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Duke Challenge launches new kick off in Europe

Posted by on January 19, 2021

Duke Challenge launches new kick off in Europe

© Ton Smilde
The world's nr. 1 Dick Jaspers, the world champion Torbjörn Blomdahl and Dutch talent Joey de Kok

NISTELRODE - The long stop for the European top billiard players will finally be broken this week. Sixteen players, with Swede Torbjörn Blomdahl as the world champioen and Dutchman Dick Jaspers as the number one in the world, will launch the kick-off for a wonderful international event with all the stars of European three cushion at the Duke Challenge in Nistelrode, Netherlands. The organizers of the BEN foundation (Biljart Evenementen Nederland) led by Harry Mathijssen and Ad Smout and the main sponsor Jumbo is offering the facilities for an event without spectators in this COVID-19 period, but thanks to the joint efforts of KNBB (Dutch federation) and NOC/NSF all matches can be seen live on the sports channel Ziggo Sport.

For three days this week (Wednesday 20, Thursday 21 and Friday 22 January) viewers and watchers on Youtube will see top three cushion in a tournament format for the first time since the World Cup in Turkey at the start of last year. Dick Jaspers, Torbjörn Blomdahl, Marco Zanetti, Eddy Merckx, Semih Sayginer, great champions with a total of fifteen world titles, are ready to take the challenge. The 16-players field will shine in the spotlight in the coming days for a tournament with 77,000 euros prize money. The game format is attractive and flashy with short sets of ten caroms and a fast shot clock. The knock-out system is relentless: only winners advance for the top prizes in the final part.

Dick Jaspers, who hasn't played an official match for 332 days after his last major performance in the lost final at the World Cup in Antalya. ''I feel happy that we have the opportunity here in Holland to finally can meet together again.'' Torbjörn Blomdahl, also without matches since Antalya and during the stop at FC Porto twice treated for an injured shoulder: ''Many thanks to the Dutch organizers, who made a huge effort.''

The Duke hotel, part of a stylish villa surrounded and known as a paradise for golf players from home and abroad, has been converted for the tournament days into an entourage completely Corona proof for the international billiards company. Thirty guests, including players and referees, have been tested for at least 72 hours on beforehand and will be COVID-19 checked again at the arrival. Harry Mathijssen, the organizer: ''We will not take any risk and set strict requirements.''

The empty arena in the Duke hotel is the stage for this first 2021 European meeting with 9 players out of top 15 in the world ranking completed by young talents and wild cards. The Duke Challenge is a one-off event for now. Harry Mathijssen: ''We were looking for a replacement when our World Cup in Veghel was cancelled. And we are very grateful to the KNBB, our federaton, especially Willem la Rivière, the director, for doing a lot of work to realise this challenge.''

Dick Jaspers has prepared himself for a come-back after this year without travelling and tournaments. ''The competition rhythm is missing, of course, but I don't care for that. I really like these kinds of challenges. Short matches and sets are attractive: always be careful, unpredictable, great for the billiard fans to watch the matches on television. The tension is comparable to a tie break in tennis.''

Torbjörn Blomdahl, not an outspoken lover of short set matches, can finally show himself again as the reigning world champion to the (television) audience: ''Missing one year or maybe even more is annoying, of course. I am no longer among the younger players. I was happy to restart practice. And now I rented a space for a billiard table, less than one kilometre from where I live. There I can prepare for the first major competitions that will hopefully come soon.''

Not only the European top players are looking forward to the Duke Challenge. Joey de Kok, one of the Dutch talents, has been offered a unique experience in his young career. The 23-year-old café owner from Zeeland is grateful for the invitation. ''I was already happy with the wild card, but I couldn't wish better with a draw against Blomdahl. This is the first time I meet him at the table,'' the two-time junior champion says.

The field of participants for the Duke Challenge:
Dick Jaspers (The Netherlands)
Torbjörn Blomdahl (Sweden)
Marco Zanetti (Italy)
Eddy Merckx (Belgium)
Tayfun Tasdemir (Turkey)
Martin Horn (Germany)
Semih Sayginer (Turkey)
Jérémy Bury (France)
Murat Naci Coklu (Turkey)
Roland Forthomme (Belgium)
Gwendal Maréchal (France)
Jean van Erp (The Netherlands)
Jeffrey Jorissen (The Netherlands)
Antonio Montes (Spain)
Peter Ceulemans (Belgium)
Joey de Kok (The Netherlands)
The international referees invited by the organization are Willem Hofman and Paul Brekelmans.

The schedule in the first knockout round:Wednesday January 20:
10.00: Marco Zanetti-Antonio Montes
11.15: Martin Horn-Jean van Erp
12.30: Tayfun Tasdemir-Jeffrey Jorissen
13:45: Semih Sayginer-Peter Ceulemans
15:.00 pm: Eddy Merckx-Gwendal Maréchal
16:15: Torbjörn Blomdahl-Joey de Kok

Thursday January 21:

10.00: Murat Naci Coklu-Jérémy Bury
11.00: Dick Jaspers-Roland Forthomme

The schedule continues with the winners of the match Zanetti-Montes against the winner of Horn-Van Erp in the first knock-out. The quarter finals are scheduled on Thursday at 12.30pm, 1.45pm, 3.00pm and 4.15pm. The semi-finals and final are Friday, January 22, from 10 am to 2 pm.

All matches are broadcast directly on Ziggo Sport and can be seen on Youtube. The winner earns 16,000 euros, all players receive a 3,000 euros starting fee.






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My Comments

Wooden and carbon shaft stories
Expect to read which kind of shaft (wooden or carbon)was used by the winner of all future matches.
Only a few players who used too expensive carbon shaft of certain brands were mentioned in this article. PPL?

I personally think it is the hand and skill, not the cues (if not bent) what make the differences in playing level.

Also think 10 point is too short for a set, as moderate level players score one or more points from break shots. So, practically the set is felt like 8 point/set matches. Thus, averages less meaningful.

The Korea Grand Prix Ladies lately with 7 point/set is not even worth to comment.
Trying something different or PBA type matches are OK, but not such impressed with the system honestly.

Message 1/1 - Publish at January 21, 2021 3:52 AM - Edited at January 21, 2021 3:57 AM

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