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Three-cushion launches new hype: carbon cue

Posted by on November 3, 2020

Three-cushion launches new hype: carbon cue

© Kozoom
Billiard shafts, carbon and wood, black and light are talk of the town these days

The oldest billiard cue that Raymond Ceulemans, still the all time champion, used to play his first World Championship three cushion, was from an unknown brand and given to him by a friend: price 250 Belgian francs (10 euros). The latest cue from Dick Jaspers, the current number 1 in the world, is a Longoni, own model Olanda Heaven, price 1.900 euros. The latest hype in three cushion is the carbon cue with its striking black top (shaft): price between 3000 and 4000 euros, launched by Spanish billiard player Dani Sánchez and French Jérémy Bury. The Turkish phenomenon Semih Sayginer, the player with the most brilliant technique and stroke power, is lyrical: ''The future of three cushion has been given a new boost.'' The best-known contemporary brands on the global market are Predator, famous from the pool world, and Longoni, for 75 years on the international market with its products for 75 years.

The development of the billiards cue between the past and present eras in three cushion had a major influence on the progression of the game. The averages have not only skyrocketed due to the game systems (diamonds), the big and varied arsenal of new strokes and solutions, the growing range of professional top players and so the increase in training hours. But the evolution of billiard tables, cues and other materials also raised the level spectacularly. Raymond Ceulemans won his first World title in 1965 with an average of 1,300. The last three World titles belong to Frédéric Caudron with 2,090, Dick Jaspers with 2,352 and Torbjörn Blomdahl with 2,122. Semy Sayginer, who has become acquainted with the Predator cue with Revo carbon shaft, dares to predict that those averages will be pushed up even further with the new technology by the current and new generation.

Raymond Ceulemans likes to philosophize about how important the billiard cue is for a player. The maestro outlines: ''The cue is to a top billiard player what the bicycle is to a top cyclist and the tennis racket to a tennis player. But the cue is most of all about how the player's feeling, he must feel good, be in balance and lie well in the hand. I've always said: an expensive cue is not always a good cue. It's like the wine: for a good price you can buy the most wonderful wines. Most important is the cue tip, which is the only part of the cue with which you hit the ball. We will see whether the wood cue will turn into a carbon cue in the future. I have the feeling it will take many years.''

The developments and the level in the years of Ceulemans, Blomdahl, Zanetti, Caudron, Jaspers and other great champions parallel the evolution of the material. The billiard tables, cloths, rails, balls and the billiard cue in carom contributed to the spectacular progress in three cushion. The billiard cue, with Longoni as the most famous brand and in recent years Molinari, Theory, JBS, Adam, but surely the American, pool-based Predator, are the favourite brands of the world's best players. Dick Jaspers, Marco Zanetti, Frédéric Caudron, Eddy Merckx and Therese Klompenhouwer are the figureheads for Longoni, Dani Sánchez, Semih Sayginer and Tayfun Tasdemir for Predator, Torbjörn Blomdahl and Sung-Won Choi for Molinari, Myung-Woo Cho and Filippos Kasidokostas for Theory, Jae Ho Cho and Murat Naci Coklu for JBS, Orie Hida for Adam, Sruong Pheavy for BillKing and HaengJik Kim for the rather unknown Korean brand RootsK.

The billiard cue with its new models, variations and composition is central today in the interviews with top players in three cushion. Billiard fans who watched the recent tournaments like the OneCarom Challenge in these times of crisis certainly have noticed striking changes. The wooden, light-coloured shaft is no longer a certainty for many famous players. The black carbon shaft has entered the world of three-cushion. Most notably, Predator players (Sánchez, Sayginer, Tasdemir, Bury, Sidhom) play with black, other cue brands are following the trend. Yet it is remarkable that players like Dick Jaspers, Marco Zanetti, Eddy Merckx and Torbjörn Blomdahl remain faithful to their classic, wooden cue.

