by Arabdho Majumder • February 3, 2023
The first day of single elimination play at the World Pool Championship saw plenty of drama with seven matches going hill-hill. Many of the top seeds struggled to find rhythm, but six of the world’s top ten booked a place in the last 16, which begins on Saturday.
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Third seed Joshua Filler wasn’t among the survivors. The 2018 world champion fell for a third time in the span of a week to Alex Pagulayan in the last 64. The two played in the late rounds at the Derby City Classic last weekend, then they met again in the winner’s qualification round in Poland.
Pagulayan, the 2004 world champion, couldn’t continue his bid for a second world title, though. He lost in the last 32 to young Serbian Aleksa Pecelj, 11-6.
A Brit who has looked shaky all week, sixth seed Jayson Shaw, also crashed out on Friday. He clawed past Besar Spahiu in the last 64, but a poor safety shot on which he scratched against John Morra in the last 32 cost him a chance at a first world title. He was also the last hope for a first British world champion since Darren Appleton in 2012.
Last year’s two finalists, top seed Shane van Boening and fourth seed Albin Ouschan, grinded their way into the last 16. SVB went down early to Aloysius Yapp in the last 32, but came back to win, 11-9. Ouschan, meanwhile, took down multiple-time American Mosconi Cup team member Tyler Styer, 11-5, then finished off Daniel Maciol, 11-9, to set up a last 16 matchup with Mateusz Sniegocki. Van Boening will play an unseeded Vietnamese player in Duong Quoc Hoang, who managed a surprise 11-1 thrashing of Polish favorite Wojciech Szewczyk.
The current world number one Francisco Sánchez Ruíz had no such troubles. He dropped just ten racks combined while beating Oscar Dominguez and Thorsten Hohmann. He faces Denis Grabe next in his bid to win a first world title.
A pair of Europeans, Max Lechner and Sebastian Batkowski, dashed the Filipino hopes of a first world title for the country since 2017. Other Asian countries are still well represented in the last 16, however. Chinese Taipei have Wu Kun-Lin and Chang Jung-Lin. Wu, especially, impressed on Friday with wins against Alex Kazakis and Naoyuki Oi all while dropping just six total racks. Hoang will carry the final Vietnamese flag. Another unseeded player, Mohammad Soufi, will represent Syria.
The host country of Poland also has multiple players left. Batkowski got through two tight matches on Friday to ensure a last 16 place. Sniegocki was likewise pushed but came through. The youngest and possibly the most talented of the bunch, 22-year-old Wiktor Zieliński, went through a similarly tumultuous Friday. He snuck past Mickey Krause, 11-9, before battling back from 6-1 down to take out Moritz Neuhausen by the same scoreline.
Chances are high for a first-time world champion. Only three of the remaining 16 are previous winners – Van Boening, Ouschan and Niels Feijen. Chang, who beat Hunter Lombardo and Ko Pin-Yi on Friday, reached the finals in 2019 but lost to Fedor Gorst.