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Carom Billiard - 3-Cushion - Bert's column (NED)

Just a few more years, Europe

Posted by on May 29, 2018

Just a few more years, Europe

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When I watch 3-cushion matches, there's about a 50 % chance that I don't care who wins. In the other 50 %, when I am rooting for one of the two players, several reasons can be behind that. Maybe one player is having all the bad luck, and the other gets a bit more than he deserves. Or one player behaves more gentlemanly around the table than the other. And (full disclosure), a few of the top players are personal friends of mine, and I can't help myself, I hope they win.  

The one thing that never means anything to me, is nationality. Don't know about you, but as for me: I don't care AT ALL. I like the Latvian as much as the Haitian or the Welshman, and if a 3-cushion talent from Tajikistan emerges, good luck to him (or her). I am firmly convinced that all generalizations about "players from country X or Y" are nonsense. Not all Koreans have a fine technique, not all Turks are semi-artistic players, not all Germans have a winner's mentality, and I could go on and on. Fact of the matter is, that all 3-cushion players are a unique blend of abilities and shortcomings that have absolutely nothing to do with their passport. 

This past weekend, there were three Vietnamese players in the semifinals of a World Cup, and that World Cup had a Vietnamese winner. It makes you think, even if you don't care about nationalities. It's obvious to everyone in our small world of billiards that the center of gravity of the sport is moving east. Yes, we have that formidable half dozen (Blomdahl, Caudron, Jaspers, Merckx, Sánchez, Zanetti, and they are still the best in the world), but they are in their mid forties to late fifties. Thirty, forty players from Korea and Vietnam are knocking on the door, and they are in their twenties and thirties.   


WC participation by country


For your entertainment (and to satisfy my own curiosity), I've taken a closer look at the 172 World Cup main draws, by nationality. To get some perspective, I've broken the WC history down to three eleven-year segments. To interpret the chart, you need to realize a few things:

-          The numbers behind the countries are "players in the main draw". There are three ways they could have gotten there: by being seeded, by surviving several rounds of qualification, or by wildcard. 

-          Seeds: Sweden and Italy, obviously, are not amongst the strongest 3-cushion countries in any of the three periods. Sweden is 85 % Blomdahl and Italy is 98 % Zanetti. 

-          Egypt owes more than half of its 61 points to wildcards for Hurghada and Luxor. But we should not say: "those Egyptians have it easy". Instead, we should say: "I wish more countries organized 18 World Cups in a 13-year period."    

Things that catch your eye when you go from the first to the second segment:

-          The spectacular rise of Turkey, from 62 to 180 participations. Semih rose to fame in 1993 / 1994, and he did to billiards in Turkey what Björn Borg did to tennis in Sweden. 

-          The disappearance of France from the global stage. A mid-level country in the first period, virtually gone in the second. Hopefully, Barbeillon, Melnytschenko, Panaia, Tachoire can repair the damage.

-          The emergence of Greece as an important country in 3-cushion. (I wish their names were just Papa and Kasi and Poly, that would make my life so much easier).

Things you'll notice when you compare the second period to the third:

-          The jump made by Korea is just breathtaking, from 63 to 362 World Cup participations. No country has ever been this dominant, in World Cup history.

-          A very impressive newcomer: Vietnam. Talk about the "Björn Borg-effect": thousands if not tens of thousands of Vietnamese kids saw Quyet Chien Tran win 16.000 Euro this week. The average monthly income in Ho Chi Minh City is 148 Euro. That is inspiration, of the kind that boxing talents from Cuba or distance runners from Ethiopia have. It's a way up, a way out. 

-          The collapse of the Netherlands. Second place in the first segment, second place in the second segment. And the third? Take Jaspers out of our total, and we are barely on the list anymore. 

-          If you notice the totals are much higher in the third segment, that is correct. There were no World Cups at all in 2002, there was only one in 2003, and the number per year has gone up from 4 to 6 or 7. 

What will my chart look like, once I've been able to add the totals for 2019 - 2029? I think two or three of the European countries will be gone, out of the top 12. But we'll have Colombia in seventh place, and right behind on 8, newcomer China! Still in the lead: South Korea. Vietnam second, Turkey third, Belgium fourth.  Bubbling under, in 13th place: Tajikistan. Doing it all by herself, and she's a great talent, isn't she?  


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My Comments

Interesting Remark
And also Germany and Denmark which completely disappared from the top ranking after 20 years on place 4 and 5...

Message 1/1 - Publish at May 30, 2018 7:40 PM

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