WPA Congratulates Albin Ouschan and Matchroom Multisport

Not so long ago we were not only wondering of when we would next have our 9-Ball World Championship, but there were even thoughts of whether it would ever be played again such were the times of pandemic.

Now we know the answer and with it, we also know who the new world champion is, now two-time winner, Albin Ouschan of Austria. We of course offer our congratulations to Albin, a popular and consistent performer, and also a great ambassador for our sport. 

Runner-up is Omar Al Shaheen of Kuwait, and it was terrific to see Omar do so well in such a major event. He has been showing great promise in recent years and his effort will be greatly appreciated by everyone, especially the enthusiasts in the Middle East.

The Championship was presented in great style by Matchroom who never fail to deliver, even in these difficult times. It is wonderful to have Matchroom back promoting our World 9-Ball Championship, now referred to as the World Pool Championship.

This is the beginning of a new era for the 9-Ball World Championship, having started not long after of the formation of the WPA, way back in 1990. USA’s Earl Strickland won the first event for the men, and Robin Bell USA won the women’s division. Remarkably, both these players successfully defended their titles by winning again in 1991.

Back in those days there were just three members of the WPA, Asia (APBU), Europe (EPBF) and North America (BCA). It was also the responsibility for the WPA members to organise and host the world championship. EPBF hosted the first event in two divisions, 64 men and 32 women. Prize money was $50,000 men and $25,000 women. This was the same for the second event when the BCA played host, and then onto the APBU for the third event which also debuted a division for junior players. Back to Europe for the fourth, America for the fifth etc., up until 1999 when Matchroom entered the scene and staged their first event, a men’s division World 9-Ball Championship, with legendary Filipino Efren Reyes winning the inaugural Matchroom event.  

In 2000 under Matchroom, the men’s division separated from the women and juniors and became a solo affair. The men’s Championship was played in the UK, the women and juniors, conducted together, in Quebec, Canada.

Matchroom moved the event to Cardiff, Wales, prize money grew to $400,000 and it was successfully staged there until going to Taiwan in 2005 when a 16-year-old Taiwanese Wu Chia-Chung (now Chinese Wu Jiaqing) was victorious. It moved to Manila for 2006 and 2007. However, with Matchroom unable to continue the event, it was not played again until 2010 after Qatar took up the responsibility to organise and host the World 9-Ball Championship where it remained until the conclusion of the 2019 event. 

Qatar held the rights for the Championship until 2020, but after talks with them during the 2019 event, they agreed to relinquish their Agreement to allow Matchroom to commence their endeavours with the event which was meant to start in 2020, but of course we all know what happened then.

While I understand there were some critics of Qatar hosting the Championship, I think that most people realised their efforts and the valuable contribution they made to our sport. They too are a sports organisation, not a promotions company. It should also be remembered that the WPA wasn’t knocking other people back who wanted to take over the event, until Matchroom made their interest known, there was no-one else.  Qatar made every effort they could to ensure the event was staged. Players were treated well, they were met and transported from the airport to their hotel, shuttle buses leaving regularly from the hotel to venue and return, and best of all for players, whatever money they earnt, they kept because there were no taxes payable, and importantly for players, they were paid immediately in cash.

It was also because of Qatar’s commitment that we have seen the standard of our sport lift in the Middle East. One player from there, Waleed Majid was ranked in the top 16 at one stage, and now we have a finalist in the world championship. We have had a tournament in Kuwait and there are prospects of another event being staged there as well as in Saudi Arabia. Not forgetting of course that the interest in pool for the middle east was started off in the Emirate of Fujairah of the UAE where our 8-Ball World Championship was organised for about ten years. This was followed by Qatar with a second middle east event, the Qatar Open which then developed into the World 9-Ball Championship.

Later this year we will have our men’s 10-Ball World Championship organised by Predator, as well they will organise the ladies 10-Ball World Championship. 

Moving forward, between Matchroom and Predator, 2022 will prove to be a busy year with the number of events they have planned between them, and then of course there are the others like the International 9-Ball Championship, the Kremlin Cup, and the US 14.1 Championship. Of course, with China closed to the outside world at present, we do not know what involvement they may play in the future, whether they continue with the China Open and women’s 9-ball World Championship.

As we now gaze into the future, the 9-Ball World Championship seems secure with Matchroom, and overall, the horizon is somewhat brighter now than it appeared even as late as three months ago. The remainder of this year is certainly going to be a busy one.