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It’s USA and Taiwan in hill hill thrillers

by Luke Riches

8th September,  2012 PartyPoker.net World Cup of Pool

Quarter-Finals

USA 9-8 China

Chinese Taipei 9-8 England

THERE was plenty of drama at Robinson’s place in Manila as the first two quarter final matches in the 2012 PartyPoker.net World Cup of Pool were played out as the USA and Chinese Taipei emerged as winners in tense games that both went down to the final rack.

The opening game featured two sides who had won a collective three World Cup titles between them as the USA and China faced off. The American side of Rodney Morris and Shane Van Boening had won this event in 2008, while Li Hewen of China had won in 2007 and 2010, albeit with a different partner to his current team mate Liu Haitao.

To say the match was a game of two halves was an understatement as the USA raced into an 8-2 lead as the Chinese team looked to be nervous wrecks, missing balls and setting up chances for their opponents. But slowly they crept back into a match where the slightest error would have seen them out of the competition.

As they grabbed the racks back the American pair looked increasingly uncomfortable in their seats and when the Chinese levelled it at 8-8 it seemed scarcely believable.

In the decider, China made two balls on the break but were forced to play safe as the two sides went back and forth with the safeties. Finally China got a ball in hand opportunity as Shane fouled with a three rail escape.

The USA looked in pieces as they watched their opponents run out to victory as the Chinese were down to the 7 ball with three easy shots on the table. Then inexplicably, Li scratched into the side pocket to hand the USA an unlikely win.

Van Boening commented, „We played solid to get to 8, but it was a race to 9. We were 90% favoured to win the match they just got the rolls all the way until the last way. Even so, I’m thinking we have to win. When Rodney missed the 3 ball when it was 8-5, we started to think we could lose.“

‚When I saw that cue ball floating into that side pocket I jumped out of my chair and said ‚go go go! It’s awesome because all we have to do is win two more matches and we win the World Cup of Pool.“

Said a relieved Morris, „We got lucky there at the end! But if you look back they got really lucky too when they were coming back. So these things even out. Everything was going for them.“

„I’ve seen that scratch (LI’s in the last rack) a million times. I didn’t know what he was trying to do there. We played solid in the beginning. We just lost our focus at the end. We have to improve on the break“

For China, a disappointed Liu said, “I was so nervous at the beginning that I was not able to leave good cueball position for Li at all. I make many mistakes and was a little bit in shock, but it went better for us towards the end of the match. Lucky Li was in better form otherwise the match would end up much earlier.“

„It’s a shame we lost. Though he made a mistake to lose the match during the final rack but I made obviously more mistakes than him though the whole match. He was perfect since the match started. We both wanted to win so had the pressure which lead to mistakes. But at the end I think I enjoyed the match as well.“

The 2012 PartyPoker.net World Cup of Pool runs from Tuesday September 4 to Sunday, September 9 at Robinson’s Place, Ermita, Manila.  Once again the total prize fund is US$250,000 with $60,000 going to the eventual champions. The superb venue with plentiful balconies offers superb views of the playing arena, and crowds are in the thousands rather than hundreds.

In the second quarter-final, there was more deciding rack heart-break, this time for the English pair of Darren Appleton and Chris Melling who went down 9-8 to the Chinese Taipei teenagers Han En-hsu & Hsin Ting-chen, who coolly ran out the tricky final rack for victory.

Coming from a country containing the likes of World 8 Ball king, Chang Jung-lin, Ko Pin-yi and Yang Ching-shun, there was some surprise when the 18 and 19 year-olds were nominated for the event after winning a qualifying tournament in Taipei.

However, the way they have played this week, would indicate that there is seemingly endless production line of world class pool talent.

The match was close from the early stages and always looked like it was going to go close. England garnered a 5-3 lead at the midpoint but a ball in hand and a break and run saw the score move to 5-5.

The match then went 6-6 then 7-7 before a quick break and run got the English to the hill with the break. But the Taiwanese took advantage of an opening made by Melling to level the score at 8-8.

The English could only sit and spectate with a sick look on their faces as Han and Hsin ran the final rack for a great victory and a spot in the semi-finals.

The 2012 PARTYPOKER.NET World Cup of Pool is sponsored by PartyPoker.net, the world’s leading online poker school. Cloth is supplied by Iwan Simonis, Super Aramith balls by Saluc, tables by Diamond Billiards and the Official Cue is Predator.

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Luke Riches, Matchroom Sport: luke.riches@matchroom.com  +44 7785 395688

Notes: Matchroom Sport are one of the world’s leading producers of televised sport and are responsible for over 1,000 hours of original programming across a range of sports. Based in the UK and chaired by charismatic founder Barry Hearn, the World Cup of Pool is one of a stable of pool events that include the World Pool Masters and the Mosconi Cup.