By Keith Paradise
CSI Staff Writer
One of the biggest surprise stories of pool this year has been the emergence of Omar Al Shaheen.
After spending the last handful of years placing in the top five of regional American events, the young man from Kuwait offered up a breakout performance at this summer’s World Pool Championships, advancing all the way to the finals before falling to Albin Ouschan. Al Shaheen wasn’t finished, tacking on a third-place finish at the Iron City Open and earning runner-up honors at the Midwest Open 10-Ball Invitational and this past weekend’s Diamond Las Vegas Open.
And he feels this is just the beginning.
“It’s time for me to show everyone what kind of talent and skills that I have,” said Al Shaheen as he reflected on his recent string of performances Monday afternoon.
Those skills were on display Tuesday afternoon at the World 10-Ball Championship, as the 28-year-old used a fast and loose style to come from behind and hold off Spain’s David Alcaide in a second round, winner’s side match at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino. The Kuwaiti struggled with a couple of missed shots early in the match but finished strong, winning five straight racks to knock the former World Pool Masters champion to the one-loss side of the bracket.
Alcaide paired a break-and-run with a victorious safety exchange to take a 2-1 lead in the alternate break, race-to-eight format, only to see his opponent overtake him thanks to a break-and-run of his own combined with a dry break from the Spainard. After his opponent won three-straight to take a 5-3 lead, Al Shaheen went on a streak of his own, taking advantage of a missed 8 ball and a scratch by his opponent to tie the score, then using two breaks and runs coupled with another Alcaide scratch on the break to close out the match, 8-5.
Al Shaheen now faces Poland’s Wiktor Zielinski in a round of 16 matchup on the winner’s side Wednesday at 11 a.m. local time. Zielinski was part of a rather successful day for the contingent of Polish players who made their way to Las Vegas this week, with four of the competitors winning second round matches to remain on the winner’s side. In addition to Zielinski defeating Johann Chua, 8-4; Oliver Szolnoki survived a hill-hill match with Sanjin Pehlivanovic; Mieszko Fortunski advanced over Waleed Majid and Konrad Juszczyszyn coasted by Russia’s Ruslan Chinahov, 8-4.
Fortunes were not as good for a pair of Filipinos, with James Aranas and Dennis Orcollo both going two-and-out from the tournament. Aranas, who was the runner-up at last year’s Diamond Las Vegas Open, lost 8-3 to Tyler Styer Tuesday morning. Orcollo’s road home was a bit more dramatic, battling Greece’s Alex Kazakis to a hill-hill tie before missing a tough cut shot on the 2 ball in the deciding rack. Kazakis slowly and methodically cleared the table and closed out the match, 8-7.
In other one-loss side action, Chinese Taipei’s Chaung Jung-Lin held off Venezuela’s Jesus Atencio, 8-5, in early afternoon action. The two competitors deadlocked through the first 10 racks, mixing in successful safety exchanges with an occasional runout as both players struggled to find opening shots after the break. Atencio had the break in the 11th game, but committed a foul during a safety battle on the 2 ball. Chang cleared the table then tacked on a break-and-run to take a 7-5 lead.
The Venezuelan had an opportunity to cut the deficit and extend the match but failed to secure position on the 3 ball after pocketing the 2 ball, then missed an attempted jump shot on the object ball. Chang won another safety exchange on the ball, then cleared the table to win the match.
Remaining undefeated on the winner’s side was also Scotland’s Jayson Shaw, who survived a pair of dry breaks midway through his match with Corey Deuel to defeat the American, 8-6. After the two players split the first four games, Shaw took a 6-4 lead using a kick shot and a foul by his opponent. Deuel continued to hang around, taking advantage of a dry break from Shaw and a scratch in the 13th game to twice pull within a game, but the reigning Mosconi Cup Most Valuable Player used a victorious safety exchange to close out the match.
In the final match of the night on the winner’s side, Filipino Carlo Biado capitalized on opponent Mario He failing to pocket a ball on the break three times to cruise to an 8-4 victory.
Competition resumes Tuesday morning at 9 a.m. local time, with notable matches on the winner’s side including Alex Pagulayan matching up against Thorsten Hohmann and Jayson Shaw meeting Eklent Kaci, while Shane Van Boening squares off against Chris Reinhold and Denis Grabe takes on Alcaide on the one-loss side. Admission to the event is free at the casino and live streaming of the tournament is available through YouTube and Billiard TV.
The World 10-Ball Championship is a proud part of the CueSports International Expo in Las Vegas. The CueSports International Expo is also home to the BCA Pool League World Championships, USA Pool League National Championships and numerous industry exhibitors. The 11-day billiard extravaganza attracts more than 6,000 pool players from around the world, consumes 150,000 square feet, and uses over 300 Diamond pool tables with the goal of always providing the greatest pool experience in the world.
This competition is played on Diamond Pro-Am pool tables covered with Predator Arcadia Performance Cloth, with Predator Arcos II balls, and under the Predator Arena billiard lights. Kamui and Omega Billiard Supplies are also partners of the event.
For the latest information on the Predator Pro Billiard Series action, follow @ProBilliardSeries on Facebook and Instagram. For Live broadcasting watch Billiard TV or follow WorldBilliardTV on YouTube for replays.
Photo credits:Al Shaheen: Erwin Dionisio