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Merckx succeeds Caudron as 3-cushion champ

Posted by on January 15, 2018

Merckx succeeds Caudron as 3-cushion champ

© Dirk Acx
Merckx and his sponsors Renata and Luc Verhoeven

BLANKENBERGE - The new champion in Belgian 3-cushion is Eddy Merckx, who beat Frédéric Caudron in a superior final. Their clash was the perfect climax at the end of a week of Belgian Nationals in (almost) all disciplines: the nrs. 1 and 2 of the world ranking: Caudron-Merckx. The crowd in Blankenberge casino had high hopes for the match, but it was mostly one-sided. Merckx was the better player, and he won his ninth Belgian title.

Caudron ended the week without a title, which is a first: that never happened to him since he made his debut at the Belgian nationals. In the past years, the Multi's were Caudron's stage on which he starred in all disciplines, sometimes winning three or four titles in the week. At this edition of Blankenberge, he not only lost his 3-cushion title, but also the 1-cushion crown. Eddy Leppens drew with Maarten Janssen on the final day (150-150 in 19, in a true nail biter of a match), and that was just enough to stay ahead of Caudron, whom Leppens had beaten head to head.

Eddy Merckx could not remember when he had last beaten Caudron by such a margin. ,,We were balanced at first, but a run of seven just before halftime gave me a good lead. Then in the second session, I could make 5,6 and 7 to make it 38-14, which is fantastic against Caudron. It took me three or four more innings to finish, so the final score was 40-27.''

The new champion once again demonstrated how he can rise to the occasion. Merckx is not often at his best in prelims, but he can peak like nobody else when the chips are down. ,,I don't do it on purpose, but in the early rounds I am not as psyched up. Winning is all that counts, and a few innings here and there don't matter. But in a K.O. situation, the adrenaline kicks in. When I am up against Caudron, Leppens or Forthomme, then I have something extra. It's the occasion and the opponent, the eye on the prize, that's what makes me strong. I am always happy to win, but a good start does not always result in a strong finish. I always hope to be the best I can be, at the end.''

Before the final, Merckx had another great showing. He won his semi against Roland Forthomme in majestic style: 40-16 in 13 innings, the best of the tournament. His Belgian title was rewarded with 30 points for the world ranking, which improved his position. Caudron is still in the lead, Merckx is 2nd and Jaspers, the new Dutch champion, is third. Roland Forthomme won the match for 3d / 4th place against Ronny Brants, the player who had eliminated Eddy Leppens.

The Belgian title is Merckx's start to an eventful  year in global 3-cushion. The calendar has new additions, the prize money will be doubled. ,,We all look forward to it'', said Merckx after his win. ,,We still have not seen the new calendar, but we know about the beautiful new prospects. I want to jump on that train, play the big events. And I still would like to play as much of the leagues as possible.

Het WC for national teams (Viersen) is not on Eddy's schedule this year.  ,,Caudron en Philipoom, last year's finalists, will play in Viersen this February. I would normally team up with Caudron again next year, because we played the final in Blankenberge, but that's not a certainty. If Caudron and Philipoom manage to win the WC, they get to defend their title next year.''

The Belgian multi's were closed on Sunday evening, after an eventful week. The title in 1-cushion went to Eddy Leppens, after a miraculous finish. Three players were in the mix: Leppens needed a win or a draw against Maarten Janssen, if he lost, the title went to Caudron. Janssen had the win all wrapped up, but he was careless with his 149th point and missed the 150th. It gave Leppens the chance to finish, and Janssen's equalizer no longer mattered. It was the second title for Leppens, following his win in balkline 71/2.

Patrick Niessen also won twice: the free game and 47/2. Peter Debaes beat Peter Mostrey in the final of the 5-pins, and Stef van Hees won the junior title ahead of Kevin van Hees and Dylan Parent.

