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The year of Jaspers, Sánchez and the long COVID stops

Posted by on December 27, 2021

The year of Jaspers, Sánchez and the long COVID stops

© Paul Brekelmans
Dick Jaspers, the world's best on WC podium with Murat Naci Coklu and Martin Horn (Marco Zanetti missing)

He will never be the best sportsman of the year in a country with famous sportsmen like Max Verstappen and Mathieu van der Poel. But in billiard land, Dick Jaspers is this year's best in the world and the best earning billiard player. The 55-year-old Dutchman won his fifth world title just before the end of 2021 and has been leading the world rankings for three years. The same goes for Therese Klompenhouwer in ladies billiards, in which the COVID crisis disrupted a World Championship this year.

The year was plagued by the crisis in all areas, which meant that many events disappeared from the calendar. The two World Cups that did take place in the second part of 2021 were won by Dani Sánchez and Semih Sayginer, the most coveted title went to Dick Jaspers. The estimated prize money of the Dutchman (according to the player himself), without starting fees, premiums, team contracts and sponsorships, rose by that world title to 150,000 euros over 2021 in which not even half of the national and international tournaments were played. It is impossible to imagine Dick Jaspers' real earnings with all his extra income, but it surely does explain why the world champion will never succumb to a proffer from South Korea, apart from the unpleasant, long stays in an Asian country.

The year 2021 will go down in history as the second Corona year: five of seven World Cups were cancelled (Antalya, Las Vegas, Ho Chi Minh, Porto and Korea), the World Championships for national teams, men, women and juniors were cancelled, Survival tournaments and the European Championship disappeared from the calendar. And also team competitions, like in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, were stopped and not finished.

The start of 2021 was like that of 2020: the Multi Championships in Belgium, where competitions in all disciplines draw packed stands every year, were cancelled. It was only the start of a lot of misery for players and fans. The world went into lockdown, with the occasional exception of Challenge tournaments, in which players faced invisible opponents in their own billiard arenas, events in bubbles, in closed venues (Duke and Kozoom Challenge) and the World Grand Prix tournaments in South Korea, where players had to undergo a long quarantine.

The PBA circuit continued almost the entire year with Zapata, Kasidokostas, Palazón, Kang, Martinez, Leppens and Caudron as the main winners among the men. In its third year, the professional organisation lost well-known non-Korean players due to unpaid contracts and lawsuits, among other things. On the other hand, the LPBA (women's league) was able to attract all the best players in the world to come over. Dutch Therese Klompenhouwer is the only top player, who remained loyal to the world league.

The year overview of 2021:

January 1: Marco Zanetti starts the year with an extensive interview on Kozoom about: 'the silence, the crisis, the break and the future'.

4/5: PBA tournament, Mi-rae Lee beats Ga-young Kim in the ladies, Hyun-min Seo wins from Sam-il Seo in men's tournament

4: Four Spanish top talents about life in Korean professional circuit (interview)

8: Kozoom-challenge starts with sixteen European top players for 28 days of competition and the final later in the year

16: Rarely seen ladies promotion in Korea: Therese Klompenhouwer hands out first knock-outs

18: Duke Challenge, organized by BEN, has started in a wonderful golf location of Jumbo in Nistelrode. The first figures: 200,000 viewers on Ziggo Sport

22: Dick Jaspers glorious winner Duke Challenge in final match against Marco Zanetti, which he wins 3-1. Jaspers' final average: 2,780. Jaspers is the winner ahead of Zanetti, Blomdahl, Tasdemir and Merckx

22: COVID crisis claims victim in billiards: Luis Avila from Mexico dies from Corona

24: Therese Klompenhouwer faces Sruong Pheavy and three of Korea's top players and wins two Grand Prix events. Wan-young Choi is the winner in the men's event

24: Javier Palazón and Mi-rae Lee win PBA tournament

26: Duke Challeng as model to experiment with (interview Jaspers, Zanetti, Sayginer)

February 4: Sensational transfer in women's billiards: Sruong Pheavy leaves for PBA

13/14: Hat-trick for Mi-rae Lee, who wins third PBA tournament in a row, Filippos Kasidokostas winner in the men's

16: Well-known Belgian team De Ploeg can no longer pay players due to the crisis

19: Carl Verhoeven of the new SIS billiard centre launches survival cycle with big prize money in the Netherlands

April 7: Japan's Orie Hida, four-time world champion, also changes UMB for PBA

7: Semih Sayginer shines in Turkey with 40-0 victory in 7 innings, run 22

29: Ludo Kools closes bizarre adventure at the Masters with Dutch title

June 17: PBA starts for new season: men's tournament loses some non-Koreans like Kasidokostas and Morales as most famous, women's tournament attracts strongest players in the world except Therese Klompenhouwer

22: Top players in Korean quarantine: worse than prison (interview Jaspers, Klompenhouwer, Merckx, Forthomme)

28: Farouk Barki, UMB president, in interview: we hope to play World Cups and World Championships at the end of the year, but we will never organize when there are quarantines for players again

July 3: Dani Sánchez and Sung-won Choi first tournament winners in World Grand Prix

12: Raymund Swertz at lonely height in Classic Race Kozoom

15: Kick off for two UMB Grand Prix tournaments in Korea: 250 matches in a fortnight

