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Carom Billiard - 3-Cushion - European Championship U25 - Los Alcázares (ESP)

Spanish school has a new champion: Ivan Mayor

Posted by on December 19, 2021

Spanish school has a new champion: Ivan Mayor

© Kozoom/Morgan Delame
Spaniard Ivan Mayor on his way to the title in the final match with Muhammed Kiliç

LOS ALCÁZARES - The first European championship in history for players under 25 ended with a Spanish champion on Sunday afternoon. 20-year-old Ivan Mayor, who still has five years left in this category, defeated the Turk Muhammed mustafa Kiliç in the final match 40-24 in 34. The home favorite, who was educated in the famous Spanish school, was cheered on by many fans and was beaming with joy during the ceremony. On the podium stood Mayor with silver winner Kiliç (22), Austrian Nikolaus Kogelbauer (19) and Belgian Stef van Hees (24). Ivan Mayor, from the vicinity of Alicante, is the successor to so many wonderful talents in Spanish billiards, such as Dani Sánchez, Juan David Zapata, David Martinez, Javier Palazón, Ruben Legazpi and Carlos Anguita. The breakthrough of the new European champion had long been predicted. He was already Spanish youth champion six times and shone once at the European Under-17 podium with bronze following Maxime Panaia and Alessio D'Agata.

The victory in the home, Spanish arena was the first international success for the billiard player with a superb technique, great fighting spirit, mental resilience and a variation of solutions and strokes. In that respect, it was amusing to hear the comparisons that Torbjörn Blomdahl, live commentator for Kozoom, shared with his spectators. He said, talking about Ivan Mayor because of his speciality in harmonica (cross-table) shots, among other things: 'The new Eddy Merckx is born'' and about Muhammed Kiliç, a hitherto unknown opponent in the final: ''This guy has exactly the same nice forehand of Coklu.''

But Ivan Mayor will go his own way in world three cushion. At a very young age, in front of his own crowd, he withstood the enormous pressure under which other top favorites like Gwendal Maréchal, Maxime Panaia, Tom Löwe, Simon Blondeel, Alessio D'Agata and Nikolaus Kogelbauer succumbed this weekend. Ivan Mayor gloried towards the end of the tournament: he first defeated Lukas Mortensen, Daniel Peña in the decisive phase and on the final day Nikolaus Kogelbauer and Muhammed Kiliç. The Spaniard, who lives in the Spanish training centre on weekdays and with his father, mother and older brother in a suburb of Alicante at weekends, is planning to play three World Cups next year, in Ankara and Porto, and perhaps in Las Vegas. Starting tomorrow, Mayor will play the Spanish Under-21 championship at the same complex where he now became European champion.

He says about his title race: ''I was feeling stronger every game, because I feel so at home here. Before each match I had nerves, but when the match started, I was more relaxed, it was as if I played training matches here against Zapata, Martinez or Anguita. Sure, there was pressure from my fans, but it mostly made me stronger. I have been living here for five years now, so I was reminded of the first time when I came here. That was the year Carlos Anguita became world champion and I got to sit at the scoreboard when I was fifteen. And now, I am a champion here myself, what a fantastic feeling. I hope this is the start of a great international career.''

The number two, the diminutive Turk Kiliç made his way to the final against Nathan Duriez, Simon Blondeel, Stef van Hees and was only beaten by Ivan Mayor in the final. That match for European gold was in balance for a long time, with equal scores 11-11 and 21-21, but after two short attacks of Mayor (two times 5) the match went the Spanish way and the final ran after 31-22 and 36-23 to a score of 40-24 in 34 innings. The Turkish coach Mustafa Cebi was very satisfied for his player: ''Muhammed has delivered a great performance. He has much less experience than our other two players, but he made it to the podium. He is very happy with that.''

Ivan Mayor and Gwendal Maréchal had the best runs with 10. Maréchal had the best average with 1,380, but was only tenth in the final ranking after two wins and two losses.

The final ranking of the European championship:
1 Ivan Mayor 12-1.092-10
2 Myhammed Kiliç 12-0.863-6
3 Stef van Hees 10-1.015-8
4 Nikolaus Kogelbauer 10-0.935-7
5 Maxime Panaia 6-0.933-8
6 Simon Blondeel 8-0.927-6
7 Alessio D'Agata 8-0.878-6
8 Daniel Peña 6-0.889-4
9 Seymen Özbas 6-1.106-8
10 Gwendal Maréchal 4-1.380-10
11 Enzo Riquart 4-0.841-6
12 Tom Löwe 4-0.966-7

Ivan Mayor, a great final part of the championship, cheered by his own crowd

The European podium with Ivan Mayor, Muhammed Kilic, Stef van Hees and Nikolaus Kogelbauer

The diminutive Turkish player Muhammed Kiliç surprised everyone with a place on the final podium


Muhammed Kilic-Stef van Hees 40-33 in 51

The early Sunday morning in the Spanish billiard arena needed a long warm-up to get the match between the Turk (22) and the Belgian (24) started. The starting phase was nervous, with too many shots to nothing, lacking feeling and rhythm to score and open the attack with small runs. Muhammed Kilic was the first to succeed in that after a long run-up (9-7 in 21), when he came to the break at 21-11. Stef van Hees seemed to wake up with a six in the 33rd inning (27-19), he came a little closer at 35-29, when the match was already approaching 50 innings. On a 38-33 score in 50, the Turk could finally finish with 2: 40-31.

Stef van Hees commented after the match: ''It was really bad, I made too many wrong choices and the feeling was not there. So, that made it very difficult.'' Searching for an explanation: ''I went to bed at eleven last night, and between 3.30 and 6.00, I couldn't sleep. But anyway, I don't want to use it as an excuse, it just wasn't good.''

Ivan Mayor-Nikolaus Kogelbauer 40-17 in 31

The home player advantage is a weapon not to be underestimated for Ivan Mayor. The young Spaniard (20), playing against one year younger Austrian Nikolaus Kogelbauer (19), grows wings from the fans in the stands. Ivan Mayor is getting better all the time in the tournament. In a superb form and style of play, he is on his way to the final in this match. His opponent doesn't have his best day, suffers with bad positions and lags far behind from the start. The Spaniard runs out to 10-5 in 7 with a first 6-run, increases his score to 20-6 in 11 at the break and has nothing more to fear. The score goes to 23-9, 26-12, 33-17 and finally 40-17 with many cheering young fans afterwards.

Nikolaus Kogelbauer undergoes the loss. His comment: ''I had many bad positions and missed some points very close. And my opponent played very, very well, with a very good defense. But that's how it is, sometimes you play well, other times you play badly. That's the game, that's sport.''


The trophees for the champions at the European championship under 25

Stef van Hees, the Belgian player, only beaten by Muhammet Kilic

Muhammed Kilic, thanks to his win over Stef van Hees to the final match

Stef van Hees, on the podium after a great performance

Nikolaus Kogelbauer and Ivan Mayor

The winner in the semi final, Ivan Mayor, the later winner in the championship

Nikolaus Kogelbauer showed his skills, only not good enough on the final day

Pictures Morgan Delame (Kozoom)

Thanks for the live comments Torbjörn Blomdahl

And thanks to CEB and Spanish federation:

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