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Eddy Merckx strikes again in Seoul

Posted by on November 18, 2018

Eddy Merckx strikes again in Seoul

© Kozoom Studio
Eddy Merckx after his final shot in the World Cup: winner in Seoul

SEOUL - When Belgian Eddy Merckx steps into the arena for a final match of a World Cup, the winner is known in advance. The 50-year-old three cushion star played eleven finals in his career, and just won his tenth.  It was his first this year.  He was the best this summer in the Survival Masters in Seoul and the Verhoeven Open in New York. The player on top of the podium defeated Filippos Kasidokostas in Seoul's final. The 'come-back kid', who played a great tournament, could not threaten Merckx on the final day: 40-19 in 19 innings. The Greek launched the final with a run of 7, trailed 13-7 in the fifth inning and then lost his way to success. Merckx showed himself superior with little runs, scored an 'eight' for 36-18 in the 17th and passed the finish line one inning later. Prior to that, Merckx also mastered Dick Jaspers with a quick start (22-11 in 10) and 40-34 in 19 in the semi-final. Filippos Kasidokostas reached the final by a victory over Korean hometown hero Bong-Chul Kim. In the world ranking Frédéric Caudron is still the number one with 50 points ahead of Dick Jaspers. Caudron may call himself the winner of the World Cup cycle 2018 after Seoul.

Eddy Merckx played one of those tournaments in which he overwhelmed his opponents one by one and then delivered them the knock-out. At the start of the main tournament, Pedro Piedrabuena was beaten 40-26 in 20, Jae-Guen Kim was stunned in the last sixteen (40-16 in 15, Merckx' best match), Eddy Leppens opposed until the end, but eventually had to deal with Merckx's strong showing, Dick Jaspers started his final sprint too late and Kasidokostas had fired all his guns by the time he came to the final.

The honors list of Eddy Merckx shows an unprecedented regularity in the World Cups. The Belgian takes one World Cup almost every year, only last year he won twice, in Ho Chi Minh and El Gouna. The two time world champion (2006 and 2012), has only lost one World Cup final and that was in 2008 in Hurghada against Dani Sánchez.

Filippos Kasidokostas, who turned 35 this week, announced a serious come-back one year ago. And it was not an ordinary return to the big events. The Greek played for a long time with a terribly shaking right hand by a nervous disturbance in the shoulder. A surgery was no option, because it was too dangerous. However, Kasidokostas didn't' want to give up the sport that he loves so much. He started a training regime with the right hand in front, in billiards called 'the wrong hand'. The experts predicted that it was impossible to grow to a high level, but Kasidokostas proved them wrong. ,"I needed two years to grow to my best again'' he said at his come-back in the World Cups.

He returned on high level much faster than expected: the Greek fired up his qualities in national tournaments, won the Greek championship, could not yet shine internationally, but now delivered an excellent performance in Seoul like in his best years. Kasidokostas was a super talent in his early years. He took the junior world title three times, was the world's best in Lausanne in 2009 when he was just 25, in a final against Eddy Merckx. In the next year, 2010, he won the World cup in Hurghada in a final against Caudron and was second in the Suwon World Cup in a final against Jaspers.

Filippos Kasidokostas and Eddy Merckx lag for the break in the final match

The last day started with high scores for the final four players: Filippos Kasidokostas 2.352, Bung Chul Kim 2.181, Dick Jaspers 2.000, Eddy Merckx 1.935. Eddy Merckx and Dick Jaspers faced each other for the third time this year with a place in the Final at stake. Dick Jaspers was the best in the World Cup in Blankenberge, 40-23 in 19 and then seized victory in the final against Semih Sayginer. Eddy Merckx beat Jaspers in McCreery's tournament in New York, 50-28 in 22 and lost in the final against Frédéric Caudron.

The match between the two matadors in Seoul came to life in the final part. Eddy Merckx was the better player in the first part and led 22-11 at the break. With a run of 7, Merckx even ran out to 35-18. Jaspers, close to being knocked out started a counter attack with a run of 8 (35-26), followed by 5 (36-31). Two misses by Merckx in the last innings brought back a little tension, but the Belgian finished just in time with 4. Jaspers missed his second point in the equalizer by a kiss: 40-34 in 19.

Bong Chul Kim's roll came to an end in the semi-finals. His long adventure in this World Cup was rightly rewarded by a thunderous applause. Filippos Kasidokostas outplayed the last Korean fighter in a one-way match, in which he started with 4-4-4, led 12-1 and after a run of ten it was 23-5 in 7 at the break. The come-back after a short stop was lacking, Bong Chul couldn't deal with the stress and made too many mistakes. Kasidokostas was the master blaster with a final run of 7 and won 40-16 in 17 innings.

Bong Chul Kim (38), cheered by his wife and children, said farewell to the sweetest tournament in his career. He started the World Cup on Tuesday, and shone with high runs and high averages.  He  reached the main draw as third runners-up and knocked out Torbjörn Blomdahl, Jean Paul de Bruijn and Nguyen Quoc Nguyen. The glorious days will give him eternal fame in the Korean billiard world.

