Kaohsiung World Pool Championships

Monday, January 9, 2006

With total prize money of US$350,000, the 2005 Kaohsiung World Pool Championships caught the attention of pool experts from all over the world. From the 2nd to the 10th of July, 128 pool experts from all over the world contended for the title of World Champion, and after a gruelling competition, the champion rewarded himself with a stay in Taiwan. The champion was a 16 year old boy by the name of Chia- Ching Wu, who has also made history by being the youngest World champion ever.

This is the first time ever that the World Pool Championships has been held in Kaohsiung and was a huge success given the number of high profile players that it attracted. Amongst these pool experts were the 1993 and 2000 World Champions, Fong-Pang Chao and Ching-Shun Yang respectively, as well as the 2004 runner up, Pei-Wei Chang, of which all are local athletes. Besides the local athletes, many other top athletes competed, including last year's World Champion from Canada, Alex Pagulayan, the 2003 World Champion from Germany, Thorsten Hohmann, the current top ranking player, Ralf Souquet, the only player to win the World Championships three times, American Earl Strickland, the champion from 1999, Filipino Efran Reyes, the king of pool, Franciscio Bustamante, and the 2001 World Champion, Mike Immonen from Finland.

In the opening ceremony, the Acting Mayor of Kaohsiung, Chan Chi Mai said that due to the fact that there are many pool experts based in Kaohsiung striving day after day to raise the competitive standard of the game, Taiwan has earned the title of the "Pool Kingdom", which makes the tournament in Kaohsiung all the more meaningful.

The 2005 Kaohsiung World Pool Championships were put together by the collective efforts of the Kaohsiung City Government, ESPN STAR Sports, Matchroom Sports, the National Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, and the Chinese Taipei Billiards Association. Ten of Taiwanese most renowned pool experts including, Po- Cheng Kuo, Fong- Pang Chao, Ying- Chieh Chen, Jung- Ling Chang, Hua- Fong Wang, Chia- Ching Wu, Chun- Chiang Liu, Hui- Kai Hsia, Kun- Chang Huang, and Chien- Che Huang all made it to the final 32. Another player that deserves a mention is Kaohsiung athlete, Ching-Shun Yang, who lost to English athlete, Raj Hundal in the final 64.

On the 10th of July, the final day of competition, Chia- Ching Wu completed the "impossible" by beating another Taiwanese athlete, Po- Cheng Kuo, with a score of 12:6 to 17:16 to be crowned the champion of the 2005 Kaohsiung World Pool Championships. At just 16 years old, Chia- Ching Wu became the youngest World Champion in pool history. After the game, Chia- Ching Wu raised both his arms up into the air with excitement and collected his prize of US$75,000. Finally, the champion hugged his grandmother tightly, and said with tears, "this championship win is dedicated to my grandmother who has always been there to support and encourage me".