The 2014 World Cup of Pool, the sport's single biggest tournament for international doubles teams, is taking place in Portsmouth's Mountbatten Centre, on the South Coast of England.
The 32 top duos in pool will take part in a round-robin tournament between September 23 and 28, and all eyes will once again be on the Philippines' duo of Dennis Orcollo and Lee Vann Corteza as they go looking for their second consecutive title and the $60,000 cash prize, per the event's official website.
Teams will play scotch doubles and race to nine racks, with the exception of the final, which will be more.
England A shocked the world on Sunday by beating Finland in the semi-finals of the 2014 World Cup of Pool, before winning an absolute thriller of a final against the Netherlands, by a score of 10-9. The tournament's Twitter feed conrgatulated the team:
The semi-finals started off with a massive upset, as 2012 champions and title favourites Finland were eliminated by England A, 9-6.
Darren Appleton and Karl Boyes needed a late rally to get past Team USA on Saturday and fell behind 2-0 quickly, but a miss on the two from Mika Immonen on the two allowed them to make their first trip to the table.
The two teams kept things close until 4-4, when Petri Makkonen missed a jump after a solid break. England took over and claimed consecutive racks, opening up a lead they would hold for the rest of the match.
A dry break in the 14th had fans at the edge of their seats, but when Makkonen missed the nine in the next rack, the match was over. England cleared the table and booked their ticket to the final. Pont & Cas Express shared the final pot:
Last year's losing finalists the Netherlands conceded the opening rack to Austria but were flawless as soon as they found the table, winning nine straight racks to embarrass their opponents.
Niels Feijen and Nick van den Berg had been the top duo throughout the tournament so far, and as shared by the event's Twitter feed, they would now have the chance to claim the title against the hometown favourites:
They didn't expect an easy match against England, however, as Van den Berg told Matchroompool.com:
We are playing England in the final this year and that will be tougher [than Philippines last year] because they are at home.
Last year was our first final and for us it was a bit of a surprise to reach the final. This year we came as finalists, so it has been different for us.
In the final, the hosts took advantage of a bad miss by Van den Berg to claim the first rack, but the Dutch team soon overcame their nerves. Behind some solid breaks, the quickly ran out to a two-rack lead.
Momentum remained with the Netherlands until rack 13, when a miss from Van den Berg allowed England to clear the table. One golden break later (only the second of the tournament), and both pairs were even.
The event's Twitter feed couldn't believe it:
The Netherlands kept their cool in the next two racks (including a phenomenal shot from Feijen on the nine in the 18th), breaking for the win in the 19th. The break was dry, allowing England at least one more shot at the table. Appleton played an excellent shot on the five, keeping his team's hopes alive.
England's break a rack later was good, and as Appleton took out the nine to set up a deciding rack, the crowd erupted.
Holland took control of the table in the final rack, converting on the six and seven before missing on the eight. Boyes also missed, but was able to hide the cue ball behind the nine. Appleton then returned to the table and made the pot, and Boyes nailed the final shot, winning England the World Cup of Pool.
The Netherlands lost their second consecutive final, while England won their very first World Cup in the tournament's young history.
The 2014 World Cup of Pool quarter-finals were played on Saturday, as the format saw a slight tweak. Teams raced to nine racks instead of seven, and the afternoon session immediately saw two massive upsets.
Defending champions Philippines were knocked out after a thriller by Finland, while China looked out of sync and had no chance against a nearly flawless Austrian team.
The Netherlands needed an epic comeback to get past Germany, and England A led from start to finish to eliminate Team USA.
The full quarter-final results:
|World Cup of Pool Quarter-Final Results|
Austria won the rack and took advantage of a poor break in the third rack to establish themselves on the table, and before anyone knew what was happening, they held a 7-1 advantage.
Mario He and Albin Ouschan linked superb runs and took full advantage of Wang Can and Dang Jinhu's struggles on the safety, closing the deal in just 12 racks. The Pool Hub couldn't hide their disappointment over China's poor play:
Ouschan acknowledged their performance was aided by the many mistakes of the Chinese team, as he told Matchroom Pool:
We played well under pressure and they made a couple of mistakes which we didn’t expect. Holland and Germany are both very good and that will be a good match this evening. I don’t care who wins and who we play.
China played perfectly against England B yesterday but today they made a lot of mistakes. It is race to nine, we broke and run four racks today and anybody can do that at this stage. Anybody can win the tournament.
