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

Who will winh, in Ho Chi Minh?

Posted by on May 10, 2018

Who will winh, in Ho Chi Minh?

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Can you predict the outcome of 3-cushion tournaments? Many of you will instantly say, that it is very hard to do. And you would be wrong. "Very hard" does not even come close, it is bloody impossible. Let me illustrate that with a little anecdote. For the last four years, I've had little quizzes in my Facebook group (Bert's Billiard Page) in the week leading up to a World Cup tournament. I'd ask readers things like: which two players will be in the final next Sunday, or: can you correctly predict three of the four semifinalists? And there would be a goody-bag with billiard articles for the winner.  If I turn my head, I can see that bag, in a corner of my study.  

NOBODY has ever won.       

The reasons are obvious: short matches, which makes "luck" a bigger factor, so many world class players, not a single truly dominant one. Yes, Caudron is the nr. 1 on the ranking, the reigning world champion and the winner of the previous World Cup (Antalya). He is, at this point, certainly the best player in the world and the favorite in any tournament he plays in. But Caudron's dominance is nowhere near that of Ceulemans in the sixties, seventies and early eighties, or even Blomdahl's in the nineties. Let's take a quick look at the modern World Cups. A good point to start? The change from sets to 40 points, so we'll look at the wins from 2013 - 2018.   

Of the 31 most recent World Cups, Fred has won 7. The second most successful player in the same time period? Eddy Merckx, 5 wins. Third is Torbjörn Blomdahl, with 4. Dick Jaspers has 3, Haeng Jik Kim, Murat Naci Coklu and Dani Sánchez have 2. One win: Jae Ho Cho, Marco Zanetti, Jung Han Heo, Jeremy Bury, Tayfun Tasdemir and Dong Koong Kang.  

That's thirteen names already, of players who have demonstrated that they can win a World Cup. They could do it again. Then, we'll have to look at players who have won BEFORE 2013 and are still good enough to reach a final and possibly win it. In that category: Forthomme, Horn, Sung Won Choi and Sayginer. Could Kasidokostas win with his other hand? I doubt it. Yüksel, Philipoom, Nelin? All still playing well, but I'd be amazed if they won another WC. Our tally is now at 17.

We'll have to add names of players (and this is where it gets tricky) who have not won a WC yet but have the potential. Here we go: Uymaz, Cenet, Myung Woo Cho, Choong Bok Lee, Jae Guen Kim, Xuan Cuong Ma, Quyet Chien Tran, Polychronopoulos, Nguyen Quoc Nguyen, Palazon, Minh Cam Ma, Leppens, Martinez. Already, we are counting 30 possible winners. If you were not mentioned (or your favorite player wasn't), I apologize in advance. And if you tell me there is a Korean guy I've never heard of, who can play 1.700, I believe you.

Where are the South-Americans? Most often, in South America and that is the problem. It is difficult to judge the real strength of Colombian players like Catano, Morales and Diaz because they don't play World Cups. (Morales will have his chance, he has the UMB wildcard for Ho Chi Minh).  As for Piedrabuena: great player, but I can't see him going all the way, not with a shot clock. 

Next week, we'll be in Ho Chi Minh for the fourth time. Tasdemir (beating Blomdahl), Caudron (beating Jaspers) and Merckx (beating Blomdahl) were the previous winners. The event in Vietnam has been of high quality in those years: tournament averages of 1.776, 1.672 and 1.685, in front of the best crowd players could wish for. The UMB wildcard, as mentioned, went to Morales, and the two local wildcards were given to Quyet Chien Tran and Minh Cam Ma.   


Ho Chi Minh


What I am left with in this column is a choice: do I play it safe, rest my case and say: 3- cushion tournaments are impossible to predict? Or do I bring out my crystal ball, put a prediction on paper and make a fool of myself? The latter, of course.  

This World Cup could be the one for the Asians, where their top players no longer lose in the quarterfinals, and find the relaxation to produce that 15-inning match on the final day. Asia has in fact been the dominant continent in the 1.300 - 1.800 bracket for several years now. But all that time half a dozen seasoned professionals from Europe refused to give up the spotlight. They are tough as nails, but they can't stop the avalanche forever. I can see a podium in Ho Chi Minh with a Vietnamese, two Koreans and an extra-terrestrial. That's my prediction, and of course it will be horribly wrong. But wouldn't it be great if a Vietnamese player won? 


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My Comments

doubts about Kasi
very good article but...never underestimate such a strong will. The courage sometimes wins!

Message 1/2 - Publish at May 11, 2018 10:54 AM

Finally, your prediction was not so wrong ;-)

Message 2/2 - Publish at May 28, 2018 8:33 AM

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