The Seoul World Cup 2018 goes into history with the marvellous run of Myung-Woo Cho. In his match against Tonny Carlsen the 20 year-young Korean scored a sensational 24, only four points short of tying the world record. It was the match in which Cho secured his place in the main event as runner-up with the best average. In the first knock-out round, two high flyers from the pre-rounds started the battle: Myung-Woo Cho and Semih Sayginer, who came to the main with 2.580. The match between the Korean and the Turk turned out to be a thriller which was won by little Cho 40-38 in 22 innings. Dong-Koong Kang played the best match of the tournament against Coklu 40-24 in 11 innings and  3.636 was his average. Myung-Woo Cho with his run of 24 was followed by Eddy Leppens with 19 and Filippos Kasikostas with 18.

The first round was a real battlefield for seven of the top ten players. Frédéric Caudron, HaengJik Kim, Jae-Ho Cho, Sameh Sidhom, Jung-Han Heo, Murat Naci Coklu and Quyet Chien Tran were eliminated on the first day, as well as other world class players Torbjörn Blomdahl and Dani Sánchez. The Koreans ran into more evil in the second round, in which Hyun Min Seo, Sung-Uk Oh, Myung-Woo Cho, Dong Koong Kang and Jae-Guen Kim disappeared from the scene and only Bong Chul Kim remained. In the run-up to the final day, Robinson Morales, the best of the South Americans, was eliminated by Filippos Kasidokostas and Eddy Merckx won the Belgian clash against Eddy Leppens.

The World Cup cycle has one more event to go in Hurghada, from December 2-8. Frédéric Caudron, winner in Antalya and Porto, secured the overall win for 2018. He is topping the ranking with 260 points. Dick Jaspers is second with 168, Semih Sayginer third with 160 points.

The four final players, left to right: Filippos Kasidokostas, Eddy Merckx, Bong-Chul Kim and Dick Jaspers

The final ranking in Seoul World Cup:

1 Eddy Merckx 10-2.000-10
2 Filippos Kasidokostas 8-2.057-18
3 Dick Jaspers 6-1.949-12
3 Bong Chul Kim 6-1.888-13
5 Nguyen Quoc Nguyen 4-2.382-11 (hoogste toernooigemiddelde)
6 Marco Zanetti 4-1.950-8
7 Robinson Morales 4-1.476-9
8 Eddy Leppens 4-1.468-19
9 Dong-Koong Kang 2-2.162-13
10 Jean Paul de Bruijn 2-1.911-12
11 Hyun Min Seo 2-1.853-13
12 Myung-Woo Cho 2-1.604-24
13 Jae-Guen Kim 2-1.473-9
14 Can Capak 2-1.333-11
15 Anh Vu Duong 2-1.283-10.
Tournament average: 1.717.

UMB president Farouk Barki speaking during the winners ceremony.

The new world ranking:

1 Frédéric Caudron 448 points
2 Dick Jaspers 398
3 Eddy Merckx 332
4 Marco Zanetti 286
5 Semih Sayginer 268
6 Quyet Chien Tran 254
7 Jae-Ho Cho 244
8 Jung-Han Heo 216
9 Nguyen Quoc Nguyen 213
10 Sameh Sidhom 206
11 Jérémy Bury 204
12 Tayfun Tasdemir 203
13 Torbjörn Blomdahl 202
14 Sung-Won Choi 198
15 Murat Naci Coklu 192
16 Dinh Nai Ngo 185
17 Eddy Leppens 176
18 Dani Sánchez 176
19 HaengJik Kim 160
20 Dong-Koong Kang 152
21 Nikos Polychronopoulos 151
22 Minh Cam Ma 140
23 Myung-Woo Cho
24 Martin Horn 135
25 Tonny Carlsen 132.
Filippos Kasidokostas is 27th with 115 points. Bong Chul Kim is in 48th position.

Eddy Merckx after his win in the semi-finals over Dick Jaspers

Dick Jaspers, only beaten in the semi-final by Merckx, still the number 2 on the world ranking

Eddy Merckx playing wrong-handed in a shot against Jaspers in the semi's

Filippos Kasidokostas and Bong Chul Kim shake hands before the semi finals

Filippos Kasidokostas, back in business after his final place in Seoul

Filippos Kasidokostas in the semi final against Kim

Bong-Chul Kim, hometown hero in Seoul

Myung-Woo Cho wrote history with his run of 24

The full stands in the World Cup arena during the finals

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My Comments

The King is back!!!!!!!
You said: "When Belgian Eddy Merckx steps into the arena for a final match of a World Cup, the winner is known in advance." NO!!!!! my friend... NO!!!!! The winner of this World Cup is one and only... FILLIPOS KASIODOKOSTAS. Because of all the problems he faced in his life the last 5 years. I won't explain now because (many of you know them) it will take me 100 pages to write. I hope Fillipos to continue playing like this for a long time... He deserves it.

Message 1/2 - Publish at November 19, 2018 11:28 PM

Filippos simply Amazing!!!
As much as I like Eddy Merkx and your wonderful forums but I had to put my hands down for Filippos. With tremendous dedications, I don't think anybody in the history of billiards can do what he did, competing and playing wnorld class levels with the WRONG HAND...WOW. Eventhough he got second place, but his accomplishments meant a lot more than anyone can imagine or anyone can DO. With his style of playing right now, I believe he will be the CHAMP very soon...He is the one and only FILIPPOS...

Message 2/2 - Publish at November 20, 2018 3:47 AM

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