Great Britain’s Darren Appleton has crowned himself as the first Ten Ball king after beating 2005 World Pool champion Wu Chia-Ching of Taiwan, 13-11, during Sunday’s finals at the Philippine International Convention Center.
Appleton burst into tears and triumphantly raised his cue stick after sinking the last ball in the seven-day World Ten Ball Championship.
“I knew I had to play virtually the best game of the week, I don’t think I made a lot of mistakes, though I lost the white ball a couple of times,” said the Englishman.
Though he dominated Wu throughout the game, Appleton admitted having a scare after fumbling a shot at the 18th rack. He knew that the Taiwanese is capable of launching a comeback.
“When I missed the ball at 12-9 and he took the next two racks, I though I’ll never gonna see the table again,” he said.
Wu, for his part, thought he could still pull off a win just like he did at the 2005 World Pool Championship when he won the crown over compatriot Kuo Po-Cheng despite being down by four racks.
“For a while when I was taking some of the break I thought it was a replay. But when I missed while the score was 12-11, I knew it was already a goner,” said Wu through his interpreter.
The Taiwanese, however, said he learned a lot from the match.
“Given the chance to turn back time, I would wish and hope for better breaks on the balls which I didn’t quite get on the first few racks,” he said.
The match was pretty close with Appleton leading much of the game.
Wu was even on the verge of winning the game until he missed his shot at the 24th rack. The score was 12-11 in favor of the Englishman.
Appleton pocketed the $100,000 top prize and took home the championship trophy.
Meanwhile, Filipino player Demosthenes “Plong Plong” Pulpul lost to Dutch Niels Feijen in the battle for third place, 11-8.
Pulpul, the last Filipino player to go the distance at the WTBC, missed several shots which was taken advantage by Feijen.
The Cagayan de Oro native, however, said his stint at the World Ten Ball tournament is quite an exciting experience for him.
“Medyo mas mahirap dito ang laro, pero hindi ako takot tumira kasi ‘yung mesa dito maganda,” he said.
He rose to prominence after beating a number of seasoned players on his way to his third place match with Feijen.
He defeated Liu Haitao of China in the quarterfinals following thrilling win over Yang Shing-Sun of Chinese Taipei. Pulpul also beat Japanese player Kazuo Furuta after ousting women’s world No. 1 Jasmin Ouschan.
Pulpul, however, was defeated by Wu at the semifinals.
World Ten Ball returns to Manila next year
Organizers of the WTBC said the event will be back in Manila next year.
World Pool-Billiard Association president Ian Anderson said the WTBC would not go anywhere.
"This early, there's a strong clamor for the WTBC and it will definitely be back next year in Manila," Anderson told sportswriters covering the event. "It will be staged October of next year and there's also the Philippine Open to be held June of 2009."
"I think Manila is the best place to go in hosting pool and it is living up to its billing as the pool Mecca in Asia."
Asked about the absence of several notable players that include Efren "Bata" Reyes, Francisco "Django" Bustamante and Alex Pagulayan, Anderson believes the quality of play in the WPA World Ten Ball Championship will not diminish.
"They're not the only top world players," said Anderson. "We have all reigning champions competing here, we have past and present champions and we also have lady champions in the men's turf. I mean, the absence of Reyes, Bustamante and Pagulayan won't matter in this event because there are a lot of great players out there and the field remains tougher."
Ten Ball, according to Anderson, is a tournament bound to discovering new talents.
"There are talents everywhere and this is a good venue to discovering new ones," said Anderson. "I think right now, ten ball is getting healthier as there are several tournaments with such discipline."