18: Dick Jaspers tops marathon in Korea with gigantic jackpot: 74,000 euros

September 1: Team competitions can start, relief in Netherlands, Belgium and Germany

10: Vietnamese players Tran and Nguyen can go home after 8 weeks in forced detention in South Korea

19: Ruben Legazpi beats the world top and wins Kozoom Cup

22: David Martinez becomes number 1 in PBA after victory

27: Massive interest for World Cup in Veghel, first event after long stop

30: Wonderful news for Dutch billiards: World Cup in Veghel gets 38 hours of live coverage on Ziggo Sport TV

November 13: Dani Sánchez crowns himself the first World Cup winner of this year: Veghel, in final against Jung Han Heo

21: Dani Sánchez also wins Lausanne Masters against Tayfun Tasdemir in final after World Cup in Veghel

22: Turkish billiard president Ersan Ercan opens new centre of the federation where all tournaments will be played from now on

23: Eddy Leppens wins his first PBA tournament, Ji-eun Kang the best in women's section

28: Marathon for organisers in Sharm El Sheikh: Arena ready for World Cup and World Championships

December 4: Semih Sayginer wins his first World Cup since 2004 in Sharm El Sheikh: final victory against Dick Jaspers

6: World Cup in Sharm El Sheikh faces kick-off: 5 days, 48 players, 79 games

11: Double victory for Dick Jaspers at the Red Sea: world champion in Sharm El Sheikh, win in final against Murat Naci Coklu and even bigger lead in the world rankings

14: PBA win for Frédéric Caudron, Ye-eun Kim best in the ladies' category

19: Yvan Major (20), new idol of Spanish school, takes the European Junior under-25 title.

Foto's: Kozoom, Paul Brekelmans, Ton Smilde, Five&Six, PBA, Hervé Lacombe



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My Comments

Actually the year of PBA !
I, as a fan of billiard, am very disappointed to read this report based on limited information, prejudice and hostility.
I wonder if this is the real level of sports article in Holland.

I am sympathetic DJ and other European players had to take an unpleasant trip to Asia only for prize money, knowing the strict quarantine control there.
I hope the organizer UMB, sponsors of the event and billiard fans in Korea do not read such insulting comments.

Prize money made by David Zapata in 2021 is missing. Understand the reporter's intention well. OK.

2021 must be a good year for DJ but what about many other players who had almost no chance to earn some prize ?

Message 1/2 - Publish at December 28, 2021 5:05 AM

Bert van Manen
Bert van Manen
You have the nerve to call Frits Bakker's reporting prejudiced, hostile and based on limited information? It seems to me that you have instead painted an accurate picture of your own litany of comments, that are invariably biased to the extreme, poorly informed, and intending to hurt rather than to debate. Let me give you the news: Bakker does not care what you think, and neither does the rest of the world. Really.

Publish at December 29, 2021 4:47 AM

Biased? Me or...?
Yes, I sure had the nerve to point out some distortions in this article.
Not worth to be debated.

But, will these kind of stuff REALLY help carom billiard sport?

Actually DJ could be the best beneficiary of PBA as the prize money of UMB circuits and invitation events jumped up only when PBA started.
I heard the prize money of UMB events were frozen at a miserable level over long period which caused the scarcity of young generation in the carom competition especially in Western Europe nowadays.

I acknowledge the writer of the article does not care what I wrote through a third person.
I do agree leaving it to the judgement by the rest of carom world excluding 3 of us. The world must be far bigger.

Hope carom fans also read articles posted by Biljart Sports Centraal which I find articles on the site are well-written by a REAL professional sports journalist who usually reports based on more balanced, neutral and fact-based grounds. ( I do not know him personally.)

I REALLY hope UMB fulfills its own duty while PBA promotes the carom billiard by professional tours like past a few years, so that, carom billiard fans in the world can simply enjoy all the matches organized by both sides.
What else?

Wasn’t BWA case more than enough for you gentlemen? Be constructive!
Better stop here and let’s welcome New Year!

Publish at December 30, 2021 8:44 PM

Straight comments ! But...

These small group of UMB vigilantes were those who seem to spread groundless rumors,i.e., 'PBA will be stopped after 2 tours' in the beginning of PBA tour.
They will never listen to you. Nor change! Their job security matters.

There must have been good reasons why many players left for BWA long time ago.
I believe PBA is much better and professionally organized with sound sponsors away from carom billiard merchants now trying to control world organization. Too bad for the players and cuesport, indeed.

Happy new year! Looking forward to continuous advice to this small and closed community.

Publish at January 4, 2022 1:13 AM

Mr. Really - keep cool and think one time more about your comments
We know, who you are in real live and it is Ok. You are a big fan of the PBA, why not?

Fact is, the PBA and also you should not only speek about the big Money, but pay it actual.
Many Players leave the PBA and you think the PBA is the better way? Come on....

Three years try the PBA to convince the world class and the result is, that only some (very good) spanish and turkish players and two belgians are there. That´s all!

Please ask yourselve, why?

Money on the paper is not the same as money in the pocket or bank account, you know?

Message 2/2 - Publish at December 31, 2021 11:07 AM

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