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Billiards world happy with improvised new start

Posted by on July 12, 2020

Billiards world happy with improvised new start

© Dirk Acx
The winner Eddy Merckx showed himself the master of the break shot in the Challenge

The winner Eddy Merckx enjoyed the success, but most of all the new, improvised start that everyone had been looking forward for so long. The UMB Virtual Challenge showed many happy faces afterwards and after the final match between Eddy Merckx and Semih Sayginer. There were lots of thanks to the address of the organization, the players and viewers after the virtual event with eight players that brought three cushion to live again from their home room after the long and dreary lock-down. The event was closed by a Belgian victory: Merckx bested Sayginer 50-41 in twelve innings.

Eddy Merckx proved to be the master of the breakshot in three games for the pre-rounds, in the semi-final against Tayfun Tasdemir and in the final against Semih Sayginer. The Belgian star player, who rarely lost a final in his career, was playing for the starting shot 65 times over five matches. He only missed once, in the semi-finals against Tasdemir. He showed his specialty even more by leaving a position for a good continuation almost after each hit. The well deserved, eventual winner was only defeated by Torbjörn Blomdahl 50-49. Merckx's almost maximum score yielded 3,830 on average with 249 points in 65 innings.

Only in the first inning of the final match, Merckx was not in the lead against Sayginer (3-2 for Semih), later in the match there was a balance at 25-25 and 27-27, in all the other parts, the Belgian dominated the final, among others by a decisive run of 12 in the tenth inning. The regularity in his games was striking: Merckx won the matches to 50 points in 13, 12, 14, 13 and 13 innings. Semih Sayginer commented after the final: ''Eddy Merckx is extremely strong in this format, where the break shot is so important. I really aimed to beat him, but I had a few unnecessary kisses and made some wrong choices at the decisive moments.''

The 1000 euros bonus for the winner, after the 1000 euros starting money for the eight participants, was only symbolic, UMB president Farouk Barki commented afterwards. ''The value of our top players and real ambassadors for our sport is much bigger, but we wanted to offer billiards fans this Challenge. I am happy with this success in the period when we had to remove our tournaments from the calendar due to COVID 19. The first concern of the UMB is the safety of everyone, but I hope we can get back on track very soon.''

Semih Sayginer emphasized many times how important the improvised start was for the billiard world. ''We missed billiards very much and many billiard fans missed us. That's why this was a fantastic initiative, in which we could share the love for billiards with our fans. We must say thanks to UMB and the organization for that.''

The tournament was an initiative of One Sports TV, that was launched in January 2019 as a commercial satellite television network based in the Philippines as 'Nation broadcasting Corporation and Cignal TV'. The sports leadership was in the hands of the UMB world federation.

The final ranking:

1 Eddy Merckx (Belgium)
2 Semih Sayginer (Turkey)
3 Tayfun Tasdemir (Turkey)
4 Torbjörn Blomdahl (Sweden)
5 Dick Jaspers (Netherlands)
6 Myung-Woo Cho (Korea)
7 Dani Sánchez (Spain)
8 Quyet Chien Tran (Vietnam).



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