How are the experiences in both camps? What is the difference in stroke, speed, power and spin? Two critical comments: the noise while playing the shot and the black shaft, which is kind of a culture shock for some players. And also: the majority of amateur players still plays with wood shafts. The price of a carbon shaft scares many people. In Europe, people certainly do not spend more for a cue than 1.500 euros. The ordinary billiard player won't pay more than 300 to 400 euros for a good cue. So, it is a utopia that billiard players even spend 500 to 600 euros for a shaft.

How important is the cue for a billiard player? Dick Jaspers says: ''I am not tempted, I will stick with the famous, wooden Longoni cue with which I've achieved my successes.'' The Vietnamese Nguyen claims: ''I love my Predator cue very much. The carbon cue will win over the wood cue in the future.'' Semih Sayginer: ''This will turn into a spectacular new trend. The cue is perfect, I can flawlessly make all the shots, amazing.''

Semih Sayginer, playing with his Predator cue with black, carbon shaft with which he made his brilliant 20-run in the Challenge

Dick Jaspers, the world's nr. 1 in three cushion, not willing to switch from wood to carbon

Raymond Ceulemans and Ludo Dielis show their billiard cues in the Trophy of the legends

Kozoom made a tour around with the top three cushion players who follow developments closely.

What you need to know in advance:

Longoni, most famous cue brand: 75 years old. Business manager Pierluigi Longoni. Company in Mariano Comense near Milan.
Predator, slogan: The Choice of Champions. Twenty years of research and development, on the carom market for two years. Company in Jacksonville, Florida
Molinari: Launched in the top of three cushion six years ago with Torbjörn Blomdahl as the most famous player. Company in Ranst, Belgium.

Longoni: S2, S20 S30, Luna Nera (Black Moon)
Predator: Vantage, Revo
Molinari, composite top: Lancia

Characteristic of carbon (also called carbon fiber):
Thin fibers, very low deflection, low weight, high strength, high stiffness).
Known among others for sports cars, motorcycles, racing bikes, tennis rackets.

Price of the famous carbon top ends:
Predator: Revo 650 euros
Longoni: Luna Nera 480 euros
Molinari: 499 euros.

Top players from the three cushion world in their comments:

Raymond Ceulemans: ,, I am rather special when it comes to billiard cues. And I'm not that attached to my cue either, I played with many brands. I'm sure that, if I took a cue from Caudron, Jaspers or Merckx, I would play well, for sure. When I was still playing championships, I often took a cue tip from a simple cafe cue: they were the best for me to play with. The most expensive cue, I think, should still be payable for everyone. They can't fool me. For me, 1000 to 1500 euros is the real max for what a cue may cost. Recently, I play with two cues and 6 shafts, which all fit. My Longoni cue is between 1.40 and 1.42 metres, my top between 11.5 and 12 millimetres, with a weight of 520 for three-cushion. That is mainly what is important to me. I used to play with Hiolle and Van Lare in my early years, now with Longoni or with my own brand. Today's top players often have to change for the sponsors. Then they have to get used to the new cue again. Just let me say: Merckx has a perfect feeling on his cue, but Longoni will soon ask him to play with a new model again. Sponsors and commerce plays a major role in cue brands. What I think about the transition from wooden shafts to carbon? I tried carbon once when I played a free game. The draw shot is fabulous with carbon, that was a big difference. But I can't judge it properly for three cushion.''

Dani Sánchez: ''I foresee that carbon will be the shaft for the future. Revo carbon shaft, which I play with now, is much more precise and more confident than any other shaft I've had in my career. And with the Predator cue, it is a perfect combination.'' The Spanish champion was one of the first to play with Predator and Revo at the Spanish title fight and at the World Cup in Antalya, which he won on very high level.

