A total of 128 cue masters from Europe, Asia, the United States and the Philippines slugged it out Monday during the first day of the week-long World Ten Ball Championship (WTBC) at the Philippine International Convention Center in Manila.
Vice-President Noli de Castro, himself an avid pool fan, made the ceremonial break that was witnessed by officials of the World Pool-Billiard Association (WPA), International Olympic Committee, Philippine Sports Commission, Philippine Olympic Committee, Billiard and Snooker Congress of the Philippines and tournament organizer Raya Sports.
"Welcome to the World Ten Ball Championship tournament, the first in the world. Welcome to our best players in the Philippines and with that, let the games begin!" de Castro said in his short opening remarks.
Thomas Overbeck, WPA vice-president and tournament director, meanwhile, said he looks forward to the excitement of the next seven days, especially since 10 Ball would be more difficult to play than 9 Ball.
"I think that we'll gonna see an exciting tournament, tough matches, and hopefully the best man wins," he said.
Out of the 128-man main draw, Overbeck said he sees around 30 to 40 names that will make up the final winners' list.
"Out of these 128, I think at least 30 or 40 could win the event. There's always known faces, there's newcomers," he added.
And since it is an inaugural event, the tournament chief said he also expects some concerns to come up.
"As with everything, there are always some things that are not predictable. We will see. [But] I think that we are very well set up," he said.
Meanwhile, Daryl Peach of Great Britain, the reigning World 9 Ball champion, said it is about time that 10 Ball was played.
"We're looking forward to it. I think its about time it happened," he said, adding that most of the players want 10 Ball since it provides more challenges compared to 9 Ball.
"The main difficulty is the break. It's a lot tougher to make a ball, and also one extra ball, it means there might be clusters on the table so it means a lot of pool if you like, a lot more play, a lot more safety, so you know the best players gonna win," he said.
'Good as anybody's'
Asked about his chances of emerging as the inaugural WTBC winner, Peach said: "I think I got a good as chance as anyone. Obviously you need a few rolls to win tournaments, you need a few rolls of things could go for you."
Peace, however, explained that like any other tournaments he has played, there are other contenders for the top prize.
"There's a lot of great players here but I'll be giving it my 100 percent and hopefully I'll be still there in the end," he said.
Ralf Soquet, the reigning World 8 Ball king, meanwhile, told the media during the press conference on Sunday that Filipinos, as well as Europeans and the Taiwanese, could win the tournament.
He said that 10 Ball is more exciting since luck would be taken off the equation during the play.
"I prefer to play in 10 Ball [over 9 Ball] since there will be no luck in this game. Seventy percent of luck is out," he said.
Johnny Archer of the US, on the other hand, said he remains confident of his chances of making it to the finals.
"I like my chances, I've been pretty well laterly, of late. And you know i have a couple of new tips im trying, they feel good," he said.
He added that as long as he gets well-rested, he is certain of his chances of emerging on top.
Archer, who is number eight in the money list of AZBilliards.com with total winnings amounting to $49,945, said he sees 10 Ball as a much better game.
"Well, I'm excited about it, 10 Ball is much better game than 9 Ball, it's harder. I'm hoping that they make it to [with] not so easy to make balls in the break," he said.
"I like 10 Ball. I think 10 Ball is a great game. So I hope they can bring it and give it some legitimacy," he added.
9 and 10 Ball explained
Overbeck explained the differences between 10 Ball and the more often played 9 Ball.
"The problem or the thing with 10 Ball [compared to] 9 Ball is the different shape of the rack. In 9 Ball, you have the diamond shape and in 10 Ball, you have the triangle shape, that's one difference, so the break shot will be different," he said.
He added that the additional ball really adds "something" to the game.
"And the third and maybe major difference between the 9 and the 10 Ball is the way we play it, is the call shot game," he said.
In a call shot game, the player nominates balls in pockets in order for the ball to count.
"So that takes out what you call the flukes that you have in 9 Ball, [like when] you miss a ball that goes in some other place, that doesn't happen in 10 Ball," he said.