin to 6-5. Feijen had an opportunity to knot up the score at six games each but was unable to secure position on the 9-ball. Filler cleared the rack and tacked on an additional break-and-run to push his lead back to 8-5.
 
The German wasn’t out of the woods yet, however, as Feijen used a safety exchange and a missed kick shot by Filler to cut the lead to down to one. Again, Feijen had a chance to tie the score and committed an unforced error – this time missing a 6-ball. In the 16th game. Filler cleared the table then tacked on one final run out to secure the victory.
 
“I felt very strong. Sometimes I was nervous when he came back,” Filler said. “I was 5-2 up and then he battled back every time that I was up. He made it very tough for me.”
 
Filler will face Pin-Yi Ko in Friday’s semifinals, who took advantage of a handful of victorious safety exchanges to pull ahead of Jung-Lin Chang and win, 10-8, in the quarterfinals.
 
Ko, who won the last World 10-ball title when it was staged in 2015, used a break and run as well as a pair of safety exchanges to build an early 4-1 advantage then pushed the lead to 8-4 when Cheng left openings after safeties in the 10th and 11th racks. At the table with a 9-6 advantage, Ko appeared ready to close out the match but left the 8-ball in the corner pocket’s jaws. His Chinese Taipei counterpart cleared the table then broke and ran to narrow the deficit to one game, but Ko added and break-and-run of his own in the 18th game to seal the victory.
 
Thursday was also a very fruitful one for Pin-Yi Ko’s little brother, Ping-Chung Ko, who survived Marc Bijsterbosch, 10-7, in the quarterfinals then used pinpoint execution of safeties to easily defeat Alex Pagulayan, 10-4. The Filipino, who advanced to the quarterfinals by battling back from a 7-3 deficit to defeat Ralf Souquet, opened the match winning three of the first five racks but couldn’t overcome Ko’s safety play. Ko tied the score at three games each then proceeded to win seven of the last eight games to secure the victory.
 
The match momentarily halted when the hotel’s fire alarm activated. With the emergency lights flashing like a nightclub, Pagulayan and Ko opted to continue playing.
 
“We don’t care about that. At home, we play with chickens running around,” Pagulayan said to a referee. “Same thing in China.”
 
With both Ko brothers onto the semifinals, this year’s event mirrors the 2015 World 10-ball Championship in which the elder Ko won and his younger brother reached the semifinals.
 
Junior Ko will take on Masato Yoshioka of Japan in the second semifinal match Friday, who overcame some early struggles to put away Tyler Styer, 10-7.
 
Styer, who reached the quarterfinals with a come-from-behind victory against Billy Thorpe, took an early 4-0 lead thanks to two unforced errors by his opponent paired with two breaks and runs. The momentum shifted towards Yoshioka during the fifth game, as he won six of the next seven racks while the American struggled with working through some difficult racks. Styer had an opportunity to tie the score at six games each in the 12th game but overran position for the 8-ball – leaving the cue ball pinned to the 10-ball.
 
“I just had some really finnicky, tricky outs to try and get through in the middle of the match and I just couldn’t get out,” Styer said after the match. “Those rolled over to the end and I just didn’t play my best.”
 
Nothing seemed to go right for Styer down the stretch, who left an open shot for his opponent on the 4-ball in the 14th game after failing to pocket the ball with a jump shot, then attempted a safety on the 1-ball in the 16th game and wound up pocketing the ball instead.
 
After the semifinals are completed the championship match is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. Pacific time.
 
The Predator World 10-ball Championship is a presentation of CueSports International and sponsored by Predator Group. Predator Group is an international billiard industry leader with a focus on high-performance cues and shafts as well as bringing constant innovation and game-improving equipment to billiard players worldwide. The event is being hosted by the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino and broadcast live on YouTube by CSI Media, a subsidiary of Cue Sports International. For more information, visit www.world10ball.com
 
CueSports International (CSI) is an international billiards organization which produces the United States Open 8-ball, 10-ball, one pocket, bank pool and straight pool championships. CSI, which also operates national amateur pool leagues, has three divisions: CSI leagues, CSI events and CSI media. CSI leagues manages the BCA Pool League and USA Pool League, the events division produces numerous amateur and professional events and the media department creates live video billiards content. For more information about CSI, visit www.playcsipool.com or find CueSports International on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter.
 