Austria's win signaled a wild and exciting day of quarter-finals, as 2012 champions Finland eliminated the Philippines's duo of Dennis Orcollo and Lee Vann Corteza, last year's champions.
Pro9's Dave Knight couldn't believe it:
The defending champions hadn't looked their best throughout the tournament but did well to keep things tied until 7-7, but a mistake from Orcollo gave the Fins the ball in hand.
Mika Immonen and Petri Makkonen won the rack and never let the Philippines' duo return to the table, punching their ticket for the semi-finals.
The Netherlands trailed Germany from the third rack to a 7-7 tie but made the difference on the eight ball, taking the final two racks to win 9-7.
Thorsten Hohmann missed a sitter and the duo of Niels Feijen and Nick van den Berg cleared the table and scored a good break, finishing the match in style.
The Dutch duo were losing finalists last year, and with the Philippines now out of the tournament, they appear to be in excellent position heading into the semi-finals.
England A sprinted out to a 7-2 lead over the American duo but surrendered five straight racks, only for the USA to come up with a dry break. England returned to the table and remained calm, knocking the powerful Americans out of the tournament.
|Afternoon Session||Semi-Final 1||Finland||v||England A|
Europe reigns supreme in 2014, and all eyes will be on the hometown favourites England and last year's losing finalists the Netherlands when the final day of competition starts on Sunday.
The first second-round matches of the afternoon session on Day 4 of the 2014 World Cup of Pool, nearly produced a shock when unseeded Switzerland pushed second seed the Netherlandsto the brink.
There was also room for some ominous form from Finland. The eighth seed humiliated Poland to earn a spot in the quarter-final. Meanwhile, Qatar, fresh from dispatching Chinese Tapei, nearly did the same to Austria.
Here's all of the results and scores from the afternoon session:
|World Cup of Pool Round 2 Friday Afternoon Session Results|
Holland and Switzerland played out a surprisingly close match to cap the afternoon session. The Swiss were bidding to be the first unseeded nation to advance to the quarter-final stage.
Their chances looked good during the sixth rack where Holland made a crucial mistake. Nick van den Berg produced a brilliant shot to sink the five ball, then somehow contrived to miss an easy pocket on the seven.
Things got worse for Holland during rack seven. That's when the Swiss fluked into sinking the nine after a fortunate ricochet of the six ball left the crowd in Portsmouth stunned.
But an illegal break by the Swiss to start the eighth rack gave Holland the opportunity to reassert control. The Dutch duly obliged and sent the Swiss, who were the only non-seeded nation still in the competition, packing.
Earlier, Finland blanked Poland, taking all seven racks without reply. Petri Makkonen was superb in rack three. He and partner Mika Immonen are yet to lose a rack at this tournament.
Things weren't as easy for Austria. The nation battled back from two racks down, brilliantly sinking three balls to even things at two apiece.
Eventually, it was left to Jasmin Ouschan to nudge the six in for the narrow 7-5 win.
The evening session saw England B destroyed by China in a 7-0 whitewash. However, England's A team fared considerably better. There was also a major scare for Germany:
Here are the full results and scores from Day 4's evening session:
|World Cup of Pool Round 2 Friday Evening Session Results|
|England A(4)||7-1||Greece(13)||England A|
Germany were well and truly let of the hook when Canada's John Morra felt the pressure and failed to sink the eight ball during the 11th rack. That allowed Germany to escape with a 7-6 winning margin after Thorston Hohmann saw out the next rack to break Canadian hearts.
Later, Karl Boyes and Darren Appleton made up for the the beating suffered by England's B team. The pair made some fine shots, notably the six and nine smoothly sunk by Boyes to claim the opening rack. In the end, they comprehensively beat Greece.
These results have set the quarter-final draw. Here's how that looks, along with the updated schedule:
|Quarter-final Draw and Schedule for Saturday, September 27|
|Draw||Quarter-Final 1||Time||Quarter-Final 2||Time|
|Top Half||Philippines vs. Finland||1 p.m. (BST)||USA vs. England A||7.30 p.m. (BST)|
|Bottom Half||China vs. Austria||1 p.m. (BST)||Germany vs. Holland||7.30 p.m. (BST)|
Given how well the Finns have played, Makkonen and Immonen will be tough to beat, even with Holland, USA and England A still left in the tournament.
The final fixtures of the first round of the 2014 World Cup of Pool were concluded on Thursday, and the tournament immediately continued with several high-profile second-round matches.
