The WPA Players Championship Is Down To Two Philippines vs. Taiwan Semi-Finals

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By Ted Lerner
WPA Media Officer

*Photo of Yu Lung Chang by JP Parmentier

(Las Vegas)—Any discussion by pool fans about which countries produce the world’s very best players will invariably find the Philippines and Taiwan at the top of the list. And this week in Las Vegas, not surprisingly, those arguments came through loud and very clear.

After three days featuring the very best pool players from all corners of the globe, the 64 player field at the inaugural WPA Players Championship has been whittled down to four, with both race to 9 semi-finals on Friday at Griffs Billiards in Vegas featuring the Philippines vs. Taiwan.

In one semi-final the Philippines’ Carlo Biado, the 2017 World 9-ball Champion, will square off against Taiwan’s Chang Yu Lung. In the other semi-final, the Philippines Johann Chua will match wits against Taiwan’s Kevin Cheng, who captured the 2015 US Open.  

All four players put in wonderful performances today, each winning two matches to advance to the semis.  The Philippines Chua has been living on a high wire all week and has managed to survive and tell the tale. After storming back from 6-2 down in the round of 32 against two-time world champion Mika Immonen, Chua pulled another fast one in the round of 16 today in his match versus Greece’s Nick Malaj.  Chua found himself down 6-3 in the race to 7, alternate break match but tied the score at 6 to force an overtime. In the win by two format Malaj lead 7-6, 8-7 and 9-8 before a stingy Chua finally caught up. Chua took the nervy sudden death rack to advance, 10-9. 

Chua finally had a chance to catch his breath in his quarters match against Vietnam’s Duong Quoc Hoang. The Filipino was never really challenged and won, 7-3.

Chua will now face Taiwan’s Kevin Chang, who has looked impervious this week. Chang first came back from a 4-1 deficit to the USA’s Shaun Wilkie to win 7-4. He then dueled with defending US Open champ Jayson Shaw in the quarters. The match was even through 5 before Cheng stepped on the gas and closed it out, 7-5.

In the round of 16, Biado, who is ranked world number 3, had to go into extra time to take down Taiwan veteran, Yang Ching Shun, 8-6. In the quarters Biado met up with the USA’s Shane Van Boening, who had, up to this point, looked like he had plans on lifting the trophy on Friday.  The match was tight early, but Biado was just too focused and too sharp. The Filipino star made some nervy clearances on the way to a convincing 7-4 win.

Biado’s semis opponent will be Chang, who put in two rock solid efforts this afternoon. In the round of 16, the Taiwanese veteran had to go extra innings before outlasting the Philippines latest hot shot, James Aranas, 8-6. In the quarterfinals, Chang outpaced hall of famer Ralf Souquet, 7-5, to advance to the semis.

The first race to 9, alternate break semi final between Johann Chua and Kevin Chang will begin at 12 noon Vegas time. The second semi-final between Carlo Biado and Chang Yu Lung begins at 2pm. The race to 9, alternate break final will take place at 6pm.

Final 16 Set In Vegas For The WPA Players Championship

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The Philippines Carlo Biado


By Ted Lerner
WPA Media Officer
Photo By JP Parmentier

(Las Vegas)–The Philippines’ Johann Chua pretty much knew his run in the WPA Players Championship was over. Playing in a round of 32 match against Hall of Famer Mika Immonen and down 6-2 in a race to 7 alternate break match, there was little chance for the talented Filipino to come back.

But the pool gods started to conspire against the great Finn, and Chua slowly clawed his way into contention. As that happened, Immonen clearly began to lose his composure, which only imbued the Filipino with confidence.  Chua tied the match at 6, sending proceedings into overtime, where he won the next two to advance 8-6.

“I saw him getting frustrated when I started to come back and that gave me a lot of confidence,” a relieved Chua said afterward. “Once he started to miss and give up the table, I knew I was back in the match. I’m very happy to advance.”

As 16 pool stars moved on at Griffs Billiards in Vegas, and 16 others got the boot, the WPA Players Championship moved to the business end for the final two days. The round of 16 and quarterfinals will be held on Thursday, with the semis and finals being contested on Friday.

The Philippine contingent continued to impress in the $65,000 event.  2017 WPA World 9-ball champion Carlo Biado dueled with the USA’s Skylar Woodward, with the pair of stars splitting the first 10 racks. Biado then took advantage of a lucky safe and advanced with a 7-5 win.

“I got lucky,” Biado said, echoing the favorite line of the always humble Filipino greats. But as he well knew in this case, he wasn’t just being polite.

Hot shooting 26 year old James Aranas and Raymond Faroun also won, giving Filipinos 25% of the spots in the final 16.

The USA’s Shaun Wilkie continued to impress with his second straight convincing victory today. Wilkie took down Japan’s Toru Kuribayashi 7-5 to grab a spot in the final 16. The only other American to take his place in the final 16 was Shane Van Boening, after a 7-5 win over Poland’s Wojciech Szewczyk.

The Taiwanese contingent equaled that of their neighbors in east Asia as four Taiwan players advanced to the final 16. Kevin Cheng, Ko Ping Chung, Chang Yu Lung and veteran Yang Ching Shun all won their round of 32 matches.

Scotland’s Jayson Shaw put in another convincing performance, taking down the Philippines Jeff de Luna, 7-2. Albania’s Elkent Kaci went toe to toe with New Zealand’s resurgent Matt Edwards, before pulling away for a 7-5 win. Greece’s Nick Malaj and hall of famer Ralf Souquet also advanced.

Play in the WPA Players Championship continues on Thursday at 12 noon local time.

The format will be single elimination race to 7 (win by 2), with the semi-final and final being a race to 9 (win by 2).

WPA Players Championship Payouts

1 – $10,000
2 – $7,000
3/4 – $5,000 ea.
5/8 – $3,000 ea.
9/16 – $1,500 ea.
17/32 – $400 ea.

Consolation Tournament Payouts

1 – $1,500
2 – $1,000
3/4 – $500 ea.
5/8 – $250 ea.
9/16 – $150 ea.

ONLINE BRACKETS

The online tournament brackets can be found at www.CTSonDemand.com.

WATCH LIVE
The entire event is being streamed live by CSI media, a division of CueSports International (CSI). The production, complete with full-time commentary led by former World 8-Ball Champion, Karl Boyes, begins each day at noon pacific time. To watch live, visit www.playcsipool.com/watch-live.