The Predator World 10-ball Championships are sponsored by:
 
Predator Cues: www.predatorcues.com
Diamond billiard tables: www.diamondbilliards.com
Omega Billiards: www.omegabilliards.com
Kamui Brand: www.kamuibrand.com
 

Upsets and Tight Finishes as Predator World 10-Ball Championship Narrows Down to Final 16

Shane Van Boening (JP Parmentier)

Heading into the third and final day of Predator World 10-ball Championship’s first phase, it appeared American Shane Van Boening and reigning World Pool and Billiards Association 9-ball champion Joshua Filler could be heading towards an afternoon showdown.
 
With both competitors working their ways through the one-loss side of the bracket, Filler had to survive Fedor Gorst of Russia while it appeared Van Boening had drawn the easier of the competitors: Gerson Martinez of Peru. With Van Boening leading Martinez 4-1 and Filler comfortably ahead of Gorst, 6-2, the duel between the prolific American and the rising, young German seemed inevitable.
 
That was until the wheels came off for Van Boening.
 
Plagued by a series of uncharacteristic misses along with an ineffective break, Van Boening watched as Martinez came from behind and won, 8-6, in front of a stunned crowd that had gathered to watch. The Van Boening loss was part of a topsy-turvy day of pool at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino as the tournament field narrowed down to the final 16 players.
 
“I didn’t feel comfortable. That’s all I can say,” said Van Boening. “Probably too tired. It’s been a long trip in Vegas.”
 
The South Dakotan struck early, capitalizing on a foul and scratch on the break by his opponent to build an early lead. Van Boening was at the table and appeared in position to increase his 5-3 lead but missed two makeable shots on the 4-ball not, but twice. Martinez tied the match at five games each then added a break and run to take the lead.
 
Meanwhile, Van Boening’s break refused to cooperate, failing to secure a shot on the 1-ball after his opening shot in the last three games that he broke – including what ultimately became the final rack of the match. After a brief safety exchange on the 1-ball, Van Boening attempted a one-rail kick in of the ball and left it in the pocket’s jaws. Taking deep breaths and playing cautiously, the Peruvian worked his way through the clinching rack for the victory.
 
Two hours later, the upset-mindEd Martinez was promptly eliminated from the tournament by Filler, 8-2.
 
Fellow American Skylar Woodward would meet a fate similar to Van Boening’s later in the afternoon.
 
Woodward began his day fending off a late charge by Naoyuki Oi of Japan, who erased a 6-3 deficit to force a deciding game that he ultimately lost, 8-7. Oi fought back to even with well-placed safeties and a break-and-run. The two battled to a 7-7 deadlock and Oi was at the table in the deciding game but missed a long shot on the 2-ball. Woodward would clear the table but not before making things interesting, as he missed position on the 8-ball. The rising star from Kentucky executed a flawless bank shot on the object ball to help clinch the game and the match.
 
Facing Li-Wen Lo on the same table, Woodward found a different result. He quickly found himself down 6-1 as he struggled with safety play while he opponent worked his way through racks. The reigning Derby City Classic Master of the Table tacked on a pair of racks to cut the deficit to 7-3 and appeared positioned to narrow the gap more in the 11th game but misplaced the cue ball for positioning on the 5-ball, losing the game and the match, 8-3.
 
The good news for United States pool fans is that Billy Thorpe and Tyler Styer are alive and doing well.
 
The undefeated Thorpe built an early 4-1 advantage and held on to defeat Marc Bijsterbosch of the Netherlands, 8-5. Trailing 5-2, Bijsterbosch used a dry break and a missed shot by his opponent to cut the deficit to 6-4. Thorpe tacked on a break and run to push his advantage back to three games and appeared to have the match locked up but left the 10-ball sitting in the jaws of the corner pocket. Thorpe broke and ran in the next game to clinch a spot in Thursday’s final 16. 
 
Bijsterbosch rebounded in the next match, defeating Mario He of Austria, 8-5, to advance to Thursday.
 
Styer had a bit more work to do in order to secure one of the remaining 16 spots, defeating Raymund Faraon, 8-1; John Morra, in a hill-hill match and Maximilian Lechner, 8-4.
 