Dani Sánchez, one of the first players to introduce the Predator with Revo shaft

Semih Sayginer: ''I was introduced to the new technology from Predator and Revo a few months ago. I first tried the cue of Jérémy Bury and Dani Sánchez and was immediately amazed and surprised. I could hear players being careful, such as by the sound of the stroke. I was open-minded from the start and it took me almost no time to adapt to the new material. It took three, four days for me to get the perfect feeling. I hit long distance balls exactly where I want it. It's amazing: I show many shots and strokes on my Instagram and Facebook that I've never been able to make. So yes, I am very happy with my cue and for the future of billiards. This is what we need to raise the level. Maybe I will play billiards for another six or seven years, but especially for the new, up and coming young players this is very good news. It's like tennis and cycling. Many players and riders were initially against playing with carbon rackets or riding carbon bicycles. But after a short while, everyone was super enthusiastic. The future of billiards looks fantastic. Wood was good. But it is time to drastically change our sport and take it to the next and higher level.''

Marco Zanetti: ''The cue is the natural extension of the arm and all players are now looking for the perfect material for their sensibilities, not all the same. Therefore it is logical that the market develops by offering first choice materials, but also different from each other in terms of materials, profile, weights, lengths. Carbon (and Kevlar) had already been proposed on the market in the past, but today they are being re-proposed more intensively by more manufacturers, with new technical improvements. But I also want to remind you that the wood itself, with the introduction of laminated shafts and different profiles, has undergone an absolutely remarkable technical evolution with very complex manufacturing and that the market has rewarded these products with great demands. We will then see over time if the players who switch to the use of carbon will be able to improve their level compared to their past and personally, despite having tried the carbon shafts and finding them interesting. I don't feel any need for change, because the laminated wooden shaft fully satisfies my sensibilities.''

Marco Zanetti: I don't feel any need for change

Torbjörn Blomdahl: ''I also did some tests with the new carbon or composite tops from Molinari. And yes, I'm also convinced that it will play a major role in the future of three cushion, like in pool billiards. Still, all snooker players play with wood. Personally, I don't think I'm going to switch, but I'm still testing. Maybe I'm a bit too old to switch with 58. I am still so happy with my wooden Molinari. It fits well with my 'wooden' stroke. I like to play with a lot of spin and that's why wood fits better to me, because it is more soft. Therefore, I can let my tip stay longer on the ball. And then, I can generate more effect and control. So yes, everything is possible with carbon. You can determine deflection, weight, stroke, everything. Maybe there will also be a carbon shaft that fits me well. Who knows. For now, I'll stick with my fantastic wooden-topped Molinari: 314 or V-shaft.''

Torbjörn Blomdahl after winning the world title in Danmark: ,,Maybe I'm to old to switch, I stick with my fantastic Molinari cue''

Dick Jaspers: ''I must say that I prefere to continue with the classic cue with wooden shaft. I received a carbon shaft from Longoni as well. And I practiced for two hours, but I don't like it. The vibration, the sound, the feeling with the black top, I'm not thrilled. Longoni's S20 and S30 cues are really fantastic. For me, the ultimate of the billiard cue. I am quite a conservative person in everything and I will be true to what I think is good, which I can play with perfectly. I have been with Longoni for many, many years, with Marco (Zanetti), I've never played three cushion with another brand and have had my own Longoni brand since 1990. The new hype? Every player should know that for himself. I never doubt my materials.''

Nguyen Quoc Nguyen: ''I play with Predator SD Revo shaft and I really love it. It feels wonderful that the carbon shaft gives me so much confidence. Previously, I already played with a carbon top, the Vantage. As for the stroke and technique, I play with Revo like I played with Musashi, but with even more precision in stroke with less spin. The power is unbelievable, the best I've ever played with. I can take some tough strokes that I couldn't with a wooden top. I am very happy with the Revo shaft and I already think that carbon will replace wood one day.''

Eddy Merckx: ''I have been used to the wooden shaft of my Longoni cue for so long, that I stay where I am now. When I feel good about a cue, I will not get off it. Admittedly, the tough strokes and draw shots are a little easier. But I have informed Longoni that I'm not going to make the switch. The black colour is disturbing to me. Maybe they change the colour, I should never say never. But that black top, no, I really don't like it. I must say: Dani Sánchez switched to Predator and carbon and he played a very strong tournament in Turkey. But still, I'm satisfied with what I have. What I'm convinced is that the Longoni price-quality is very good. And it also counts for me that I know and I feel the cue very well. That is different for everyone. For example, I can't play with a shaft thinner than 12 millimetrer. And other players say: it feels like you have a tree trunk in your hand. So, my conclusion is, I'm not going to change.''

