Action underway in Barnsley
Chris Melling (ENG) 8-3 Karol Skowerski (POL)
Nick Ekonomopoulos (GRE) 8-2 Ralf Souquet (GER)
Niels Feijen (HOL) 8-6 Karl Boyes (ENG)
The 21st annual running of the PartyPoker World Pool Masters got underway at the Metrodome in Barnsley, Yorkshire and there were first round wins for Chris Melling, Nick Ekonomopoulos and Niels Feijen. The $66,000 tournament has been a staple on the pool calendar for over two decades and was making its first appearance in the UK since 2005.
In front of an excellent first night crowd at the popular Yorkshire venue, defending champion Karol Skowerski of Poland fell at the first hurdle as was beaten 8-3 by England’s Chris Melling who looked in fine form in front of his local fans.
Melling, whose smooth action is renowned the world over, flew into a 5-0 lead in front of his Yorkshire faithful as he took advantage of the winners’ break format. Skowerski, who enjoyed a magical three days in his home town of Kielce as he won the Masters last year, took the sixth rack to get his name on the board.
The Pole won the next after a quality safety battle and ran out the eighth game from the break to take the score to 5-3. Melling got lucky in the next when a he had a hit-and-hope attempt on the 3 ball which was parked next to the 9. The 8 ball got cannoned into the top pocket and the 3 ball rolled into the opposite corner. From there he cleared to go 6-3 in the race to eight match.
Melling won the next to get to the hill, and although Skowerski got to the table in the next it was the Englishman’s day as he ran out the winner and can look forward to a quarter final match against Ga Young Kim or Alex Pagulayan.
“I played really well. I twitched an easy eight ball but other than that I played really well. I had a good fluke to be fair when I was 5-3 up,” said Melling.
“I am cueing the ball nicely and I have the table speed down well so it is just a matter of getting your chances and taking them when they come.
“This is the first time I have played 9-ball in Yorkshire and I have a good following from Keighley. Come tomorrow I think it will be a packed house. It makes a big difference to have home advantage. It is like the guy in your corner in a boxing match. I have a lot of people behind me and a lot of good support.”
The second match of the evening saw six-time Masters champion Ralf Souquet exit the competition as he was defeated by a sharp shooting Nick Ekonomopoulus 8-2.
They shared the opening two racks but Nick, a Mosconi Cup winner on his debut last December, took the next two with a determined look on his face. A run out from the break made it 4-1 and the six times Masters champion looked in trouble with the winner breaks format.
Another meaty break from the Greek set up a run out for 5-1 and Souquet needed something to happen to give himself a chance. It didn’t come in the next as Ekonomopoulos ran out once again to take himself to 6-1.
An illegal break got Souquet back to the table and sensing that anything less than a run out would sound his death knell, cleared for 6-2. He got the 1 ball into the side pocket off the break in the ninth game but missed the 2 ball and the Greek took full advantage to clear and reach the hill. He ran out the next for an excellent win.
“I played very well although I was lucky in rack one. He played a very good safe and I played a safe but made the ball. After that I made three run outs and in a short format when it is race to eight you can quickly take a big lead,” said Ekonomopoulos.
“I have been playing well and practicing a lot with my friend Darren Appleton. I don’t play my quarter-final until Sunday so I will keep practicing.”
Souquet was a little disappointed at his lack of table time: “I don’t feel like I have been a part of this tournament. Apart from the two scratches he played so well and I wasn’t able to get a chance.”
The final match of the opening session saw two 2013 Mosconi Cup players face off as Niels Feijen of Holland met England’s Karl Boyes.
They shared the opening racks before Boyes fouled as he failed to reach a rail with a safety shot. Feijen ran out to take the lead but Boyes squared it in the next. Both had visits in the fifth rack but it was Feijen who dropped the 9 ball and he took the next for a 4-2 lead.
Boyes got the home crowds cheering in the next as he completed the run out to reduce the deficit. Feijen was always in the lead but Boyes was never too far behind him but it was the Dutchman who reached the hill first at 7-4.
Boyes though got it back to 6-7 but lost the table as he tried a difficult cut on the 3 ball after a solid break. He got lucky though as he missed but left Feijen hooked. The Dutchman got out of it and when Boyes scratched it was all over as he ran out for the win.
“It was nip and tuck all the way and I feel I caught a couple of rolls in that match but also he was breaking really well, especially at the end,” said Feijen.
“I got a little worried there from 7-4; we had a long tactical game from that point. He made a nice bank on the 3 ball, runs out, breaks and runs out and it was getting close. Then he had a good break but scratched on the 3 ball in the side pocket. I knew if I got it straight on the six it would be over and I am glad I got through that one,” he added.
Boyes said, “It was one of those matches. We both played well, nobody missed anything, it was just the odd safety error. I was breaking well the whole match but I just couldn’t get a shot early in the match.”
This is the 21st annual running of the PartyPoker.com World Pool Masters following its inaugural event in 1993. Some of the greatest players in the modern era of pool have won this title including the likes of Souquet, Strickland, Orcollo and Appleton. With a field of 16 players there are 15 matches in total – all race to eight racks and culminating in the final on the Sunday evening.
The 2013 PARTYPOKER.COM World Pool Masters is sponsored by PartyPoker.com, the world’s leading online poker site. Cloth is supplied by Iwan Simonis and the Official Balls are Super Aramith. Diamond is the supplier of the Official Table and Predator is the Official Cue.
Luke Riches, Matchroom Sport: email@example.com
Notes: Matchroom Sport are one of the world’s leading producers of televised sport and are responsible for over 1,000 hours of original programming across a range of sports. Based in the UK and chaired by charismatic founder Barry Hearn, the World Pool Masters is one of a stable of pool events that include the World Cup of Pool and the Mosconi Cup.