The Philippines struggled for the second consecutive match but rode their luck to a win over France and a ticket to the quarter-finals, while the USA also needed to go deep to dispatch of a feisty Russian team.
Here are the full results:
|World Cup of Pool: Thursday's Results|
|Round 1||Germany (7)||7-1||Malaysia|
|England B (14)||7-6||India|
The afternoon session saw no major upsets and little drama, as the losing duos combined to win just five racks on the day. Germany, Canada and Switzerland all comfortably qualified for the second round, while Malaysia, Malta and Belgium were forced to pack their bags.
Thorsten Hohmann and Ralf Souquet made quick work of the Malaysian team of Alan Tan and Ibrahim Amir, cruising to a 7-1 win. Malaysia took the first rack but made a crucial mistake in the second, and the German favourites cleared the table from that point.
Hohmann was very satisfied with their performance, as he told matchroompool.com:
We’re obviously very happy with the result and the performance.
I missed a bank shot in the first rack but after that we didn’t make too many mistakes. We got a little fortunate getting balls after the break, that is very important and we were able to string a few racks together so that helped our confidence.
We are still trying to figure out the speed of the table but I think this match will set us up positively for the rest of the tournament,
Germany will take on Canada, who had a similarly easy match on Thursday, beating Malta 7-1. Alex Pagulayan and John Morra came up with a dry break in the second rack and Tony Drago and Alex Borg cleared the table, but from that point on, it was all Canada.
The Belgian duo of Serge Das and Olivier Mortier came in as substitutes from Team Thailand, and while they've shown some strong form in previous editions, they had little chance in their match against Switzerland.
Ronni Regli and Dimitri Jungo took advantage of sloppy play to race out to an early lead, as shared by Betway:
The Swiss continued their strong play and closed out the match 7-3, setting up a date with the Netherlands in the next round.
England B and India kept things very close in the final match of the first round, but the home favourites were able to squeeze out a win in a decider, beating their opponents, 7-6.
The Indian team held the advantage for much of the match, but a crucial miss on the three-ball saw England B take a 6-5 lead. India pulled level only to break illegally, and the hosts kept their heads cool and took the final rack. Here's Dary Peach scoring the final shot:
The Philippines clearly haven't found their championship form of last year yet, but thanks to some late luck, they were able to get past France, 7-5. The French duo played an excellent match to keep things tight but missed a crucial shot in the 12th rack, clipping the fourth on the centre pocket.
The defending champions have ridden their luck so far in the tournament, and a similar performance in the quarter-final could see their title defence come to an abrupt end.
Russia's Konstantin Stepanov and Ruslan Chinakov took on the American duo of Earl Strickland and Shane Van Boening, and fans were treated to another tight match in the final fixture of the night. The USA trailed Russia for much of the night but made the difference when it counted, winning 7-5.
The schedule for the remaining matches of the second round:
|Round 2 Schedule (Friday)|
Finland looked phenomenal in the first round, but a fixture against Poland will provide the 2012 champions with a stern test. The Netherlands avoided a potential draw against their neighbours from the south, but Switzerland still won't make things easy on one of the strong favourites for the title.
Day 2 of the action in Portsmouth produced victories for Poland and China in the afternoon session, along with the exit of Chinese Taipei at the hands of Qatar, the underdogs edging their way into the competition's second round.
|World Cup of Pool: Wednesday's Results|
The Polish pair of Karol Skowerski and Mateusz Sniegocki knocked Australian representatives Phil Reilly and James Georgiadis out of the World Cup running in Wednesday's first fixture.
Despite several attempts to pull their opponents back to level terms, Reilly and Georgiadis ultimately succumbed 7-4. After taking the first rack, things looked up for the Australians, but it wasn't long before Poland assumed a 3-1 lead, per Betway:
Australia fought back, tying matters up at 4-4 at one point. However, an illegal break proved decisive in the ninth rack, and from there, Skowerski and Sniegocki eased into a second-phase fixture opposite favourites Finland.
China had an even tougher time in disposing of the Czech Republic, who at one point claimed a 5-3 lead only to throw the advantage away:
The Czech pairing of Roman Hybler and Michal Gavenciak did well to stun their foes, but China showed class in coming back to run out 7-5 victors, winning the final four racks in succession. A scratch on the break from Hybler with the scores at 5-4 proved particularly pivotal.
Last up in the afternoon games was Chinese Taipei and Qatar, with the former heading into the match as favourites. However, they fell victim to complacency in what commentator Ted Lerner predicted prior to the game, per Matchroom Pool, would be a "historic upset."
