Yang Triumphs over Chao in Battle of Hometown favourites

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Kaohsiung, TAIWAN :  In a mighty clash between two of Taiwan's favourite pool players, the protégé Yang Ching-Shun prevailed over his long-time mentor Chao Fong-Pang 11-6 at the final of the Guinness 9-Ball Tour Kaohsiung tournament at the jam-packed Kaohsiung Business Exhibition Center.

Of the six players Taiwan fielded for this leg, only Yang and Chao are native to Kaohsiung, and it was appropriate that the two should fight out for the US$15,000 winner's purse, after recording semi-final wins over Wu Yu-Lun (TWN) and Ronnie Alcano (PHI) respectively.

Earlier, Yang had given three-time World Junior Champion Wu a lesson in composure, with Wu thrice scratching off his power break. From 2-7 behind, Wu managed to close the gap to 5-7 before Yang took another rack. Wu then won two more racks and had a golden chance to level the scores in Rack 16. Breaking first, Wu committed a mistake on the 1-ball, allowing Yang to clean up. Yang went on to take two of the next three racks to complete the win.

"Speaking after the semi-final win, Yang said: "I'm feeling good and I'm able to read the table well. Wu's power break was spectacular but he often found himself out of position, or scratching, which handed me the initiative. I'd prefer to meet Chao in the final as there won't be much pressure to win – between us, winning and losing is an everyday thing."

And Chao duly delivered after defeating Alcano 11-6 in the battle of two World Champions.

It was Alcano who started the hotter, opening up with a solid 3-1 lead, highlighted by a magnificent 3-ball corner pocket off a two rail kick in Rack 3. But spurred on by his hometown fans, Chao turned the tide to win six straight racks, including capitalising on Alcano's mental lapses in Racks 6 and 8.

Alcano then shifted to a soft-break, taking three of the next four racks before Chao surged again. From 8-6, Chao took the next two racks to break Alcano's spirit. Needing to win Rack 17 to stay in the match, Alcano was presented with a golden opportunity with an easy 3-9 combo. Alcano proceeded to fluff the shot, allowing Chao to complete a popular win.

Commented Alcano: "It's ok. Chao really was the better man today. His break was going for him all through out the match. Plus he ate up the difficult positional plays I gave him. Even after using my soft-break I knew it was going to be very hard to come away with the win so I guess it's alright. I'm still proud of myself."

Having been knocked out by Alcano in the Group Stage in Jakarta, Yang was out for redemption in Kaohsiung. A three-time winner on the Asian 9-Ball Tour, including the very first tournament in Singapore back in 2003, Yang was a mirror of calmness as he jumped to a 2-0 lead. Opening the match up with a runout, he cleaned up Rack 2 after Chao came up dry in the second rack. Chao levelled at 2-2 and then 3-3 before Yang went on a four-rack run to lead 7-3.

Chao then won Rack 11 on the three-consecutive-foul rule, a rare occurrence in the game of pool. Off the break, Yang messed up an easy pot on the 3-Ball to snooker himself. Unable to get a shot on the 4-Ball, Yang committed a deliberate foul by hitting the 6-Ball close to the 4-Ball to prevent Chao from getting a shot with ball in hand. The ploy backfired as Chao was able to set of a safety that Yang was unable to get out of. Chao then repeated the dose to force the third foul from Yang that cost him an automatic rack forfeit.

Despite taking three of the next four racks to close to 6-8, Chao was helpless as Yang surged again, taking the next three racks to complete a deserved victory.

Said Yang after the victory: "I feel great. I knew my form had not been good lately, so I made sure I prepared well in the two weeks leading up to this event. I have made sacrifices and this is the fruit of my labour. It's not always that you get rewarded for what you put in, so I am delighted."

The Guinness 9-Ball Tour moves next to Malaysia with the tournament to be held from June 15-17 at Genting Highlands. In July, the Tour goes to Singapore before going to Shanghai in August. The Guinness 9-Ball Tour Grand Finals will be held in Bali from August 31 to September 2, offering a winner's purse of US$36,000, one of the biggest in world pool competitions.

Final Day Results:

Semi-final 1 Yang Ching-Shun (TWN) vs Wu Yu-Lun (TWN) 11-8
Semi-final 2 Chao Fong-Pang (TWN) vs Ronato Alcano (PHI) 11-6
Final Yang Ching-Shun (TWN) vs Chao Fong-Pang (TWN) 11-6

Players List of Quarter Finals:

Lu Hui-Chan (TPE) vs. Wu Yu-Lun (TPE)
Ronato Alcano (PHI) vs. Chan Keng-Kwan (SIN)
Au Chi Wai (HKG) vs. Yang Ching-Shun (TPE)
Chao Fong-Pang (TPE) vs. Ricky Yang (INA)

Players List of Taiwan Leg :

Hong Kong │ Au Chi Wai
India │ Dharminder Singh Lilly
Indonesia │ Muhammad Zulfikri, Mohammad Bewi Simanjuntak, Ricky Yang
Japan │ Naoyuki Oi, Uchigaki Kenichi
Korea │ Ryu Seung-Woo
Malaysia │ Ibrahim Amir, Patrick Ooi Fook Yuen
Philippines │ Ronato Alcano, Alejandro Pagulayan, Antonio Gabica, Antonio Lining
Singapore │ Chan Keng Kwang, Bernard Tey Choon Kiat
Taiwan│ Chang Jung-Lin, Chao Fong-Pang, Wu Chia-Ching, Yang Ching-Shun, Wu Yu-Lun, LU Hui-Chan
Thailand │ Nitiwat Kanjanasri
Vietnam │ Luong Chi Dung