Therese Klompenhouwer, the ladie's world champion, showing her 'Sensazione cue' in Longoni's home

Therese Klompenhouwer: ''I'm really happy with my Luna Nera shaft from Longoni, with which I started playing in July this year. With a shaft made from different layers of graphite. My own Longoni model is called Sensazione. Certainly, I had to get used to the new top. I have to aim differently, no longer compensate when I go for a shot. I had to compensate more with wood. The shaft is stiffer, the stroke more precisely. That feels great once you get used to it. The balls that you have to hit harder, with more power, play much easier. I can hit the shot with a lot more flexibility. The adjustment was not that bad. I trained well in the period without matches and immediately played a personal record at the Dutch championship. That's why I can say, I changed very quickly, so I was willing to switch.''

Sung-won Choi: ''This new shaft gives me all what I want, it really reads my mind, an amazing masterpiece. The very best what I could meet. The shaft has power like a bear hand, but is so stable, consistent and also delicate. I'm so happy to meet this shaft, thanks to Molinari who made this happen.

Thanks for technical information to:
Harry Mathijssen (Eureka)
Patrick Vasseur (player)
Morgan Delame (Kozoom)


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My Comments

Test cues and shafts
First of all, thank you for this interesting review. I am a 3 cushion player really interested in everything new in the game. However, I would say that it is a pitty that in this game, as a differece with many other sports, you cannot access to test material. If I play, for instance, tennis I first, can test different brands and models and decide my new racket. This is almost impossible in billiards. According to my expirience, this is totally frustrating. It is not the first time I bought a new cue and 2-3 months later I decided to sell it because it was not what I expected. And have you ever tried to sell a second hand cue (or shaft) ? for sure, that it is not a good deal.

Will I buy a new revo >600 euros shaft? I don't know but I think that some dealers must give us the possibility of using test material. Maybe, in a future it will be a win-win for both dealers-customers.

Message 1/2 - Publish at November 4, 2020 11:17 AM - Edited at November 4, 2020 11:18 AM

Smart commercial advertisement !
Interesting to read all comments about the carbon shafts I can not afford easily.

Top players may be given many free shafts or even paid by the cue company for changing to the new carbon things.

It shall be logical and fair to count the kind of shafts and cue brands what those listed top players actually used when they were winning championships in the past decades. And also from tomorrow to compare.

When they say ‘perfect’ ’terrific’ now after changing very recently, it sounds like clever commercials. Not proven yet. Too early.

Daniel Sanchez had played so many higher level games when he was using traditional ones. It must be the hand, not the cues generally.
I assume his company and Kozoom are engaged in the carbon shaft business.

During reading this news, a couple of old questions came on me.
I heard Molinary cues were from Predator Company but here I see two different companies offer differently named shafts at different prices.

Also, written that Predator in Florida, USA and Molinary in Belgium.
In the club I play sometimes, I saw many cues belonging to other players there.
The cues had “Made in Korea”, “Made in Italy” or “Made in Japan” seal in the butts. However, I never saw the ‘country of origin’ seal in Predator, Molinary, and many other cue brands.
So, I wonder where and by whom those cues are actually made. Just curiosity!

Anyway, I hope one of friend rich enough will buy one, and allow me to test a few shots some day in the near weeks.
Until then, I have no words. But hope my curiosity will be answered by someone who has the information or knowledge before I may make decision to buy one.

Lastly, I wish new era of carom 3-cushion will also arrive sooner than the expensive cues.

Message 2/2 - Publish at November 4, 2020 5:38 PM - Edited at November 4, 2020 5:41 PM

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