Maarten Janssen, one of the new stars in Belgium, was in the medal race in four disciplines but could not grab a gold. Philippe Deraes was the surprising winner in 47/1, ahead of Patrick Niessen and Eddy Leppens.

The Belgian board will consider an overhaul of the Multi's in the upcoming months. The nocturnal matches, too much for even the most fervent fans, and the sharp criticism from Kozoom watchers simply force a reorganization. Chairman Benny van Goethem has promised to ask the sports committee for an alternative format.

The final ranking of the 3-cushion:

1 Eddy Merckx 1.728-12
2 Frédéric Caudron 2.022-14
3 Roland Forthomme 1.673-9
4 Ronny Brants 1.411-14
5 Eddy Leppens 1.484-12
6 Kenny Miatton 1.304-7
7 Frédéric Mottet 1.586-11
8 Davy van Havere 1.471-13
9 Jef Philipoom 1.241-18 (high run)
10 Steven van Acker 1.176-8
11 Francis Forton 4-1.234-12
12 Peter Ceulemans 4-1.196-8
13 Kurt Ceulemans 4-1.157-10
14 Patrick Kesteloot 4-1.112-8
15 Bart Ceulemans 1.007-7
16 Ronny Daniels 0.875-10.

The other disciplines:

Free game:

1 Patrick Niessen 8-100.00-400
2 Maarten Janssen 6-62.50-400
3 Philippe Deraes 4-80.61-241
4 Andy de Bondt 2-33.00-154
5 Robby Sonck 0-10.14-51

Balkline 47/2:

1 Patrick Niessen 8-63.15-300
2 Eddy Leppens 5-54.00-205
3 Maarten Janssen 5-35.83-219
4 Johan Devos 1-17.08-74
5 Robby Sonck 1-15.23-162.

Balkline 47/1:

1 Philippe Deraes 5-18.27-82
2 Patrick Niessen 5-16.92-130
3 Eddy Leppens 4-41.00-179
4 Maarten Janssen 4-15.07-136
5 Peter Debaes 2-12.26-64.

Balkline 71/2:

1 Eddy Leppens 8-29.41-185
2 Patrick Niessen 6-23.76-160
3 Maarten Janssen 4-23.56-78
4 Philippe Deras 2-16.30-80
5 Peter Debaes 0-18.11-92.

1-cushion:

1 Eddy Leppens 7-8.45-50
2 Frédéric Caudron 6-9.62-57
3 Maarten Janssen 5-7.82-40
4 Martin Spoormans 2-4.42-23
5 Francis Forton 0-4.10-28

Juniors:

1 Stef van Hees 6-0.651-4
2 Kevin van Hees 6-0.649-4
3 Dylan Parent 4-0.643-8
4 Michael Parent 4-0.516-5
5 Gérome Dieu 0-0.416-5

Wheelchair players:

1 Stefan Neyens, 6 punten 0.422-3
2 Johan Grimon 4-0.491-4
3 Rudy Rousseau 2-0.253-2
4 Jean Mailleur 0-0.262-3.

The Ladies title was won last week by Jaimie Buelens, runner-up was Danielle Le Bruyn.

Eddy Merckx with the three cushion trophee

Eddy Merckx during the final runs

The three cushion podium with the winner Eddy Merckx, the number two Frédéric Caudron and the losing semi finalists Roland Forthomme and Ronny Brants 

Three other stars of the Multi's: Eddy Leppens, Frédéric Caudron, Philippe Deraes, Patrick Niessen and Maarten Janssen

The free game podium: the winner Patrick Niessen with Philippe Deraes and Maarten Janssen

Eddy Leppens won the one cushion ahead of Frédéric Caudron and Maarten Janssen

Philippe Deraes was the best in 47/1 ahead of Patrick Niessen and Eddy Leppens

Peter Debaes won the 5 pins

The junior podium with Stef van Hees, Kevin van Hees and Dylan Parent

The wheelchair podium with Stefan Neyens as the winner

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