Newly-crowned World 9-Ball champion Ko Pin-Yi of Chinese Taipei and runner-up Shane van Boening of the United States pose with Qatar Olympic Committee secretary general Mishal bin Nasser al-Khalifa, Qatar Billiards and Snooker Federation president Mohamed Mubarak al-Ramzani, World Pool-Billiard Association president Ian Anderson and other officials after the final at Al Arabi Sports Hall yesterday. (Pictures by Hussain Ali)
By Mikhil Bhat/Doha
What a year it has been for Ko Pin-Yi! After winning the World 10-Ball Championship in the Philippines earlier this year, the 26-year-old from Chinese Taipei added the WPA World 9-Ball Championship to his cabinet in Doha yesterday.
Pin-Yi beat American Shane van Boening 13-11 at the Al Arabi Sports Hall yesterday to pocket the winner’s prize cheque of USD 30,000.
“I am happy about the win, but at the same time I also find it unbelievable. I was lucky to have won the final despite not playing my best in the final today,” Pin-Yi said, talking through Qatar’s pool coach Steven Lin, also from Chinese Taipei. The title is also the first time for a Chinese Taipei player in 10 years.
The last time a player from Chinese Taipei won the world 9-ball title, it was Wu Jia Qing, Pin-Yi semi-final opponent yesterday, in 2005. Jia Qing, who now plays for China was named Wu Chia-Ching then and is the youngest ever to have won the title at the age of 16 years and five months. Yesterday, Pin-Yi won their encounter 11-10.
Talking about the luck factor in his semi-final match, Pin-Yi said, “Wu Jia Qing was leading 7-6 when he made a mistake on his safety shot. That gave me an opportunity to get back into the game and reach the final. This game anything can happen. There is a lot of pressure.”
In the ninth rack of the final, Pin-Yi missed a straightforward seven to which Van Boening played safety. Pin-Yi then potted the cue but luckily for him the seven ended up right next to the eight, which meant the American couldn’t pot the ball despite having cue in hand.
After a couple of more shots, Van Boening tried a jumpshot over the eight to pot seven but only managed to set it up for Pin-Yi, who duly wraps up the rack this time.
In the 17th rack, with the scores level at 8-8, Pin-Yi was going good for a clean-up but inexplicably missed the eight, and the American coolly took the lead.
Pin-Yi finally got everything together in the last three racks of the match, to win his first 9-Ball world title.
While both the finalists had played near perfectly in the run-up to the final, the race-to-13 finale tested both the cueists to the full.
“My breaks weren’t working. Plus a huge crowd had gathered and I came under a lot of pressure. It just did not work out the way I had hoped it would,” Van Boening, who had beaten Pin-Yi’s younger brother Pin-Chung 11-1 in the semi-finals earlier in the day, said.
It was Pin-Chung’s 20th birthday yesterday, and when asked if it was a revenge of sorts, Pin-Yi said, “I prefer not to think about it that way.”
Asked about his opponent, the world number three said, “Shane van Boening is one of the nicest guys on the tour.
“He behaved like a gentleman during the game and was very courteous even after the match. More than that, he is a great player. It was a nice experience playing with him in the final.”
Pin-Yi, who won the 10-Ball title in February this year, admitted: “I think both of us played really well coming into the finals but we weren’t at our best in the final. I started feeling the pressure 8-all onward. We both made mistakes, but it still turned out to be a thriller. Every time I made a mistake, I was hoping for a chance.”
Pin-Yi will not have the time to enjoy his win in the championship because he is headed to the World Cup of Pool in London with compatriot Chang Yu Lung.
Semi-finals: Ko Pin-Yi (TPE) 11-10 Wi Jia Qing (CHN); Shane van Boening (USA) 11-1 Ko Pin-Chung (TPE)
Final: Ko Pin-Yi (TPE) 13-11 Shane van Boening (USA)
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