Waleed Majid and Bashar Hussain of Qatar took a grip of the tie from the offset and sailed into a 2-0 lead. Only once, at 6-5, did they allow their opponents to come with one of their score, but most importantly they never dropped the lead.
A series of mind games at fixture's end saw the roles of power change hands back and forth, but a failure to capitalise from Chinese Taipei opened the door for Qatar to take the final game and strut into the second round, where they'll meet Austria.
For the most part, the evening matchups made for swifter viewing as Holland and United States moved past Sweden and Croatia respectively with scores of 7-3 and 7-2.
However, England A were made to work for their victory over Spain in a 13-rack thriller, with Darren Appleton and Karl Boyes on several occasions looking as though they might be out of the competition early.
The Spanish duo of David Alcaide and Francisco Diaz-Pizarro looked equally edgy in the opening phases of the match, but a seven-eight break with the scores at 4-3 opened up a two-rack cushion that put them in good stead for the climax.
Appleton and Boyes would have the last say, though, taking two racks to tie matters at five apiece, before stuttering over the line for victory.
The hosts will face Greece in their next game of the competition.
Favourites Finland, Austria and the Philippines easily won their opening-round fixtures, but Japan and Italy became the first seeded teams to fall at the very first hurdle during Tuesday's action.
The full results for Tuesday's matches can be seen below:
|World Cup of Pool: Tuesday's Results|
Greece had to fight back from a 5-2 deficit to beat Indonesia in a decider, winning 7-6 to avoid becoming the first seeded team to be knocked out of the tournament.
Nikos Ekonomopoulos and Alexander Kazakis took the opening rack but quickly fell behind the pair of Irsal Nasution and Muhammad Zulfikri, as Indonesia showcased dominance on the break. The three-rack lead appeared to be safe, but Greece rediscovered their form in the eighth. Betway had to make a comparison to a different sport:
Fans were treated to a decider in the very first match of the competition, and what a decider it was. Zulfikri had an open shot on the four and a chance to complete the upset but missed, allowing the Greek duo to clear the table.
France did what the Indonesians couldn't do, knocking out the first seeded team of the tournament. Italy came in with high hopes, but a 7-4 loss ended their tournament before it truly began.
Stephan Cohen and Alex Montpellier had a shaky start with a poor safety, but Fabio Petroni and Daniele Corrieri soon saw mistakes creep into their play.
Tied at three racks each, the Italians started losing track of the shot clock and gifted France three quick racks, and an illegal break in the final rack was followed by some safety play and an eventual French win.
Cohen told Matchroompool.com it was a very close affair that was decided by "big moments:"
It was a tight match but there were some big moments. They forgot to call for the shot clock extension when they led 3-2 and that was big. They got a bit frustrated after that and we played very well. We only missed one ball each so we are happy that we played well.
There is more pressure in scotch doubles because you are not playing by yourself and there is no rhythm. You are responsible for your partner as well, so it is a different pressure. Sometimes it can be tricky.
Austria smashed Portugal 7-2, as shared by snookerthailand.net, capping off the afternoon session.
Russia upset Japan in the evening session, winning a back-and-forth affair 7-6. Masaaki Tanaka appeared to have won it with an incredible shot on the two ball, but a miss on seven gave the Russians the opportunity to clear the table in the final rack.
2012 champions Finland made quick work of South Korea, thrashing the underdogs 7-0 in a complete performance. Mika Immonen and Petri Makkonen were nearly flawless on Tuesday, hardly allowing Jeong Yung Hwa and Ha Minuk to see the table.
In the final match of the night, Chile didn't make things easy on the defending champions Philippines, who emerged victorious 7-5 after a long, tough battle.
A quick spurt to a 3-1 lead was followed by a myriad of errors, and the Chilean duo of Alejandro Carvajal and Enrique Rojas took full advantage. The favourites pulled through in the end, however, setting up a date with France in the next round.
Here's a look at the schedule for the remaining round-of-32 matchups:
|Round of 32 Schedule|
|Day||Seeded Team||v||Unseeded Team|
|Wednesday||China (3)||v||Czech Republic|
|Wednesday||Chinese Taipei (6)||v||Qatar|
|Thursday||England B (14)||v||India|
The Netherlands, England and Germany are the strong favourites to rival the Philippines for the 2014 title, while the Chinese and American teams also shouldn't be overlooked.