The 2019 edition of the World 9-Ball Championship begins in Doha today and it is the tenth straight year that the Qatari capital will host the best of the best in the sport for a slugfest on the baize.
It is also the year when world number one Joshua Filler will attempt to become only the second man to ever win back-to-back World 9-ball crowns. Three-time champion Earl Strickland had won two straight titles in 1990 and 1991.
This year’s tournament will feature 96 of the top players, with Filler favourite to make it two-in-a-row.
The then 21-year-old had arrived in Doha last year battle-ready and loaded with prodigious talent. Filler then clocked in a glorious week of pool, never tasting defeat, sometimes coming from behind in several pressure packed situations, and closing the door when it counted. In the final he held off a furious fightback from the then defending champion Carlo Biado of the Philippines, to win his first world crown, 13-10.
Up against the German will be American great Shane Van Boening. Like last year Van Boening, currently ranked number 2 in the world, is coming off a brilliant winning performance in the Mosconi Cup, and is positively brimming with confidence.
The American has won just about everything there is to win in pool, except this event, and based on his showings the last few years here, the odds are saying that he is due to finally reach the mountain top.
Van Boening took runner up in 2015 and 2016. He skipped the 2017 championship, but last year he was once again on a serious roll, until he got taken down by Biado in the semis.
And then there is the Taiwanese contingent. World 10-ball champion and current world number 2 Ko Ping Chung leads a pack of world beaters from Taipei, which also includes Chang Jung Lin, Ko’s older brother Ko Pin Yi, Kevin Cheung, Chang Yu Lung and Wu Kun Lin. With this kind of talent in the field, it’s almost a certainty that at least one Taiwanese player will be in the final four.
China has yet to win a world 9-ball title but they usually put in a solid performance in Doha. Wu Qia Jing (who won the 2015 title playing under Chinese Taipei) is once again in the field. Dang Jinhu and Liu Haitao also stand out among the Chinese players.
Biado, world number four, leads the charge for a somewhat reduced Philippine contingent. He’ll be joined by world number 14 Johann Chua, Jeffrey Ignacio and several others.
After an absence of several years, 2012 champion and Hall of Famer Darren Appleton has made his return. He’ll be joined by one other fellow Brit, Chris Melling.
One noticeable absence this year is Scotland’s Jayson Shaw, who has had to withdraw due to some health issues. But the rest of this year’s European Mosconi Cup team will be fully represented as 2014 World 9-ball Champion Niels Feijen of the Netherlands is joined by Greece’s Alexander Kazakis and Albania’s Eklent Kaci.
Other former World 9-ball champions in the field include Austria’s Albin Ouschan, Germany’s Ralf Souquet, Thorsten Hohmann, Canadian-Filipino Alex Pagulayan, and Japan’s Yukio Akagariyama.
The first day’s play begins today at 1pm. Players are divided into 16 groups playing double elimination, alternate break, race to 9 until the final 64, where all matches will be single elimination, alternate break, race to 11. The race to 13 final will take place on December 17.
The winner of the 2019 World 9-ball Championship will receive USD30,000. The total prize fund is USD150,000. (WPA)
LEAVE A COMMENT Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*
Lyles, many top sprinters skipping indoor season
Aspire Academy’s student-athletes training in Kenya
Oman, Kuwait to clash for title Tuesday
England thrash South Africa by an innings and 53 runs
Djokovic survives scare as rain causes chaos at Open
Doha ready to host Qatar Fencing Grand Prix
Ronaldo double pulls Juventus clear
Riders shine in QF’s first showjumping competition
Teenager Gauff completes double eclipse of Venus