WPA Acts On “International Pool Championships”

We all know not to judge a book by its cover. Often appearance and substance have very little in common. This seems to be the case with the upcoming “Women’s International Pool Championship”. First billed as the “Women’s World 10- Ball” championship, this caused an outrage in the international billiard promotions fraternity that has now forced the WPA to issue a statement that anyone competing in the "Women's International Pool Championships" produced by Dragon promotions will be stripped of their World Ranking points and made ineligible for sponsor or promoter invitations.

The presentation of a $10,000 added event as a World Championship is an obvious example of over-hyping what constitutes nothing more than an average regional event. Large regional events such as the Northeast Joss Tour’s Turning Stone Classic offer up to two and a half times more added money ($25,000) and make no claims to be anything other than what they are: professionally run pool tournaments. No ‘World’ Titles on offer, just a chance to earn a decent payday and add another jewel to the crown.  As Ian Anderson brought up in a letter to all WPA Federations in October: “..the nominated banner “Women’s World 10-Ball” has the potential to do serious and harmful damage to our sport and blacken it’s future prospects.” In a conversation with Anderson in late October he expressed grave concerns that having players speak of this low-money event as a World Championship could cause promoters to think twice about adding respectable monies to events. “Why would they offer up to $200,000 to host a World Championship if the players are willing to recognize a $10,000 event as being of the same value?”

This matter was addressed directly in the October letter. It states: “Our World 9-Ball Championship for women offers $150,000 prize money and has no entry fee. Ideally we would expect this as a minimum requirement for any future Women’s World 10-Ball Championship. We are currently speaking with three interested parties to stage the 2015 event and, if successful, the event will offer no less than $150,000, and perhaps as high as $200,000.”

In a conversation this week with Anderson, who is in Shanghai for the World Junior Championships, that wrench may indeed have been tossed into the gears. He told us: “There is some serious damage to repair here with the promoters. They do not understand why the players would undermine the efforts of the promoters who are wanting to put on legitimate events. Why would the players want to cheapen the price of their own work like this? They are hamstringing their own careers.”

The BCA has made a stand on this tournament. The Chairman of the BCA, Mike Serra of Championship Cloth, said: "All of us in the billiard industry, especially those of us who sponsor professional pool events and/or professional players, know how difficult it is for sponsorships to be acquired. It is not an easy task to attract and keep sponsors. We need uplifting and positive news for the great promoters we have in this country, not this. We take our role as the North American representative to the World Pool-Billiard Association seriously.  To have a deceptive practice like this taking place in the United States is unacceptable and disconcerting.  After spending countless hours and failing to get Dragon Promotions to market this event truthfully, we fully support the position of the WPA.  This is the last thing a struggling sport needs. People have got to think. Actions have consequences."

And, in a letter to promoter Cindy Lee of Dragon Promotions the Executive Director of the BCA, Rob Johnson, states: “We agree 100% with every point of clarification in the attached letter from Ian Anderson.  While any promoter has the opportunity to host a professional event, we believe it is in all our interests that the events being hosted are marketed truthfully to both the players and the fans.  That is simply not the case in this instance.  The manner in which this event is intentionally being staged and marketed continues to be grossly misleading to players and fans.”

The letter being referred to is one written on November 4 in which the WPA outlines the problems with the event. The points of contention mentioned are:

1) It is not the 6th Annual International Pool Championship. This is the first  time it has been played.

2) The event was not formerly known as the Women’s World 10-Ball and produced in the Philippines. Dragon Promotions organized the WPA Women’s World 10-Ball Championship for five years in the Philippines. They are two different events. The World Championship event had prize  money of $85,000 and no entry fee with 48 players and carried WPA ranking points. This new event advertises total prize money of $43,440, a $520 entry fee and 64 players.

3) Dragon Promotions are not bringing any event to the USA; this is a new event they are organizing in the USA.

At the time that this letter was written the name of the event had been changed from “Women’s World 10-Ball” to “Women’s International Pool Championship.” At first this seemed to assuage the ire of the WPA, but that was because they expected the marketing of the event to stop presenting the event as a continuation of the past WPA Championships. This never happened. The promoters who had been bidding on the 2015 Women’s World 10-Ball are still seeing Facebook pages that tout this event as the Women’s World 10-Ball championship.

And, on November 14, Dragon Promotions sent out promotional emails that said the event was the “annual” event and spoke of it as “formerly known as the Women’s World 10-Ball” and then of “bringing the championship to the USA is a major move.” Clearly, Dragon is making no attempt at communicating the true stature of the event and wishes to represent it as a World Class event while adding only pocket change to the player entry fees. With an entry fee north of $500 the players will mostly be shooting at their own wallets.

This representation of a minor event as equal to a world title has now caused the WPA to take a very rare action. As announced today: “As a consequence, any player who participates in this Dragon Promotions “International 10-Ball Championship” will lose all of her ranking points that she may currently hold on the WPA ranking list. Further, the WPA will not accept  the nomination of any such player for any WPA ranking event in 2015, regardless of whether such nomination comes through a member or sponsor/organizer. Such players will not be banned entirely from entering, and will be permitted to enter a ranking event through a qualifying event that is played in the host country, should such qualifying events be held”. Said Anderson: “It is a shame, really, that the only way you can get the players to see the big picture is to take action that will hopefully make them think before they send in that entry fee. The players cannot continue to support those who are driving sponsorship money out of the game.”