Fortunski bows out despite Polish thriving at World Pool Championship

Photo: Taka Wu / Matchroom

by Arabdho Majumder • February 2, 2023

The first two days of the World Pool Championship cut the original field of 128 players down to 64. The rest of the event will be played in a single elimination format.

Click here for the 2023 World Pool Championship draw, live scores, format, prize fund and how to watch

The most surprising result came early on Thursday and was a blow to the host nation Poland’s chances. Number 16 seed Mieszko Fortuński bowed out of the tournament with a 9-6 loss to unseeded Lars Kuckherm which followed an opening round loss to teenage Norwegian talent Emil-Andre Gangflot. Marc Bijsterbosch was the only other top-20-seeded player to go two-and-out.

Other top seeds struggled but scraped by, with sixth seed Jayson Shaw giving Francesco Candela plenty of chances before winning 9-7 in the first round. He’s now safely through to the last 64.

Third seed Joshua Filler, one of a number of players coming off a long week at the Derby City Classic, lost to Alex Pagulayan in the winner’s qualification round. The German bounced back to also reach the last 64, beating Daniele Corrieri, though the performance was riddled with unexpected errors.

Fifth seed Mario He also took the scenic route to the last 64. He fell to a Pole, Sebastian Batkowski, in the first round. Wins over Szymona Kural and Tobias Bongers on Thursday ensured his entry into the single elimination portion of the event.

Reigning world champion Shane van Boening cruised through his opening two matches. The hottest player in the world at the moment and reigning US Open champion, Francisco Sánchez Ruíz is likewise through to the last 64 without many hiccups. Among the top-20 seeds, Jonas Souto Comino, Abdullah Al-Youssef and Olivér Szolnoki joined Bijsterbosch and Fortuński in exiting the tournament.

Number 11 seed Eklent Kaçi and eighth seed Alex Kazakis had close calls. Kaçi went hill-hill in both his matches but won. Kazakis trailed Tyler Styer, 7-1, before snapping off eight racks in a row to win 9-7.

A strong Polish contingent survived the opening rounds to reach the last 64 beginning with Batkowski. Mariusz Skoneczny, Mateusz Sniegocki, Daniel Maciol, Wiktor Zielinski and Konrad Juszczyszyn provide plenty of options for the home crowd to support. Reigning world 10-ball champion Wojciech Szewczyk joined them from the losers’ qualification by gutting out a win over Brit, Elliott Sanderson.

Ones to watch

Ali Nasser Al Obaidli and Gerson Martinez are two unseeded players who impressed in the first two days of the tournament. Al Obaidli is a Qatari snooker and pool player who took down Denis Grabe 9-4 and Oscar Dominguez 9-6.

Martinez is a Peruvian player signed with Predator who’s on the cusp of joining the elite 800-plus Fargo club. He’s a former Pan-American champion in 9-ball and 10-Ball, but he didn’t have a lot of major pro tournament experience coming into this year’s World Championship. He did, however, finish tenth at the Derby City Classic a year ago.

Martinez got through two thrillers to reach the last 64. He defeated 2001 champion Mika Immonen in a deciding rack, before dropping 2021 semi-finalist Szolnoki 9-7 in the winner’s qualification round.

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