Another player who remains undefeated of the eight remaining players is Ralf Souquet, who battled and survived a hill-hill match with Alex Kazakis of Greece, 8-7. Playing in his usual deliberate and analytical style, Souquet worked his way to a 7-3 lead but Kazakis fought back with victorious safety exchanges to tie the score. The young Greek, who won the EuroTour’s Ballazo Open last year, controlled the break in the deciding game but failed to pocket a ball. Souquet worked his way through the rack to secure the win. 
 
Kazakis was sent to the one-loss side of the bracket where he was easily defeated by Filler, 8-2.
 
Speaking of Filler, the young German played some of his best pool at a time when he needed it most, besting Fedor Gorst, 8-4; then overwhelming Martinez and Kazakis by matching, 8-2 scores.
 
The eight remaining undefeated players in the event include Souquet, Thorpe, Jayson Shaw, Diamond Las Vegas Open champion Niels Feijen, Ping-Chung Ko, Masato Yoshioka, Jung-Lin Chang and Johann Chua. Competitors from the one-loss side include Filler, Styer, Bijsterbosch, Alex Pagulayan, Denis Grabe, Pin-Yi Ko, Yu-Hsuan Cheng and Wojciech Szewczyk.
 
With the first phase of the tournament completed, the remaining 16 players will now enter the single-elimination portion of the event – with the race lengths also increasing from eight games to 10. Additionally, the player seedings will be re-drawn, with the eight players from the winner’s side matched with players from the one-loss side.
 
The Predator World 10-ball Championship is a presentation of CueSports International and sponsored by Predator Group. Predator Group is an international billiard industry leader with a focus on high-performance cues and shafts as well as bringing constant innovation and game-improving equipment to billiard players worldwide. The event is being hosted by the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino and broadcast live on YouTube by CSI Media, a subsidiary of Cue Sports International. For more information, visit www.world10ball.com
 
CueSports International (CSI) is an international billiards organization which produces the United States Open 8-ball, 10-ball, one pocket, bank pool and straight pool championships. CSI, which also operates national amateur pool leagues, has three divisions: CSI leagues, CSI events and CSI media. CSI leagues manages the BCA Pool League and USA Pool League, the events division produces numerous amateur and professional events and the media department creates live video billiards content. For more information about CSI, visit www.playcsipool.com or find CueSports International on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter.
 
The Predator World 10-ball Championships are sponsored by:
 
Predator Cues: www.predatorcues.com
Diamond billiard tables: www.diamondbilliards.com
Omega Billiards: www.omegabilliards.com
Kamui Brand: www.kamuibrand.com

Souquet Survives Strickland and Comebacks Galore at Predator World 10-ball Championship

Earl Strickland and Ralf Souquet (JP Parmentier)

The matchup looked like something right out of 1999, instead of 2019.
 
Earl Strickland and Ralf Souquet share a lot of common ground. Both have had long, decorated careers in pool that have resulted in multiple world championships as well as induction into the Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame.
 
Tuesday afternoon, they shared center stage in the main arena of the Predator World 10-ball Championship in a winner’s side matchup, with Souquet taking advantage of a pair of late Strickland mistakes to wipe out a 6-4 deficit and win, 8-6, at the Rio All Suites Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
 
Both worked to overcome some rust in the early stages. Strickland built an early 2-0 lead when Souquet failed to pocket a ball on the break in the first game and then missed a 6-ball in the second rack. The German said he felt good after opening warm ups but struggled with coldness in his hands as well as the speed of the cloth when the match began.
 
“I couldn’t get comfortable with the whole situation,” Souquet said.
 
Strickland appeared poised to increase his lead in the third game but missed a table-length shot on the 9-ball. The German tied the match in the fourth game and the two competitors split the next four games until Strickland used a break and run and a Souquet scratch on the break to jump out ahead 6-4 in a standing room and very pro-Strickland audience.
 
Down the stretch, Souquet regained control of the match in the same way that Strickland had obtained it: maximization of opponent mistakes. The German narrowed the deficit to 6-5 when Strickland fouled in the 11th game after attempting a combination shot with the 2-ball and pocketed the wrong ball, then added a break-and-run to tie the score. Souquet took the lead when Strickland deposited the cue ball into the side pocket on the break in the 13th game. 
 
“You have to hope for any chance that he gives you,” said Souquet. “He probably played a little better throughout the whole match. You just have to wait for a mistake. Maybe a scratch on the break or maybe he takes position for granted and you just have to go from there.”
 
Souquet saved his best break for last as he landed four balls – causing even Strickland to let out a “wow” from his chair. Souquet then closed out the rack and the match.
 
The German now advances to the final 16 on the winner’s side where he will face Alex Kazakis of Greece at 5:30 p.m. local time Wednesday. 
 
Competition opened Tuesday with eight matches on the winner’s side of the bracket, including Chris Melling using some stellar shooting along with some breaking struggles by opponent Toru Kuribayashi to cruise to an 8-1 victory. After trading the first two racks, the Englishman used the next three racks to stifle Kuribayashi with safety play then run out after his opponent provided an opening. Meanwhile, Kuribayashi struggled with his break, failing to pocket balls three times.
 
“I played nearly perfect. I didn’t miss a ball,” said Melling after the match. “My only mistake was when I scratched on the break.”
 
Tuesday’s late afternoon and early evening was reserved for the one-loss side of the bracket, with two sets of win-or-go-home matches taking place.
 
One of those who survived was Raymund Faraon, who trailed throughout his match with Fan Yang except at the most important time: the end. Using a handful of tactical safeties and some clutch shot-making, the Filipino overcame a 6-3 deficit to defeat the 2015 World Chinese 8-ball champion, 8-7.
 
With 120,000 spectators watching online in his native China, Yang used his powerful break shot and a couple of mistakes by Faraon to build a commanding 6-3 lead in a race to eight. Faraon tacked on two games to cut the deficit to 6-5 after Yang came to the table in both games and failed to clear the racks. After the two players traded breaks-and-runs to push the score to 7-6, Yang had the break and a chance to finish the match in the 14th game. However, Yang lost a safety exchange on the 1-ball and Faraon tied the score at seven games each.
 
History would repeat itself in the deciding game, with Faraon breaking and failing to find an open shot on the 1-ball. The Filipino played safe, pushing the cue ball to the opposite end of the table of the 1-ball with the 3-ball blocking the path. Yang missed his attempt at a jump shot and left Faraon the opening he needed for the victory.
 
Russia’s Fedor Gorst also staved off elimination with a comeback of his own, capitalizing on a handful of unforced errors by opponent Matt Edwards of New Zealand to erase a 6-2 deficit and win, 8-6. Trailing 6-5, Gorst was given an opportunity to tie the score when his opponent fouled on a jump shot attempt. It appeared the young Russian’s comeback attempt might be halted in the 13th game when he pushed a 3-ball right of the corner pocket, but was given new life when Edwards missed the 8-ball. The New Zealander had an opportunity to run out and tie the score in the following game but missed the 2-ball in the corner pocket.
 
The third day of the Predator World 10-ball Championship begins at 10 a.m. local time on Wednesday. The live broadcast feed gets underway at 12:30 p.m. with Mario He taking on Liu Cheng Cheh. The 3 p.m. match will be determined by the winners of earlier matches and the 5:30 p.m. match will involve Chris Melling facing Jung-Lin Chang in a winner’s side matchup. The 8 p.m. broadcast pairing will also be announced later in the day.
 
The Predator World 10-ball Championship is a presentation of CueSports International and sponsored by Predator Group. Predator Group is an international billiard industry leader with a focus on high-performance cues and shafts as well as bringing constant innovation and game-improving equipment to billiard players worldwide. The event is being hosted by the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino and broadcast live on YouTube by CSI Media, a subsidiary of Cue Sports International. For more information, visit www.world10ball.com
 
CueSports International (CSI) is an international billiards organization which produces the United States Open 8-ball, 10-ball, one pocket, bank pool and straight pool championships. CSI, which also operates national amateur pool leagues, has three divisions: CSI leagues, CSI events and CSI media. CSI leagues manages the BCA Pool League and USA Pool League, the events division produces numerous amateur and professional events and the media department creates live video billiards content. For more information about CSI, visit www.playcsipool.com or find CueSports International on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter.
 
The Predator World 10-ball Championships are sponsored by: Predator Cues, Diamond Billiard Products, Omega Billiards and Kamui Brand.